“Selina Kyle: Or How Selina Kyle Finally Learned To Start Talking and Scratching Out Eyes.” Episode Two of Gotham is mixed for me. There are good performances and a lot is set up, but a lot of time is spent reminding audiences that this is Gotham City and they’re showing us the origins of who these characters will eventually be.
The episode begins with Bruce Wayne doing what every child does when their parents are dead: putting his hand over a lit flame! Luckily, Alfred bursts in.
Elsewhere, in an alley, the roaming kids get a visit from Doug, played by Frank Whaley, and Patti, played by Lili Taylor. They’re a part of the mayor’s homeless program and come bearing food. Oh, and they put some of the kids to sleep. Not Selina Kyle, though. One kid also makes his escape, but Doug catches up to him and throws him through a restaurant window. Why? Because it was there, probably.
Gordon and Bullock investigate the body of the homeless man Doug shot, though Gordon wonders why no one else is present. Bullock tells him plain and simple: people don’t care about the lives of a dead bum or a few missing kids. A nearby officer, stationed at the restaurant, shows up and Gordon chews him out for not being the first one on the scene.
At GCPD, Gordon and Bullock speak with one of the victims, Mackey, played by Kyle Massey from That’s So Raven, who tells them that street kids have been disappearing. Bullock thinks that Mackey brought his injuries on himself and threatens to beat the truth out of him, leading Gordon to pull him aside and the two face-off again. Bullock says it’s his prerogative to interrogate as he sees fit and isn’t a fan of Gordon’s high and mighty attitude after he recently killed Cobblepot. Oh right, that little thing.
Speaking of Cobblepot, he’s slowly making his way back to Gotham when he’s picked up by two guys. They eventually let him in and comment that he walks like a penguin. You get it yet? Cobblepot then finds a good way to use a beer bottle to make a point about his nickname. Because, you know, he’s gonna be The Penguin someday. You understand? Cobblepot’s arrogance may have led him astray, but he’ll be back.
Back in Gotham, Gordon and Bullock argue about the missing kids, this time with Captain Sarah Essen, played by Zabryna Guevara, in the middle of it. Edward Nygma lurks nearby and gives them the result of a blood test he ran on Mackey- he found high levels of ATP, the knockout drug, in his system. ATP isn’t an easily accessible drug. In fact, Arkham Asylum may have been the last place to use it, but it’s been closed. Essen wants to keep this quiet since this revelation could cause a panic. To get further with this, Bullock and Gordon will need to pay Fish another visit.
Speaking of, Fish gets an unexpected visit from Carmine Falcone, played by John Doman, who asks if she’s still upset about what happened. He tells her that when people are about to die, they are very honest. He might be right. In their final moments, you may end up knowing someone better than their friends ever did. Falcone says that he spoke with Cobblepot before his unfortunate death. Even more unfortunate is how the death of the Wayans would hurt the Falcone and Maroni families because everything is thrown into imbalance and no one knows who will wound up in control of Gotham. Besides, it’s Falcone’s friends, not his enemies, that make him worry. He knows that Fish wanted to try and have Falcone taken out, but Fish denies it. She wouldn’t hurt someone like him. Falcone still needs to make an example, and picks out the guy from behind the bar, Lazlo, played by Michelangelo Milano, to get the crap kicked out of him. Fish then orders everyone out of the club.
Detectives Renee Montoya, played by Victoria Cartagena, and Crispus Allen, played by Andrew-Stewart Jones, speak with Gertrude Kapelput, played by…Carol Kane, is that you? Gertrude doesn’t understand who would want to harm her son, though the detectives are more upset about losing a good snitch. Who wouldn’t?
Fish tells Butch that it’s still too early to make a move on Falcone. She needs more money and men, but for now, she’ll be patient and wait to kill Falcone. She just wishes that Cobblepot was still alive since he didn’t suffer enough.
On that note, we then cut to Cobblepot in his brand new ride as arrives at a man’s home. He spots a trailer and asks if he can rent it. He already has the money to pay up front and doesn’t even have to look inside. He wants this one!
Oh, the missing kids wake up and don’t know where they are.
Gordon and Bullock show up at Fish’s, with Gordon getting straight to the point about the abductions. There’s a buyer overseas that will take anyone that’s young and healthy- never mind just being in the market for young girls. Who does this? Fish doesn’t know, and neither does anyone want to know. At the very least, she’s surprised that a straight arrow like Gordon had the stones to kill Cobblepot.
So Gordon takes his troubles to Barbara again. Oh, Gordon eats take-out with a fork, while Barbara uses chopsticks. Huh. She can’t believe the system could be so corrupt. Welcome to Gotham, lady. She notes that Gordon’s behavior has been off these past few weeks. He’s conflicted about the information regarding the kidnappings, but he’s been ordered not to go to the press. Not realizing how foolish it is to confide in his lady friend, Gordon can only watch as Barbara makes an anonymous call to the Gotham Gazette about the abductions. Gordon isn’t pleased, but he didn’t exactly make a real effort to stop her.
When this news hits the paper the next day- that was fast, considering Barbara leaked this at night- Essen is far from happy and demands to know about the leak. She thinks it’s Bullock, who has a history of doing so, but he’d never pull this stunt on his own case. Gordon denies it as well, but quickly changes the subject by telling Essen that they have a thin lead on the case: there are only three companies in Gotham that handle ATP since you need a special license to handle it. So the plan is to lean hard on all three until one of them pops.
Doug and Patti speak with Morry Quillan, played by Wayne Duvall, of Pharma Supplies. He’s also none too pleased about the Gotham Gazette’s article. He sells them the juice and lets them use his space, and now heat in the paper. Doug and Patti are just there to collect the merchandise, but Quillan wants another five thousand. Patti objects- they have an obligation to deliver and the Dollmaker does not tolerate failure. She puts down Quillan’s muscle just as the cops arrive outside.
Bullock correctly guesses that Gordon’s girlfriend leaked the information to the press, which Gordon doesn’t deny. Gordon is not a good liar. They enter and Patti brings them to Quillan, who is not a good actor while Doug points a gun at him out of Gordon and Bullock’s line of sight. The two have a warrant to search the building for ATP, but he denies having it ever since Arkham Asylum closed. He heard that the Wayne Foundation had planned to open it again, but since Martha and Thomas are dead, things are up in the air.
Patti kills the lights and a shootout commences. Doug and Patti make their escape, but Quillan tells his lackey to get rid of the kids and to hose down the room. He says this even though the officers aren’t that far away. Quillan isn’t too smart. Before the lackey can kill the kids, Gordon shoots him and the man falls down a conveniently placed hole.
Mayor Aubrey James, played by Richard Kind, holds a press conference at the police department and thanks the officers for rescuing the children, but the abductors are still at large. More than that, the children still out there are unprotected, so they are now being rounded up by Juvenile Services so they can be placed in programs to get them the help they need. Some will be sent to foster homes, others to a correctional facility uptown. Uptown is apparently dangerous. Gordon isn’t a fan of sending the kids to prison, but James doesn’t back down. Half the petty crime in the city is committed by homeless kids. They need structure. Gordon just sees it as a reason for James to lock children up without a trial.
Gordon exits, but learns that Alfred Pennyworth is waiting for him in the wings. Alfred wants him to visit Wayne Manor tomorrow. Though neither of them has experience with kids, Alfred gets the feeling that Bruce respects Gordon. So they’ll meet at tea time.
This Bruce Wayne likes heavy metal, it seems.
The children are rounded up. Selina Kyle finally talks- and I instantly wish she stopped- about how there’s been a mistake and that she needs to talk to James Gordon. No dice and she doesn’t give the woman a name, so she’s listed as Jane Doe. Things go awry when Patti boards the bus when all the children are ready to leave. Selina, recognizing the woman from before, tries to flee, but gets nowhere.
Mayor James bursts into Captain Essen’s office and is livid about the buses being abducted since the snatchers could have struck again. Captain Essen promises the mayor that they’re working on it.
They are. Bullock makes good use of a phone book to whack Quillan around for information. Gordon watches this time. Why? The lives of 30 children value more than one scumbag. Quillan relents and gives up the logo of the truck used to pick up the last batch of children: a blue plate and silver fork.
Elsewhere, the children exit, with Patti and Doug noting that they’re one kid short. Patti reenters the bus and the worst game of hide-and-seek takes place as Selina somehow manages to elude Patti and flee. To Patti and Doug, one kid missing won’t be a big deal.
The cops are getting nowhere on the logo, but after some heavy thinking, it finally hits Gordon- the logo isn’t a fork, it’s a trident.
Yes. Of Trident Intercontinental Shipping, which we then cut to. A ruckus causes Doug and some men to search the premises while Patti contends with a man whose eyes have been scratched out. Selina Kyle doesn’t kid around, it seems. Luckily, Patti has the best remedy: a bullet to the head. Hide-and-seek resumes until it’s ruined by the quick arrival of Gordon and Bullock.
During tea time, Alfred tells Gordon that Bruce hasn’t been sleeping. When he does, he has nightmares and now he’s moved up to self-harm. No psychiatrist, though, per Thomas Wayne’s firm orders in the event he and Martha died. The way to raise him now is to trust him to choose his own course. Gordon thinks it’s a recipe for disaster. Bruce emerges- Alfred’s not a fan of Bruce sneaking around- and tells Gordon that he’s fine. He’s not harming himself, he’s testing himself. There’s a difference. Bruce followed the abduction in the papers and offers money, but Gordon doesn’t think that will work. The kids need someone who cares for them. Money won’t buy that. Clothes could work, though.
Unfortunately, some poor officer had to get saddled with Selina- or Cat, as she prefers- and she makes the guy’s day job quite difficult. Sure, Selina has no outstanding warrants, but she’s still a minor with no parents- she denies that- and can’t just be put back on the street. Selina has no intention of going upstate and demands that James Gordon be brought to her or she’ll scream that this guy touched her, even though there are a ton of witnesses around her right now that will say she’s lying. There is a five letter word I’m thinking of for her right now and it’s not ‘youth.’
Cobblepot kept one of the guys alive, but his parents don’t buy the abduction story. Oh well.
Gordon shows up and we learn that Selina has almost been caught twice, but she’s a survivor. She has something that James would really want, in exchange for him getting her out. Wait, first she talked about a guy possibly touching her, and now she’s got she’s got something that another man wants? What hell, Selina? She admits to watching him and knows that he’s a friend of Bruce. She also knows who killed the Wayne’s. She saw the guy, clear as day. Even though it happened at night.
Right, so we’re two episodes in and the show is still finding its footing. I feel like some of the performances were a bit more comfortable this time around, but an issue I’ve found with Gotham in both episodes is the show’s need to remind us that this is the Batman universe. Selina does not need to remind me several times that her nickname is Cat. We don’t need people to make the observation that Cobblepot walks like a penguin. How many penguins have these people actually seen, anyway? And Gordon saying that Bruce plotting his own course is a recipe for disaster? I wonder what that’s alluding to. My point is that the writers aren’t really giving viewers enough credit and feel the need to spoon feed little hints about who some of these people will eventually become. I don’t mind a few mentions of the Dollmaker since they weren’t brought up throughout the entire episode.
There is a lot to like about this episode. I enjoyed Falcone’s warning to Fish about people who are about to die suddenly being honest. Whether intentional or by accident, it reminded me of the scene in The Dark Knight where the Joker says that in their last moments, people show you who they really are. There’s a lot of weight behind his words and I get the feeling that he could deliver on his promise to harm others if he’s crossed. From his talk with Fish, Falcone appears to be one step ahead of her and the mere idea of her wanting to take him out means that they are going to butt heads.
Jada Pinkett Smith, however, has moments of showing quiet menace, but when she orders everyone out of the bar and later talks about wanting Cobblepot to suffer, you can actually see her chomping down on the scenery. You can be menacing, sure, but I find villains to be better when they’re sly and scheming. We know what Falcone is capable of because that comes off in his threats. Given his reputation, it’s a given that he’s someone to fear. Fish seems a bit cartoonish.
She’s nowhere near as cartoonish as the likes of Patti, Doug and Quillan. No offense to Lili Taylor and Frank Whaley, but they came off as goofballs. Not even the Adam West kind of campy, but just like live action cartoons…which, I guess, they sort of are. The quirky smiles, the fact that Patti wasn’t smarter about finding one kid on a bus, that they actually remained with Quillan despite the cops showing up, these are not smart villains. Neither is Quillan, for that matter, since he told his lackey to kill the kids even with Gordon right there. Maybe it was in the heat of the moment and I’m not expecting all villains to be criminal masterminds, but I do expect them to be smarter. Throwing one of the kids through a window of a restaurant isn’t what I’d call smart. Or subtle. Or even desperate- it’s just stupid.
If I’m pointing out nitpicks, I may as well get to Selina Kyle now. For an episode named after her, it’s strange that we barely see a lot of her. She’s a survivor, no doubt, we knew that about her and we get a snippet of her background, but that’s about it. Aside from hiding, talking about cops touching her and scratching a guy’s eyes out- brutal, by the way- she wasn’t a key player until her supposed big reveal at the end. I’m not really digging this incarnation of Selina Kyle so far and a lot of that has to do with the acting. Camren Bicondova is decent, at best, but she’s definitely not memorable. I’d almost say I prefer her not talking. At least there was some mystery about Selina Kyle that way. There are glimpses of the Selina Kyle we all know and love from the comics, and yes, I know, this is a different interpretation, but I’m not sold on Bicondova’s performance as of now.
Onto the good, though. Like the premiere, Logue and McKenzie continue to shine with their chemistry and I like how Gordon is at a crossroads since he’s now seen, as Fish put it, as another sinner since everyone believes he killed Cobblepot. He’s struggling to maintain his integrity and still has moments where he wants to do the right thing for the greater good: not actively trying to stop Barbara from going to the press and turning the other way when Bullock beats Quillan with a phone book, which was kind of funny, by the way. Of course, Gordon still isn’t all that subtle since Bullock could see right through his, well, bollocks about how the abduction story got leaked. He probably shouldn’t have been so quick to admit the truth to Bullock, though.
I don’t have that big of an issue with how brooding Bruce is, but it seems a bit too quick, for my taste. We’re only two episodes in and not only is he already walking down a dark path, he’s testing himself and listening to heavy metal. We at least know he has a good heart from his willingness to help Gordon by donating clothes to the homeless kids.
Also, what to do with Detectives Crispus and Montoya? They have one scene here to talk with Cobblepot’s mother, but other than that, they just talk about how they’re better than GCPD and miss having Oswald as an informant. There’s a lot that could be covered, but as of now, the two are just here.
So “Selina Kyle” continues the great, if not tense relationship between Bullock and Gordon, with Gordon trying to do the right thing while everyone thinks he’s just another bad cop. We get some more setup with the mentioning of the Dollmaker, Arkham Asylum, Cobblepot’s plan to return to Gotham stronger than ever, Fish still plotting to take down Falcone and Selina Kyle supposedly knowing who killed Thomas and Martha Wayne. I’m still not fully sold on Gotham yet, but I’m still keeping an eye on it for now. The issues I have with the acting and contrivances don’t make me dislike the show and maybe I have higher expectations, but the writers should give us more credit and stop constantly reminding us that this is a show about Gotham City and, eventually, Batman, when that’s as clear as day.