TV Show Review

TV Review: GOTHAM: Season 1, Episode 2: Selina Kyle [Fox]

Camren Bicondova Gotham Selina Kyle

Fox’s Gotham Selina Kyle TV Show Review. Gotham: Season 1, Episode 2: Selina Kyle compels and disturbs. The pilot’s review concluded saying that Gotham might not be an ideal show for people who hate violence or police-and-crime drama. If this follow-up is any indication, that “might” is unnecessary, as it found time to insert much more grit into almost all of the previously established story arcs.

Picking up where the pilot left off, the episode opens with young Bruce Wayne (David Mazous) putting himself through Spartanic training to resist pain (which, it’s implied, may double as semi-suicidal impulses), which brings out a previously unseen angry, disciplinarian side of Alfred (Sean Pertwee). It’s not a pleasant scene, but it can boast being a rare look at the famous hero’s post-trauma development that doesn’t border on a being a tritely optimistic sports training montage, and the series is certainly fighting hard against its reputation as a Batman show without Batman.

Meanwhile, true to its name, this episode quickly sheds more light onto Selina “Cat” Kyle (Camren Bicondova)–she’s only thirteen at the moment, so the “woman” part comes later–as she runs afoul of a diabolical kidnapping conspiracy orchestrated by the mysterious Dollmaker, and carried out by underlings Doug (Frank Whaley) and Patti (Lili Taylor). Taylor’s performance is possibly the most cringe-worthy—and first completely deplorable—in the series so far, and it seems rather ambiguous as to whether that was deliberate, or just carelessly overacted twirling of her non-existent mustache. The credibility of this arc is also stretched thin by two separate scenes in which Gordon arrives just in time to save the children from the conspirators; as if the writers are trying a bit too hard to establish him as the original “Batman”. Yet it’s also the kidnapping arc that brings out the best in this episode. Beginning on the same shaky ground as in the pilot, Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) come to a sort of rapprochement and find a way to make their differing methodologies work together to crack the case. The glaring mystery surrounding Selina Kyle in the pilot is also blown away dramatically here, as toward the end, she’s firmly established as a strong, cat-themed anti-heroine—which here takes a more gruesome form than any prior portrayals, but nonetheless feels righteous–and a key-player in Gordon’s uphill whistle-blowing battle.

Elsewhere, the other (previously established) villains get more development. Despite what the trailer implied, the involvement of Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor) doesn’t occupy much of the runtime, but it’s dramatic to see him go quickly from his new origin as an unsubtle, hair-trigger psychopath to the beginning of his more iconic role as a devious businessman, through what amounts to a happy accident. Carmine Falcone (John Doman), who in the pilot, made himself out to Gordon as the gentlemanly gangster, proves here that he’s not, as he cracks down on Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith) for her conspiracy against him. With some brutally devious fudging, she wiggles her co-conspirator out of harm’s way, and privately makes clear her hatred towards both Falcone and Cobblepot, and that’s she’ll tangle with both again in the future.   At the other end of the morality spectrum, much as in the pilot, Gordon meets up with Bruce Wayne again towards the end, and Bruce reestablishes his role as a rare force for good in Gotham City.

Ultimately, this episode was rather different in tone from the first, which despite its murder-related themes, piled on the fanservice with entertaining characters for easy smiles; even, in some people’s opinions, to an embarrassing extreme. Here, almost everyone shows a side that is at least somewhat disturbing; even given the source material, when perhaps just one or two big conflicts would suffice in an episode. Still, there’s some satisfying payoff, and a lot to look forward to in coming episodes.

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Thomas Fairfield

Thomas Fairfield writes some things sometimes on some sites; this one included.

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