– Spoiler Review –
The Gotham premiere set up a series with a lot of potential, so it’s a shame the second episode “Selina Kyle” didn’t quite start delivering. It did have its moments, notably the quest stars, Gordon using his supposed sin to his advantage, and the late act appearance of the episode’s title character, but it continued the awkwardness found in the opener without ever fully expanding on each of its strengths.
Ending Gotham TV Show Reviews (9/26/15)
I probably should’ve done this more formally back when I called it quits with the show after its umpteenth break during the first season, but I won’t be reviewing this series anymore. I had been holding out hope the show would get better for the second season and the creative team behind it were saying all the right things, but the S2 premiere was just more of the same. Sure, there’s some promise for better things ahead in it so I’ll be tuning in, but this is more in regards to my own personal time constraints and my sanity. Sorry and thanks for checking out Mynock Manor for details on Gotham and I seriously hope the show hits its stride soon. We still have plenty of content on the site so browse around before heading somewhere else!
This week’s crime involves a strange, but wonderfully acted, couple kidnapping homeless children using a giant pen to administer a knockout drug. The couple, Patti and Doug, are played by guest stars Lili Taylor and Frank Whaley, who have extremely long lists on IMBD ensuring you’ve likely seen them before, and they play their socially awkward and determined kidnappers with a lot of personality. Unfortunately, they’re mostly bumbling and underdeveloped and while memorable for their performances, it’s easy to forget the what or why of their actions.
Meanwhile, Gordon is trying to start using his ‘with the program’ status, which he gained for “killing” Cobblepot, to his advantage. From the police captain to Fish Mooney, everyone starts sharing a little more with him. It’s fun to watch him look guilty over the supposed death, because it’s obvious he wonders if he could’ve handled the situation differently, which helps him sell the lie. McKenzie continues to play a solid Gordon, whether it’s showing Gordon’s inability to sell most other lies, his troubles explaining his day to Barbara, or handling the young Master Bruce.
The standout scene in this episode comes from Falcone’s handling of Fish Mooney after her previous week’s attempt at undermining him. Falcone confronts Mooney in her club, getting her to profess fealty to him, while she confesses to her attempt by denying it to his face. The punishment for her misstep is the public beating of her current bed buddy Lazlow and the unspoken threat of worse to come if she’s caught again. Jada Pinkett Smith continues to shine as Mooney, who goes deftly from coy and controlling with Gordon and Bullock to shimmering rage that boils over when Falcone leaves.
The disposed Penguin shows his madness in a series of entertaining moments, carried by Robin Lord Taylor’s performance (which continues to impress from the pilot). His collage of conspiracy shows that even in a trailer home, he’s always planning. His first attempt at ransoming a person also goes rather hilariously, as the captured boy’s mother thinks it’s all a joke. What Cobblepot plans to do upon his return to Gotham City should be entertaining to see.
The main plot unfolds rather expectedly, with the ineptitude of the villains being the main cause our heroes come out on top, not wholly by their detective skills. The pharmacy worker holding the children in his basement with a seemingly endless hole still tries to get rid of the evidence (the kids) even though Bullock and Gordon have literally just stepped outside for a moment, while the carelessness of the two kidnappers strikes when the lady completely overlooks Selina Kyle hiding in the seats of a bus.
Speaking of Selina Kyle, who asks people to call her Cat, she doesn’t really get a chance to shine in her eponymously titled episode until the final act. Even then, she’s regulated to a few scenes of escaping the kidnappers, (and a rather brutal eye-gouging is done off-screen) plus her negotiations with Gordon. Luckily, the young actress Camren Bicondova has a good enough charisma to handle her few scenes and it’s a shame she doesn’t get to flex her muscles nearly enough here.
The awkwardness, scenes that felt forced or tried too hard, include: the major crimes detectives interviewing Cobblepot’s mother, where his mom’s over-enduring nature is less funny than the writer’s imagined and the major crimes detectives get there throwaway scene to remind us they are part of the story; Barbara gives the GCPD a much needed PR scare which just gives her enough to do until her side-plot kicks in; the amount and range of corruption might actually seem like too much, specifically in regards to the mayor’s plan to imprison children and the condoning of beating of young suspects.
Here are a few other things:
- The odd fact that the Wayne’s might have been involved with Arkham Asylum adds another background mystery I’m excited to see covered. And while everyone keeps saying the Asylum has been closed for the last 15 years, I find it highly unlikely that’s truly the case.
- Cat knowing who actually killed the Wayne’s speeds this thread up faster than I expected. Though she was looming over the scene, I didn’t think she got a good look at the killer. Now how quickly will Gordon follow up on this and meanwhile lose his ‘with the program’ status?
- The scenes with Gordon, Bruce, and Alfred feel like too much for this episode, with the time being used to help flesh out the villains and focus more on the plot at hand. So far the young Bruce isn’t too different from most children, but his dad’s “no shrink’s” order is odd.
A lot of what I find awkward seems to be Gotham’s attempt to distance itself from the present (and specifically shows like Arrow, The Flash) in a different way, almost like a 1950’s version of now, so it’ll be interesting how this tone they’re striving for works as the series goes on. This week there was also name drops of the Marioni family and the Doll Maker (who was on CW’s DC show Arrow recently), laying even more hints as what may come. While “Selina Kyle” often feels like a misstep, it’s only just the second episode and this show has a lot of room left to breath.
UPDATE: It looks like there was a Joker candidate after all and I completely missed it. Above, I mentioned that Cobblepot’s kidnap victim’s mom wouldn’t pony up for his son because she thought it was just a joke. A more subtly minded viewer contacted me on Twitter, Steven Patrick Helm (@YouthGroupStevO), and mentioned this moment and character as the possible Joker of the week, to which I agree. While it’s not terribly subtly, it did go right over my head so thanks to Steven for the help. Remember to join in the conversation with your ideas on who the Joker of the week might be with #JokerWatch on Twitter (or you can always e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org)
+ Terrific performances
+ Gordon “with the program”
+ Falcone vs Mooney
– Underdeveloped and incompetent villains
– Awkwardness continues
– GCPD beginning to feel too corrupt
S1, Ep. 12: “What the Little Bird Told Him”
S1, Ep. 11: “Rogues’ Gallery”
S1, Ep. 10: “Lovecraft”
S1, Ep. 9: “Harvey Dent”
S1, Ep. 8: “The Mask”
S1, Ep. 7: “Penguin’s Umbrella”
S1, Ep. 6: “Spirit of the Goat”
S1, Ep. 5: “Viper”
S1, Ep. 4: “Arkham”
S1, Ep. 3: “The Balloonman”
S1, Ep. 1: “Pilot“