Bruno Heller, the co-creater of Gotham, talked in an interview about the influence of 1970s New York City on the show. That’s evident in much of the cinematography, such as the elevated tracks at the murder scene in “Selina Kyle,” very similar to the setting of the car chase in The French Connection.
But what I hoped was also a tone similar to The French Connection.
Instead, from Falcone’s public beating of Fish’s lover, to the too on-the-nose dialogue about being “with the program” from Capt. Essen, and Bullock’s repeated badgerings of Jim Gordon to stop acting all high and mighty, Episode 2, “Selina Kyle” became, at times, almost as silly as its Monday night companion, Sleepy Hollow but not nearly as fun as Sleepy Hollow, which embraces its ridiculousness. (Look, everyone, studly naked torso!)
I complained last week about Jada Pinkett Smith’s Fish Mooney being too over-the-top for the more realistic, noir tone of the pilot. I owe her an apology because the rest of the show devolved to her level this time. Smith was likely playing Fish as requested.
The ones not over-acting were the young stars, Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle, and it was them who stole the show.
Young Bruce is having trouble, quite naturally, accepting his parents’ murder. He’s busy listening to heavy metal music, drawing scary comics, cutting himself, burning his hand to conquer pain, and learning to sneak up on Alfred. All this screams for a diagnosis of PTSD and the presence of more people around him than Alfred in the big, empty Wayne Manor. Instead, what Bruce gets is the co-parenting team of Jim Gordon and Alfred, neither of whom are warm and fuzzy in their attemps to make it all better. Love it. No wonder this kid grew up to put on a Bat-suit and fight crime.
Selina Kyle’s Cat is cool and composed, even when scared, and definitely knows how to work the system. She’s caught up in the very pulpy plot about two weird villains grabbing street kids and shipping them somewhere via Trident Company to the ominously-named villain, The Dollmaker. This mystery is barely there. Jim and Bullock do little detective work save look for a drug being used on the kids. Eventually, they find some of them, including Selian, but this plot ends abruptly in a weird cut near the end of the episode.
However, the presence of two elements from this mystery suggests good things to come in future episodes.
Quick research of “Trident” in DC Comics reveals that the character was connected to H.I.V.E, the super-secret evil terrorist organization in the DC Universe. (Think Marvel’s Hydra.) The Dollmaker alias has used by several villains in the DC Universe but one of them created “cybernetic doll assassins” by brainwashing and altering teens. A terrorist organization with teenage mind-controlled cybernetic assassins has some possibilities. H.I.V.E certainly wasn’t on my list of villains that might appear in Gotham. And, maybe they won’t, perhaps this is just easter eggs for comic fans. But it seems odd to use the names and have an episode surrounding missing children if they weren’t going to go there.
Meantime, Detectives Montoya and Allen interview Oswald’s mom, leaving no mystery at all about why Oswald is so weird. Oswald himself is busy on the outskirts of Gotham murdering and kidnapping frat boys. But in a fun way.
The real surprise of the episode comes at the end, in a down-to-earth scene between Selina, trying to work the system to her advantage, and Jim, still trying to find out who really killed the Waynes. She confesses she saw the whole thing to him.
Next up: Jim clashes more with Bullock and ‘the system,’ the dynamic duo find a new method of solving crimes other than beating someone up (nah!), and, hopefully, young Bruce and Selina bond.
Corrina Lawson is a writer, mom, geek and superhero, though not always all four on the same day. She is a senior editor of the GeekMom blog at Wired and the author of a superhero romance series and an alternate history series featuring Romans and Vikings in ancient North America. She has been a comic book geek all her life and often dreamed of growing up to be Lois Lane.