Gotham‘s second episode, perhaps misleadingly titled ‘Selina Kyle’, was a more enjoyable experience than the premiere. It steps away from the Wayne’s murder to tell a more self-contained story. While still not a perfect episode by any means, any improvements to the series are readily welcomed.
The episode opens on a pair of criminals, played by Lili Taylor and Frank Whaley, drugging and abducting some homeless children. Selina Kyle witnesses this and escapes while another of the kids manages to get thrown through a restaurant window. This gets the attention of the GCPD and the hunt for the kidnappers stutters to a start. The fact that the GCPD are willing to turn their backs on so many children without any hesitation feels a little too filthy. They drag their feet until the mayor comes under fire, showing us even more clearly that the department is corrupt. I don’t think the show needs to consistently remind us of this fact, but it seems intent to. Eventually the kidnappers are tracked down and Selina reenters the episode. It’s revealed that the Doll Maker is behind these kidnappings and this reveal is an exciting hint of what’s to come.
Let me start with one of the bigger problems I had with the episode: ‘Selina Kyle’ features very little of Selina. I expected to spend a lot more time learning about her character. Camren Bicondova does a decent job as Selina, but she doesn’t bring enough to her character to share the screen with the more seasoned actors. She has some interesting moments, including a particularly gruesome use of her ‘claws’, but otherwise I was disappointed.
Another issue that continues to plague the show is the lackluster GCPD. They’re just not interesting enough fora show that’s supposed to be centered around them. The force is so corrupt it’s almost shocking to see them do anything besides take bribes and waste time. Gordon has improved, but he remains a weak point of the show. McKenzie does a fine job, but the depth that such an iconic character deserves still isn’t readily available. There are hints of how good the character could be throughout the episode and I’m hopeful they will capitalize on it soon.
However, despite some of these flaws, the episode has quite a few good moments. Robin Lord Taylor continues to impress with his interpretation of Oswald. Watching him plot the rise of his criminal empire all while ruining his first ransom demands makes for the best scenes of the episode. Jada Pinkett Smith has a much smaller role in this episode, but she still shines in her scenes with Falcone. There’s a lot of great set up for the future battle of Gotham’s crime families. Taylor and Whaley are delightful villains of the week, even if their schemes are foiled a little too conveniently. The hints at Doll Maker’s eventual appearance are also enticing and I can’t wait to see how that plays out. Batman has one of the best rouges galleries in comics and it’s good to see that the show is utilizing them so effectively.
This week’s episode of Gotham took some steps in the right direction, but the show still isn’t quite up to par. The strength of the show continues to lie with characters like Oswald and Fish Moony, while Gordon and the police force struggle to catch their stride. Still, the hints of what’s to come in the series is enticing enough to keep me watching.