After the carefully crafted goodness that was the Gotham pilot, I’m not sure anyone knew what to expect. A police procedural with the famous Gotham City as its backdrop was bound to whip up the interests of Bat-fans, comic geeks, and cop show buffs.
Tonight’s episode, “Selina Kyle,” finds Detectives Gordon and Bullock on the heels of a child trafficking ring. Led by guest stars Lili Taylor and Frank Whaley doing their best impressions of door to door religious nuts, drugging and abducting street kids. They do a fine job as creepy minions, but never really rise above that role. Gordon and Bullock are starting to gel as partners and McKenzie and Logue are exciting to watch. Better yet, we finally get to hear Cat speak, and she’s full of fire no matter who she comes face to face with. It’s still not nearly enough, but it’s definitely a beginning. Robin Lord Taylor gives a more grounded performance this hour as the Penguin, plotting his return to Gotham City on a violent path.
We also get a lot more of Bruce Wayne and Alfred, which I was suprised and excited to see. I figured we’d get the murder of his parents as an entry point for us into the series, but thankfully Gotham has other plans. The Wayne murders look to be part of a mahor plot point. Bruce is slowly descending into the dark places we know he’s headed for, with his violent sketching and heavy metal, and Alfred isn’t sure what to do besides shouting in a British accent. The budding respect between Gordon and Bruce is another joy to watch.
“Selina Kyle” marks a point that the show shifts from the pilot’s method of pushing every reference to the Bat Universe front and center to passing mentions. Taylor and Whaley mention working to acquire the children for the terrifying Bat-villian, The Dollmaker, a serial killer that uses human skin to make his dolls. We learn a bit more about Arkham Asylum, and how it stands currently in the world of the show. These are big teases that will hopefully pay off later. They’re surely going to keep me coming back for more.
Overall, “Selina Kyle” is a more cautious hour than the pilot. We get a good idea of the direction the show wants to head, that of the police procedural in Gotham City, one that owes much to the excellent Greg Rucka comic Gotham Central. “Selina Kyle” shows Gotham finding its footing very carefully and contains much promise for the series as a whole.
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