Gotham got its next installment this week. And I’m still a bit torn about the show. Don’t get me wrong. I like the show. I’m just not sure how much I like it. It’s not like Game of Thrones or Arrow where you scream at your television because of what just happened or the crazy implications for potential plotlines/characters. Gotham is more relaxed. Almost too relaxed.
More villains incoming
During the pilot, I was very concerned that the villain cameos were what the show was most excited about. For a show like this to be successful, it needs to be more concerned with what is going on in the show’s present and let the cameos be what adds some spice, as opposed to the other way around. This second episode showed that while the show is still squirming in its seat trying its hardest not to give all its cameos away, it is doing something very exciting. Its showing us the beginnings of Batman’s older villains; the ones who we were always told had long criminal backgrounds ages before Batman arrived. Like the Dollmaker and Zsasz.
For those of you who don’t know much about these villains, don’t worry. The show is making clear signs it’s going to giving us everything we need to know about who these guys are and what their history is. For those of you who do know who these guys are: you should be very excited. These are guys who have rich histories that up until now, have only been talked about in past tense. Now, we’ll get to see them in action. If anything, Gotham’s chosen time period was their peak of getting away with their craziest and cruelest plans. They are also taking it slow, which was a big worry for most audiences after the first episode. Gotham is showing us that it can do subtly and be patient.
The episode is called, Selina Kyle, so naturally we get a closer look at the future Catwoman. In the first episode, she witnesses the death of the Waynes and curiously follows Gordon around town in her ever famous cat-like crouch. By the second episode, we get a bit more information about her and her personality. For starters, she doesn’t like the name “Selena Kyle” and instead likes to be called Kat…or Cat. I’m not sure. Either way, it’s silly. But I’ll forgive the annoying neon sign that says “Catwoman” on it mostly because the actress, Camren Bicondova, isn’t too shabby for a child actress. Also, she apparently was a runner up for season 7 of America’s Best Dance Crew. So if we don’t see some flashy acrobatics, I’m going to be disappointed. But anyway, Selina lives on the streets as an orphan. Or…almost orphan, since she insists her mom is still alive somewhere. So her personality is a combination of sassy and hard-core child of the streets who knows that Gotham is a town all about give and take. She’s smart, resourceful, and knows to “go for the eyes.” All I’ll say is the show lets her follow through on that. And ouch. I don’t want to spoil too much of what trouble she gets up to, but she is able to hold her own against some very creepy people (despite her frizzy hair constantly giving away her hiding place).
Baby cat & baby bat
My main concern with her character is that the show might be leaning towards making Selina and Bruce friends. They haven’t officially met yet. But it is a possibility since Bruce’s childhood friend from the Christipher Nolen movies, Rachel, will not be in Gotham. So they might make Selina into a childhood friend. Just because she is a child of a similar age to Bruce and will be majorly involved in the political complexities with solving the Wayne murders. And I feel a bit iffy on that. Part of the reason the Batman and Catwoman chemistry is so fascinating is that they are just two people who met on opposite sides of the law and ended up in a complex love affair (taking place mostly on rooftops). You don’t need them to have been friends as children to make their relationship more interesting. It already is interesting. Hopefully they won’t go that route. But there are hints that they might. If they do, Gotham is going to have to do a lot of convincing to make people go along with it.
Another character we follow closely throughout the second episode is The Penguin. And it’s going through a lot of trouble to do so. We know he’ll come back to Gotham in time. But for now, we get to watch his bizarre journey trying to get himself together and come up with a plan to enact vengeance. So far, it’s a strange balance between showing his vulnerabilities and his mercilessness. The Penguin is like an awkward middle schooler who’s trying to follow the “how to be a villain” guide book and things aren’t going as smoothly as he would like. My prediction for why we are following him in particular is that his path to super villain status is ultimately tragic because he is mentally ill in a system that can’t, or rather, won’t help him. Most of Batman’s villains get sent to Arkham Asylum instead of prison because they are CRAZY. The villains that are in power are mobsters, they want money and power. But most of Batman’s villains just want to murder, cause mayhem and see the world burn just because it makes them feel good (with money being an added bonus). This makes characters like The Penguin seem more sympathetic because we will see what drove them to that level of madness.
The kind of storylines the Gotham writers are hinting at doesn’t just stop with their villains.
For those of you who follow Arrow, you know that they covered the Dollmaker in season 2 as a middle-aged man. This also brings up possibilities of a universe crossover (in a sense). Considering the time line, Oliver Queen would only be a child, if born yet at all. However, his father, Robert Queen, is a younger man building his Queen Consolidated empire. To make a possible universe crossover more believable, there was a flash of a large, green “Q” during one of the city pan-overs. This at least implies that Queen Consolidated exists within this universe. The writers for Gotham have said they have left the door open. They don’t want to get too invested in a crossover idea because they don’t want to have to step on any writing group’s toes in terms of villain lore. However, they want it to be open-ended enough that the two stories can exist in the same universe. Any sort of solid crossover however would be incredibly difficult to pull off (they are on different networks, they would have to make sure certain actors are available, etc). But they have given fans enough hope to dream. And that is a nice touch.
But getting back to Gotham, I feel like this show is finally starting to add a bit of color to the otherwise bland James Gordon. He is an honest cop in a corrupt system and dang it, Gordon is gonna stop it all. But he’s already starting to make a few concessions. The show makes it a point to show Gordon being uncomfortable with beating a confession out of a prisoner. Yet, when the lives of a large group of homeless children are on the line, he is willing for a criminal to get a few bruises. At what point is he no longer an honest cop? I wonder if this means Gordon will have to bend his moral guidelines to the breaking point where he is as guilty as the corrupt people he was trying to stop in the first place.
Gotham is starting to level out and show off the multiple plot threads it has in store for us. But it still has a long way to go to prove that it’ll live up to all the potential it’s promised.