Gotham: “Selina Kyle” Season 1 Episode 2 Review

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Selina Kyle is a very weird second episode. While it almost completely betrays the premise of Gotham, several characters and their dynamics instantly felt more fleshed out.

Considering how opposite some of things that work and don’t work when looking at this entry compared with the pilot, Gotham suddenly is even more of an enigma than before. Who could have predicted that the deliciously sultry Fish Mooney would lose all of her charm in her scenes tonight? Who would have thought after laying the ground work for mob clashing we’d get a supervillain already living up to their name in the so far unseen Dollmaker?

It’s bizarre and incredibly jarring. This inconsistent nature strips the show of any identity it built in the pilot. While yes, some may argue that it is the essence of Batman stories to come in just about any shape or form (read: gritty and realistic or fantastical), Gotham hasn’t earned the right to be called a Batman story just yet.

The episode opens with Bruce burning his hand over a candle, telling this insane version of Alfred (“You stupid, stupid boy!”) that he’s trying to train himself to take pain. The scene is unnatural. Forcing him to already be in the dark mindset of becoming Batman is awkward because it happened so quickly. Compare Bruce’s development thus far to Selina’s: Bruce is a happy-go-lucky kid in the opening scene and now he’s burning himself, while Selina starts on a roof, already putting her left of center enough that she can pull off most of her scenes in this episode.

Take for example her clever sneaking around once the Dollmaker’s henchman realize one child is missing. Camren Bicondova plays Selina more scared than Anne Hathaway or Michelle Pfeiffer did, but she’s still recognizably that character. She’s younger and should be more afraid. But then we get a perfect pre-teen Catwoman moment where she threatens a male cop with screaming that he touched her. A moment like this, one that is so in line with the character we love but also at a point in a relatively unexplored portion of their life, is where Gotham could truly shine and become what it wants to be.

Which is why that opening scene with Bruce burning himself then not being clever enough to get away with it feels unearned. It’s just plain weak writing. Perhaps the Gotham writers are partial to certain characters. Shame that Batman himself doesn’t seem to be one of them.

Despite being called Selina Kyle, the crux of the episode still followed Gordon and Bullock as they investigated the Dollmaker’s abductions. Donal Logue really came into his own in this episode, he and Ben McKenzie building a fun back-and-forth that I was surprised got a few genuine laughs out of me.

But this second episode still doesn’t make much sense with what it’s trying to do. Like it or not, Dollmaker is a supervillain, not a crime boss. Carmine Falcone doesn’t have gimmicky plans like abducting children. In just two episodes, Gotham seems to be ready to give us more than just mobster villains. This is a show getting ahead of itself. For what this series is trying to do, Dollmaker’s addition to the season as a seemingly major villain down the road doesn’t make much sense. Suddenly the slow build from organized crime to straight up madness has a cheat in the second episode.

What it really comes down to is that Gotham still doesn’t know what kind of show it wants to be. That said, Selina Kyle proves more than the pilot that this show loves its own characters. Gordon continues to be a great lead and Bullock and Selina both had great moments this week. If the rest of the cast can get up to speed, maybe it won’t matter what type of antagonists Gotham throws at us. But for now, there’s still a lot of reasons to be worried. Grade: C+

By Matt Dougherty

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