Episode 2 was titled Selina Kyle. After the heavy handed references to Catwoman in the first episode I was a little leery about episode 2, but it didn’t focus on Selina quite as much as I expected it to. As a reminder, in the pilot we only saw Selina Kyle skulking about a few times. First she still milk and wallet and then witnesses the murder of the Waynes and then she watches the funeral hidden behind a large monument. Selina Kyle is clearly a sneaky girl who likes to lurk in shadows. The episode begins with Bruce Wayne testing himself with fire in a dark room before Alfred comes bursting in. He discovers Bruce’s burn and yells at him before hugging him tightly. This is a gruff no nonsense Alfred Pennyworth and I like it. Later in the episode, Alfred asks James Gordon to come to Wayne manor for tea to ‘talk to the boy’. We are told that the Wayne’s left strict instructions in case of their death and those instructions declared no psychiatrists. Would Bruce Wayne have become Batman if he’d had a psychiatrist?
We then move to a darkened street where Selina Kyle and some other street kids are standing around a barrel fire when a large delivery truck arrives. A man (Frank Whaley, “Ray Donovan” and that classic flick “Career Opportunities”) and a woman (Lili Taylor, “Hemlock Grove”, “Six Feet Under”) get out and claim to be from the ‘Mayor’s Homeless Outreach Project’ offering food (“Who here likes chocolate?”). The woman proceeds to stab three kids in the neck with a giant pin. Because Selina held back from the offers of food, she was able to disappear.
We then cut to Detective James Gordon standing above the homeless man who was shot during the previous scene and of course Selina is lurking nearby and watching him. This in turn leads to Gordon discovering that street kids have been disappearing and no one cares and no one (i.e. the city’s leaders) wants to general public to know about it. We see more tension develop between Harvey Bullock and Gordon as Gordon wants to do the right thing and Bullock insists that he get with the program, after all he dealt with Oswald Cobblepot. This leads to even the Captain telling Gordon, “This is Gotham. You don’t bend you get broke.”
Meanwhile we also get to see Cobblepot walking on the side of the road trying to hitchhike. He gets picked up by two young men who proceed to mock him. So of course, he breaks a bottle and jabs it into the neck of one and kidnaps the other.
Then we get to see Fish Mooney enjoying a performance in her club when Carmine Falcone and some of his goons show up. Falcone begins their conversation with a toast – “Men who are about to die are very honest, it pays to listen to them.” He proceeds to tell her the things Cobblepot told him and that he “…never lose[s] sleep over [his] enemies. It’s [his] friends that keep [him] awake.” As a further message, Falcone’s henchmen beat the boy Fish “keeps around for exercise.” After Falcone leaves, she snaps and yells out everyone to get out of her club. When she is alone with her man she swears she will kill Falcone with bare hands and her teeth. And I believe her! It’s a beautiful performance! Jada Pinkett Smith continues to revel and relish the role. Although I do have to say, I’m not sure I’d ever want to frequent her establishments – it seems a little unpredictable.
Then we see Montoya and Allen with Oswald Cobblepot’s mother, the amazing Carol Kane!!! Carol Kane is so great at playing wacky characters and Cobblepot’s mother is certainly no exception to the rule. Then we switch to a dark dungeon of a room where the street kids are being held. There also happens to be a big open hole in the room. There were rusty chains and a concrete floor – in other words the absolute archetype of a creepy place to hold kidnapped people.
As Bullock and Gordon follow up on the case (via the manufacturers of the drug that was used on the kids), we learn that the children are being collected for The Dollmaker. I must admit, I had a fan girl moment here for a couple reasons. In DC Comics’ past there have actually been three different characters called the Dollmaker. But the most recent appearance of The Dollmaker was within the New 52’s “Detective Comics” (which is a Batman title). This alone was enough to get me excited because of the general continuity that’s possible. But I also got excited because The Dollmaker was also in an episode of Arrow last season (Season 2, Episode 3 “Broken Dolls”). His appearance in Arrow was a result of the mass release of prisoners due to the earthquake machine (long story, it’s best if you just go watch Arrow). This suggests that he was a threat much earlier and therefore could be part of a larger continuity. While Geoff Johns, Chief Creative Officer for DC Entertainment, has said that the DC Universe on screen is different from that on film he has not said much about the different television properties. Personally, I would not expect to see any crossovers (aside from those between The Flash and Arrow because they are on the same network and built as connected entities) from shows on the other networks, but it would be nice of DC Entertainment to acknowledge some continuity between shows. The DC Universe is huge, and in fact The Multiverse concept (see Enter The Multiversity) essentially resolves any continuity problems. I will continue to view the different network properties as separate entities, but will probably continue to be excited anytime a reference is dropped which suggests a possible connection.
So Bullock and Gordon save the kids in the deep, dark dungeon room and the mayor initiates a program for the orphaned street children. His program is essentially to lock up the children in a detention facility. Of course as the buses are loaded with children, one is hijacked for The Dollmaker. Of course Selina Kyle is on that bus but manages to avoid being locked into a shipping container with the other children and claws out the eyes of a man in her escape attempt. Selina proves she’s already wily, sassy, and brutal. We also learn she’s 13, has outstanding warrants and has already been in juvenile detention. She already has many of the characteristics that define Catwoman. So how exactly are we going to see Catwoman’s origin story?
The episode ends with Selina demanding to see James Gordon. The hassled man dealing with her relents because of her threats. She tells Gordon she’s been watching him and knows he’s “a friend of the boy.” She then tells him she knows who killed the Waynes.
This episode jumped around between many of the characters that were introduced last week. It proved the enormity of the cast and the number of story lines that need to be juggled. The life of the show will depend on viewers staying connected to all those different story lines or at least becoming invested enough in at least one to keep them coming back even if it isn’t the main focus of an episode. We’ve seen genre shows succeed and fail because of this very point.
Another juggling point, one which I mentioned early on, is the levity with the gravity. Gotham is a dark city and Batman stories have always held a much darker tone. It’s one reason so many people who generally prefer Marvel to DC still gravitate towards Batman. But, the darkness has to be balanced with a light to even the tone and keep viewers from spiraling into the depths. Supernatural has a habit of airing a much more humorous episode after one with a not-so-happy ending. This episode lightened the mood with a number of flippant comments within the dialogue. I particularly like Bullock’s reference to Gordan as St. Jim. Did any of the jokes stand out to you?
And who else got excited with just the mention of Arkham Asylum? Arkham plays into so much of the Batman mythology and the city of Gotham that it can’t be ignored in this series. I’m looking forward to seeing how Arkham plays into the development of Gotham (both the show and the city).
How was episode 2 for you? Did it live up to your expectations? Will you stick with it and stay tuned? Based on the tease at the end of the episode I know I will. And keep your eyes open because next week The Flash debuts and Arrow returns. So much more good television to come!