Previously on Gotham: Pilot.
The Cat speaks, the Penguin absconds, and the straight arrow bends.
The Loving Arms of Juvenile Services
Arranged around a homeless-kid-snatching plot, we see Goody Two-Shoes Gordon delving deeper into Gotham’s mysteries as he tries to make sense of the way things are run a) as opposed to how they should be run and b) how he may find the leverage he needs to turn things around now that the Waynes are dead.
Yeah, that’s pretty much it.
It’s not that I was bored, I was entertained in the sense that I wanted to know why they were taking the kids and what was going to happen to them Upstate (not that any of those questions were actually answered, thanks very much), and I do want to know more about Gordon and Bullock and Cat and Bruce and all of them, but… not one line of dialogue stuck with me. Not one funny line, not one sarcastic barb, not one subtle thing. And that’s maybe the problem, because Gotham is very on-the-nose. With everything.
“Yeah, like that.”
Case in point. Or this one:
“Did something happen you’re not telling me about? These last few weeks, you’ve been different. Troubled.”
Well thanks for spelling everything out for me, Gotham, I totally didn’t figure this out from the way Jim’s been angled away from Barbara for the entire conversation, putting more distance between them, and avoiding her gaze as much as he can without totally spooking her. Come on, give us some credit. Also, Saint Jim, Barbara knows when you’re lying. At least I hope she does.
The honestly best things about this episode were Lili Taylor as one part of the kid-snatching double act and Jada Pinkett-Smith as Fish Mooney, again. Taylor was murderously pious in her “gosh” way of abducting homeless children, and Fish Mooney makes one great, dare I say it, cartoon villain, complete with dramatic close-ups, thousand-yard-stare of death, and copious amounts of lies right in Falcone’s face.
Although the episode was named after Selina Kyle, she only becomes really interesting towards the end, when she tells Gordon that she knows who really killed Bruce’s parents. Until then, I’m not sure whether the child-snatching plot was built for her or around her, but the trouble with making iconic characters into kid versions of themselves is that they might end up too much like their adult selves, and Selina fits that slot. Aside from the fact that — unlike the other street kids — she doesn’t actually look like a street kid, with her hair and the make-up, she doesn’t get to say or do much. She’s Catwoman in a fourteen-year-old homeless kid’s body. Sure, she’s been in juvie, she’s had to grow up fast, and it’s all an act; but it veers between obviously put-on and too effortless to allude to the second layer of acting there. The narrative could have — should have — afforded her a lot more room to actually develop her character since, you know, she’s the titular figure. And then the episode ends on the one revelation that’s literally the only thing that propels her into this story in the first place, up to this point.
Maybe it’s just because I’m not steeped in the DC Comics mythology, but I’m really sure Gotham can do better than this.
Next on Gotham: The Balloonman.