'Gotham' Season 1, Episode 2 Review: Catwoman Revealed

Gotham Season 1, Episode 2 - Bullock & Gordon

In our return visit to Gotham, a tale of child trafficking takes us deep into the world of Selina “Cat” Kyle (Camren Bicondova), who just may hold the key to solving the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne. More so, FOX’s newest comic book venture shows off its first successful episodic adventure.

In “Selena Kyle,” written by creator Bruno Heller, an attempted kidnapping leads Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and Bullock (Donal Logue) to investigate reports that homeless children are secretly being collected and sold off to a mysterious person for a mysterious reason. Meanwhile, Carmine Falcone (John Doman) and Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith) come “to an agreement” about who actually runs the city. Elsewhere, Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor) lays out his plans to return to his former life and conquer all, while Bruce Wayne continues to test himself.

Last week’s Gotham series premiere, though genuinely enjoyable, gave us little indication of the type of show Gotham will ultimately become. It was an all-star character affair, as one would expect from an introduction, and all the many references that surrounded the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne were a bit too on the nose for a television show that could last many years. In this week’s episode, however, a more controlled hand is beginning to reveal itself, and all the references, while still very much there, are clearly being restrained, which betters serves this ever-growing world and its fascinating inhabitants.

This is the second case for new partners Gordon and Bullock, and already you can tell the chemistry between Mackenzie and Logue has strengthened from the pilot. Logue is now able to pull off his part-time role as a comic relief, while Mackenzie can stay stern-faced as Gordon and continue to pursue a case everyone would rather go away. Like Gordon, Bullock will be challenged by the city of Gotham, and ultimately fail, but how and why – especially with Gordon standing next to him – is a terrific transformation to watch unfold onscreen. Though perhaps Gordon isn’t the key.

Gotham Season 1, Episode 2 - Bullock

For all intents and purposes, it appears as if Barbara Gordon will be serving as the guiding voice for her fiancé’s descent into a lifetime of fighting crime and corruption. We’ve already seen Gordon make allowances in his brief time on the force, and there’s no doubt that he will continue to do so, as is required of him. After having looked into the darkness of the city herself, there’s no better person than Barbara to know how quickly a good person can fall to temptations, and it will be through her that he remains true to ideals.

The villains of this week’s tale are not the stars, unfortunately, and actors Lilly Taylor (The Conjuring) and Frank Whaley (Little Monsters), who play the mysterious duo, are far too talented for roles so underserved.

Still, both Whaley and Taylor are able to deliver unique and quirky performances at the drop of the hat, so it didn’t take much for them to help provide some depth to the generally weak international child trafficking ring storyline. If anything, Taylor and Whaley are a good sign of the caliber of performers they’re interested in for the week-to-week tales.

Move over, Cobblepot. This episode is all about Catwoman, or Selina Kyle, and yet she’s surprisingly absent for much of the story. Instead, the episode makes sure to first establish the world that she exists in, then “Cat” slyly drops in for a few relatively brief scenes that truly live up to her infamy. As her character and story develops further, it’ll be interesting to see what happens when Gordon and Selina don’t see eye to eye on an issue, or what will happen when she begins to investigate her mother.

Gotham Season 1, Episode 2 - Alfred & Gordon

Selina, for the most part, is still a mystery, as is Bruce Wayne, who continues to be a fascinating character, even with his little time onscreen. There’s clearly much that could be done with this character, and each episode could easily open itself up to include much more of him. The fact that it doesn’t is the mature vision that you want on this series.

Bruce’s life at this point is very uninteresting, and after his parents died, it’s likely that he doesn’t do much other than “testing” himself each day. For a series to acknowledge this is one thing, for them to continue along this path is another. Fortunately, this series is filled with enough rich characters who can more than carry an episode or two without missing the series’ keystone.

Gotham has shown great growth from the pilot to episode 2 and, having seen the third episode, it’s fair to say that subsequent episodes will also do the same, though perhaps with a stronger story for its imaginative antagonists. The Joker reference was there, you Clown, albeit subtly – and still for no reason other than vanity. Still, the show has proven in its little time on the air to be more than just its famous characters, and with each episode, the world of Gotham continues to be one of the most exciting additions to television this year.

Gotham returns next Tuesday with “The Balloon Man” @8pm on FOX.

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