Gotham: 102 “Selina Kyle” Review
Reviewed by Mark McCullough.
The second episode of DC’s latest venture into TV was named after one of the main characters of the episode: Selina Kyle, or as she prefers Cat. After a solid start last time out I was very interested to see what approach writer Bruno Heller would take to elevate the show to the next level. If this episode was anything to go by, it would seem he is adopting a similar approach as hit series Game of Thrones with the stories of each of the characters largely remaining separate. What this allows the series to establish is a necessary depth to its universe, we see things happen through the perspective of the characters involved and as such can anticipate potential directions for storylines. From what little we have witnessed so far, it appears to be an approach which suits the gritty tone of the narrative. Particularly with a theme such as corruption, it is vitally important to ‘show not tell’ and this is an aspect which I feel Gotham excels at.
Whilst there are lots of main characters, each with their own stories to be told, there is no disputing that Jim Gordon is the focal point of the narrative. For this reason it is crucial that the audience like him and can relate to him. This is made relatively simple by the narrative presenting him as the champion for justice and the only character with a proper set of morals. However this on its own would not make for an interesting character, so the added complexity comes from his interactions with the environment around him. Whether this be trying to hide his true nature amidst a ring of corruption, or preventing his girlfriend from doing the right thing, we really empathise with the character and his struggles. The use of Gordon is also pivotal to the success of the series as it generally tends to be him who bridges the gaps between the character narratives. As for his own story, it seems that the chosen direction will be a case of the week set up, which would be in keeping with the shows nature as a crime thriller with a Batman theme.
Perhaps my favourite story strand and the one I can see as having the most potential is the mob storyline which pits Fish Mooney against Don Falcone. Already it is evident that this power struggle is going to shape the future of Gotham and would fit the foreshadowing of the war mentioned in the pilot episode. What I like about this story is that we know where it is going, but it is the building up to that point which will be interesting. It’s almost like a giant game of chess which inevitably will find all of our favourite characters stumble onto the board at some point throughout the course of the season.
In another parallel story we have Bruce Wayne, struggling to come to terms with the loss of his parents we see a lost young boy trying to find himself. I think his character was handled very well here, although the issues arising from his actions early in the episode could have done with a little more expansion given their sensitive nature. The other child character focused on particularly within this episode is Cat. She plays a large part, actually falling victim to this week’s antagonist, the child kidnappers. She too appears to have struck up a strong relationship with Gordon and as such produces the revelation which forms the cliff-hanger of the episode.
Another of the story strands is that of Penguin, who is presented as a very creepy and unhinged individual who makes the screen his own anytime he is present. This episode affords the opportunities to push the character to its limits and beyond the point of sanity. Finally we have the Major Crimes Unit, who still remain quite ambiguous and are at this point the characters we know the least about.
A slight improvement on last week, but disappointing as the series has shown it has the potential to do much better. Going in its favour is the narrative structure, the parallel plot strands are easy to follow and give a much appreciate depth to the show’s universe. I particularly enjoyed how the plots remained separate even after the conclusion of the episode. This suggests a long game approach which means the payoff will be more rewarding when certain plots come to fruition.
Where it could perhaps improve is in its case of the week, I don’t feel it worked very well in this particular instance however that is more acceptable in the early stages of the show as there is a lot to be established. I would be looking for an improvement here as the series progresses. Another weakness is that some of the characters are underdeveloped and somewhat clichéd, however there are plenty more episodes for this to be fixed.