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It's New Cat, Old Tricks for Gotham's Selina Kyle

Mike Hoffman | 1 Oct 2014 03:30
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Gotham's second episode, "Selina Kyle," focuses less on teenage Catwoman and more on asking questions..

Even though the newest episode of Gotham is named after Catwoman's alter-ego, very little of the episode focused on Selina Kyle, who prefers to go by "Cat" in this Batman universe. The thirteen year old was silent in the last episode, witnessing the murder of Bruce Wayne's parents and creeping along on the edge of the story. Unfortunately, she does a lot of that in this episode, too.

The title would imply that Cat should be a major part of the story, but the episode instead focuses on the mystery of the week: Who is kidnapping Gotham's homeless youths? Sure, Cat is a kid without a family or home, so she gets involved, but the story is more about Gordon and Bullock solving the case and saving the kids. That would be fine, since Gordon is the lens through which we are supposed to view Gotham City, but the problem is that the show never actually resolves the conflict. We're left with even more questions, which too many shows use as a cheap trick to get people to tune in next week.

In fact, significant screen time is dedicated to Gotham City's underworld, particularly Cobblepot. Once again, this wouldn't be a big issue if any of these other stories were connected to the main plot or other characters or if any of these side plots had some sort of resolution. Instead this episode serves to just build the world and its mysteries while giving us brief glimpses into Cat's life. This is even more annoying considering the initial direction of her story seems fairly obvious and by the end of the episode, it becomes boring to watch the buildup.

Plot issues aside, Gotham still suffers from the same problems as the pilot. The cast is great, but their dialogue is all stuff we've heard a hundred times before. Fortunately, the delivery and reactions are fantastic, especially the humor between Gordon and Bullock, which usually follows the pattern of Bullock saying something ridiculous and Gordon staring at him in disbelief. Jada Pinkett Smith and Robin Lord Taylor are still vicious as crime boss Fish Mooney and the creepily violent Cobblepot, but in completely different ways.

In a lot of ways, I feel like Gotham's biggest strength is in how it juxtaposes the tired cop-show dialogue with the outlandish villainy of its antagonists. Maybe the familiarity with the tropes of a corrupt police and a broken city is what makes the freaky stuff work.

At this point though, it has to be said that Gotham is failing hard in the continuity department, but I'm not talking about differences from Batman source material. Cat's necklace drops straight to the ground but winds up a number of feet away from where she is hiding. A guard isn't shown in a shot when a character is sneaking out of a doorway, but is right there when the camera cuts back. In last week's premiere, why did Alfred show up to retrieve Bruce after the Waynes were murdered when no one knew who the victims were until a moment earlier? Nitpicky concerns maybe, but things like this can pull viewers out of the suspension of disbelief necessary to enjoy this kind of fiction.

Gotham airs Monday nights at 8/7c on Fox. You can also catch the new episodes on Fox's website and Hulu. The rest of this review will go into spoiler territory, but specifics about major plot points will be avoided where possible.

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