There are kidnappers in town taking all of the local street kids and it’s up to Gordon and Bullock to get to the bottom of the case on the latest recap for Gotham…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
The debut episode of Gotham was packed full of Batman folklore, almost to the point where the pilot was bursting at the seams, bludgeoning everyone who was watching with as many Caped Crusader Easter eggs as one could possibly stomach. The hour not only introduced viewers to a young Jim Gordon and his corrupt partner Harvey Bullock, but a slew of other characters including those who would one day become Catwoman, The Riddler and The Penguin not to mention Carmine Falcone and a new villainess named Fish Mooney.
The heavy handed writing left many (me included) a little worried that the show would put too many stones in the air with not enough oxygen to really explore the core characters and instead turn ‘Gotham’ into a series based on viewers picking out names from a Batman wiki page like raffle tickets. The second episode was like a breath of fresh air, however, as the story gained focus on a ‘crime of the week’ type scenario while still introducing some new characters without beating us over the head with them like Harvey Bullock wielding the newest edition of the Gotham phone book.
While the title of the show this week — ‘Selina Kyle’ — was an obvious homage to the future Catwoman, the episode really focused more on the continued strained relationship between Jim Gordon and his partner as well as the frayed ties currently holding together the Gotham underworld. With that, let’s get right into the recap this week for ‘Gotham’.
Patty and Doug
If there’s one thing we’ve learned really well through two weeks in Gotham, it’s the fact that the police have no problem looking the other way. Whether it’s a crime lord on the streets ruling with an iron fist (or bat as the case may be) or just skating past the fact that two cops were hung on meat hooks and nearly murdered, the police force in Gotham is rife with corruption and the few good cops left are fighting an uphill battle.
So when two rather strange ‘good Samaritans’ show up in a truck offering sandwiches to the homeless teens currently occupying the streets of Gotham before drugging and carrying them away, it’s the one drug riddled teen who ends up getting tossed through an expensive restaurant window that gains the police’s interest rather than an old war veteran living on the street who was shot dead when he tried to intervene. Thus how things work in Gotham.
Thankfully, Jim Gordon is on the scene and he believes the two incidents are connected, but when they question the teen that went flying through the window his tale of two kidnappers attacking the children with some kind of hypodermic pen to knock them out before carrying them away in a truck is just to fantastical to believe. Gordon wants to investigate further but even their boss Captain Essen isn’t too interested in stirring the pot when it comes to a bunch of teen runaways.
“This is Gotham — you don’t bend, you’ll get broke”
~ Captain Essen
It’s only when Jim tells his girlfriend Barbara about the crime and the captain’s willingness to seemingly brush it under the rug that she calls the press and gives them an anonymous tip about the case. The next morning when headlines are splashed with children being kidnapped across Gotham, the chief and the mayor both have to save face by furthering the investigation to find out who kidnapped these kids.
The deeper they go down the rabbit hole, the stranger things get because when lab analyst Edward Nygma arrives he reveals that the teen who leapt through the window had trace amounts of a quick knockout drug that hasn’t been used much in the last 15 years — ever since Arkham Asylum shut down (good reference there). Gordon and Bullock are now charged with leaning on the three companies in town that still stock the drug to see which one of them is selling it illegally and who is buying it from them.
Meet the Cat
The introduction to Selina Kyle first came during the pilot when she was the lone witness in the alley watching from a fire escape as Thomas and Martha Wayne were shot dead in front of their son before the gunman made off in great haste. This week, Selina is one of the street kids who sees the kidnappers take out all of her friends as she makes a quick escape almost like a cat.
Unfortunately, Selina’s getaway is short lived because the mayor’s grand scheme to clean up the streets of Gotham is to have the police force round up all the wayward teens currently homeless and send them into foster care or state homes, which some of the kids might say is even worse than having no roof over your head. Selina is one of the kids picked up and hauled into the system and even when she begs and pleads to see Detective Jim Gordon, the social worker in charge wants to hear nothing more from her.
It seems they should have listened because the bus Selina jumps on is soon visited by the two crazies — Patty and Doug — and they’ve absconded with the kids to finish the job they first started in the streets a few days ago. They were determined to deliver these kids to their boss, and now they have a whole busload of them in tow.
Despite All His Rage He’s Still Just a Bat in a Cage
Young Bruce Wayne is a bit unhinged these days and really who can blame him? He didn’t just lose both his parents in a random accident and there was no long drawn out disease afflicting them where he at least had a chance to say goodbye. No, they were gunned down in cold blood in front of his very eyes and that’s going to do a lifetime of damage no matter how good or bad the support system around you ends up being.
Bruce is left drawing disturbing images of the memories of his parents slaying while blasting some generic heavy metal music — I’m assuming the show wasn’t about to license any Slayer to get played although if they can use it on ‘The Leftovers’ I’m not sure why FOX wouldn’t pony up the cash to get a real song instead of this generic guitar rock. Either way, the scene was so cliché that my eyes nearly rolled back through my head and back again. Listen, the kid is disturbed and he’s not functioning at a completely normal level right now, that much everyone can assume. But the whole ‘headphones, music and drawing disturbing images’ bit has been done 1000 times over. You’re better than that, Gotham.
Bruce is also burning his hand because he wants to know what it’s like to get too close to the flame and all of this behavior has Alfred concerned. He’s so worried, in fact, that he calls in Jim Gordon to visit the young boy to hopefully talk some sense into him. Alfred was a butler and a family friend, but fatherhood frightens him and he’s not sure what to do right now.
Gordon’s visit helps alleviate some of the pain Bruce is going through right now, but the vice like grip the psychosis of watching his parents being murdered won’t disappear any time soon. When Bruce hears about the kidnappers in town, he tries to swing into action in the only way he knows how — he’s got lots of money now, so why not help these kids?
Needless to say, Bruce can’t adopt them but he can donate money to get them all new clothes and in some small way he feels joy for the first time since his parents died because he was able to help someone out less fortunate than himself.
Jim and Bullock have to go back and visit Fish Mooney for the second time in two weeks despite the theater district crime boss ordering them killed just days earlier. Thankfully, fences are mended rather quickly in Gotham especially when the woman in charge believes Jim executed her ‘Penguin’ problem as a sign that he’s willing to play the game required to survive in this town. When they pump her for information, Fish can only tell them that rumor is the kids are being kidnapped and shipped off to some international buyer who wants all he can purchase no matter their shape, size or looks.
Fish’s day isn’t finished, however, because she’s also visited by her old friend Carmine Falcone this week. Falcone didn’t talk to Fish much last week, although he did ultimately overrule her when she ordered Gordon and Bullock executed. He first mentions that the murder of the Waynes has upset the balance of power in town. They were the rich, philanthropist types who helped those in need, and he was the crime boss who gave everyone else what they wanted. He’s also there delivering a message to his underling after an interesting conversation he had with Oswald Cobblepot moments before he thought he was killed.
“Men who are about to die are very honest — it pays to listen to them”
~ Carmine Falcone
He reveals that Oswald told him an interesting story about how Fish believes Falcone is old and tired and will soon be on his way out and she will gladly lap up his territory. She promises this isn’t the case and Carmine pats her hand and says he believes her. That is until he sends her a very strong message by having the young man who is currently sharing her bed beaten to a bloody pulp. Falcone may be old and he may be a bit tired, but he’s not stupid and he’s not handing over the reins of his operation to anybody, especially Fish Mooney, without a serious fight.
Walk Like a Penguin
Following his mock execution last week and orders to never return to Gotham, Oswald Cobblepot does exactly what Jim Gordon told him not to do when he spared his life — he’s trekking a path back to Gotham. To get there, Oswald has to hitch a ride with two frat boys who toy with the gangster with the classic ‘open the door, drive away’ scheme. When they finally let him in the car, they are just glistening douche bags, but when one of them decides to inform Oswald that when he’s walking around he looks just like a penguin, that’s when he’s had enough and decides to pledge with these guys next semester. Instead, Oswald takes a beer bottle, shatters it in the car and stabs one of them in the neck while the other friend is horrified at what just happened.
At this stage of life, haven’t we learned to never ever pick up hitchhikers?
Oswald pops up in a deserted part of town looking to rent a trailer so he has somewhere to hide out while he continues to plot his course back to Gotham. Meanwhile, back in town Detectives Allen and Montoya talk to Oswald’s mother, who is one Hummel figurine collection away from going completely over the edge. She says her son never goes away for more than a night and he hasn’t been home in days. The detectives assume that Gordon and Bullock finished him off, and now they’ve lost a valuable informant.
While Oswald’s mother worries, he’s currently trying to collect a ransom for the leftover teenager he took from the truck. The only problem is the kid’s parents don’t believe he’s actually been kidnapped or being held for ransom so they hang up on him during his demands. Oswald will one day be ‘The Penguin’, a criminal mastermind in charge of the Gotham underworld but that sure ain’t today.
Gordon and Bullock’s investigation leads them to a drug company that’s been selling the tranquilizer illegally to the creepy duo we met at the beginning of the episode, and after shaking him down and beating him with a phone book, he finally gives up a description of the truck they use to haul the kids around after knocking them out. Gordon finally deduces that the truck belongs to Trident International Shipping (maybe a reference to Aquaman?).
The kidnappers are taking children and shipping them off to a guy they call ‘The Dollmaker’. For those that haven’t read recent issues of Batman since the relaunch of DC’s New 52, he’s an original character from 2011, who collects skin and various body parts from his victims to make his own ‘dolls’. Kind of like Buffalo Bill meets the Ice Truck Killer from Dexter. While he doesn’t make an appearance this episode, it’s an interesting twist to introduce that name into the Gotham mythology and hopefully this will get played up more later in the season.
Needless to say, Gordon and Bullock show up in time to foil the crime and stop Patty and Doug from exporting the children to become the latest victims of the Dollmaker and along the way Selina Kyle (Call me Cat — she says this at least three times this episode, which is a bit much) claws out the eyes of an unwitting guard who tries to stop her escape.
Back at police headquarters, Selina (call me Cat) threatens a cop by screaming that he’s touching her in a bad way if he doesn’t go and find Detective Jim Gordon for her right away. Selina (call me Cat) doesn’t want to go to a state home and believes she has information Gordon might want for a certain investigation.
“I saw who really killed the Waynes. Saw them clear as day”
~ Selina (call me Cat)
Big reveal, fade to black.
The second episode was a better look at what I believe Gotham will be this season. In many ways it’s set up as a procedural drama with a new ‘crime of the week’ to solve with each episode, but I’m assuming as the story starts to develop that will fade away as the larger plot arcs come together. Staying dedicated to a new villain each week is what buried Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. during that show’s first season so hopefully Gotham learned a valuable lesson in how to create a worthwhile superhero drama.
Also, it’s clear now that Robin Lord Taylor, who plays Oswald, will be an actor in high demand very soon. His performances so far have been executed with delicious lunacy and he’s going to be a highlight for this show as long as it stays on the air.
Tune into the next episode of ‘Gotham’ next Monday night at 8pm ET on FOX