In the second episode, “Selina Kyle,” we watched the episode’s titular character (Camren Bicondova) end up on a busload of kidnapped street children aimed at a brutal, edible ending. But between our cat burglar’s skills and James Gordon’s (Ben McKenzie) detective skills, we figure this one isn’t bound to end badly (not even counting those of us who have a grasp on who becomes who). [It does however highlight the impressive skills and startling eyes of Bicondova.] Instead, it moves us toward who some of the notables will be, like Gordon, Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz), and, somewhat surprisingly, Detective Bullock (Denal Logue).
The overarching storyline involves the Dollmaker’s henchmen (Lili Taylor, Frank Whaley) stealing kids that no one, except for Gordon and the headline-grabbing mayor (Richard Kind) care about. It’s okay, not great. But there’s the side story of Oswald Cobblepot’s (Robin Lord Taylor) murdering a spoiled rich kid and kidnapping another, while Detectives Montoya and Allen (Victoria Cartagena and Andrew Stewart-Jones) track down Cobblepot’s mother (Carol Kane); and the other, where Alfred Pennyworth (Sean Pertwee) pulls Gordon in as a mentor/counselor to the still-grieving little Wayne.
Whatever the opening episode did, the second one tried to build on… but it wasn’t great. Sure, we know that Gordon and Wayne are PTSD-riddled souls; we know that Gordon is struggling with the ‘assassination’ of Cobblepot and how he’s perceived by Bullock, Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett-Smith), and his own tortured impression of himself. But the string tying them together is a question of family: Who cares about orphaned street kids, an orphaned rich kid with anger issues, and a singular ‘good guy’ cop in the midst of corruption? The answer appears to be “each other.”
Gotham’s secondary episode wouldn’t have been enough to hook me, but the deepening darkness (gouged eyes, cannibalism, a brutal beating and a brutal broken-beer-bottle-artery-severing) mean that this might have more Christopher Nolan to it than the Tim Burton-themed premiere implied. That in itself is enough to make me tune in next week, to see where the new family dynamic of Gordon, Bullock, Wayne… and Kyle, will take us, and what it will show us about the shadows in the city and in the souls of those who live there.