TV Review: ‘Gotham’ Improves with Second Week on FOX

Caution: This review contains spoilers on “Selina Kyle.”

You may be pleased to see that “Gotham” managed to move past the mess of the premiere and establish a more balanced approach this week. The second episode is entitled “Selina Kyle,” which leaves little to the imagination as to whom we should focus our attention (supposedly). However, we do not have an opportunity to delve into her character (Camren Bicondova) until after the first half hour.

Jim (Ben McKenzie) and Harvey (Donal Logue) take on a group bent on trafficking kids, homeless ones that are less likely to be noticed as missing. People masquerading as part of the Mayor’s relief initiative offer food and then drug the children before nabbing them. The case forces the team to consult Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith), who is thrown off by Falcone’s (John Doman) appearance. The pace of the episode is much more fluid as Jim and Harvey follow the ATP clue and Arkham connection revealed by Ed Nygma (Cory Michael Smith). The main perpetrators escape the first time and brazenly strike a second time, kidnapping an entire busload of kids en route to the upstate prison.

Viewers are treated to a couple of tantalizing teasers throughout the hour. The Wayne Foundation was originally slated to bring back Arkham, which has been closed for a while. The fate of the facility is thus up in the air. Additionally, the creepy and bespectacled ringleader, Patti (portrayed excellently by Lili Taylor) keeps mentioning the Dollmaker. Is this a reference to the Ventriloquist? It’s a great idea to bring in the crime boss, if Falcone’s empire really is in jeopardy from the likes of Maroni (“number two” according to Fish) and Fish Mooney.

Jim deals with some other problems: Barbara (Erin Richards) leaks the kidnappings to the press, Bruce (David Mazouz) listens to heavy metal and indulges in self harm, and Selina wants to stay out of the system. However, Cobblepot or Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor) still stands out as the winner of the evening among the villains. His blood thirsty and violent streak comes easier now, as he slashes the throat of an annoying fellow while hitchhiking and keeps the other man as a hostage.

Cobblepot’s screentime is comparatively brief and he is undoubtedly nerdy in his bearing. Yet his small amount of power and control feels so palpable as he plots his return from a trailer in the country. One might be inclined to lay money on Cobblepot should he encounter Fish Mooney again, a likely event in a future episode. The cut to his mother’s interview with detectives is amusing because his evolving nature is so different than how Gertrude Kapelput (Carol Kane) sees him.

Overall, “Selina Kyle” was only of cursory relevance to aforementioned character. Her appearance and encounter with Jim at the end does bring us back to the murder of Bruce Wayne’s parents, a case Jim is determined to solve. But will details about Jim’s “cooperation” with the mob (Penguin’s “death”) jeopardize his promising career and his relationship with Barbara?

“Gotham” airs every Monday evening on FOX at 8|7c.

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