Netflix UK TV review: Gotham Episode 2 (spoiler-free)
Gordon / Bullock8
Crime lord power struggle8
Amon Warmann | On 20, Oct 2014
While marginally better than its pilot, Gotham continues to experience some growing pains in its second episode, curiously titled Selina Kyle.
We say curiously titled, as the titular character doesn’t become the episode’s focus until the final 15 minutes. Even then, the character growth is minimal and, talented though she may be, Carmen Bicondova does not yet have the presence – nor the writing to accompany it – to fully embody the soon-to-be Catwoman.
Thankfully, there are more than a few compelling characters and storylines enjoying strong development here. Chief among Gotham’s strengths is the dynamic between Gordon and Bullock, and the more we see of them, the smarter the casting decisions appear. Logue, in particular, excels at playing the likeable rogue, his deadpan honesty offering some enjoyable moments of levity, while Gordon’s fake killing of Oswald Cobblepot in the pilot gives McKenzie some more rough edges to play with.
(That said, the series’ overall depiction of the GCPD is perhaps too corrupt, with even Captain Essen (Zabryna Guevara) not raising any objections to the beating of a street kid.)
Speaking of Cobblepot, Robin Lord Taylor continues to entertain. Even as he exercises Oswald’s vicious streak, the talented young actor is clearly revelling in the role. The power struggle among the crime lords is, by far, one of the show’s most intriguing aspects. One scene between Carmine Falcone (John Doman) and Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith, coming dangerously close to overacting at times) is a memorable, tension-filled standout.
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for this week’s villains. An awkward pair of child-snatchers, played by Lili Taylor and Frank Whaley, the campy, mediocre duo clash with Gotham’s grittier aesthetic. Moving forward, Gotham will either need to pick a tone and settle on it, or find a better way to balance the two.
So far, Bruno Hellers’ scripts have been keen to include scenes with Gordon and young Bruce/Selina, and while their interactions have been solid, these aren’t relationships we’re especially excited to see develop. It would have been much more effective had Alfred been the one to give Bruce advice this episode. Furthermore, the pilot went to great lengths to have Selina be present at the Wayne’s deaths, so it would be nice to see the two younglings actually talk to one another.
Gotham continues to have great production value, but the direction here is a bit of a mixed bag too. The opening is particularly jarring and many of the cuts are too abrupt. Sometimes, you need to know when to let a scene breathe so the impact can wash over the audience.
Indeed, the show continues to have all the subtlety of a sledgehammer. This week’s clunky references include, but aren’t limited to, Selina insisting on being called “Cat”, dogs barking at her, Bruce sneaking up on Gordon and Alfred a la Batman, and plenty more. To their credit, the actors do a solid job with the material – as a young Bruce, David Masouz is particularly impressive – but the sooner Gotham stops being this obvious, the better.
Gotham is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £8.99 monthly subscription.