After last week's lackluster series opener, Fox's flashy yet underwhelming new show, Gotham, had to prove that it was more than just establishing shots and forced name dropping. Unfortunately, this week's episode, Selina Kyle still falls far short of what it could be and refuses to kick many of the annoying habits that made the preceding episode such a chore to watch. Ben McKenzie's portrayal of James Gordon continues to refresh and please, but Robin Lord Taylor's limping, murderous Oswald Cobblepot (a highlight from the pilot) becomes the brunt of endless Penguin jokes and loses his footing as quickly as he found it. The laughably mediocre dialogue from the pilot carries over to this week and grows even weaker, presenting a new problem for this disastrous new show. If Gotham is hoping to stand out among this fall's crowded TV line-up, it has more than a few wrinkles to smooth out.
As unrest begins to bubble up within Gotham's most dangerous gangs, James Gordon finds himself fighting two sickeningly cheery criminals working for ‘The Dollmaker’. Selina Kyle (an awkward Camren Bicondova) seeks out Gordon's help, claiming she knows about Bruce Wayne and could be of some help to the investigation currently looking into his parents' murders. Meanwhile, a vengeful Oswald Cobblepot continues his murderous trek back to Gotham... and his destiny as the fearsome Penguin.
Despite receiving a sizable chunk of screen-time in the episode's closing scenes, the eponymous Selina Kyle still stays well out of the spotlight this time around. Her role continues to be something of a bloated cameo clumsily thrown in whenever the writers want to tease viewers, offering nothing to the show and bogging down a cast that is desperately trying to grow and thrive. We'll certainly see more of her as the show continues to meander, not that we necessarily want to.
The show advertised itself as an inventive idea taken in a bold direction, but so far all the less-than-capable showrunners have tossed at us are lazy, forced references to the Batman universe and far too much screen time for the newly orphaned Bruce Wayne. If they start straying away from Gordon's story and re-focusing the spotlight on Bruce's inevitable transformation into Batman, we're rioting! The show's appeal lies in thrusting James Gordon into the main character role that Bruce Wayne has occupied for decades now. The show has already squandered several opportunities to be compelling, busying itself with building on aspects of Batman's world that have been worn thin instead of exploring new avenues and ideas for these beloved characters.
The show still holds some incredible potential, but it REALLY needs to smooth out those wrinkles we mentioned if it's going to convince the big wigs over at Fox that it deserves more than one season. After all, the fact that Gotham is brand new also makes it expendable, especially with the third season of Arrow and the Flash pilot hitting TV screens soon. Again, we'll see. We want this show to succeed and resonate with viewers, but it has some big changes to make before either of those can truly happen.