Super Recaps: Gotham (Episode 2)

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We’re back with another recap of Gotham!  I wasn’t a big fan of the pilot, mostly because it was never clear what kind of show it wanted to be.  Did it want to be a comic book show, or a cop drama?  It’s not even like it was trying to be a mix of the two, rather it kept flipping back and forth in a way that made the tone incomprehensible and just ended up sapping almost any enjoyment I could get from it.  That, and the guy playing Gordon acts like a giant piece of Bologna.  All that said, can the show improve upon the pilot?  Let’s find out!!

The episode begins with little Bruce doing something stupid (naturally) and getting caught by Alfred.  Alfred naturally freaks the hell out, which includes calling him stupid, and then hugs him aggressively.

“I'm sorry I had to do that.  You just make me so angry sometimes.”

“I’m sorry I had to do that.  You just make me so angry sometimes.”

Yeah, I’m not sure how much mileage they plan to get out of pre-training Bruce Wayne, but it already feels kinda pointless.  He’s not going to get his training until much later, so what is he gonna do besides give cash to Gordon or something?  We cut from there to little Selina being homeless among other homeless teens.  While standing around a flaming trash can (is that a real thing, or is that just in tv and movies?), the group is approached by a giant bus that ha two creepy has hell and overly friendly individuals who are handing out free sandwiches and candy.  Think Robert and Rosalind from Bioshock Infinite crossed with Mr. Rogers.

“It's a wonderful day in the neighborhood! Well, it WOULD have been if you bums weren't around to stink up the joint.”

“It’s a wonderful day in the neighborhood!  Well, it WOULD have been if you bums weren’t around to stink up the joint.”

Of course these two have nefarious plans which involve drugging them with a stab in the neck (okay) and kidnapping them for… let’s say evil experiments.  They haven’t told us why yet, but I’m gonna place my bet on “mad science.”  Once the stabbing starts, Selina bolts and one of the teens tries to make a run for it.  An older bum tries to confront the creeps, but gets shot immediately by one of them while the other chases down the kid who ran off.  The creep eventually grabs the kid, and throws him through the window of a fancy restaurant.

“I’ll have what SHE'S having!”

“I’ll have what SHE’S having!”

Uh oh. It looks like the creep really fucked up now, right?  It’s one thing to mess with homeless people, but once you bother people with MONEY, then you have a problem!  After the homeless kid flies through the window, we cut to the next day.  Wait, WHAT!?  You’re gonna to cut HERE!?  There’s still more you can show!  Gordon and his partner Bullock are there to investigate the dead bum who turns out to be a veteran which is enough for Gordon to go to the ends of the Earth to find his murderer!  Bullock, as usual, is an unbelievable piece of shit about the whole situation, and so is some random cop who shows up to scene late.

“Sorry I'm late. I had better shit to do.”     “Seriously?”     “WHAT!? YOU GOT A PROBLEM WITH THAT!? WHO THE FUCK ARE YOU TELL ME ANYTHING!? YOU WANT A BULLET IN THE HEAD ASSHOLE!?!?”

“Sorry I’m late.  I had better shit to do.”     “Seriously?”     “WHAT!?  YOU GOT A PROBLEM WITH THAT!?  WHO THE FUCK ARE YOU TELL ME ANYTHING!?  YOU WANT A BULLET IN THE HEAD ASSHOLE!?!?”

The cops in this show are fucking ridiculous and it’s frustrating.  They spend most of their time being blatantly lazy and corrupt, and then fly off the handle at the SLIGHTEST provocation that MAYBE they should do their jobs.  Bullock is still an amazing asshole who I’m pretty sure is just there to be over exaggerated enough to make up for Gordon’s complete blandness.  They find the kid who went through the window, and the cops think that he was high and just fell through it.  WHAT!?  God damn it, no wonder they cut away from that scene so quickly.  If they lingered ANY longer it would have been completely impossible to sell that story.  WHO THE HELL FALLS THROUGH A WINDOW BY LAUNCHING THEMSELVES, BACK FIRST, RIGHT INTO IT!?  Now obviously the Gotham PD can’t afford interrogation rooms, so Bullock just yells at (and explicitly threatens) the kids at his desk with twenty other cops nearby.  You know, you CAN do a show about bad cops without making everyone there a complete shit bag.

“I'll beat the shit out of you and cut off your testicles if you don't confess to murdering that homeless guy.”     “Did anyone here hear that?”     “Nope. Let's go get some donuts.”

“I’ll beat the shit out of you and cut off your testicles if you don’t confess to murdering that homeless guy.”     “Did anyone here hear that?”     “Nope. Let’s go get some donuts.”

You can have a show with crooked cops, but the lack of tact on anyone’s part, as well as the general over the top nature of this show, makes it hard for me to take this in any way seriously which is really the only way you can get away with making crooked cops NOT the out and out bad guys.  If the show doesn’t have any fucking nuance (which I assure you, Gotham has none), then why should we ascribe any to the characters?  Why should we care about anything that happens to the GPD when everyone in there besides Gordon is a one-dimensional bad cop?  Gordon suffers from this too because being the good guy in this cartoon means he can never be truly conflicted or be forced to do anything that he thinks is wrong, so we know that when tough decisions come, he’s gonna find a way to get around it .  The kid tells them about the weirdos in the bus kidnapping people, but Bullock obviously doesn’t believe him or even care to investigate.  We cut to Oswald Cobblepot who’s just barely ambulatory and is trying to hitchhike a ride.  Now let’s do a little thought experiment here.  If you decided to pick up a hitchhiker, would you then proceed to mock him the entire time?  OF COURSE NOT!!  You don’t know them or if they’re dangerous, so intentionally antagonizing them is NOT A GOOD IDEA!!  The poor dumbasses start calling him a penguin (after of course handing him a beer) which sets off our young master criminal.

“HOLY SHIT!!  Who could have guessed a hitchhiker could be dangerous when provoked!?”

“HOLY SHIT!!  Who could have guessed a hitchhiker could be dangerous when provoked!?”

We finally get to the show’s title card right after Oswald breaks his beer bottle and attacks the dumb ass who picked him up.  Holy shit!  We’re only at the title card!?  We’re only eight minutes in!?!?  Back at the Police Station, Ed Nigma finds out that the homeless kid had trace amounts of TCP (he was able to escape before getting a full injection) which is definitely not a recreational drug.  Now that they have a lead, the Captain insists that our two heroes follow up on it, but to make sure the press does not get wind of this.  Bullock is concerned that Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith’s character if you recall) might still be pissed at them for what happened in the last episode, so they plan to see her again before continuing to investigate on her turf.  This however is really just an excuse to remind the audience who Fish is so that we can cut immediately to her without it seeming jarring.  She’s visited by the big mob boss in the city (Falcone) who’s just there to get in a dick measuring contest with her.  Once he’s gone, Fish begins to freak out in a way that I suppose is intended to imply menace, but just comes across as silly.

“ACTING!!!!!!!!”

“ACTING!!!!!!!!”

After her stupid little freak out, we cut to Montoya and Allen (the two super cops from the pilot) who are talking to Oswald’s mother because she hasn’t seen her son in a while.  Oh jeez… I’m a fucking sap for these mama’s boy stories.  Even though his mother is yet another cartoon character, I still feel really sorry for her.  Montoya and Allen both know what happened to him though (or at least THINK they know what happened to him) but aren’t telling the mother.  Now this is where the scene is confusing to me.  She doesn’t know who the two of them are, which means that she didn’t call the cops to report her son was missing.  That means THEY came to her.  WHY!?  Okay, if you don’t recall Oswald was a snitch for these two detectives and was supposed to be killed in the pilot, except he wasn’t because Gordon faked it.  So if they know what happened to him, and the mother is completely clueless about the boy’s criminal activities, then why the hell are they visiting her!?  After that is another scene with Fish Mooney which is fucking pointless, so we’ll skip ahead to Oswald who’s looking for a place to stay while he gets his shit together.  I’m actually starting to warm up to the guy now that we see him dealing with hardships.  He’s resourceful and smart, but he’s still trying to crawl his way up from the bottom so the road ahead for him is not an easy one.

“Hey, what's that in the back of your car?” “.....groceries?”

“Hey, what’s that in the back of your car?” “…..groceries?”

From there we cut to a bunch of homeless teens (a few from the night we saw) who are in some sort of warehouse, and no one knows why they’re there.  Back at the investigation, Gordon and Bullock are visiting Fish who tells them that someone is in fact kidnapping kids.  Who?  No idea.  Why?  No idea.  BUT there is someone doing it!  Thanks Fish.  Thanks a lot.  After a fruitless day of investigating, Gordon returns home to his girlfriend who I still can’t stand. I don’t like this actor one bit, and the way that Barbara is written here is fucking abysmal.  FOR EXAMPLE: Gordon tells Barbara about the case he’s currently working on, and let’s her know that the police don’t want the press to hear about it.  While that might be a bit shady, it’s not an unreasonable position for the police to have.  If the papers are plastered with this story, then the crooks might feel cornered and want to cover their tracks which will probably lead to a bunch of dead kids.  Barbara hears this, and immediately calls a news paper and tells them what’s going on.  WOW.  And right in front of Gordon too who’s telling her not to.  Oh, but it’s supposedly the right thing to do. I ‘m so glad that this scene was here to remind me that this show is one hundred percent black and white, and that everything has a very clear and simple answer.

“You shouldn't have done that.” “It was the right thing to do.” “What if the kidnappers get scared and-” “RIGHT THING TO DO” “What if they start hurting the kids?” “RIGHT! THING! TO! DO!!!!!!”

“You shouldn’t have done that.” “It was the right thing to do.” “What if the kidnappers get scared and-” “RIGHT THING TO DO” “What if they start hurting the kids?” “RIGHT! THING! TO! DO!!!!!!”

Oh, but then he admits she was right and begs her not to do it again.  Yeah, that acknowledgment was totally sincere and not patronizing at all.  The next day, Gordon and Bullock get another lead (once again through Ed Nigma’s work instead of their own) which is that there are only three companies in the city that produce the knock out drug found in the homeless kid.  We cut to one of the above companies which is run by a Phillip Seymour Hoffman look alike as he’s berating the creepy duo for getting their actions on the front cover of the newspaper.

“I can’t have our kidnapping business plastered on every newspaper!”     “Oh who reads newspapers nowadays?   Wait… maybe they do.  Is this supposed to be in the eighties?”

“I can’t have our kidnapping business plastered on every newspaper!”     “Oh who reads newspapers nowadays?   Wait… maybe they do.  Is this supposed to be in the eighties?”

Turns out that the guy isn’t just supplying the drug, but is also holding the kids in the basement of his drug store.  He promises the creeps that if they don’t get him more cash, he’ll have to get rid of the evidence somehow (i.e. kill the kids).  What!?  Having your crimes put on the front page of the newspaper might spook the crooks!?  Who would have thought!?  Oh well, IT WAS THE RIGHT THING TO DO!  The creeps give a bit foreshadowing here by saying that “The Doll Maker” isn’t gonna be happy about Fake PSH trying to gouge them.  Who the hell is that?  Is it the guy with the evil marionette?  It could be Toy Man I guess, but isn’t he a Superman villain?  Anyway, Gordon and Bullock arrive at the pharmacy and it quickly devolves into a shootout.  The creeps escape, Fake PSH gets caught, and the children are now in police custody.  All seems right with the world, right?  Not really, and this is where the show starts to get pretty damn good.  The Mayor takes this opportunity (kids being kidnapped) as an chance to enact some heinous legislation to clean up the streets.  The new policy will redouble the city’s efforts to collect homeless children off the streets (sounds good so far), and the ones who they can’t find foster placement for… go to jail.  WHAT!?!?

“There’s no place safer for a child than being put in underfunded jails for an indeterminate period of time.”

“There’s no place safer for a child than being put in underfunded jails for an indeterminate period of time.”

Oh now THIS is what I’m talking about!  This isn’t a bunch of cops intentionally breaking the law just to be dicks.  This is some fucked up twisting of what’s right in the guise of protecting kids.  THIS is what we call SHADES OF GRAY.  Fine, it’s hardly complex (and there’s absolutely no ambiguity that this sucks for the kids), but at least the premise itself of putting kids in a stable environment can APPEAR to be something other than evil.  One of the kids who gets rounded up is Selina Kyle, and I have no idea how the hell anyone was able to catch her.

“That’s the last time I’ll be baited into a trap by a box full of kittens.  AND I MEAN IT THIS TIME!!”

“That’s the last time I’ll be baited into a trap by a box full of kittens.  AND I MEAN IT THIS TIME!!”

Back at the Police Station, Gordon lets his opinion on the new program known, but it falls on deaf ears.  For some reason Alfred shows up out of nowhere and asks Gordon to have a talk with Bruce.  It turns out our young Batman is going full on emo which the show chooses to convey to the audience by having him draw nasty pictures while listening to metal music.

Personally, I'd put THIS music on in instead.

Personally, I’d put THIS music on in instead.

Trust me, this subplot becomes fucking GOLD later on; but for now, we’re back at the children detention center, Selina gets boarded onto a bus that’s headed to the kiddie jail and it JUST SO HAPPENS that the bus in question gets hijacked by the creepy duo.  Okay…

“Who's ready for a field trip? If anyone objects, I WILL FUCKING MURDER YOU!!!!”

“Who’s ready for a field trip? If anyone objects, I WILL FUCKING MURDER YOU!!!!”

Yeah, good job people.  Glad that a school bus full of kids at a location that’s surrounded by cops is SO EASY TO HIJACK!  The mayor is naturally throwing a shit fit, so the cops do the only thing their good at; beating the shit out of suspects!  Seriously, Bullock starts working over Fake PSH with a phone book.  The only information they could get out of the guy is that the creeps drove a van with a weird logo on the side.  It wouldn’t happen to be THIS would it?

Just so you know, that logo is on a crate that's full of homeless children.

Just so you know, that logo is on a crate that’s full of homeless children.

I honestly have no idea if this is a reference, but I figure it has to be considering how long they linger on it.  They also still haven’t told us WHY anyone would want these kids and why it was SO important for the two creeps to risk stealing a bus full of kids right under the cops’ noses.  Salina is able to escape from her captors and ends up scratching the FUCK out of a guy!

“Is it bad?”     “Yeah.  The make-up looks a little phony.”

“Is it bad?”     “Yeah.  The make-up looks a little phony.”

Salina gets chased by one of the creeps, but Gordon and the cops have figured out where they were and comes in for the rescue right in the nick of time.  Despite it being rather brief, I did enjoy this turn that the episode took.  Using the kidnapping of kids as a pretense to lock up even more kids is the kind of fucked up corruption that I’d want from something like this, and the scenes with Selena avoiding the bad guys in the warehouse (or wherever they are) are enjoyable to watch.  She’s still one of the best things in the entire show, so any screen time they can give to her is greatly appreciated.  Now that the kids are safe from whoever the hell the kidnappers were (they got arrested, weren’t killed), Gordon has time to talk to Bruce.  At the manor, Alfred explains that not only is Bruce burning himself, he’s cutting too!  What the hell!?  That’s bad enough, but Alfred isn’t going to send him to a Psychologist because Bruce Senior ordered him to “trust Bruce.”  Are you fucking KIDDING ME!?  You have a young boy who’s dealing with grief in a pretty fucking poor way, and yet you think he’s in the right state of mind to make these kind of decisions?  I don’t care if Bruce doesn’t feel like seeing one, are you going to let him have desert if he doesn’t finish his vegetables?  Will be okay with him not brushing his teeth before bedtime?  I know that Psychology isn’t the only possible way to help the kid,  but I don’t think Alfred is doing a good job as his guardian by completely ignoring it as a possibility.  It’s not even like Alfred believes he doesn’t need help considering he dragged this detective in to talk to Bruce!  Alfred’s being a freaking moron right now which come to think of it, is exactly what NEEDS to happen for this kid to actually become Batman.  This is why we don’t focus on the intervening years!  It makes no sense that someone who cared about this kid would ACTUALLY let him fall down this path.

“I might be doing a lousy job, but at least he isn’t dressing up like a nocturnal mammal and beating up petty criminals, right?”

“I might be doing a lousy job, but at least he isn’t dressing up like a nocturnal mammal and beating up petty criminals, right?”

Gordon gives Bruce a little pep talk which I’m PRETTY sure doesn’t accomplish anything considering he’ll one day become an emotionally stunted rich bastard who deals with his grief by beating up others.  While this is going on, The Penguin is in his newly acquired residence and is trying to get a random for the guy who he DIDN’T kill in the car.  Oddly enough, the kid’s mother doesn’t buy the ransom which forces Oswald to kill the poor bastard.  I actually really liked the dark humor in this scene.  Presumably Gotham is a shit hole on almost every level, so a mother thinking his kid is trying to scam her by faking a kidnapping is pretty funny.

“Wow!  What a bitch!  Alright, which hand do you want me to send her?”

“Wow!  What a bitch!  Alright, which hand do you want me to send her?”

Back at the police station, Selina is throwing a fit (justifiably) because despite just getting rescued from a kidnapping that wouldn’t have happened if the police weren’t sending her to jail without a trial, she’s gonna still get sent to jail without a trial.  She makes enough noise (and threats) to get Gordon to come out and see her, and she offers to give him information in exchange for her release.  If you recall from the pilot, she was nearby when the Wayne’s got murdered so she got a look at the guy who did it.  If Gordon promises to let her go, then she’ll tell him everything she knows.  The episode ends before Gordon makes a decision (Spoiler alert: I doubt they’d lock her up for the rest of the series).

“Do you know what it’s like in Juvey?  They’ll only let me keep two cats!!”

“Do you know what it’s like in Juvey?  They’ll only let me keep two cats!!”

So after two episodes, how is the show faring?  It’s still pretty bad, but it’s bright spots are starting to show themselves.  I was a bit hesitant about Cobblepot in the first episode, but after his brush with death at the end of the pilot, he’s had a chance to grow a bit and show his ingenuity.  Kitten Girl (Selina Kyle) is also pretty interesting so far and the actress is doing a great job.  Still, every other running story thread is just mediocre at best.  Gordon is insanely uninteresting, the cops are laughably corrupt, and everything with Bruce is just a reminder of where this story is going and how little the show can get away with considering what has to be kept in place for the future.  I will say that the “crime of the week” was good enough to keep me interested, and I’m curious who this “Doll Maker” is as well as if they’ll ever get back to the mass incarceration of children who were never charged with a crime.  I still can’t really recommend it just on the strength of The Penguin and Kitten Girl, but it’ll hopefully get better as the season progresses.

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