The Future Is Here
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Here's Bruce Wayne Listening To Death Metal And Sketching, On Gotham

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Somebody really, really needs to remix this scene so young Bruce Wayne is listening to Batman's song about darkness from The Lego Movie. Spoilers ahead...

So two episodes in, Gotham continues to be insanely watchable. It's as silly as a pair of meat pants, but it's still really fun, and you root for the conflicted, gape-mouthed James Gordon enough to accept that this is a city where all the criminals speak campily proper English (from gangster Carmine Falcone to the Penguin to this episode's child-snatchers) and the police call you in for a disciplinary meeting if you refuse to beat up a suspect. On a scale from Adam West to Christian Bale, this show is still hovering dangerously close to Val Kilmer territory, but it's being highly entertaining about it.


The big engine of the show, right now, is James Gordon's outrage — which he makes zero secret of, even while he still pretends he shot Oswald Cobblepot in the head in last week's pilot. How does Gordon square this contradiction, of pretending to be a dirty cop while going around lecturing everybody else about how to be a good cop? He doesn't, really. He just blows past it.

Probably my favorite bit in last night's episode is the part where Gordon tells a beat cop who was too busy helping a restaurant that pays protection money to deal with a fresh corpse, "You're not a bad guy. You're just a bad cop." Gordon later rubs his high-and-mighty morality in the face of Captain Sarah Essen (who's apparently also dirty) and then the Mayor of Gotham.


And in "Selina Kyle," we get a bit more of a hint as to how the corruption in Gotham really works, with payoffs, people turning a blind eye to stuff, and opportunistic politicians. In the episode's "A" plot, a pair of 1950s-nice child-snatchers (working the same Leave it to Beaver schtick as the Mayor in Buffy season three) kidnap homeless children to hand over to someone named the Dollmaker. At first nobody cares, until Gordon's fiancée Barbara Kean leaks the story to the newspapers.

(Side note: You can tell these people are barbarians because they eat mu-shu whatever without any pancakes. Or hoisin sauce. Gotham City is in worse shape than we realized.)

Gordon and Bullock rescue the kids — but the Mayor uses the public outcry as a means to round up homeless children and send most of them to a juvenile facility upstate. (Who's paying for that? Hard to say.) But the two child-snatchers hijack one of the buses and steal 30 kids, including the future Catwoman, and it's up to Gordon to save them.

You have to love the Mayor using public concern about homeless kids as an excuse to send tons of kids to jail — that's a nicely sardonic twist, and the kind of thing this show definitely needs more of.

At the end of the episode, Selina Kyle aka Cat is still in danger of being sent upstate — so she makes a deal with James Gordon. If he saves her from juvie, she'll tell him what she knows about the murder of the Waynes, which she witnessed. (I was half expecting this show to wait a dozen episodes before Selina came forward, so it's probably a good thing that shoe dropped sooner.)


Meanwhile, the episode has about 20 subplots. Including the one glimpsed above in the clip featuring young Bruce Wayne. He's burning and cutting himself, to test his limits, and drawing weird crap from his nightmares. His guardian, Alfred Pennyworth, feels somewhat helpless — especially since Thomas Wayne stipulated no psychiatrists for his son, in the event of Thomas and Martha's grisly murder. (I want to hear how that conversation went. "Now Alfred, just so you know, if Martha and I happen to be gunned down at some point, I want you to promise that Bruce will be raised without psychotherapy, and allowed to do whatever he wants, within reason.")

So Alfred arranges for Bruce to have tea with James Gordon, who tells Bruce that you can't buy love or strong parental figures for homeless kids. (So just let them stay homeless, I guess?) James Gordon is not a public policy expert, let's just say that.

In another subplot, Fish Mooney is in trouble — you might say that she's up to her gills in intrigue — because Oswald Cobblepot told Fish's boss, Carmine Falcone, that Fish sees him as a weak old man who's ready to be replaced. (In a show full of people who try to bring a measure of realism to their somewhat cartoonish situations, Jada Pinkett-Smith seems the most willing to vamp and go over the top, milking every over-dramatic line of dialogue for maximum over-drama.) In any case, Carmine has Fish Mooney's lover beaten up, and Fish has to pretend that she doesn't mind — until Carmine is gone and then she screams for everyone to get out.

As for Oswald, he gets out of Gotham City, and actually gets picked up by some jerky college kids. One of whom makes the mistake of saying Oswald walks like a penguin. So Oswald slaughters him, and then issues a ransom demand for the other one — which doesn't turn out that well, because nobody takes Oswald seriously yet. And Allen and Montoya, the Only Honest Cops In Gotham Besides Gordon, visit Oswald's mother, who seems kind of out to lunch.