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Admit it: You didn’t see that coming.
After a pilot that was relatively grounded, if populated by over-the-top characters who weren’t quite supervillains just yet, it was quite a surprise that Gotham’s second episode featured a plot that seemed quite so different in terms of scale — even if it advanced the series’ larger arc in a way that was somewhat faster than many might have expected. Spoilers follow for everyone who hasn’t seen “Selina Kyle”: consider yourself warned.
In many ways, Gotham’s second episode was a necessary shift in tone, with a main plot that took something that can and does happen in the real world — the abduction of those that society has trained itself not to notice or care about, for the most part — in an oversized, unexpected direction. “Selling children for food, is such a thing even possible?” someone asked at one point, and while it was never definitively revealed whether or not that was actually why they were being kidnapped (Surely not!), the question itself was enough to remind the viewer that even if we’re not dealing with costumed crooks just yet, we’ve already gone quite some distance from the familiar, “safe,” double homicide of the first episode.
Elsewhere in the episode, Oswald Cobblepot is attempting to reinvent himself while his mother — Carol Kane, being utterly delightful as she corrects the pronunciation of the family name to “capple-poot” — alerts Montoya and Allen to his disappearance. It’s still unclear whether either cop is more interested in pursuing justice or making the homicide department look bad, but there’s no doubt that Gordon’s attempt to outwit “the program” at the end of the pilot is going to have far more serious repercussions than his lack of sleep, sooner rather than later.
While we’re waiting for those repercussions to show up, however, why don’t we deal with five questions that “Selina Kyle” left behind?
Who is the Dollmaker, anyway?
The kids being kidnapped were being abducted for the Dollmaker, according to those responsible. This feels key, although not for the reasons some might expect. The comic book incarnation of the Dollmaker isn’t a well-known Batman villain, nor is kidnapping children to eat them part of his traditional MO (You can learn a bit more about him here), but his appearance here — or, really, the mention of an appearance — is a sign that the show isn’t going to limit itself to the iconic villains. Perhaps we can expect an appearance from the Ten-Eyed Man at some point after all.
(Also this week in “Easter Eggs for the Batman Obsessives,” Carmine Falcone did indeed mention the Maroni family as a rival crime faction this week; Salvatore Maroni has a famous place in Batman history as the criminal responsible for the origin of Two-Face.)
How much attention should we be paying to Barbara Kean?
Those who expected Barbara to “just” be Gordon’s love interest and, after last week’s episode, part of a love triangle plot with Montoya might want to think again after her actions this week. She is more proactive than Gordon in trying to force the investigation forward with her leak to the Gotham Gazette. When you factor in the fact that it was Bullock’s veiled threat of Barbara last week that led him to “kill” the Penguin — and also her asking whether or not Pepper was framed that got him to look back into the investigation — it might be time to start wondering if Barbara is keeping Gordon honest. Who would he be without her, and is she so important to him that we should worry about ever having to find out the answer to that question?
When will Arkham Asylum reopen — and who will be responsible?
Arkham Asylum was mentioned a lot in this episode, to the point where it went from an Easter Egg to foreshadowing of some kind, even if what, exactly, it was foreshadowing wasn’t obvious. That the Asylum has been closed for 15 years was established by Captain Essen, but we were also told that the Wayne Foundation was planning on reopening it before the Waynes’ deaths. Does this mean that Bruce Wayne is going to end up being responsible for the establishment that continually proves itself to be unable to keep any of his nemeses incarcerated? (And also, now that we know that the asylum is out there, how long before we go visit?)
Is Gordon going to train Bruce Wayne to become Batman?
That Alfred went to Gordon to try and talk some sense into Bruce, following what appeared to be self-harm but was, in fact, him testing his limits — something that echoed the scene on top of Wayne Manor last week, and will not become a running trend, I hope; I have no desire to see what wacky dangerous thing Bruce does every week, only for it to be revealed that he was confronting his latest fear — is worth noting. Traditionally, the relationship between Gordon and Wayne has been one that started more or less when Wayne became Batman, but by setting Gordon up as, in many ways, a surrogate father to a far younger Bruce Wayne here, the dynamic is significantly altered. With Gordon apparently ready to take responsibility for Bruce, how long before he starts teaching him to “defend himself,” and thereby starts the training that’ll turn the kid into Batman?
(And while we’re asking “How long,” when do you think Selina and Bruce are going to meet? Especially now that she revealed that she saw the murder of his parents….)
Is the Penguin the Big Bad of the show?
It might seem unlikely at this point — the character is, as much as anything, a tragic figure that no one is giving much thought to (with the arguable exception of Fish, who only wants to be able to kill him “again”) or taking seriously. Meanwhile, as this episode showed, his desperation is making him increasingly dangerous, and increasingly violent. How long before he quits the weird hobo lifestyle he’s fallen into and returns to Gotham to settle the score with everyone who’s done him wrong — a group that, at this point, includes basically everyone else in the show? And, more important, how much damage will he have done by the time he gets there?
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