You had to figure a crime procedural that (very loosely) winds back the clock on Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy would be a grisly, vaguely twisted affair, even if it is on network TV.
But who could have predicted that we’d be seeing child cannibalism, eyes getting poked out, innocent people being beaten within an inch of their lives in Episode 2? What do they think this is, Game of Thrones?
Here are nine ways the second episode of Gotham went there and other dark corners of the psyche, making us think Gotham might be worth your sticking with after all. You sick, twisted little kitties.
Bruce Wayne is a Cutter
Hey, we were told this show wouldn’t be about Batman, but Bruce Wayne keeps hanging around, and he is already one effed-up little prepubescent. In the opening shot, Young Master Wayne is holding his hand over a candle to see how long he can stand it — and he can stand quite a bit.
Alfred, already exasperated and decidedly more short-tempered than even the grouchy Michael Caine, can do precious little about it — other than to tell a visiting James Gordon that the boy is cutting himself and indulging in other forms of self-mutilation.
“No psychiatrists. That’s the rule,” Alfred says. “I will raise the boy the way his father told me to raise him: Trust him to choose his own course.”
Bruce, of course, is hiding in the shadows, infuriating Alfred for once again “creeping up on people.”
“I’m testing myself,” the defiant little master of the manor says. “Different, but none of your concern.”
Someone is kidnapping vagrant teens, possibly eating them
Pretty much like the subhead says: A man-and-woman team is luring street urchins into captivity. While no one’s quite sure why, it’s more than suggested that they’re being used for food.
And if that doesn’t work out, one of their captors has a chute that goes to god-knows-where — but it’s deep. When Gordon and Bullock show up to rescue a group of them, they shoot a henchman who goes plummeting down into the unseen bowels of Gotham until his screams can be heard no more. Shudder.
And if it’s not exactly food they’re being rounded up for, it’s something pretty ghastly, because the mastermind behind it is the Dollmaker — who in the comics has a cannibalistic background, uses part of his father’s face for a mask, and wants to turn people into “dolls.”
Selina Kyle is a Peeping Tom-Cat
“Cat was there, Cat saw everything, ask Cat, ask Cat!”
So pleads one of those vagrant teens being questioned by police, but that might as well be anyone, because this show is quickly turning out to be observed entirely by Selina Kyle. She likes to prowl up above the action and watch, and she only does something about it when it suits her.
That time when Harvey said “People are shooting bums all the time, we might as well be looking for the tooth fairy.”
Yeah, he said that on network television.
Gordon’s little fake murder is already destroying him
James Gordon got away with not-murder in the series premiere, but that might actually be worse than the real thing. Everyone thinks Gordon shot Penguin and dumped him in the river, and they’re holding it over his head, which also strips him of his ability to be all self-righteous.
“You’re just a little sinner, like the rest of us,” Fish Mooney purrs at him. I’m almost kind of sad about that.”
You can see it eating at Gordon — being perceived as “one of them” is enough to make his blood curdle.
Penguin picked up by horror-movie dudes
Oswald Cobblepot is desperate and on the run, and the minute he hitches a ride you know this isn’t going to end well, because these two guys in the truck are straight from Central Casting’s Guys Who Get Killed in Horror Movies Bargain Bin. They’re smiling bros, possibly a little boozy, with the wolf’s-grin of privileged youth that always gets wiped off with a machete.
Or in this case, a broken beer bottle.
“Hey, anybody ever tell you, when you walk, you look just like a penguin,” one of them tells Cobblepot, who really, really doesn’t like being called “penguin.”
“No. Nobody’s ever told me that.”
Arkham Asylum is already looming
The world’s most terrifying looney bin isn’t operational — hasn’t been in 15 years — but the characters in Gotham are already beginning to talk about it, including the suggestion that the Wayne family was planning to do something with it before they were gunned down in cold blood.
Could it be a coincidence that we also seem to have gotten our first Joker red herring, when a fellow cop bellows at the duplicitous Harvey Bullock: “Hey! Watch the shoes, clown.”?
Falcone has Fish Mooney’s boy-toy beaten ugly
There’s something about a brutal beating offscreen that really ups the dread factor, and Fish Mooney’s otherwise innocent young manservant, the one she “keeps around for exercise,” gets repeatedly bludgeoned as a message from Don Falcone.
“I swear … on my sainted mother’s grave, someday I am going to kill that old man with my bare hands and my teeth,” she says after the entourage finishes its work and leaves.
Selina Kyle is also a ruthless thug
Oh, you thought she was just lurking around?
Selina Kyle may be cute and precocious, but she wants to be called “Cat” for the teeth and claws, which she uses on one of the kidnappers’ thugs — taking both eyes out, Red-Viper style. But she also has a certain cat-like cunning that she’s not afraid to use.
When a dutiful cop is trying to convince her to comply with her relocation to a state institution, she insists instead that he go get James Gordon.
“Go get him. Or I’ll say you touched me. James Gordon. Or I’m going to scream in about three seconds.”
If Gotham’s political climate is anything like our own, that’s not a threat you’d take lightly.
Gordon arrives and she’s ready to talk: She knows Pepper was a patsy in the Wayne murders.
“I saw who really killed the Waynes. Saw him clear as day.”
Can Gotham get any darker? Tell us what you think so far in the comments section.