Gotham, episode 2 - TV review: A darker instalment that brings new life to the Batman franchise

There was far more grit and less cliché as the drama establishes itself

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The Independent Culture

After laying the foundations last week, Gotham immediately veers away from the well-worn Batman clichés that audiences are familiar with and starts to come into its own.

The second instalment is far darker and grittier after the cartoonish, Sin City-esque pilot episode. A young, grieving Bruce Wayne is self-harming, while Cat is threatening a police officer with false accusations of paedophilia in between gouging out people's eyes.

Gotham is a new chapter to the Batman franchise and gives a fresh angle to a story that has been done to death. Coupled with the phenomenal success of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy, it’s difficult for viewers to detach their minds from those films, and yet Gotham is doing something different.

The series avoids falling into the trap of becoming a formulaic comic book police procedural in which Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock tackle the city’s scum week by week.

 

Gotham is far more complex with multiple storylines playing out at once. From the Oswald Cobblepot/The Penguin subplot to Jim Gordon’s rivals in the police department to the impending mafia gangland war, there’s a lot gently simmering away.

That’s not to say the psychopathic evangelical child traffickers don’t get their screen time, they do, but they are more than just an open and shut case. They have a knock-on effect on not only on Cat but Bruce Wayne’s philanthropy.

This is very much an ensemble show with a strong cast but there are some standout performances. Robin Lord Taylor is skin-crawlingly good as Oswald Cobblepot, it’s quite a feat to follow on from Danny DeVito’s searing turn in 1992’s Batman Returns, but the young actor makes the role his own.   

Newcomer Camren Bicondova is brilliant as Cat or Selina Kyle, the woman who will one day become Cat Woman. There is a touch of Jennifer Lawrence to the young actress.

The production values will never match the cinematic likes of Game of Thrones or Peaky Blinders, but the strong writing ensures that viewers will be coming back for more next week. 

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