This week’s Gotham was basically one long, drawn-out chase scene, as “Kat” (aka Selina Kyle) and Bruce find themselves pursued all over Gotham by mysterious assassins, with Alfred, Gordon and Bullock in tow after them. The episode opens at Wayne Manor, where Bruce and Kat are playing a balancing game on his stair rails. The young street urchin is teaching her friend, the orphaned heir, a thing or two about feline poise when a woman posing as a car crash victim comes calling at the house. Turns out she is a professional hit-woman and the two children must make a break for it while Alfred tries to fight her and her people off.
The youngsters escape Wayne Manor unscathed, only just, and end up making their way through Gotham’s seedy underbelly as they try to stay one step ahead of their mysterious pursuers. At first Selina tries to ditch Bruce for his own good, as she suspects, correctly, that the assassins are only after her. But after a rather dramatic demonstration of loyalty – jumping from one rooftop to another after her – Selina decides to stick it out with the young Master Wayne, and they spend some time getting to know her world. The dynamic between Bruce and Selina/Kat in this episode is extremely enjoyable, and it is a credit to both actors (Carmen Bricondova and David Mazouz) that they manage to convey just the right amount of adolescent affection mixed with well-founded wariness. The children come from vastly different worlds, and their attempts to connect are a series of hits and misses that vibrate with endless tension and possibility. They have a frail yet strangely supple friendship that neither can take at face value, yet both clearly want to. Rooting for them to trust that desire, beneath all their guarded posturing, remains an emotional hook of surprising force.
After the initial attack, Jim Gordon arrives at the Manor to depose Alfred, and Bullock is brought in on his partner’s secret, on-going investigation of the Wayne murders, and the plan hatched with Dent to ferret out the conspirators of it. Unsurprisingly, Bullock is less than thrilled about it. He and Alfred end up the odd couple of this story, using Harvey’s street contacts, and Alfred’s multiple means of persuasion from money to threats to charm to track down possible leads on Selina Kyle. They make a surprisingly good team, and although it is hard to foresee another reason to pair them up in future, I can’t help wishing the show might contrive one anyway, just for the sheer entertainment value.
Gordon eventually tracks down Lovecraft, the powerbroker he and Dent have fitted for the Wayne murder conspiracy. Turns out, he’s been targeted by the same assassins as Selina, so no dice there after all. The hit on him is shortly thereafter made good, and Gordon is left holding the bag. Lovecraft is shot with Gordon’s weapon, and Gordon is later strong-armed by the mayor into reporting it as a suicide.
The episode culminates in a standoff at Clyde the fence’s place, where Bruce and Selina are apprehended for the assassin for a bounty. However, Alfred, Bullock and Gordon make a daring, gun-slinger rescue just in the nick of time, and everyone escapes unharmed. Bruce is returned to Alfred and Selina gets away. However, she returns later to Wayne Manor for one ‘final’ goodbye with Bruce, and gives him his first surprise kiss. Both of youngsters seem pleased with the result and although you understand why she can’t stay, it pulls at your heart strings to see them part. Their puppy (kitten?) love has an undeniable sweetness to it, and I do not doubt it will become more consequential going forward.
Gordon is reassigned/demoted after the Lovecraft ‘suicide,’ which he is blamed as having instigated; his new post is at Arkham Asylum, as a guard. Bullock suggest he simply quit, but Gordon refuses to give the higher-ups the satisfaction. “It’s what they want,” he observes wryly. Their manly, understated goodbye is punctured with a surprise visit from Ed Nygma, who is outraged on Jim’s behalf and promises to write a letter to the bosses, though he does not seem to know who that actually might be. When Gordon kindly wishes him farewell and offers a handshake, Nygma instead reciprocates with a hug. Ed may be creepy, and destined to become a supervillain, but his affection for Gordon here is clearly sincere, and it makes you feel for his inability to connect with others, when that desire is laid so transparent in this moment. Although Gordon’s reassignment to Arkham is meant to be the cliffhanger of this fall finale, I find myself wondering, more than anything, what Nygma’s role will be in the latter half of Gotham’s first season, when the show returns in January…if only because I can’t imagine Gordon will be at Arkham all that long.
Finally, although this episode was well-paced, with an overall compelling storyline, a few moments in it were very unnecessarily comic book. Alfred’s anguished cry of “Bruce” after the kids are run off and Gordon’s “kiss my ass” to the mayor both could have used a bit more subtlety. Usually Gotham manages to stay just this side of jarringly corny, but every so often they slip over the line. They need to be more careful in future. It’s not a fatal flaw, but it is an annoyingly recurrent one, and sometimes, even with superheroes and comic book villains, less actually is more.