Gotham is a city of twos, an endless list of opposites. You have crooked cops like Harvey Bullock and hero detectives like Jim Gordon. On the one hand, there’s the wealth and corruption of the Falcone mob family and on the other, the wealth and philanthropy of the recently deceased Waynes. The city has always been a battlefield for light and darkness, good versus evil, long before Fox created its superhero deficient crime drama. But the studio unknowingly continues this traditions of twos in “Selina Kyle,” which throughout its 45 minutes weaves in both the good…. and the bad.
Let’s start with the episode’s namesake, Selina Kyle. For the most part, this title is pretty misleading. Aside from the episode’s brief opening minutes where a collection of down-on-the-luck street kids run into their psychotically cheerful abductors, Patty and Doug, we never see Selina Kyle (Camren Bicondova), or rather “Cat” until 34 minutes in. Before then, Cat has existed only on the periphery of Gotham’s main plot. She runs down busy streets in the show’s opener, wantonly pickpocketing and stealing as she weaves through the crowd. She witnesses the Waynes’ murder silently. She watches Gordon visit Wayne manor silently. She watches her friends get kidnapped yet manages to escape—all without saying a word. She’s written as the strong quiet type reluctant to trust and put herself out there. After all, this is at least a decade before she becomes the morally dubious cat burglar and Robin Hood archetype we know in the comics.
But all this buildup is squandered as soon as she speaks. Cat does a complete personality U-turn, suddenly boisterous, open to conversation, and calling correctional officers “piggernia” and playfully threatening detectives with child abuse blackmail. Either emotional take on Catwoman, whether sullen or scamp, could work for the character. Among genres, Kyle always been a personality chameleon. In the 1992 film Batman Returns, Catwoman is more of a nut case who only dons her feline persona after having a complete mental break. In modern comics, along with Christopher Nolan’s portrayal in The Dark Knight Rises, she’s the thief with a heart of gold and a “villainess” who swears she lives for no one but is always the reluctant hero in the end. But Bicondova’s Cat is at odds with itself by trying to be both and not fully succeeding at either.
NEXT: It feels good to be bad