Gotham Knights: Scene of the Crime

So, there’s really no other Bat-heroes out there to help us? Nobody?

The previews for Gotham Knights really didn’t look that good. I had some doubts about the series, but decided to give it a shot, largely because I’m a hero geek and I was curious. As I mentioned in the review about the pilot, they borrow story elements from all over the Batman mythos, and make something unique. I’m enjoying so far, as the plot thickens in “Scene of the Crime.”

The episode starts with a scene you usually only see in post-apocalypse or dream stories, as cops storm the Batcave. Everyone looks a bit awed by the place, including Harvey Dent and Cressida, the woman who supposedly “Turner’s Alfred.” She gets in a great comment about the people who can’t stop crimes now taking things from the man who did. Elsewhere, the fugitives decide it’s time for a makeover via breaking and entering, debating their future plans as they change their looks. There’s some good banter among the characters, and then, as they leave, they get found by the disapproving Robin.

As the news goes on about the manhunt for the “killers of Bruce Wayne,” the kids regroup back in the clocktower. Robin isn’t happy with their clothing spree, which Duela defends, and even Turner speaks up in favor of. Interestingly, most of the crew still doesn’t believe in the Court of Owls, but the mostly unflappable Duela is clearly shaken every time they come up. Turner, being cryptic for whatever reason, says he has a friend working on their situation. Speaking of, Stephanie and Brody March have a scene in the school’s hallways. He’s being a jerk, and Steph ditches him, sneaking up to the clocktower. Her meeting the rest of the crew doesn’t exactly go smoothly, but it’s a funny scene, and Stephanie gets the best lines.

Steph’s bad news leads perfectly into the next scene, as the GCPD haul in some of what they’ve taken from the cave. Commissioner Soto (so far, no mention of either Gordon, Jim or Barbara) talks with Dent about their lack of progress on the case, and the missing Officer Ford. Irritated, Soto tries to call him, leading to a grisly discovery and several job openings with the department. The tv news covers the latest developments, and Duela takes this as proof of one of her concerns that the others doubted. This leads to some theories about why Bruce died and what to do next. Dent has a meeting with the mayor, which doesn’t go well, and we get another nod to Batman: The Animated Series.

They debate their next course of action, and a bad idea is set in motion, in part because no one else has any better ideas. We get grand theft auto, breaking and entering, and a subtle nod to Batman’s original appearance. Turner and Carrie become the advance team, while Cullen, Harper, and Duela play a support role. There’s some debate about the importance of clearing someone’s name vs. keeping said name off a tombstone. Duela wastes no time in suggesting betraying the others, and is surprised she faces some disagreement. Turner and Carrie are both uneasy about being where Bruce was killed, but they find a hidden storage area and at least some of what they came for. There’s also a mention of Joe Chill, the man who killed the Waynes in most versions of Batman’s history (it keeps changing).

Harper and Cullen have an argument while Duela provides amusing commentary. Dent, meanwhile, shows the intelligence that has at various times made him a great ally and deadly enemy of the Batman, and connects Stephanie and her recent activities to Turner. Stephanie is no slouch either, and easily holds her own until getting surprised by the actions of a classmate. Carrie and Turner make some surprising discoveries, and start wondering just how far back their problems go.

Things were going far too smoothly, so it’s about time for a problem. And, sure enough, problems emerge as Cullen loses control of the building’s systems and the Talon shows up. Wisely, Turner and Carrie run instead of trying to fight this nightmare. There’s a debate about what to do down in the garage, and the group splits as Deula goes her own way. The other four kids meet up in the office and use some of Batman’s equipment to get away from both the Talon and the approaching police. Apparently, the blimps we keep seeing are more atmospheric than effective. Duela’s task goes badly, and she proves to be remarkably naïve considering how she’s been portrayed so far.

In the comics, at least, there’s more than one Talon, and that seems to be the case here. Duela has her own close encounter of the sharply-bladed kind, and the others show up in the nick of time. The ensuing fight shows that Turner does have at least one useful skill, and that some of them do understand the value of teamwork. The Talon is about to win anyway, but one of the kids suddenly shifts to a weapon usually used by a different (and so far unreferenced) member of the Bat-Family, and they end up buying enough time to run for their lives.

Back in the tower, the team regroups, tries to figure out their next move, and bonds a little. Turner muses on why Bruce was insisting on certain types of training for him. Stephanie and Brody have argument, and he reveals some unexpected depths. Dent visits the scene of the fugitives’ latest exploit and tries to figure out what they were up to. Elsewhere, we learn there’s a connection between two of the characters, which isn’t going to make anything easier for our main characters (I’m not going to call them heroes at this point).

There are two wrap-up scenes to end the episode. Turner and Steph have a conversation about what they’ve learned, and a problem with what most of them just risked their lives to get. In the background, there’s a very entertaining little scene showing Duela isn’t as tough as she likes to project. Meanwhile, Carrie sneaks back in to her home (I guess?) and shows she has some goals that the others don’t seem to share. Her sneaking in and out is sort of a nod to the original version of the character in The Dark Knight Returns. It’s going to be ugly when what she has been up to comes out.

What I Liked: The big fight with the Talon actually kind of worked. None of these kids should be able to stand up to him, and they can’t. But they work together well and, while they still don’t win, manage to keep their heads. Duela going her own way made perfect sense, and the argument between Cullen and Harper made sense. Stephanie got several really good lines, and might be on her way to becoming my favorite character on the show so far.

What I Didn’t: I’m still trying to work out what parts of the Bat-Mythos are in or out in this series. Them taking elements from so many eras and stories is creative, but confusing. I’m not real clear on how Bruce, the master detective, apparently completely misread a closely trusted staff member.

I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the series so far, and I’m intrigued by the story. I’ll give this episode a high 3.5 out of 5. It’s a very different version of Gotham, but so far, an enjoyable one.


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