‘Gotham’ Reference Guide 1×9: The Double-Sided Coin

harvey dent 2
“This coin,” he says, subtly, “has two faces.” (Fox)

“Hey Detective, miss me?” Selina Kyle asks Jim Gordon this question at the end of last week’s episode. The answer was no then, and the answer is still no now.

“Harvey Dent” delved deep into “I don’t need to see this” territory, more so than any other episode of Gotham before it. Last week, seeing young Bruce Wayne absolutely wreck Tommy Eliott’s face with a wristwatch was amazing (sidenote: I saw a lot of other reviews saying this scene made Bruce Wayne seem “unrelatable” or “creepy.” Okay, you keep trying to relate to a boy that grows up to dress like a bat every night). This week, we didn’t see Bruce Wayne transform into a badass. We saw Catwoman throw a donut at his head. Then they gleefully ran around the mansion having a food fight and…who cares? I’ve already accepted that Gotham is going to shoehorn young Bruce Wayne into every episode (something I don’t agree with), so at least give us moments that feel like a big deal. Bruce Wayne asking Alfred to teach him how to fight last week felt momentous. Bruce Wayne deciding that killing is not the answer to crime felt historical.

And that right there is the reason Gotham is so frustrating, because it is capable of great scenes. Take, for example, Bruce Wayne meeting Selina Kyle for the first time this episode. The dialogue and even body language exemplified these two characters perfectly at this point in time — Bruce is well-meaning but we can’t forget he’s been coddled his whole life, Selina is too old for her age and has seen some serious shit. Even the simple handshake felt important, that these were two characters so steeped in history the very first time they met. “Bruce Wayne,” Bruce says simply. “Selina Kyle,” she responds, and a more than 70-year relationship is off to the races simply and elegantly.

“People call me Cat,” Selina then says, ruining the entire thing because we get it, we get it, we fucking get it. Selina Kyle is a throwback to the earlier episodes, when Gotham couldn’t help reminding you every two seconds of what you already know.

It’s just annoying, because story lines like Selina Kyle’s take up room for characters that deserve to be brought to the forefront. Harvey Bullock and Oswald Cobblepot, two of the most fleshed out and interesting characters this show has, were both criminally under-represented this episode.

Elsewhere, Barbara leaves Jim to get herself straightened out, and that goes terribly wrong if you know what I mean. I’ll admit, when Jim first read the note I thought the writers had realized how badly they’d handled Barbara as a character and just written her off for a while. But no, she’s just in the apartment of her ex(?) lover Renee Montoya. Montoya who, despite only being a cop, has an apartment equally as nice and equally as fireplace-lit as Barbara’s. She has to come back eventually, I guess. At some point Barbara and Jim need to conceive a Batgirl and her insane brother.

Elsewhere this episode, a bomb expert blew stuff up against his will and some weirdo obsessed with coins showed up. Hope we never see him again, amirite?

As always, let’s run down every reference, fact, and nugget of Bat-history brought up in episode nine,“Harvey Dent.”

So Harvey Dent…?

Yes, yes I think almost everyone knows that Assistant District Attorney Harvey Dent eventually becomes District Attorney Harvey Dent, before taking exactly 1/2 of an acid bath and becoming Batman super-villain Two-Face. Depending on who you ask, it’s Gotham mainstay Sal Maroni that does the disfiguring, so we’ll see about all that.

A lot of people are probably going to get all up in arms about the whole coin-flipping thing, saying it’s as heavy-handed as say Selina Kyle eating nothing but a bottle of milk (oy with that girl). But I’m pretty cool with it, because that’s always been part of his character. The thing about Harvey Dent is he was already obsessed with chance and kind of insane before the accident, it just took him a little push to go full on bonkers.

Honestly, the fact that no one called him “two-faced” during this episode is literally a miracle, so let’s accept our small victories.

Who is this Richard Lovecraft guy? 

Besides having a name that would be terrible by 90s soap opera standards, Richard Lovecraft is not from the comics. However, there is a good chance that Richard Lovecraft had a lot to do not only with the Wayne Murders but the restructuring of Arkham Asylum as a mental institution. And as fans of weird things can tell you, the name “Arkham” itself was first a fictional city in Massachusetts, used in stories by H.P Lovecraft.

As for the name Richard? Well, he’s just kind of a dick.

Who murdered Thomas and Martha Wayne?

According to this episode, it was a cucumber wearing a wig.

police sketch

What year is Gotham set in? 

There’s much hubbub been made over what year Gotham could possibly be set in. Creator Bruno Heller has been purposely ambivalent about the whole thing, telling the Television Critics Association:

“If today Batman exists, then this world is the past. But it’s everybody’s past, an 18-year-old’s past and a 54-year-old’s past. So in your memory, the past is all mashed up together. So in this Gotham, it’s a kind of timeless world. It’s yesterday, it’s today, and it’s tomorrow all at the same time, because that’s the world that dreams live in.”

Uh wha? This episode, Ed Nygma holds up an evidence bag, with a place clearly marked for “date,” so I thought we might finally get an answer to this question. Zoom and enhance!

gotham numbers

Apparently the answer, unless my eyes decieve me, is, um…10-10/189. Huh. If anyone here understands that better than I, please feel free to make me feel stupid in the comments below. This is a team effort, after all. ‘Gotham’ Reference Guide 1×9: The Double-Sided Coin