The Court of Owls is a fan favorite for Batman fans because of the all-encompassing, mysterious nature of the conspiracy. It seems to be a favorite for writers of Batman projects that don’t use Batman because the Court can be anyone, they can fit into any plotline, and they don’t depend on any iconic Batman villains looks or personalities. Spoilers follow for Gotham Knights, Season 1, Episode 2, “Scene of the Crime.
“Scene of the Crime”
In an attempt to clear their names, Turner (Oscar Morgan), Duela (Olivia Rose Keegan), Cullen (Tyler DiChiara), Harper (Fallon Smythe) and Carrie (Navia Robinson) head back to the scene of the crime in search of Bruce Wayne’s journals. Meanwhile, as Harvey (Misha Collins) digs into the investigation, he begins to wonder if Turner is innocent after all. Lastly, Stephanie (Anna Lore) is brought in for questioning after the GCPD suspect she may be helping Turner.”
The pilot for Gotham Knights didn’t make a great case for continued viewing. The show’s desire to use Batman-related lore without actually engaging with it was consistently distracting, and the end product was an hour of television that felt standard CW fare.
The second episode is a chance to dive deeper–all the introductions are out of the way, and we can start asking questions about the state of the world the characters live in. At least, that’s the hope, right?
Stephanie Brown, Computer Scientist
Like last week, though, Gotham Knights seems prepared to dodge most any chance to get deeper with Batman stuff, and some pretty amateurish writing made it through. Last week, Stephanie Brown–known in DC as the Spoiler and one of the wearers of the Batgirl mantle–hacked into all of the banks in Gotham using Batman’s computer, only for the GCPD to instantly figure out how the banks were hacked, from where, and by whomGotham Knights is meant to be a Batman-adjacent show, but it’s so afraid of its comic roots that it becomes distracting.
They take Stephanie in for questioning, and Harvey Dent, an adult who has presumably been through school, tells Stephanie that she’s a suspect partly because she, quote, “has a 4.0 in computer science.” Writers wrote that line and a beloved television actor had to read it with a straight face. I’m unsure of how grades work elsewhere in the world, but in the United States 4.0 refers to a student’s grade point average–the average of their grades across all classes. It’s not a single grade, and you can’t get a “4.0” in one class.
The show hints at some good ideas later on when the kids go back to Bruce’s office to retrieve his Bat Journals, which are hidden behind a false bookshelf. Carrie Kelley knows exactly where it was, suggesting more and more that she had an actual connection to Bats despite not having anything that looks like a Robin outfit. The bookshelf opens and there are all kinds of Batman gear here–grappling hooks, Batarangs, what appear to be trackers or bombs, and things like that. It all looks pretty slick–it seems like the props team had some fun with this stuff.
A Court of Owls assassin, called a Talon, attacks the kids at this point, sending them scrambling. Again, it seems obvious why the show is using the Court of Owls here. The costume looks pretty good, but that’s because all it has to be is a ninja-like costume with an owl-themed mask. The kids manage to stymie the assassin long enough to grab the journals, one of Bruce’s katanas, and as much of Batman’s gear as they can carry before using his zipline launcher to escape.
I really liked this part. The zipline launcher looks great, and as the kids zipline out of the office and across the skyline, you can see GCPD blimps in the background. It’s just VFX but it’s a great callback to Batman: The Animated Series and it looks rad as hell. The kids head from there to where Duela planned to sell her Court of Owls Commemorative Timepiece to an antiquities dealer who, of course, takes it from her at gunpoint right before a Talon kills him. Turner and Carrie fight the Talon, which had the potential to be a really cool fight sequence. There are some fun moments, but the sequence can’t hold a candle to the standard that Arrow set for its eight seasons.
Who the heck is that?
It just seems at every turn like the show contorts itself in all kinds of ways to avoid using anything that you can directly link to Batman. Stephanie Brown is the daughter of “celebrity gameshow host” Arthur Brown, someone even Batwoman had the courage to show as Cluemaster. Bruce had a butler-ish person, but it’s not Alfred, it’s Cressida Clarke–presumably because they want to avoid having any characters who know anything intimate about Bruce as Batman. The Easter egg connections only serve as distractions in a show so eager to avoid connecting to its own source material in any meaningful way.
It’s all just such a strange concept and execution that it’s hard not to pick it apart. It’s hard to tell if all this weirdness is a result of licensing, budget, or what, but it’s impossible to miss.