While the titular Knights break into a mob hideout and earn their name, Harvey Dent is losing time and worrying about his mind. One of those stories is a lot more interesting than the other–guess which gets more time? Spoilers follow for Gotham Knights, Season 1, Episode 5, “More Money, More Problems.”
“More Money, More Problems”
A plan to take down the Court of Owls leads Turner (Oscar Morgan) and the team to a notorious mobster family, the McKillens. Meanwhile, Carrie (Navia Robinson) and Stephanie (Anna Lore) prepare for Gotham Academy’s Parents Luncheon, and Harvey (Misha Collins) seeks help from a psychiatrist.
Batman’s Failure: Harvey Dent
One of the closest ties Gotham Knights has to the world of Batman that we know is the presence of Harvey Dent. Here, good ol’ Harv is still Gotham’s District Attorney, and he still has a relatively symmetrical face. So far, he’s also seemed to be the same guy every time we’ve met him. That’s about to change, starting with the sudden assassination of Mayor Hamilton Hill.
The job was, in theory, carried out by the Court of Owls–Mayor Hill died in a spectacularly theatrical way with an owl coin on his person. However, Harvey woke up wearing the same clothes as the night before and with a mystery key in his pocket. Here we go.
This isn’t the main story for the episode, and really only a few minutes are spent on it. Whether Gotham Knights goes for just one season or finds additional life, though, this will become a bigger and bigger part of the show moving forward. Knights has a few challenges ahead of it with this character. One is that they’re untethering his origin from Batman, who has been integral to it for the better part of 40 years. For longer than most Gotham Knights viewers have been alive, Two-Face has been a reminder to Batman of one of his failures. In this Elseworlds-like show, though, the Court of Owls got to Batman before Harvey could end up on the wrong side of a mob-orchestrated acid attack.
Will Harvey become Two-Face?
With that in mind, and the fact that Gotham Knights is set up for a 13-episode first (and likely only) season, it seems far-fetched to imagine that we’re going to get to see Two-Face this season. Even without Batman to propel his origin story, there’s a lot of setup to do to get Harvey from Gotham’s honorable district attorney to coin-flipping criminal, and the show doesn’t seem setup for it. Knights has been incredibly light on make-up and costuming anyway, and Two-Face is a necessarily dramatic character. They may not even be planning to have Harvey make the full turn.
The choice of Mischa Collins as Dent stands out here as a potential challenge, as well. Collins has been fun on shows like Supernatural, but he gets so few chances to show any kind of range beyond “honorable concerned guy” that it’s hard to imagine him swinging between the extremes of Two-Face. I’m hoping he’s up to the task, but historically it just doesn’t seem like that’s the case.
The system doesn’t work
This week, we get just a hint of what’s going on. Harvey wakes up in the bed of his political opponent, whose wife he once had an affair with, and discovers that he initiated the encounter. He heads to his therapist and talks at great length about time lost and about the way his father would transform from a loving man into a violent abuser and then seemingly have no memory of doing so.
Instead of scheduling Harv for testing around dissociative identities or making even the faintest gesture at trying to help him, she shrugs it off as impossible and gives him an unsolicited campaign donation. This element, at least, I do like–Harvey is asking, begging for help. It’s not Batman or Bruce Wayne that fails him, though. Instead, it’s the American medical system. While he has access that many do not, his therapist seems more interested in accelerating Harvey’s political career than in diagnosing him. Like so many people asking for help in our medical system, his literal cries for help go ignored.
We’ll see where Harvey goes from here, but Gotham Knights has a big challenge ahead of it in this respect.
Carrie’s Home Life
We also get a bit more into one of the show’s highlight characters, Carrie Kelley. Pulled out of Frank Miller’s post-apocalyptic tale, Carrie is Turner’s only link to his father’s other life. She’s also one of the strongest characters in the show. Navia Robinson brings the kind of passion and excitement to Kelley that the character would need to get Batman’s attention, and it makes me wish that we could’ve seen that story. As one of the younger members of the cast, she does a great job with exuding the particular combination of precociousness and rebelliousness that a teenager would need to live a second life as a superhero. She comes off as being smart enough to get herself into and then, most of the time, out of trouble.
As Carrie still has a normal life to go back to, we get a peek into her home life with her busy but caring mother–a big change from her neglectful parents in the comics–and that’s held up as a mirror against Stephanie Brown’s mother, who shows up at a school function popping pills and flirting with students.
This episode’s A-story has the team breaking into and then back out of the McKillen crime family’s warehouse to steal their financial ledger. In the process, Cullen learns that Harper once participated in a heist with the McKillens to pay for his surgery, and kind-of-maybe dated someone in the family.
When the kids break out in a van full of mob money, they start throwing money out the back of the van to cause chaos and throw off the corrupt police chasing them. On the news later that night, they learn that the city has taken to calling them the Gotham Knights, not knowing that they’re also the fugitives possibly responsible for the death of their savior. The moment comes off as a throwaway thing, something they threw in to work in the title of the show into the story, rather than a big story development coming from multiple crime-fighting adventures.
Dent’s segments of the episode are more interesting, and the kind of thing that will hook Batman fans onto the show. The main storyline, meanwhile, is yet another instance of the kids breaking into something–the Wayne building, the Gotham gala, the McKillen warehouse–and escaping dramatically. It feels like more of the same, where Harvey’s story is at least something new. Give us more new stuff! Remix the elements we know in interesting ways.