The Slap Heard Around The World: Gotham Strike Force
Why is no one talking about Alfred Pennyworth slapping Selina Kyle on last night’s episode of Gotham entitled Strike Force? Is it because everyone is so disgusted they just pushed it into the back of their mind? So disgusted by the act of child abuse that the other murders and mutilations that go on during Gotham are easier to concentrate on? Possibly, one of my favorite shows on Fox went a step too far last night and I doubt I’m the only fan that noticed.
What Is Gotham About
Let me give you a backstory in case you aren’t a Gotham fan or you aren’t caught up (if so just jump ahead a lot of paragraphs). Gotham is a Batman story. It’s about young Bruce Wayne and the heroes and villains of Gotham and focuses mostly on Jim Gordon who we know becomes Commissioner Gordon in the movies. We’re going to stick with “movies” rather than comic books because it’s easier that way.
Heroes and Villains
We have young Bruce Wayne, young Selina Kyle (Catwoman) and making rare appearances Ivy Pepper (Poison Ivy). Mostly though we concentrate on the adults. Oswald Cobblepot (The Penguin) is a headliner, Edward Nygma (Riddler) and again, there are others and I think you know where I’m going with this. They are all younger (20’s), establishing themselves in Gotham and later on they’ll be the villains we’ll grow to fear, but right now they’re doing a good job practicing.
Selina is a homeless young teen, I’m assuming she’s probably 13 max and they might have even said and I just don’t remember. She witnessed Bruce’s parents murder but for whatever reason isn’t giving up the information which makes her important to Detective Gordon. Bruce is kept pretty sheltered and when he meets Selina he’s captivated by her. She’s a free spirit, she’s beautiful and she’s everything he wishes he could be. Which terrifies Alfred.
Alfred Pennyworth is a bad ass in Gotham. He was in the war, he knows how to fight, he teaches Bruce a thing or two. He does not like Selina Kyle. He doesn’t want to say this to Master Bruce but he isn’t exactly polite about it either.
Alfred’s War Buddy/Where It All Goes Wrong
There are two episodes (Red Hood and Beasts of Prey) where one of Alfred’s old war buddy Reggie comes to visit. Alfred isn’t under the impression he’s there to talk about old times and tell campfire tales. He’s not really that stupid and he does tell his friend to leave Master Bruce out of whatever plan he might have. Alfred’s not so lucky and things go bad fast.
Bruce and Selina take off into Gotham City running for their lives from Alfred’s not so good friend and become cornered. Selina being the ruffian she is takes the extra step and pushes the friend out the window. The thing is, it wasn’t exactly necessary. She saw that Bruce wanted to kill this man, the man that caused Alfred harm and wanted to harm Bruce and would most likely come back and do it again. But he was too scared. So Selina did it for him. Selina’s a messed up kid and it seems like she does it with zero remorse but we know better. Selina needs someone to care about her but she isn’t willing to admit that. Possibly this locked in place a sense of devotion she’s been seeking that Bruce was willing to give her without blood on her hands.
The Slap Heard Around the World/Or At Least Gotham
So huge fast forward to last night’s episode of Gotham Strike Force. Selina shows up at Bruce’s school (and by show up I mean scales a tall wall and then front flips off of it to land in a defensive pose because this is what Catwoman does) and waits with Alfred for Bruce to walk to the car. Alfred then turns around when he notices Selina (because she’s silent like a cat) and slaps her in the face so hard her head snaps back. Then he says to her “That’s for Reggie!” and begins to give her a looming speech about how he knows she killed Reggie and she is bad news and she needs to stay away from Master Bruce. He doesn’t actually know what happened to Reggie but he has an idea.
Selina simply looks at him and says “all good” and crawls up the really tall wall (like the Catwoman she’ll become). Never once does she tell him the truth about what Reggie did or how she was securing both their safety in the future.
A Step Too Far
Holy crap. Alfred Pennyworth just hit a little girl. Hard. And didn’t even flinch. As I mentioned, this Alfred is raw and hard and nothing like the Alfred from any of the Batman movies we’ve come to love. But he hit a little girl. A little girl that is so emotionally messed up she doesn’t know if she is coming or going and he just made that so much worse. The writers of Gotham took this a step too far.
Child abuse is defined as physical maltreatment of a child. I think Selina was pretty maltreated physically in this situation. My eyes almost popped out of my head and I had to rewind and watch it again. And this makes me wonder if Sean Pertwee stopped and said “Wait what, I’m not one to question the writers but do they really want me to pretend to slap Camren because I’m not completely comfortable with this?”
This wasn’t a Lifetime movie or a dramatic film where the actors are beating up kids left and right. This is a weekly television drama on Fox where we have grown to know and love the characters (some in our own messed up ways of course) and suddenly our favorite butler beat on his wards girlfriend because she’s a bad influence. If he’s suspecting she murdered Reggie tell Detective Gordon, give her a good stern talking to, I don’t know what he should do but in my opinion that wasn’t it.
So give me your opinion. Did Gotham go too far or was the slap perfectly acceptable behavior in Alfred’s situation?