Review: Gotham, Ep. 8 "The Mask"

Review: Gotham, Ep. 8 "The Mask"


Season 1, Episode 8

“The Mask”

Rating: C+

We begin this week with a procedural setup, as two ski-masked men battle to the death on a closed circuit television, the loser’s body being fawned over by Harvey Bullock and Eddie Nygma as Gordon arrives on scene. After the tumult and chaos of last week, I’m expecting this episode to be a little more subdued in nature, but the array of characters and plotlines going may not allow for that to happen.

Penguin doesn’t waste any time in letting his presence be known, arriving at Fish Mooney’s nightclub and offering her a gift to make up for his previous betrayals. This goes over about as well as you’d expect, and Mooney uses the pin from her new brooch to stab through Cobblepot’s hand. Surprisingly, considering Penguin murdered an innocent woman to get the brooch, he’s able to keep his more psychotic tendencies at bay. Fish Mooney rejects the gift, and Oswald ends up giving it to his mother. The scene’s with Penguin and his mother always make me a little uneasy, and I know it’s designed that way. He seems to have a very Norman Bates-style relationship with her (Well, Bates Motel Norman not Psycho Norman) and I’ve heard talk of this feeding perceived stereotypes around the character as a whole. There’s a lot of debate about Penguin’s sexuality, because of the way he carries himself and his strange fascination with Gordon. His relationship with his Mother, who bathed him as a fully grown man just a few weeks prior, has created some mild resentment among some fans who feel that she feeds harmful stereotypes about gay men, and I can definitely see that any time the two of them are on screen together.

Bruce is finally returning to some semblance of normalcy. Alfred has enrolled him in a private school, telling him he needs to be around kids his own age, to be normal. There’s that word again. One of my chief complaints has been Bruce Wayne’s lack of normality so far, but I wasn’t meaning that he should go out and act like a kid. I meant that it’s only been a few weeks since his parents were murdered right in front of him, and he’s been keeping himself busy learning the ins and outs of Wayne Enterprises and trying to find out who murdered his parents. I honestly don’t know what would make me happy about Bruce. I think the only thing would be a ten year time jump and to put him on the actual road to vigilantism.

Mooney’s plan for Falcone is a long con. The girl she auditioned earlier, who had her little meet/cute in the park with Falcone, is still with him. They do all the things loving couples do; he sings to her, they go on walks, she cooks and cleans for him (“I don’t know if I’m his maid or his girlfriend”, she tells Fish) and generally go about their happy business. Liza, however, is not part of the happy couple, she is a surgical weapon that Fish Mooney wields, waiting for just the right moment to strike. Falcone’s death will have to come another day, and Liza will have to remain where she is.

What is supposed to be story A ends up feeling much more like the B story, if only because they go back to it so rarely. The victim from the beginning of the show was stock broker, and an applicant to the offices of Richard Sionis. The Sionis name will be familiar to comic fans, as will Richard’s fascination with masks and weaponry. His son, Roman, ends up becoming Black Mask, one of Gotham’s most formidable mob powers. Sadly, this is a waste of awesome potential, and it doesn’t take long for Bullock and Gordon to catch up to the guy who left his bitten-off thumb in his victim’s mouth. This leads them to Sionis’ office, just as Nygma discovers a string of similar murders having been perpetrated by office supplies. A pattern emerges, and it leads pretty much exactly where you’d expect. The guys that fight to the death are the firm’s applicants, and their would-be boss puts on Hunger Games-style arena matches to choose his new employee. Gordon gets caught and put  in the middle of it, but considering who he is and what his future holds, there is never any danger so the stakes just aren’t there. Bullock rallies the rest of the GCPD to help, and the entire thing is over and done with as fast as it begins. This is definitely the subdued story I was expecting, but we have a lot of other players on the board to take some of the pressure off.

I really like the way that they are setting Bruce up to get early combat training without it feeding into his future as Batman. Alfred is the man destined to teach Bruce how to fight, or at least how to fight against the schoolyard bullies. This doesn’t bother me at all, and is very much in line with the Alfred of the comic books, who took it upon himself to see that Thomas Wayne’s son and heir learned to be self-sufficient. I really hope his technique shies away from allowing Bruce to carry out sucker punch attacks on kids, though.

Overall, this has been one of Gotham’s weaker episodes, but after a few weeks of pretty decent outings into the city, it doesn’t come as unsuspected. Gotham is finally finding its footing, but it’s still going to stumble and fall every once in a while, as all shows do.

Stuff And Things

– It’s always nice to see Nygma minus the riddles and actually doing things.

– Just a thought here, Nygma, but if you have a murder victim with a bitten off finger, yes, you should probably fingerprint the spare finger as well.

– “I’d give you a good cop routine, but it’s not in my tool kit.”

– Is Bruce supposed to be on the spectrum or something? His inability to understand why a bully was acting like a bully didn’t strike me as a whiny “why are you doing this” kind of thing, but a lot more like a “I really can’t process why you are acting like this, I do not understand”. If Bruce Wayne is on the spectrum that would make Batman make more sense than any retconning this show could possibly do.

– Fish Mooney’s new servant boy looks a lot like James McAvoy’s Professor Xavier

– Okay, seriously, it is getting ridiculous at this point. Selina often shows up for barely a second, only long enough to do some thieving IN BROAD DAYLIGHT, IN DIRECT VIEW OF COPS. This is the 4th time something like this has happened. Your future as Catwoman is NOT looking bright, dearie.

– Has Todd Stashwick, who played Richard Sionis in this episode, ever not been a deplorable villain? Every single time I see him, he puts on the villain shoes. He’s really good at it and all, but the typecasting kind of gives away any element of surprise any given character he plays has.

Categories: Entertainment