Tonight’s hour starts off by channeling Guy Ritchie, as an amateur group of hooded bank robbers storm into a branch of Gotham Bank. The titular character takes charge, even if he’s not the group’s actual leader. His anti-establishment speech and his zany lack of regard for his own well-being makes him a somewhat interesting character, half Robin Hood, half Christopher Nolan’s Joker (well, maybe more like a tenth of the latter). Now that we’ve met our Villains of the Week, let’s get into our main arcs.
Gordon and Bullock head to the bank to review the security video and talk to the employees. It looks like the gang has been casing the bank for a while, testing its security and timing their heist to the second. Gordon gets a closer look at the crooks from the bank’s earlier surveillance. It gives him a clue to where the newly dubbed Red Hood gang is hiding out, at an autoshop. The young, energetic fellow, Gus Floyd, soon loses a power struggle with the older, stouter Destro, who assumes the Red Hood moniker (and the hood itself, obviously).
Gordon and Bullock arrive a bit too late (the next morning, for some reason) and find Floyd dead and stuffed in a fridge. (Bullock shows a brief return to form as he drinks the dead man’s frosty beverage.) While they’re chasing shadows, the Red Hood gang busts up another bank. The customers beg them for a bit of a hand-out, and Destro complies. Too bad that a nearby business-owner saw Destro without his hood, and is now helping the cops. The witness points out Destro, but Gordon and Bullock decide to let the hood go and follow him back to the gang.
Destro returns to his apartment to find his stuttering accomplice waiting for him, and asking for the hood, which has become a symbol of power and invulnerability. In a bizarre turn, the stuttering man shoots Destro when he doesn’t give up the hood. Gordon and Bullock bust in, too late again, and we see a glimpse of the old Good Cop/Bad Cop dynamic that used to work so well.
The remaining three crooks of the Red Hood gang try to take down one last bank, but the GCPD cuts them off before they get a chance. A slow-motion shootout shows the Red Hood to be incredibly lucky while his buddies get shot full of holes. His luck doesn’t last forever though, as he draws on the cops and gets put down for good in the middle of the street. A bloody end for a Robin Hood story.
Bullock’s Road to Redemption:
Bullock got a few zingers in here and there that reminded me of the Bullock of old (ie, the first couple episodes of this season), but until the writers decide to do something more interesting with his character, consider this road closed.
Wayne’s Coming of Age:
On a dark and stormy night, a strange man comes calling to Wayne Manor. Alfred recognizes his old friend, Reggie (David O’Hara), whom he served with in the military. The man’s fallen on hard times after the loss of his wife and his house, followed by a bout with alcoholism. Master Bruce soon enters the study and meets Reginald Payne, whom he invites to stay a while.
Alfred may be a good trainer for Bruce, but Reginald pulls no punches with the young man and gives him some worthwhile lessons, even if he’s a bit insane. Reggie forces Bruce to hit him in the face as hard as he can over and over, teaching him to be a dirty and ruthless fighter. Reggie apologizes to Alfred for overstepping his bounds, and they agree to keep their bloody past behind them.
Bruce tries to ease the tension by bringing a bottle of wine to the dinner table … where Alfred decides that giving a glass of wine to a trained killer, who’s mentally unstable and a recovering alcoholic, is a good idea. Soon, the talk turns to war stories, some funny, some brutally sad, like the fight that took Alfred down. (The storm in the background simply refuses to quit.) Reggie needs some serious mental help, but the best Alfred can do is pack him a lunch and send him on his way.
Unfortunately, Reggie can’t just leave; he’s in some big trouble but won’t tell Alfred what it is or how he can help. What he does do instead is stab Alfred in the chest before leaving him to bleed out on the carpet. Bruce finds his friend and servant lying there, calls for help, and tries his best to keep Alfred conscious.
Then we cut to Wayne Enterprises’ boardroom once again, where Reggie reports back to his employers on Bruce’s intel against them, or rather the lack of it. He takes his payment for nearly killing Alfred, and suggests that now’s the time to make a move on the kid, even though he appears to have taken a shine to Bruce. This is easily the darkest the show has gotten since the deaths of Thomas and Martha Wayne, and it’s been far too long in coming.
Penguin’s Rise to Power:
Penguin’s club is not going so well: his main acts are failing, his employees are nearly mutinous, and his booze is running out. Butch lets Penguin know that Maroni owns all the liquor in Gotham, and isn’t exactly eager to help the backstabber out. Penguin takes a few of his goons to rob Maroni’s liquor trucks, but the corrupt police beat them to it. Butch shows up and reveals that the “cops” are actually his guys in GCPD uniforms, teaching the up-and-coming gangster a thing or two about tact. Back at the club, Penguin tries to raise a glass to Fish, but Butch says, “She got what she deserved.”
Speaking of Fish, we get to see her escorted above ground into a hospital of sorts where people are being prepped for organ-harvesting surgery. She witnesses men and women with missing limbs before meeting the Manager face to face. Too bad she wants to talk to the doctor who’s running the place, a doctor by the name of Dulmacher (which is not a stretch to get to Dollmaker). Mooney’s playing hardball, which wins her a chance to freshen up and talk to the manager again. She probably should have stayed downstairs since the manager’s goons are about to fit her with a straightjacket and take her eyes. He offers her a choice: they kill her and her friends in the basement, or they take her eyes. She chooses a third option: gouging out her own eye and stomping it. Well … okay then.
Meanwhile, Barbara Kean remains the creepiest babysitter/older sister in Gotham. She drinks constantly while telling Selina how beautiful she is, and giving Ivy her old clothes to try on. Barbara also tries to explain to Cat how she can use her looks as a weapon, but thankfully Cat throws that line of logic back in her face. This sideplot is … uncomfortable.
Tonight’s episode actually featured a more focused theme than we usually get out of Gotham, but whether that’s a fluke or a sign that things are finally starting to gel, I don’t know. Loyalties were tested across the board, whether it was among the members of the Red Hood gang, between Alfred and his old war buddy Reggie, or between the Penguin and his new pal Butch. “Red Hood” was also a rare instance in which Penguin played the least interesting part of the hour. Fish had some real swagger (right up until the eye-gouging scene), Gordon and Bullock showed glimmers of their former selves, and the villains played just the right amount of wacky and threatening. The real gem of this episode, however, goes to the drama that played out at Wayne Manor. Let’s hope they build something worthwhile from this well-earned conflict.
Rating: ★★★★ Very good — Damn fine television
(An explanation of our ratings system follows here.)
Red Hood: “It’s a symbol! Whoever wears the hood should lead!” ::bang::
For those of you looking for more on the comicbook versions of the Red Hood, read up on him here.
Fish Mooney: “The basement is mine.”
Penguin: “It seems I need to procure some alcohol for my dwindling clientele.” Is this what Penguin has been reduced to already? Running his own errands?
Gordon: “Think about it, as long as somebody’s willing to put the Red Hood on, this gang could go on forever.” Perhaps this version of the Red Hood is merely the first iteration, with many more to come later on. (Especially since the episode closes with a kid putting it on and shooting a finger-gun at the cops. Pyoo, pyoo!)
Butch: “I always keep a few uniforms around. A lot cleaner than going in guns blazing, don’tcha think?”
Reggie: “You’re a war dog, Alfie. You’re a cold-blooded, lethal war dog, is what you are.”
Bullock: “I need a danish.”
So Reggie has got to be into some kind of trouble that can’t be fixed by a simple payout, right? If he needed money, he’s on good terms with a billionaire. There’s either more to Reggie’s hiring as a hitman, or this is just shoddy writing. Cheers!