GOTHAM Recap: “The Mask”

     November 10, 2014

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At the end of tonight’s episode of Gotham, we were exactly half way through the planned 16-episode season (before Fox ordered six more installments, anyway).  So just how far have we come in those eight episodes?  Well, the murder of the Waynes is still a long way from being solved, Gordon is alienating himself from everyone (including his fiance) except Bullock, and Master Wayne is just learning that he has a taste for violence.  The only character that’s really progressed since the premiere is Robin Lord Taylor’s Penguin, who has returned from the dead in order to make a quick ascent up the crime ladder of Gotham’s underworld.  But at this point in the season, is that enough to keep viewers interested in the pre-Batman series?

Hit the jump for our Gotham recap.

gotham-the-mask-cory-michael-smithBefore we get into our usual four-part discussion of Gotham, let’s take a look at some of the events that occurred outside those boundaries.  At the outset of “The Mask”, two men dressed in business attire and wearing ski masks fight to the death in an office setting while a man watches on closed circuit camera. When the loser’s body is eventually discovered by the authorities, Nygma investigates while Bullock fills Gordon in on the details.  As usual, the cops are pretty far from the truth at this point in the episode, but perhaps the severed finger that Nygma pulls from the dead man’s mouth will help spirit things along. Later on, the riddling forensics expert takes it upon himself to investigate the corpse, even when it’s not his turn to do so.  Nygma continues to be a supporting character in these episodes, but is still showing strong hints of the riddling antagonist he’ll one day become.

And now, on to our regularly scheduled programming:

Wayne’s Coming of Age:

gotham-the-mask-david-mazouz-sean-pertweeMaster Bruce finally gets out of the manor and back into school, and although Alfred uses a firm hand in sending him back, he also wishes him well. The girls are happy to welcome him back, but the guys at school act like jerks when they ask about the death of his parents. Bruce smacks one of them when they talk about his mother, and something tells me it’s not going to work out too well for him. Later, Alfred says he hopes he broke their teeth, but Bruce says he’s not good at fighting and the other kid was bigger than him. This, of course, leads to Alfred letting Bruce use his father’s watch to beat the tar out of the kid who bullied him, as you do. Bruce actually comes across as the jerk in this scene, even if the other kid deserved it.

Maybe Alfred isn’t the best guardian after all. He can help to train Bruce to fight, but maybe teaching him to beat a kid’s face in isn’t the way to do it.  One of Batman’s greatest strengths isn’t his brute force and fighting prowess, but his ability to show restraint when his opponents cannot or will not.

Penguin’s Rise to Power:

gotham-the-mask-todd-stashwickHe starts off this episode by robbing a wealthy woman of her brooch in order to gift it to Mooney while they negotiate terms between the families. She promises not to spill more than one drop of blood, and more or less keeps her word, though she stabs Penguin’s hand with the brooch pin. Apparently Mooney didn’t like it, so Penguin gives it to his mom instead. She gives him a bit of advice on how to deal with his work trouble.

Penguin’s goons drag in Timothy, the new guy who’s been tasked with holding Mooney’s umbrella. He interrogates the man, but not before a savage beating. Timothy is strung up, upside down, and soon gives up the intel that Mooney has somebody close to Falcone.  Bye-bye, Timothy.

Gordon’s Quest:

Gordon talks to the mother of the dead man, who worked in a coffee shop and was looking for a job in finance. Later, he and Bullock pay a visit to an underworld doctor who’s patching up a criminal. They match the ink on the guy’s clothes to that of the victim, and bring in the doctor and the thug. Bringing in the doctor has ruffled the feathers of the other cops who used him as an informant and protected his underhanded operations.

When Gordon arrives at Barbara’s later than expected, she almost fills him full of lead. They have a mini fight but Barbara seems to collect herself. While she tries to stay close, Jim gets wrapped up in his casework and puts more and more distance between them.

gotham-the-mask-ben-mckenzieLater, Gordon and Bullock pay a visit to financial hotshot Richard Sionis. Not only does the man have quite the armory in his office, but most of his employees already bear some war wounds. They know they have their man but can’t prove it, so they make to leave. Gordon traces a blood trail to the office bathroom, where the man with the severed thumb rushes him; Gordon takes him down. Turns out that the candidates for the job were told to fight it out, and whoever was left standing would be hired. Nygma shows up to tell the detectives that more victims have died in office space fights in the recent pasts.

This leads Gordon to investigate one of Sionis’ warehouses where, lo and behold, the men are being held. Sionis knocks Gordon out with a stungun. When he regains consciousness, Gordon finds himself in the center of three more candidates vying for Sionis’ open position. Whoever kills the cop, gets the job. The rest of the company watches as Gordon takes down the assailants one by one, and cheers the fight when Sionis himself engages Gordon in a swordplay. Gordon gets the upper hand (or sword) but fails to deliver a killing blow. Captain Essen shows up in time to distract Gordon and almost allow Sionis to kill him, but Gordon knocks the man out instead.

Though Gordon’s wrapped up the Fight Club business (and somehow forgot that a man in a black mask killed the Waynes…), Selina Kyle shows up in cuffs once again.  It feels like we just keep going around and around the same plot points with Gordon, but never actually get anywhere…

Bullock’s Path to Redemption (or Not):

gotham-the-mask-ben-mckenzie-donal-logueAfter getting Gordon’s back after every other cop in the department bailed on him, Bullock now aligns himself with the Boy Scout. He’s still trying to get Gordon to play nice with the rest of the cops, but it’s tough sledding. At least Bullock’s taking his frustration out on someone other than his partner. He even boils over to the point of scolding the entire department for their disloyalty. Pretty much only Captain Essen and Detective Alvarez offer to help out, against their better judgement. Bullock doesn’t directly save Gordon in this episode, but his willingness to stand up for his partner certainly goes a long way towards redeeming his past.

It’s hard to believe that we’re eight episodes into the season and things are still plodding along. Hopefully the show will get a boost of energy when Harvey Dent makes his appearance next week.

Rating: C+

Rogues Gallery:

  • Nygma: “Detectives, I’m guessing I should run all the prints?” Bullock: “Yeah, Ed. Run the prints.” Nygma: “This one too?”
  • Mrs. Kapelput: “The restaurant business is so tough these days. Why is that?”
  • Nygma: “What do a dead man, an emu, and a cruise ship have in common? Correct, nothing.”
  • Still not sold on Mooney’s assassin storyline. Is it working for anyone else?
  • These villains aren’t exactly hiding the fact that they’re murderous criminals, are they? Should make for some pretty easy crime solving in Gotham. I’m glad they finally realize that the Waynes’ death has caused the crazies of Gotham to come out of the woodwork.
  • Selina Kyle: “Girl’s gotta shop.”
  • We finally get a little bit of Mooney’s backstory, as it turns out that one of Falcone’s thugs was responsible for her mother’s death, and in turn, for Fish’s unyielding ambition. Or maybe her mother is really alive after all and Fish was just manipulating her assassin. Whatever.

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