Gotham Review – “The Mask” S1E8

After Oswalt Cobblepot took center stage in last week’s “The Penguin’s Umbrella,” this week’s “The Mask” continues to impress with Black Mask being our villain of the week. Black Mask is another one of those ideal Gotham City villains that exist just on the right side of supernatural themed bad guys that operate through fear, force and numbers. While Black Mask does get a sizable amount of attention in this episode, the comic book lore spills over several different scenes in the episode that excite us for future events.

“The Mask” starts out with a Fight Club meets Hunger Games office brawl – and why shouldn’t it? If you’ve worked for a corporation, then you know that this is just another day in the life of somebody looking for a promotion. The scene is extremely brutal, and the crime scene that it results in demonstrates that quite well. It’s not every day you find a dismembered thumb in some dead guy’s mouth. There isn’t a lot of detective work that goes into finding the person responsible for the office brawls. I mean – black ink, ski-masks, SUSPENDERS?? It had to be Black Mask. The mystery surrounding Richard Sionis is enough to make the episode engaging. Obsessed with the warrior spirit and encouraging his employees to literally kill each other for promotions, this is as much social commentary as it is good writing; none of these selfish a-holes are forced to into “applying” for this high risk job.

gotham the mask sionis

The elements of this episode that we really enjoyed were the side stories. When judging the success of the show, it all comes down to show & tell. Gotham is doing an exponentially better job of showing the growth of James Gordon, Harvey Bullock and the eventually come-around of the GCPD. Harvey’s speech early on in the episode to Essex about how ashamed the rest of the police department is of Gordon’s heroics really resonated with us, and humanized the police department that we had been resenting this whole season. Harvey Bullock is a much more lovable person when he’s the jerk that’s on the right side of the argument.

Fish Mooney, on the other hand, continues to become the worst part of the show, and I am counting down the days before Penguin pushes her off the end of the pier. Her plan to put an impressionable sheep of a mole in bed with Falcone is completely dumb, and will undoubtedly backfire right in her face. And what was up with that old lady on stage? And why is nobody ever at Fish Mooney’s club? Fish isn’t the only annoying character in this episode. After quite possibly the worst attempt at “saving” her man (which led to her being kidnapped and ruining any leverage Gordon had on Falcone), Barbara has finally decided that Jim not answering his phone was the final straw. Barbara’s character could have been so much more, but was really reduced to a bi-sexual token and pretty face. We’ll see how this plays out – if she’s gone for good, or just long enough for Gordon to find another love interest.

gotham_108__emptylot_12310_hires1

Speaking of love interest, thank goodness we get to dive deeper into the infinitely creepy relationship between Oswalt and his mother. It could be the most disturbing element of Gotham, and that’s saying a lot if guys like Victor Zsasz are carving tally marks into their arm for each kill. Mommy issues aside, Penguin is shaping up to be quite the crime boss. His precise strikes and power moves are very clever, and it’s only a matter of time before he arises from the rubble of the Falcone-Maroni feud in control of the underworld.

The outliers were have in Gotham so far are Edward Nygma and Bruce Wayne (weird, huh?). Nygma is struggling to find himself a meaningful member of the Crime Scene Unit, and although his methods are grating, he has proven time again that he is the smartest person in the room, especially when the other people in the room are corpses. Word to GCPD, they better give him something more productive to do before he decides to entertain himself. Bruce Wayne, on the other hand, is trying to move on after the murder of his parents, but is having issues with cruel kids picking on him for it. Alfred handles the situation like any parent figure would; he will teach Bruce to beat the snot out of everybody, which is strongly reminiscent of Batman: Earth One. Who is Bruce’s first victim? Tommy Elliott, none other than Bruce’s close childhood friend turned arch nemesis Hush. Yes! HUSH! We don’t know if Tommy will show up again or become friends with Bruce after Bruce tried to “kill” him (wuss), but it’s anybody’s guess.

gotham the mask bruce

A couple of subtle things I’ve noticed:

  • While the black mask that Black Mask wears is definitely more of a skeleton in the comics, the one the show uses is decidedly more Japanese-influenced. In fact, it looks a lot like the Mask of Tengu from Knightfall that Bruce Wayne used while training with Lady Shiva.
  • Bruce was quoted as saying to Alfred things like “I enjoyed hurting him” and “I’m so angry all the time.” It looks like this might be a recurring theme for somebody destined to beat the crap out of bad guys for years to come.

Hush Comics gives “The Mask” a B+ for finally giving us the portrayal of Gotham City that we wanted. We’re finally on the police’s side, and while we know they are still a bunch of cowards, at least they know it, too. The Bruce Wayne story is continuing to build from what began as a weak attempt to draw in familiarity. And while Fish Mooney continues to disappoint, there are no hard laughs made at her expense like there were at the beginning of the season. It looks like Gotham has been realigned itself with our original expectations. All it needed was a swashbuckling session with a paper cutter.

All pictures belong to FOX and DC Entertainment.  They are credited to Jessica Miglio.

Gotham Review – “Penguin’s Umbrella” S1E7

Finally!  Jim Gordon grew some balls, The Penguin is worth something as a character, and it looks like Fish Mooney may die.  It’s taken six weeks to get somewhere with Gotham, but I think “Penguin’s Umbrella” started to take a turn in the right direction of storytelling.

The cat was let out of the bag last week when Cobblepot made his return to Gotham public. The very annoying plot line of Jim Gordon trying to hide the fact that he did not kill Cobblepot was finally “resolved” this week, and while Jim will probably be dealing with the repercussions of this via the Falcones, the Maronis, and Fish Mooney, at least the “woah is me” act is over, and maybe Barbara and Jim’s relationship will be less irritating.

There are so many pictures of me drawing my gun... but this one means something!
There are so many pictures of me drawing my gun… but this one means something!

The majority of the episode revolved around the three crime lords looking for Jim Gordon, and two of the three looking for Cobblepot.  The order was to kill them both.  But for once, it felt like the two characters who were underused in the first part of the season proved their worth – not only to the crime families Cobblepot and Gordon are trying to undermine (albeit in much different ways) but to their audience as well.  Not ten minutes in and we get to see Gordon take control of his situation, which has been a rarity, particularly with Harvey Bullock aka Worst Cop Ever as his partner.  Gordon enters his own apartment, where Barbara has been taken hostage, and shoots a guy in the abdomen, no questions asked.  While the legalities of that move are up for debate, it was great to see Gordon finally unleash what we all knew was hiding.

In the meantime, Fish Mooney continued to be utterly ridiculous and overacted.  She demands Cobblepot and Gordon, waving her arms about the whole time.  Her portrayal is laughable, particularly when she does finally meet up with Cobblepot.  Her use of the word “bitch” made me spit out my drink.  It was not frightening in the least.  But because of the revelation at the end of the episode (spoilers on that to come in the review), it seems likely that Mooney will meet her demise at some point in the show.  I will be waiting for that moment, and hoping that the severe acting will die along with her.

If my acting didn't prove I am absurd, my crop top made of crow's feathers sure does.
If my acting didn’t prove I am absurd, my crop top made of crow’s feathers sure does.

The introduction of the newest rogue, Victor Zsasz, was very well executed.  In the comics, Zsasz is a man of wealth whose parents die in an accident.  After spiraling into depression and gambling much of his money, he decides to commit suicide, but is stopped by homeless man begging for money. Zsasz thinks the man, and pretty much everyone, leads a useless life and takes it upon himself to liberate them from this existence.  The Zsasz in the comics also uses a creepy tally system to keep track of the ones he has “liberated.” In this episode, he works for Falcone, and is recruited to find Jim Gordon.  While this changes his origin, Anthony Carrigan’s (also The Mist in The Flash) is downright creepy.  He used a little bit of humor and a lot of insanity to get his point across: Zsasz is a terrifying nemesis to have because he has absolutely no regard for human life.

Gotham - "Penguin's Umbrella"
I’m bald and scary.

The defining moment of the episode was The Penguin’s revelation, and finally some sort of sense of what “Penguin’s Umbrella” meant.  Even more lethal that the actual weapon that Cobblepot will more than likely acquire (I mean he does already have the umbrella, just not the pointy thing to go with it) is Cobblepot’s ability to play both sides.

This is where the SPOILERS come in.  Cobblepot apparently met Falcone in an off camera scene in the first episode where they struck a deal  Cobblepot convinced Falcone to make Gordon “kill” him, knowing full well that Gordon would never do that.  He could come back, fake his identity and work for Falcone to bring down Maroni.  In addition, he tells Falcone that Fish has been sleeping with Nikolai and has plans to take Falcone down.  Then Cobblepot tells Falcone that when the plan goes through, he will be Falcone’s “snitch” forever.  For-eva-eva.

It is now becoming clear that Mooney is on her way out of the scene, with her lover being dead and her cover blown to her boss.  She still does have her “weapon”, but I don’t see that plot going very far.  In addition, Cobblepot is a smart guy.  He is playing both the Maroni and Falcone crime families against each other, putting Cobblepot in line to be the ruler of the underworld in Gotham.  If that is the case, bravo writers.  Well played.

And this:

  • Maroni’s guys used the oldest bomb in history to blow up Nikolai’s headquarters.  Was that a prop from the 60’s Batman series?
  • Maroni tells Falcone “There’s nothing more dangerous than an honest man.”  It’s an odd statement because it’s not true…
  • What the hell is up with the chickens?
  • Alfred is finally showing his badass side… but on the MCU???
  • Is Barbara supposed to be a strong female character?  I’m confused about what the message regarding her is.  Either way, I don’t like her, which shouldn’t be the case.
  • Jim Gordon just pawned off the Wayne murders on the MCU.  Lol.
  • Cobblepot walked up to a door and turned dramatically to his cronies saying “this way” to the campiest music ever.  Yeah, I’m pretty sure they figured they were heading through the door once the came to it.
  • Is there a tally on how many times they said “snitch” this episode?

Hush Comics gives “Penguin’s Umbrella” a B+ for finally showing this story is going somewhere, giving Jim Gordon balls, and using Zsasz as a tease rather than a plot point.

All pictures belong to FOX and DC Entertainment.  They are credited to Jessica Miglio.