Gotham Episode 8: The Mask Review

So after the crescendo of carnage that was Penguin’s Umbrella, Gotham seems to have slowed right down again. I was a bit surprised that everything seemed to be going down only seven episodes in, especially with almost twenty other episodes of Gotham’s first season. Obviously they couldn’t drag the ‘climax’ on for another twenty episodes so the pace has returned to the slow, mini-story case-of-the-week that started off the series. Personally, I think this was a bad move and I think it would have had greater effect if they’d built up Penguin’s Umbrella for longer, at least up until halfway through the season if not to the end. Maybe future events in the series will change my mind but currently, I find it quite jarring to go from what seemed like a climatic crisis to ‘just another day in the office’ in the space of a single episode. Anyway, now I’ve got that out of the way, let’s move onto the actual episode!

In this episode, Jim and Bullock investigate a strange fight club where the winners are rewarded with a job in the owner’s financial firm. The perpetrator seems to believe in some spiritual, will of the warrior, samurai bullcrap but to be honest, I couldn’t really tell you. The main story/case of this episode is flimsy and I barely remember the details due to how uninteresting it was. Don’t get me wrong, I like the concept but they barely even scratched the surface exploring it. Heck, we never even get to find out exactly WHY the villain of this episode is running the fight club in the first place or how it links to his beliefs. He’s just arrested at the end of the episode and… well, that’s it. Overall, the story of the episode seems to be constructed out of the paper Gotham’s writers write their notes on as even they don’t seem to be able to fully explain their idea.

Bruce also got some focus this episode but he didn’t fare much better in my eyes. In fact, I was kind of repulsed by what he did in this episode. He goes back to school and becomes the target of some bullies who ridicule him and his dead parents. How does he respond? He proceeds to go round to the leader of the bullies’ house and beat the everlasting shit out of him with his father’s watch wrapped around his knuckle. I honestly had no words when I saw this scene. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to punch the bully too, hell I want to do a lot of things but I don’t just do whatever I want. I’m not sure I’d even have the guts to actually carry it out when I got there and I’d definitely regret it afterwards but Bruce seems happy about it like some deranged psychopath. What makes this even worse is that Alfred actively encourages¬†him to brutally beat someone in plain daylight. What the hell? Up until now, Alfred acted as a voice of reason and adviser for Bruce, now he’s letting him do whatever he wants? It seems a very unbatmanlike action to me and I can’t understand why Bruce would ever do that, even in all the angst he seems to have gained after his parent’s deaths.

Don’t get me wrong, this episode wasn’t ALL bad. The most enjoyable part of the episode for me was at the end of the episode where Gordon had a badass action scene with the fighters and owner of the fightclub. It seems that some of the intense action from the previous episode has at least been retained as I found myself in awe of this scene, especially when the leader pulled out a katana and Gordon took him on bare-handed. It seems a very dishonourable thing to do to fight an unarmed opponent but I’m willing to look past it just for how cool it was. I only wish Harvey could of also had a part in this scene. Speaking of Harvey…

I like Harvey, I really do; but I have mixed feelings about his part in this episode. When Gordon goes off to catch the crook on his own and doesn’t come back, Harvey tries to rally the rest of the force to help him. Of course, they’re still treating him badly after the events of the previous episode in which they abandoned him to Zsasz. He makes a short speech and manages to convince them to join him in helping Gordon. It’s not this part that I dislike. It shows how much Gordon’s and Bullock’s relationship has grown throughout the series and how fond they are of each other after all they’ve been through. What I don’t like however is that this doesn’t lead to ANYTHING. The force goes to help Gordon out and… they do absolutely NOTHING. They arrive and find Gordon has already defeated the villain and just hang around in the background while Harvey check’s Jim is okay. So, that whole speech was pretty much pointless in the scheme of things.

Overall, The Mask is the first episode of Gotham that I haven’t enjoyed watching. The events of this episode; the villain’s motives, Harvey’s speech, Bruce’s beatdown and Fish’s nonchalance at her lover’s, Nikolai’s death, they all seem to lead to nothing. Just a bunch of paths that never seem to lead anywhere or end somewhere.The only remotely good part of this episode was Penguin’s few brief appearances which only further develop his psychopathy. Hopefully this is just a minor lapse in Gotham’s usually good writing and the show will pick back up again in the next episode.

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