Gotham: The Mask review

Folks will do anything to get ahead in the high stakes world of Gotham finance. Here's our review of "The Mask."

This Gotham review contains spoilers.

You know what? Gotham was pretty good this week. While there’s nothing to be found in the way of bombshell developments, and it’s a fairly by-the-numbers case of the week scenario, this might be the best job the show has done of balancing out its competing halves.

Oh, and it was pretty exciting, too. That fight scene that kicked things off was a hell of an opening sequence. When it was “repeated” at the end, it drove home the weird “Gotham-ness” of it all, too. This set up this week’s villain, Richard Sionis (guest star Todd Stashwick) and his rather exclusive ways of getting his employees to get ahead of each other.

For yet another week, the Penguin story was the highlight of the show, particularly his scenes with Fish Mooney, which were downright kinky. I’m still not quite sure what to make of Oswald’s mom, and that scene dragged on a bit. All of this was made up for with Oswald’s final confrontation with poor Timothy. I like how Oswald has just kind of set up his own little revenge factory down by the waterfront.

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I even kinda dug the scene with Bullock and Essen starting to come around to Jim and his way of doing things, even though it required them to play off one of the worst scenes from last week. We know these characters need a good guy lightbulb moment before the season ends. I hope they let it happen and don’t sit around explaining it to us.

A few old reliable issues raise their ugly heads, though. Selina Kyle still doesn’t feel like a natural part of this show. I’m not really too sure I buy Fish Mooney’s whole “Stepford Hitgirl” scheme. And the bit where Captain Essen and Jim Gordon basically explain to each other how/why the Wayne murder is what put the city on the fast-track to hell felt particularly labored. Once again, had Thomas and Martha Wayne actually been around for a few episodes, then their deaths might have meant something, but there’s only so many times they can explain this point to us.

Overall, though, I could do with more episodes like “The Mask.” It’s very much a show set in Gotham City that didn’t really too much on our pre-existing feelings for these characters. They dialed back Edward Nygma’s schtick, which made him slot in nicely, and despite the heroic music swelling behind Gordon as he made his Serpico promise at the end, there, I kind of feel like we went somewhere with Jim and Harvey, and maybe even Captain Essen this week. And yes, there were coincidences galore on display, but no more than on your average procedural. That’s an issue with the genre and (hurrah!) not a problem with Gotham’s execution.

Life With the Waynes

Every week. Every week I worry about the Bruce Wayne stuff, and almost every week Mazouz and Pertwee make the time enjoyable. This was one of those weeks. There’s good and bad here, though. For starters, this, involving Bruce getting bullied “because he’s an orphan” as he returns to school was not only a bit of a stretch, but had really no relevance at all to what was actually going on in the rest of the episode.

But again, Mazouz and Pertwee made me not particularly care. Especially Pertwee. I’m still not quite sure how I feel about the “hard man” that Alfred is these days, but I sure enjoyed him tonight. “Now you remember how I let him try.” Damn. That was cold.

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Maybe the connection with the rest of the episode is that the kids bullying Bruce are exactly the kind of alpha douchebags who will seek out the kinds of jobs that made up this week’s business baddies? Is this too much of a reach? Probably.

Gotham Central

– Richard Sionis is probably the father of Roman Sionis. Roman Sionis is bat-villain, the Black Mask. Well, now we know where he gets it from. The thing is…why not just have Roman here? Is Black Mask such a crucial villain that we couldn’t move him up in time a little bit? He needs to be a legacy villain? Ah, well…Richard was pretty well done, if a bit obvious.

– Was Gordon telling that beat cop to “go smoke somewhere else” a reference to Jim’s own struggle with nicotine in the comics? That would be cool…

– I believe that Detective Alvarez is the same character who has been popping up in Catwoman’s New 52 continuity, but don’t quote me on that.

UPDATE: Bruce’s tormentor is Tommy Elliot, who will grow up to be Hush. I really should have noticed that, but I can’t take credit for it. Thanks, Darth Denim!

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3.5 out of 5