Gotham, Episode 8 “The Mask” Broadcast on November 10, 2014
Written by John Stephens
Directed by Paul Edwards
The obligatory recap dissolves into a nervous man crouching low, trying to make his way through a deserted office. He pulls a black ski mask over his head and takes some quick steps until another similarly dressed man attacks him. They brutally pound one another using whatever they can find: computer monitors, boxes, phones, etc. One man breaks off the large blade from a paper cutter and uses it on his opponent to end the fight. In an undisclosed location a man with a gold watch views the end of the fight on a monitor. The winner knowingly turns to the camera and raises his arm in victory. The man with the gold watch turns the monitor off. Near the docks, Gordon arrives to find Harvey and several officers at the scene of a John Doe: male, beaten badly, cause of death huge gash on his neck. The body has black ink on it. Also on the scene is Edward Nygma who says the time of death was midnight, though the body has been at their location for only a few hours. He then finds a bitten off thumb inside the victim’s mouth. On the rich side of town, a woman exits her home to encounter Cobblepot who says, “That’s a beautiful broach. May I have it?” She’s stunned at his question and he grows stern, repeating himself, adding, “Please?” The Penguin is then at Fish Mooney’s. He’s there with some men to mend fences with her and clarify terms between Don Moroni and Falcone. The broach is a gift. She opens it, takes the broach’s large pin, and stabs him in the hand. Cobblepot waves his men off to do nothing. She pulls it out, licks the blood, and says, “Sweet.” She then goes on a tirade about him while he just smiles. He takes the broach and leaves. Cue opening title card and first commercial break.
There was a lot to like about this episode except for the parts featuring the Black Mask. I really didn’t like the origin of this character. He came across as a successful version of American Psycho. I thought that Todd Stashwick was channeling Christian Bale unsuccessfully. I didn’t care for the Chinese mask he wore, which came off unintentionally as silly with a huge grey mustache on it, as opposed to the simple black mask he has in the comics. The battle he has with Gordon held no suspense, and nothing implied that a crowd of employees ever watched the fights, and nothing is mentioned in the story about these watchings. They are only shown and there is no fallout or discussion about these characters. This was not good writing. I also didn’t care for the storyline involving Fish’s plant in Falcone’s nest. I just have no interest in this. Ignoring the episode’s focus, the scenes with Bruce and Alfred are superior and there’s one scene on some steps that had me and my daughter scream out at what happens. This scene was only foreshadowing what was to happen later on a doorstep. Harvey Bullock grows this issue from being the non-caring jerk into something else, and along the way he begins to turn the entire Gotham police department. This was unexpected and outstanding to see. Bullock’s “play nice” speech to Gordon was super and the response he got right up there with the best ever given by Superman in the face of disparity. I enjoyed Barbara’s slow fall, being unable to adjust to the life her fiancé has chosen–very realistic. And I loved another appearance by Carol Kane as the Penguin’s mother. She got to really act up the scene and viewers were treated to seeing evil not falling too far from the tree.
The good: Harvey beginning to change, Bruce enjoying his anger, Alfred helping the boy with his anger, Carol Kane, and Robin Lord Taylor dominating as the Penguin.
Fun lines: “Do you really?”, “It’s not in my toolkit,” “Don’t talk about my mother!”, and “I enjoyed it.”
The bad: Hated Black Mask, hated Black Mask’s mask, bored by all Fish storylines, and the inclusion of Selina Kyle seemingly served no progression of this episode or the overall story arc.
The final line: A watchable episode, but very mixed. Overall grade: C+
Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for several years with “It’s Bound to Happen!”, he reviewed comics for TrekWeb, and he currently reviews Trek comics at TrekCore. He’s taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for two years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.