Gotham S1E8 ‘The Mask’ Review

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                                                         MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD

Gotham returned this week with the
episode ‘The Mask’ which while not directly connected to or adding to
the shows arc of heated mob feud does go a ways to show the world
after last weeks game changing episode is a fun episode with some
great elements that unfortunately, is scuppered again by the
resurgent flaws that sadly seem to be a perpetual menace to the shows
aspirations.
The plot revolved around a white
collar fight club that is run by a wealthy corporate head known as
Richard Sionis. The family name will be familiar to fans of the
comics as it, and other characteristics, echo a famous enemy of the
Dark Knight. Sionis stages to the death battles between his desk
jockey employees, and when one of the bodies turns up on Detective
Gordon’s beat the still determined, but increasingly jaded cop, digs
up leads which leads him directly to Sionis doorstep. The crime
brings to the fore the more violent tendencies of the former soldier
turned police officer. It’s interesting to watch Gordon not attempt
to hide his mistrust of his colleges who abandoned him to the
psychotic whims of Victor Zsasz. He now feels completely alone in the
GCPD and has no problem expressing his disdain for the ranks.
The real highlight of the episode is
not the office tie Mortal Kombat, but is in fact Bruce Wayne. In
previous reviews I have often spoken harshly about the inclusion of
Bruce into the story lines. I felt it was forced and honestly added
nothing to the episodes except the constant and unnecessary reminder
that one day the young orphan would wear the cowl, but not so here.
This time Bruce’s story happens to be the most compelling and
poignant part of what makes ‘The Mask’ so entertaining and if it
wasn’t for this sub plot I wouldn’t be giving the episode such a good
review.
As someone who lost his parents early
in life I found the experiences of Bruce with the bullies at his
school very true to life. Their cruelness and exploitation of such a
obvious weakness is a very real scenario when a child suffers a loss.
For the longest time it is an painful open wound and more often than
not the more predatory elements of school yard politics can’t help
pouring salt onto that emotional injury. And Alfred’s reaction and
solution to the problem, while unorthodox to most, brought a smile to
my face. For me it was a highpoint of the series even though it
really doesn’t have anything to do with the overall arc of the
series. It was real and human and I appreciated that.
As good as everything else was the one
huge glaring flaw in the episode remains, that of Erin Richards as
Barbara. I’m pretty much done being easy on this, every time she and
Gordon are on screen together their complete lack of chemistry and
the depiction of Barbara’s character don’t just drag proceedings
they slam on the brakes and bring the episodes momentum to a violent
halt. There is nothing there, not a single spark or hint that these
two character belong together or will produce one of the most
important members of the Bat Family. It’s a big problem and one that
needs to be rectified by better writing. And I hope soon because I
can’t deal with this much longer.
‘The Mask’ is a fun episode that
references the mythology and has a deep emotional impact. 8.5/10

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