"The Mask" (S1/E8)
Author: Richard Church (Follow @RICHARDCHURCH16)
November 11, 2014

EPISODE INFO: "The Mask" was written by John Stephens and directed by Paul A. Edwards. It originally aired on the FOX television network on November 10, 2014. It is based on "Batman" characters owned and published by DC Comics.

MAIN CAST: Ben McKenzie as Detective James Gordon, Donal Logue as Harvey Bullock, Jada Pinkett Smith as Fish Mooney, Sean Pertwee as Alfred, Robin Lord Taylor as Oswald Cobblepot/The Penguin, Erin Richards as Barbara Kean, David Mazouz as Bruce Wayne, Camren Bicondova as Selina Kyle/the future Catwoman, Zabryna Guevara as Captain Sarah Essen, Cory Michael Smith as Edward Nygma/the future Riddler, Victoria Cartagena as Renee Montoya, Andrew Stewart Jones as Crispus Allen, John Doman as Carmine Falcone

GUEST CAST: Richard Kind as Mayor James, Drew Powell as Butch Gilzean, Mackenzie Leigh as Liza, Nicholas D’Agosto as Harvey Dent, and Kyle Massey as Mackey

EPISODE PREVIEW: Preview #1

PREVIOUS EPISODE: S1/E7"Penguin's Umbrella" Review by Richard Church (11.4.14)

SYNOPSIS: Gordon and Bullock investigate a Gothamite who runs a deadly fight club for candidates applying to work at his financial firm. Meanwhile, Bruce returns to school and gets a visit from a new friend.

In the fallout of his actions, Gordon is a very bitter cop, angry at the force for leaving him to fend for himself rather than take a stand. This causes him to exhibit some reckless behavior as he and Bullock investigate a string of brutal beatings seemingly centered around businessman Richard Sionis (possibly the future Black Mask). While “The Mask” may not have been as good as last week’s “Penguin’s Umbrella,” it was certainly an improvement over some of GOTHAM’s earlier episodes.

The episode’s biggest strength probably came from its examination of Gordon’s character. Many people have taken issue with how Gordon is very cranky and broods excessively in the show. “The Mask” addresses this head on as Bullock tells Gordon he thinks he intentionally looks for impossible fights, possibly relishing the thrill more than he should. It was a nice callback to the premiere when Fish recognized darkness inside Gordon. Though Gordon made it clear why he fights so hard and so much, hopefully this thread will be developed further.

Aside from that, Bruce and Alfred had a good story of their own which paralleled the main plot as Bruce decided he needed to learn how to fight off a bully, Tommy Elliot (future villain Hush). By the episode’s end, and a major butt-kicking by Bruce followed by a very threatening Alfred, he asked Alfred to train him as a means to deal with his anger, planting the seeds for Bruce’s eventual evolution.

One notable aspect of the episode is how much the campiness has been toned down compared to previous episodes. Jada Pinkett-Smith wasn’t channeling Eartha Kitt for the second week in a row and Nygma, while still extremely quirky, was slightly toned down as well.

That being said, several elements are still rather over the top. The Penguin’s mother stood out quite a bit as she gave TMI to her own son. Sionis laid it on really thick to Gordon and Bullock, practically outright telling the detectives he was running the fight clubs by his creepy behavior. And while Fish was toned down, licking Penguin’s blood off the pin was probably unnecessary.

GOTHAM is also a little too on the nose with how crazy the city is becoming. Most writers have examined how Batman himself seems to bring the craziness to Gotham City, but the show introduces the notion that it was in fact the Wayne’s murders which cracked the dam, allowing madness to slowly overtake the city. While it’s certainly an interesting and different concept, it’s one which lacks subtlety in the show given what viewers have seen already.

GRADE: C+

Richard Church is an aspiring writer for short stories, novels and screenplays.
He is also an avid fan of the superhero genre.

Follow him on Twitter @RICHARDCHURCH16.


GOTHAM airs Mondays at 7PM CT/8PM ET on FOX.
CLICK HERE for all of BOF's GOTHAM coverage.


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