Things just keep getting better in Gotham, if you’re a viewer that is. If you’re living in the city, things are just getting crazier and scarier by the episode.
In The Mask, we begin dealing with the fallout of Gordon and Bullock’s abbreviated crusade against the corruption of Gotham from the previous episode. Gordon, knowing full well that he is pretty much on his own in the GCPD is angry, taking on work he knows others won’t do and bringing in known sources, further earning the ire of his fellow police officers. Bullock however is continuing to change, dragged kicking and screaming from his “go along to get along” attitude into actually doing his job by the sheer force of Gordon’s will.We see this as they begin investigating an unusually brutal murder, a murder perpetrated largely by office supplies. Following a business card that had been dropped by the perpetrator, Gordon and Bullock confront Richard Sionis at Sionis investments. It turns out that Mr. Sionis is very much into the cutthroat aspect of business, decorating his office with various warrior paraphernalia like swords and scary looking masks. And the subsequent standoff between Sionis and Gordon is appropriately tense as they very quickly size each other up as people who know what it is like to kill another person. Naturally, Gordon and Bullock have to leave since they can’t prove anything yet. However, on their way out they identify the perpetrator of the original murder thanks to the missing finger they found in the victim’s mouth.
Thanks to his testimony and some excellent detective work by one E. Nygma Gordon finds himself alone in an abandoned warehouse full of office equipment, the warehouse used by Sionis for his “interviews” in which applicants literally fight for positions in his company, often to the death. Naturally, Gordon walked in just before one of these unorthodox interviews and manages to take down three of these bright, young, aspiring entrepreneurs and then Sionis himself before backup finally shows.
This isn’t all that’s going on in the episode though. Alfred, concerned that Bruce is becoming withdrawn and obsessive, decides that Bruce needs to go to school and interact with other people his age. Naturally, this does not go well. Very quickly, young Master Wayne finds himself the brunt of some very inappropriate questions about his parent’s murder at the hangs of a young Tommy Elliot. Fans of the comics will recognize Elliot as the person who eventually becomes the villain Hush. Because everyone involved in the life of superhero is an ally, villain or the victim of some heinous crime. Think about, how many times (other than Aunt May) do we get a supporting character at any stage of a hero’s life who just lives a normal life? Frankly even everyone’s favorite Aunt is a debatable case…But I digress.
In any case, Tommy’s questions lead to a fight, which Bruce badly loses. As one might expect, he is ashamed by this. Not so much at losing the fight as by not being able to defend his family’s honor. Alfred of course has a solution in the form of a very heavy watch that Bruce holds in his hand to aid in beating the crap out of Elliot. Bruce, satisfied at punishing Elliot is apparently not satisfied with having to resort to trickery to do it asks Alfred to teach him to fight. This might at first seem an odd request of a butler but as long-time Batman fans will recall, Alfred is no ordinary butler and spent time as a British spy. Gotham has provided some hints of this in the sword fight scene with Bruce in one of the earliest episodes and in the way in which he got the drop on police officer Crispus Allen. It will be interesting as the series develops whether or not Alfred remains Bruce’s sole trainer or if he goes elsewhere as the show progresses.
Along those lines, I wonder if each season with pick up more or less where the last one left off or there will be a gap of a year or more between seasons. This would allow us to see Bruce’s growth into Batman sooner and avoid the frustration that will be sure to develop the longer we go without using mainstream Bat-villains. Already, Gotham’s producers are resorting to some clever re-imaginings to get us to some of those villains sooner rather than later, such as the use of Richard Sionis in a Black Mask like roll, a role sure to be fulfilled by his (as yet un-revealed) son Roman. We can also look forward to seeing Johnathan Crane’s father stand in as Scarecrow in an upcoming episode.
Gotham airs on 8 PM EST, Mondays on FOX.