Gotham: Season 1 Episode 8 "The Mask" (REVIEW)

written by Omar Castillon (@omar_castillon)

An abandoned office space, two well dressed people and hidden cameras. A voice says that they have to fight to the death. Two men enter one man leaves. This is how this week’s episode of Gotham starts out and it only gets more and more sinister as the time rolls on. The criminal subject for this week is an underground corporate fight club. The man behind it on the other hand does have a familiar last name.

Gordon and Bullock are called on the scene of a murder involving a well dressed man with a huge gash on the side of his neck and a thumb inside his mouth. Right away the mystery continues as both Gordon and Bullock have to solve this bizarre murder mystery. One scene in particular pertaining to the man behind the underground fights caused a double take. Before the scene cut to break, the boss walks up to the three candidates to be one of his employees and as he turns around he is wearing a “black mask.” Yes that’s right, Mr. Sionis, also known as the Black Mask, is the primary target in Gordon and Bullock’s investigation. Whether or not he is the very same Black Mask that becomes one of Batman’s enemies is unknown, but it is on the nose that the black mask being worn by Mr. Sionis is indeed a nod to the future crime boss Black Mask.

Not only was this episode focused on the exploits of a “fight club” in the corporate world but also a Bruce Wayne heavy presence. Alfred finally sends Bruce to school so he can at least be a normal kid for once and of course this doesn’t bode well with Bruce. Like some sort of stereotype of troubled kids in a new school, Bruce encounters a bully by the name of Tommy Elliot. Before I go any further with this added detail Elliot in the comics is a childhood friend of Bruce until a sudden mix up that ends up with Elliot despising the Wayne family and obviously Bruce. There is a great series that goes into more depth with Tommy and Bruce’s feud during the Batman years. The series is called Hush in case you decide to go out of your way and read that storyline. Anyways, back to Tommy Elliot in the series. Elliot unfortunately is reduced to bully status and uses the typical tropes to mess with Bruce until he gets a nice slap to the face. Then afterwards it becomes a whole, “confront your enemy” sort of lesson by Alfred. This was pretty mixed but also just a driving force to push Bruce into being more of a fighter rather than a pouter I guess.

Cobblepot shines once again as he tries to reconcile with Fish Mooney but obviously it falls through. We do get a strange encounter with Cobblepot’s mother in a “Psycho” sort of way…yeah; it just feels unsettling for some odd reason. Cobblepot even got the chance to meet his replacement for Mooney. It is one of the lighter scenes but takes a 180 degree turn later on in the episode. Trust me; Cobblepot’s replacement is not in for a good time. As for Edward Nigma, he has a brief moment of brilliance as he takes matters into his own hands analyzing the body that had the thumb in his mouth way back in the beginning. He gets kicked out by the examiner, but Nigma actually contributed to the investigation against Mr. Sionis and his past connections with the underground fight club.

I cannot recommend enough how much you need to check out this episode. Aside from a few flaws like the underutilized Liza and Barbara just being extremely unlikable, everything else in the episode worked. Gordon even had a sort of Meta moment in which he references The Balloon Man (which was the weakest episode) and The Goat Man (which was the creepiest episode) and how it is all connected to the deaths of Bruce’s parents. At least it was more or less an implied effect that impacted Gotham City as a whole with the city’s true colors shining brightly. It is awesome to see a show really reflect on its own mythology on occasion. Here’s hoping next week’s episode continues the dynamic structure of storytelling.