TV Recap: Gotham, ‘The Mask’

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The Mask Plot Summary:

After a business man is brutally beaten, Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and Bullock (Donal Logue) uncover a seedy firm that makes its prospective hires fight each other. Meanwhile, Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) returns to school, and Fish (Jada Pinkett Smith) continues to use Liza (Makenzie Leigh) in her plan to overtake Falcone (John Doman).

Aside from a brutal fist fight to open the show, this week’s Gotham started off a little slow, but by the end we got another fantastic episode. What I loved about this week is how character focused it was. Maybe more so than any other episode, many of our characters dealt with some pretty frustrating and angry emotions, while others felt severe guilt from last week’s escapades. What I appreciated most however was they addressed what my one criticism was from last week. That’s the sign of a great show.

The Mask on Gotham
Photo Credit: Jessica Miglio/FOX

While case of the week in “The Mask” wasn’t very interesting, I love where everybody ended up by the end of it. While I appreciated the villain of the week being played by Todd Stashwick (he’s done a crap load of movies and television), the character was pretty forgettable. What I loved about this plotline though was what it did for Gordon. After every single police officer abandoned him last week, his emotions were running high, and the idea of him literally having to fight and bash his way through them was pretty powerful. What this also did was give Bullock and Sarah Essen (Zabryna Guevara) great character moments. Bullock was awesome. Not only did he make a hilarious speech, but I loved seeing Bullock having to play the babysitter and be the bridge between Gordon and the rest of the GCPD. I’m so happy to have Donal Logue on this show.

This was also the first episode that really gave Zabryna Guevara as Sarah Essen some real meat. I’ve enjoyed her fine so far, but her guilt over abandoning Gordon really weighed on her, and it led to a fantastic exchange between her and Gordon at the end of the episode. The score was also great in that scene. One of the weaknesses of the episode though was Erin Richards reverting back to early season acting. Gordon and Barbara Kean don’t have a great chemistry yet, especially when you compare it to Gordon and Essen, but if you’ve read Batman comics, maybe that’s the point.

Photo Credit: Jessica Miglio/FOX
Photo Credit: Jessica Miglio/FOX

Speaking of Batman, I can’t say enough good things about Bruce in this episode. It was nice to see him in a different setting other than sitting in his living room going over cases. Yeah, going back to school and getting picked on was a bit cliché, but the writers made it work for one reason, and one reason only: Alfred (Sean Pertwee). Holy shit, Alfred. I’ve never seen Alfred characterized like this before, and I absolutely love it. More. More. More. More. Also, I know people are going to complain about Bruce’s super proper dialect, but it totally fits. That’s exactly how Batman should talk as a kid. Get over it.

Aside from Essen and Alfred getting more character development, we delve much deeper into Fish Mooney. This was probably Pinkett Smith’s best performance as well. I’ve really enjoyed Fish all season long, but tonight we got a real insight into the sick conniving criminal that she is. I love the contentious relationship her and Oswald (Robin Lord Taylor) still have, and I know it’s going to ramp up even more as the season goes on. But the way Fish manipulates Liza at the end of the episode was pure evil genius. Outstanding writing.

While the overall plot faltered, and I could have done without Oswald’s mom (Carol Kane), the character building this week was excellent. Selina (Camren Bicondova) hasn’t been seen in a while, but she got a nice little cameo, and Corey Michael Smith has really rounded into from as Edward Nygma. We also got foreshadows for two Batman villains, one of which is super obscure. It’s clear these guys know their Batman, if that wasn’t apparent already. This episode was great, but next week looks to lean heavily on Batman lore with the introduction of a BIG character. Seriously though, more Alfred.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10 (Really Great)

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Daniel Cohen is the Film Editor for Pop-Break. Aside from reviews, Daniel does a weekly box office predictions column, and also contributes monthly Top Tens and Op-Ed’s on all things film. Daniel is a graduate of Bates College with a degree in English, and also studied Screenwriting at UCLA. He can also be read on www.movieshenanigans.com. His movie crush is Jessica Rabbit. Follow him on Twitter @dcohenwriter.

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Daniel Cohen is the hard-boiled Film Editor for the Pop Break. Besides reviews, Daniel writes box office predictions, Gotham reviews and Oscar coverage. He can also be found on the Breakcast. If Daniel was sprayed by Scarecrow’s fear toxin, it would be watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on a non-stop loop.