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REVIEW: Gotham 1×08 “The Mask”

It is debatable whether or not this is the best episode (I think it is) but it is definitely the most enjoyable one.

Gordon (played by Ben McKenzie), after being shunned by his fellow officers, starts arresting criminals who have made deals with other officers. Meanwhile Bruce (played by David Mazouz) is bullied during his first day of school and is then taught how to fight by Alfred (played by Sean Pertwee).

This episode stands out from previous installments. Each scene feels like something new instead of the same old thing, such as the repetitive scenes of the Penguin moving up the criminal ladder or Alfred and Bruce commenting on the villain of the week. Gordon shows why he is the hero of this show. He is nearly friendless in the city yet he continues to pursue justice. It is enjoyable watching how James and Harvey (played by Donal Logue) work together after all that has happened between them. The Harvey who once refused to investigate a murder because the victim was a criminal is now a changed man. This new Harvey goes out of his way to help his partner, even though he knows it is dangerous, because deep down he realizes that Gordon’s morals are needed in their city. Unfortunately, Gordon will not be enough to change the city, for he is only a man. Bruce will become something more than just a man in order to change his city, and the show best showed this dynamic in this episode.

I was wondering why so many of the villains seem more like D-list Batman villains than non-super criminals from the days before Bruce put on the cape and cowl, and that question was surprisingly addressed in The Mask. Captain Sarah Essen (played by Zabryna Guevara) tells Gordon that she believes the rise in colorful murderers was caused by the death of the Waynes, which made the citizens of Gotham lose any hope they had for the city. At first I thought that this was a clever way of giving further meaning behind the point of the show. The death of the Waynes caused the city to lose hope and their son will one day give people a reason to hope again. Touching, truly. Then I remembered that the killer (played by Todd Stashwick, but never actually referred to as the Black Mask) was killing people before the Wayne’s were killed. The Goat killer started killing a decade before Thomas and Martha were shot. So is this a mistake on the writer’s part or just Essen misunderstanding Gotham? I don’t know, but I am going to ignore these thoughts and pretend that her theory is correct because I enjoy it too much.

The most heartwarming scenes involve a kid beating up another kid (who just really deserved it). On Bruce’s first day back at school a fellow student insults his deceased mother and beats him up. With 100% certainty I can say that I despised that kid far more than any of the murderers or serial killers from the previous episodes. I was glad when Bruce beat him up (while using his father’s watch like brass knuckles) and I am not sorry. This is the episode where Sean Pertwee’s Alfred shines. He really captures Alfred’s altruistic nature with his strong desire to just make Bruce happy. The moment when he tells the boy that he let Bruce beat him up just may be my favorite moment in the series so far. On the surface it seems as if Alfred is allowing Bruce to unleash his anger on others for fun, and it is, but the way Pertwee plays the character makes us know that he is also afraid of the dangers of making Bruce enjoy violence. Sean and David are able to read each other well and become quite believable in their performances.

Overall a very fun episode that manages to develop several characters well.

Final Grade: B+

What was your favorite scene? Are you excited for the future of this series? Did you enjoy Sean Pertwee’s Alfred? Sound off in the comments or send us your thoughts on Twitter!

About the author

Nick Doblovosky