TV Review | Gotham 1.08 ‘The Mask’

1.08 gordon bullock nygmaOriginal UK Air Date: 1st December 2014

This Week on Gotham…

Gordon and Bullock investigate the murder of an up-and-coming investment banker. It is revealed that he is not the first to die in such circumstances, and that all of the previous victims worked for Sionis Industries. They discover that prospective talent is forced to fight with each other (sometimes to the death) for a full time place in the company. While trying to find incriminating evidence, Gordon is overwhelmed by the sadistic Richard Sionis and his cronies. When he awakens, he is set upon by four of the prospects – each offered a $1m signing bonus if they are the one to kill him. Bullock and Captain Essen arrive with the cavalry to find Gordon not only having defeated the four of them, but Sionis also.

Elsewhere….

Bruce returns to school, where is bullied by a young Tommy Elliot.
Fish instructs Liza to steal Falcone’s private ledger.
Oswald makes a peace offering to Fish.
Barbara walked out on Jim.

The Verdict…

After a couple of blinding episodes, Gotham takes a small step back with a decent effort.

The regression in episode score (see the end of the article) is mostly down to the villain-of-the-week. With the character underwhelmingly written, Todd Stashwick hams it up a bit as antagonist Richard Sionis (Black Mask to DC readers). Combine that with shaky plotting and the end result is unfavourable for The Mask.

But it’s not all doom and gloom.

The subplot with Bruce was actually handled really well, giving him some decent character development, while also allowing Sean Pertwee’s Alfred to flesh out his own role too. The scene where Alfred encourages Bruce to give Tommy a good whack with his Dad’s watch may be questionable parenting, but it certainly made for an entertaining scene. Cole Vallis also did well with limited material as Tommy, the future Hush.

While Oswald’s supblot was probably the weakest thing he’s been involved in to date, Robin Lord Taylor’s performance was still strong. He spends the episode attempting to find a weakness in Fish Mooney’s armor that he can exploit, should it come down to it. He works out a little too easily that Liza is Fish’s mole (even for one as intelligent as him), but it least moves that part of the plot along. Jada Pinkett Smith turned in a decent performance in her own right, particularly in the ‘peace offering’ scene.

I’m in two minds as to exactly how good Mackenzie Leigh is going to be as Liza, but her scenes with both Fish and Falcone were decent enough. Obviously fearful of Fish, she goes ahead with stealing Falcone’s ledger – though showing some mournful resentment that it’ll end up getting him killed. I really hope this isn’t just something that was dropped in for intrigue in this week’s episode and that Liza will be genuinely conflicted when everything goes down.

Barbara walking out on Jim was bizarre, particularly after time was spent trying to make her look sympathetic to Gordon’s cause. It came quite out of the blue. I’m not sure anyone will care, though, as it is such a minor plot point.

Finally, whatever reservations I may have towards the story of the week, it did provide the platform for Bullock’s excellent speech to his colleagues, calling them out for not helping Gordon last week. Donal Logue was in his element, and showed why he was one of this year’s best casting choices.

Overall, The Mask was fine. Despite a relatively poor main storyline, all of the main players came out of it looking pretty decent. Everyone is moving themselves into place for the inevitable showdown, and it’ll be interesting to see where they take it from here.

3/5

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