Although it’s saddled once again with an insignificant case-of-the-week, Episode 8 of Gotham does well to build on the momentum of last week’s season-high episode with some strong development in several of its arcs. Indeed, it would seem as though the show has found its groove.
By far the least compelling and disappointing aspect of this week’s episode is the Fight Club-inspired hunt for the bad guy, which sees Gordon and Bullock go up against Todd Stashwick’s Roman Sionis (whom comic book fans will know as Black Mask). You don’t need to have the deductive skills of Batman – or even young Bruce – to be able to figure out who the culprit is. Which begs the question… how has no one said anything about this fight club yet?
However, it does give Gotham a way in which to analyse the consequences of Penguin’s Umbrella. Time and time again on the show, previous events have just been glossed over, but this week we actually see the aftermath of Gordon’s stand against the mafia, and it isn’t pretty for our uncaped crusader, who ends up basically having to go it alone. There is strong character development for Gordon and also Bullock, who is acting more and more like an honest, honourable detective with each passing episode.
Surprisingly, however, it is Fish Mooney who arguably benefits the most. Bullock ges a whole episode to himself to explain his backstory, and while there are still some lingering questions as to how Fish came to be Fish, we now know a little bit more about what motivates the crime boss. To that end, this is Jada Pinkett Smith’s most watchable performance so far, as the veteran actress finds the right balance between the cartoonish and gritty.
The other strong plotline of The Mask involves Alfred and Bruce. Often times, we’ve wondered if young Bruce does anything with his days other than learning to be a junior detective, and this week we get our answer, as our Batman-to-be returns to school. It is here that he encounters Tommy Elliot (that’s ‘Hush’ for all you non-comic readers), a bully who eventually forces Bruce to start standing up for himself. This thread is more satisfying than it ought to be, largely due to Sean Pertwee and David Masouz’s pitch-perfect performances. Indeed, there are some defining moments in the pair’s famous relationship this week, and while we know where it all leads, we’re increasingly excited to see just how it plays out. At this rate, though, Bruce will be Batman in his teens.
Finally, we’d be remiss not to mention the Barbara problem, which gets even worse this week. The big decision she ultimately makes in this episode doesn’t compute with what the character has wanted – and, indeed, pleaded for in previous weeks. Even if we don’t take that into account, it’s still eye-rollingly dumb, and we can only hope when she does make her inevitable return it will be in a more likeable story.
Gotham is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £8.99 monthly subscription.
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