This Ball of Mud and Meanness
I am afraid. My fear is this, if I start to expand on how good of a turn Gotham has made over the last few episodes I worry it will revert back and start to disappoint and only frustrate me further. With the last three weeks’ worth of episodes behind us I am finding it more difficult to be as heavy handed as I have in the past about the events in the show. This could be a small reprieve, the same thing did happen last season with the introduction of a serial killer and Barbra going around the bend.
We leave the story of Freeze for now as we transition further into Arkham and just what Hugo Strange is up too. The extreme experiments he is conducting on the patients wondering what his end goal truly is while he works over Penguin. Using Dr. Cranes fear formula mixed with some very twisted visual virtual reality goggles makes short work of the King of Crime. Turning the once violent and manipulative fowl villain into some timid little parakeet. At first I wondered who was playing whom? Was Penguin just going along, playing the role? We have seen how clever Penguin has been in the past, calculating his moves and just what the outcome would be but after this week I have to say he was out of his field. Hugo Strange is just wicked! Is everything he does for the betterment of Gotham? I think the show has finally got what it so badly needed, an arch villain. He just exudes diabolical evil, right down to the creepy smile and sinister tone in his voice. Declaring Penguin “Sane” by the end of the episode and setting him free was a shock making him nothing more than a pawn setting the board for a bigger move.
The bigger story this week is following up with Bruce after finding out the identity of his parent’s killer, Matches Malone. There are a lot of things I really liked about this story and I was waiting for it to go so horribly wrong and to my surprise it didn’t. It’s hard to follow the comics sometimes, I get that and there have been so many different takes on Bruce Wayne in the early years it’s hard to say what is the most accurate picture. The portrayal we got is what I would consider the most accurate and well laid out story in the show so far. This was the whole reason I wanted to watch the show in the first place, to see the boy become the bat and Bruce becomes the mask. It starts out perfect with Selina brining the gun to him, Bruce ready in his convictions that he can pull the trigger, but when faced with the choice he shows a sterner side. That aside for the moment, the buildup for this is remarkable as Bruce starts to see the whole of the Gotham underworld, a place he has never been nor could imagine. The conversation between Bruce and Jeri (Lori Petty who is no stranger to the DC world having done a lot of voice work in the animated series) is gold. Showing us some of the edge, the outright crazy that exists here and how ill-equipped he is to dealing with it as it looks like Lori is channeling a great mix of Joker and Harley in her character. She knows where matches is but won’t give him up right away, toys with Bruce makes a game of it for her own amusement and to see how far Bruce will take this, hard to take a kid seriously. Her parting words to him as she tells Bruce where matches is are sinister, the hand of fate and Matches will be happy to see him.
At this point is when my doubt began to creep in, but it was more than I could have hoped for as Bruce comes face to face with Matches. Playing the role of needing a gun for hire asking question about Matches score card. I thought they were going to do it, I really thought for a moment this was going to be one more departure from what we know of the character sending me into a fan frenzy of disappointment. But it didn’t happen, the rage, and frustration all there on the face, the hurt of being nothing more than a forgotten or blocked memory in the past of a known killer. Matches wanted to die, it would make sense for it to be by the hand of a kid whose parents he had killed almost poetic; “A man gets tired of doing wrong and going unpunished…you start to wonder if there really is a god.” The only comforting words Matches has before Bruce leaves the room and lets fate take its course. But I think this calls back to the earlier part of the episode as funny as it is to see Alfred going toe to toe with a big bruiser named Cupcake. The mantel of the bat starts right here with this small but important lesson as Alfred tries to teach Bruce the importance of picking your battles and letting them pick you. It’s a great fight, I watched it a couple of times but the end result is Alfred winning but back in Hospital which Bullock is happy to point out, for a butler he spends a lot of time there. The end result is the most significant, Bruce decides to take to the streets to learn and better understand this world and it’s about damn time.
On a side note Nygma talking to himself thinking Gordon is onto the fact that he killed Ms. Kringle is fantastic. Can’t wait to see the Riddler!