Gotham 1.08: “The Mask”

In Gotham Season 1 Episode 8 "The Mask" Richard Sionis takes his name quite literally.
Richard Sionis in the "The Mask." He takes his name quite literally.

You’ll have to excuse me, I’m a little dizzy this morning from all those quick jump edits on Gotham last night. I appreciate the show wants a quick pace but this is becoming ridiculous.

In no particular order, “The Mask” brought us Black Mask Fight Club, Jim getting a Dear John note from Barbara, the GCPD finally finding some semblance of courage, Bullock being awesome, Fish as a believable liar, more crazy Carol Kane/Simka Mom, and Oswald killing people. Oh, and Selina getting caught. Again.

It’s enough to make anyone’s head spin, though not Jim Gordon’s. He’s consistently hard-headed and focused on the one goal: clean up Gotham City, and if you stand in his way, he’s had enough of you.

Not so consistent is Barbara, who, yet again, has had enough of Jim’s single-mindedness. I’m guessing she’s still annoyed that to keep her safe last week, Jim put her on a bus. Or maybe she was weirded out when she found out Bullock and his lady of the evening did the nasty in her bed. Or she’s getting tired of sitting around the Clocktower being drunk and all alone with only Jim’s back-up piece to play with. (Yes, “back-up piece” is a direct line from the episode. Hey, I snickered.) Or maybe she’s hungry. After all, Liza made her muffins in the last episode. No one cooks for Barbara in the Clocktower.

But Barbara was, at best, the back-up relationship plot because the real point of “The Mask” was to cement Jim’s standing among the GCPD. At first, it seems as if nothing has changed. The other cops still resent someone making waves, and Jim’s angry no one but Bullock stood up for him when Zsasz came after him in the precinct. But when Jim’s missing, Bullock makes a speech about standing up for each other, Essen backs him up and the cops actually manage to do their jobs.

And Jim needs their help, at least a little, because he’s gotten trapped in Gotham Office Drone Fight Club. First rule of Office Drone Fight Club: we televise you. Second rule: kill a cop, get a million dollars. That leads to a scene of Jim kicking the ass of three office drones and then their leader, one Richard Sionis. No word on whether the closed-circuit watchers were arrested too.

In Gotham Season 1 Episode 8 "The Mask" Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz, R) takes revenge on a schoolmate (guest star Cole Vallis, L).
Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz, R) knows the rules of Fight Club.

And just to make sure comic fans get the connection to the Batman villain Black Mask (Roman Sionis), not only is the episode entitled “The Mask,” but the villain-of-the-week, Richard Sionis, wears a black mask. Apparently, Roman Sionis later picks up the family tradition.

Hush, as portrayed in the comics, is clearly a sociopath.

No sign of young Roman this episode, however. But another future Bat-villain appears in the form of Bruce’s classmate Tommy Elliot, destined to be Hush. Since this show has no room for subtlety, it hits Tommy’s interests in the murder of the Waynes hard. You see, Tommy is a little sociopath who goes onto murder his own parents because…reasons. (Hush has never been the most coherent of villains.)

It’s too bad tween Selina doesn’t get some action this episode with either Tommy or a Sionis scion because grown-up Catwoman has serious issues with both of them. Roman (Black Mask) Sionis tortures Selina’s sister by making her eat eyeballs, while Hush once ripped out her heart. Literally. I highly recommend the Ed Brubaker run of the Catwoman comic for more on Black Mask, which is more noir and far less over-the-top than Gotham. For those interested in the rise of Elliot, Tommy’s first appearance as Hush is collected in Batman: Hush by Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee and Batman: Heart of Hush by Paul Dini and Dustin Nguyen contains the organ-stealing scene. (Spoiler: Selina lives.)

Meantime, poor Eddie Nygma gets no respect, even when he finds clues on the dead Fight Club member’s body. Eddie, dude, maybe your fascination and enjoyment of corpses is part of why the records clerk thinks you’re creepy? Just a thought. I’m wondering if I should start shipping Eddie and Mama Penguin (Carol Kane) who gleefully tells her son a childhood story about turning a classmate over to the secret police in whatever fictional Eastern European country she’s from. She’d appreciate Nygma’s quirks. 

In Gotham Season 1 Episode 8 "The Mask," Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith, R) and Detectives James Gordon (Ben McKenzie, L) and Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue, C) examine a crime scene
Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith, R) and Detectives James Gordon (Ben McKenzie, L) and Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue, C) examine a crime scene.

The episode does ask a thematic question: is violence the answer? Gordon says no, that despite everyone saying he gets off on violence, he just wants justice. Of course, he says that after beating the crap out of four people. Alfred seems to believe violence is a solution in some cases because he lets Bruce beat the crap out of creepy Tommy and agrees to teach Bruce to fight. Oddly, the voice of reason this episode is Fish, who talks Liza out of her fears with an excellent lie about childhood trauma.

Oswald already knows violence is the answer. He gets to torture and order someone killed. Hey, it makes him happy.

What’s next? Will Selina move into the Clocktower with Jim now that she’s been caught again? How many classmates will Bruce beat up? And, oddly, I find myself worried about Liza being caught by Falcone and killed. I kinda like her. I wonder how her muffins taste?

And on a last personal note, the victim of the week’s last name is Lawson. This is a bit disconcerting, so I hope Oswald’s not after me. (Fish I can handle.)

Corrina Lawson is a writer, mom, geek and superhero, though not always all four on the same day. She is a senior editor of the GeekMom blog at Wired and the author of a superhero romance series and an alternate history series featuring Romans and Vikings in ancient North America. She has been a comic book geek all her life and often dreamed of growing up to be Lois Lane.

Read all posts by Corrina Lawson for Criminal Element.

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