After last week’s conclusion of the Gordon/Cobblepot plot thread – where it became clear that Jim could no longer be under suspicion from his own guys for the killing of Penguin – this week’s episode, The Mask, slackens the pace just a little. The episode opens with two men fighting brutally in an abandoned office building. The dead loser ends up unceremoniously dumped by the docks, and the battered state of the corpse causes the cops some confusion.
Gordon, isolated and bitter after being let down by the rest of the force, investigates illegal surgeons, and is led to a trading boiler-room business. He’s immediately suspicious of the owner, Richard Sionis (Todd Stashwick), who seems to be taking Samurai principles to extremes in his employee selection procedure. But Gordon fails to secure testimony from any of Sionis’ many injured employees.
Meanwhile, Cobblepot is making peace overtures, whether sincere or not, to Fish Mooney, but they’re rebuffed in no uncertain terms. He learns a valuable lesson in ruthlessness from his barmy mother, a lesson he applies to the Mooney situation by kidnapping and torturing her toy-boy, and he discovers something of Mooney’s plot to undermine Falcone using the seductive Liza.
Bruce Wayne is returning to school (remember we asked the other week why he didn’t seem to be attending?), but faces bullying which prompts him to strike back, with the encouragement of Alfred, who promises to teach him to fight. So that’s where that all got started.
Traumatised by her encounter with Victor Zsasz, Barbara is hitting the bottle and ends up leaving a ‘Dear Jim’ note and walking out of the apartment. We can’t say we’ll be sorry to have her out of the way for a few weeks.
In the finale, Gordon infiltrates Sionis’ little fight club and puts him out of business, after a brief lecture about how he’s a fighter, but not a killer (just like Batman, see?).
Batfans will be confident that Richard Sionis, with his fondness for Samurai masks, is somehow related to Roman Sionis, a comic character who turned from ruthless businessman to crazed mob boss, and became disfigured villain Black Mask, so maybe he’ll be back. (And apparently, though there’s no clue to this here, the school bully Tommy is planned to develop into the villain Hush).
While Sionis’ craziness is all part of Gotham’s continuing spiral into anarchy, it doesn’t seem plausible that he would employ an office full of people with black eyes and broken noses, nor that he’d ineptly dump corpses which would lead so swiftly to his cage fighting operation. So as a crime drama, the episode isn’t convincing. However, it does serve to emphasise how the killing of the Waynes has brought about some sort of change to Gotham itself; they represented a more decent time, Gordon reckons, and without them, crazies like Sionis are coming out of the woodwork.
Time, indeed, to pick sides and show what you’re willing to fight for, a theme of this episode which will only grow more important in the series as the craziness continues.
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