Review: Gotham (S1 E17/22), Monday 20th April, Channel 5


You don’t have to be a supervillain to make your mark in Gotham City – all you need is a gimmick. Even a humble bank-robber can be promoted to mythical status with the right prop, and this week we discover the simplest of all – a red hood.

There’s a homely feel to the opening of this episode, as instead of mad vivisectionists, crazed vigilantes or demented murderers, we’re confronted by villains with a simple motive – greed. A gang of bank robbers sticks up a small branch, and one of them decided to jazz things up by donning a red hood. He’s mocked by his companions, until he luckily avoids the gunfire of a guard, and figures out how to delay the cops by strewing the streets with money.

Is it the red hood that makes the man, or the man that makes the Red Hood? Whichever, the villains fall out over the spoils, the original Red Hood is killed, and another villain takes his place. This conflation of the man and the costume is a key aspect of Batman mythology; many a man has worn the cape and the cowl, and every one has become, in some way, the hero Batman. But it works both ways; don the costume of a villain, and you become the villain. Red Hood, though a relatively minor character in the comics, is the first villain in Gotham to illustrate this point. ‘A freak in a mask – awesome’ comments Bullock.

Gordon tracks the gang through CCTV evidence, while they’re busy robbing the rich and giving to the poor. The cops settle on a suspect, Destro, from eye-witness evidence, and catch up with him just as he’s being shot by a third member of the gang. They do, though, find a pointer to the next raid, and bust the gang in the act.

There’s a fabulous shoot-out, slow-motion, buckets of blood, the lot – notice the clever colour-grading to make the hood stand out against the drab backgrounds.

Meanwhile our Batman-to-be, Bruce Wayne, is visited by an old friend of Alfred’s. Reggie Payne, a former SAS colleague of Alfred’s, turns up apparently destitute and desperate, and inveigles himself into the household. His offers to help Bruce in his training sound sincere, but Alfred’s suspicious (and does he also have some old secrets he doesn’t want revealed?)

A crisis is reached when Reggie steals some valuables from the Manor, and stabs Alfred on the way out.

Meanwhile Fish Mooney, temporarily removed from her mysterious dungeon, meets The Manager (Jeffrey Coombes, cult hero of The Reanimator) in his sinister lair. The Manager reveals that the owner of the facility is Doctor Dolmacher – clearly the Dollmaker we have heard of before. Selina Kyle was certainly lucky not to fall into his hands, then.

Fish’s refusal to bend to The Manager’s will leads to a horrific scene where she scoops out her own eye and destroys it rather than become an unwilling organ donor. Surely she isn’t going to have to go through the rest of the series with an eye-patch?

Penguin’s club is dying on its feet (that cruddy comedian who some think might become The Joker is killing the atmosphere), and Cobblepot is forced to turn to Butch to secure some bootleg hooch from Maroni. Butch does the job, though he’s got the shakes real bad, and looks like he’ll go through most of the booze himself. But does this mark a change of Butch’s allegiance, or does he still hold a torch for Fish? 

Two major threads of the episode culminate with fantastic twists; Reggie turns out to be reporting on Bruce’s investigations to the board of Wayne Enterprises, and the red hood, lost at the scene of the bank shoot-out, falls into the hands of a kid – a Red Hood for the next generation? 

But we’re left wondering about Fish – are her chances of escape destroyed along with her eye? Can even this most wily villainess turn the situation to advantage? Appearances, we have to remember, can be deceptive.

Chris Jenkins

For all our Gotham reviews, go here


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