A Look at Gotham- Season 1, Episode 8: “The Mask”

This week’s villain is Black Mask. I wonder if it’s the businessman with the masks in his office.

The Mask- Fight Club, Office Style

The episode begins in a rundown office. A man walks out and dons a black ski mask just as another man rushes out. The two fight until one victor emerges.

The Mask- Nygma examines body of Coleman Lawson, played by Bryce Biederman

The next morning at a crime scene, Nygma examines the body of one of the men from last night’s fight. This is Coleman Lawson, played by Bryce Biederman, but Lawson has no wallet or ID on his person- just a nasty gash on his neck. He died at midnight, but he’s been in this location for a few hours. He also put up one hell of a fight. Nygma may have little to work on, but he catches a break when he finds a finger in Lawson’s mouth.

Gordon figures it couldn’t have been a mugger since muggers don’t move the bodies. He’s a bit short with other officers since, you know, they all abandoned him.

The Mask- Oswald wants a broach

Now that he’s back and better than ever, Oswald Cobblepot decides to commit a heinous crime: petty theft. He approaches a woman on the sidewalk and demands her broach.

The Mask- Oswald presents broach to Fish as a peace offering

He then presents it to Fish as a peace offering and as a way to agree to Maroni’s terms: he still has drugs and unions and pays tariffs for the ports. What Oswald needs is for Fish to talk to Falcone about there being no bloodshed, but Fish assures him that there may be a few drops. Oswald is then introduced to his replacement, Timothy, played by Robbie Tann. Remember him.

Though Oswald feels bad about the broken bonds, things don’t get much better when Fish stabs him with the broach. Even though Oswald suffered, Fish feels he has not suffered enough. He takes the broach and leaves.

The Mask- Bruce doesn't want to go to school

And since Alfred won’t let him make crime webs for the rest of his young life, Bruce is taken to the Andres Preparatory Academy. After all, he needs to be around people his own age, even if he feels that friends are childish. Plus, he’s not even sure if he wants to be a normal kid.

The Mask- Gordon speaks with victim's mother

At the police department, Gordon speaks with Coleman Lawson’s mother about any enemies he may have had. He only worked at a coffee shop, so chances are he only would have made foes of people whose orders he fudged. When Gordon brings up the fact that he was found in a business suit, Lawson’s mother explains that he had been looking for a job in finance.

The Mask- Bullock reports to Essen

Bullock, meanwhile, reports to Essen. No update on the thumb so far, but he’ll take a look into the black market next. She asks about Gordon himself is doing, but Bullock tells her that Gordon is, of course, still pissed at the other officers for running out on him during the encounter with Zsasz. Seeing him reminds the other officers of what cowards they are. Essen sympathizes, but she also believes that Gordon needs to move on since he can’t do this job alone.

The Mask- Oswald's mother sees that his hand has been injured

Since Fish didn’t like the broach, Oswald gives it to his dear, sweet mother instead. When asked about his damaged hand, Oswald tells Mom that someone was just mean to him. His success makes other people envious and the restaurant business can be troubling at times. The problem is that the person who did this to Oswald isn’t afraid of her boss. Mom understands. When she was young, her teacher did nothing to stop her when she had to deal with another student, Magda. Magda, it turns out, had ‘private lessons’ with the teacher. Well, Mom put a stop to that. Oh, not by revealing the lessons, but by denouncing Magda’s father to the secret police. Go, Mom!

The Mask- Bullock and Gordon speak with Dr. Felton, played by Frank Deal

Gordon and Bullock visit a black market doctor, Felton, played by Frank Deal, who is working on a man whose been shot. Dr. Felton doesn’t know anything, but Gordon finds a shirt with black ink, similar to the man they found this morning. Whoops. Felton reveals that a man did stop by around three in the morning, but didn’t give a name. However, a business card fell out of his pocket.

The Mask- Gordon arrests Dr. Felton

So Gordon decides to arrest Dr. Felton for lying. Alvarez isn’t pleased with this. The doctor always lies, he says, but you have to shake him a little bit. Alvarez doesn’t like how Gordon is screwing everyone over and fails to see the irony in this until Gordon gets in his face.

Bullock prevents a fight from breaking out and pulls Gordon aside. He tells Gordon that he has every right to be angry, but he has to play along to get along. Keep in mind that Falcone let them live. Bullock suggests that Gordon let the doctor out, and then they’ll get more work done tomorrow. Gordon considers this, but ultimately doesn’t let the doctor walk.

The Mask- Gordon finds Barbara had loaded one of his spare guns

We follow Gordon to Barbara’s. The lights are out, but they quickly come on and Barbara managed to get a hold of Gordon’s spare gun. She’s nervous and still feels that Zsasz is stalking her, but Gordon promises not to let anything happen to her.

Back at the rundown office building, a man in a black mask walks past three caged men and lets them know that it’s up to them when they get out.

Next morning, Gordon is ready to leave, but Barbara asks him to leave his spare gun. He hesitates, but decides to leave it.

The Mask- Nygma examines body

Back at GCPD, Nygma works on the body. Oh, by the way, what do a dead man, a cruise ship and an emu have in common? That’s right. Nothing. I certainly hope Nygma’s riddles and questions are better than this when he becomes The Riddler, if he ever does in this universe. Just as Nygma makes a discovery, another doctor storms into the room. Looks like Nygma wasn’t supposed to be here.

The Mask- Tommy Elliot, played by Cole Vallis, asks Bruce about his dead parents

Meanwhile, over at Saved By the Gotham Bell, Bruce meets up with Tommy Elliot, played by Cole Vallis, who immediately asks about Bruce’s parents. Did he watch them die? Were there guts? Is Tommy an asshat? Yes.

The Mask- Fish and Liza meet in confessional

Liza and Fish meet in a confessional. A bit cliché, but hey, no one will see them together that way. Liza’s update isn’t as detailed as Fish would like: she cooks and sings for Falcone, but for the most part, she’s made little progress. Fish tells her about Falcone’s private office- there’s a ledger in the right bottom drawer and she wants Liza to copy the last two pages. To do this, Liza will need a key from Falcone’s key ring. To do that, she’ll need to slip past Falcone, so Fish gives her a vial. Inside is a liquid that should put Falcone out for two hours. Fish doesn’t intend to kill Falcone now. If she did, there would be no chaos. And if Liza is caught, she’s probably dead. Good to know.

The Mask- Bullock and Gordon talk to Richard Sionis, played by Todd Stashwick

Bullock and Gordon head to the office and find almost every employee sporting some sort of bruise. They meet the man in charge, Richard Sionis, played by Todd Stashwick, and show him a photo of Coleman Lawson. Sionis isn’t familiar with the man and he believes there’s any number of ways the company’s business card could have ended up in his pocket. The detectives ask about Sionis’ many weapons: they inspire him. Finance is a tough business, so one must be a warrior. Gordon disagrees, saying that a businessman just needs to be a businessman. And about the masks? Masks free the soul, Sionis says. And for the bruises? Touch football gets rough. Gordon figures that Richard had Coleman killed, but there’s still no proof.

As Gordon leaves, he steps in a bit of blood and follows the trail to the men’s room. He finds two banged up men. One manages to overpower Gordon, but when he tries to escape, he runs flat into the door and hits the ground. Maybe Gordon should have waited for Bullock.

The Mask- Tommy asks Bruce about his parents again

On the next episode of Gotham’s Freaks and Geeks, Tommy taunts Bruce some more about his dead parents. Bruce, to his credit, tries to remain calm, but the second Tommy talks about Bruce’s mother, Bruce slaps him across the face. Ding-ding.

The Mask- Penguin's men bring Timothy to him

Timothy is brought to Oswald. Penguin has a few questions for his successor, but first, he’s gotta get the crap kicked out of him. There is an order to these things.

The Mask- Bullock and Gordon interrogate Adams

Gordon and Bullock speak with the man from the office, Adams, played by, Brian Morvant, though Bullock soon goes to Captain Essen and tells him that Adams was part of the hiring process. The top three candidates were told to fight it out and all signed confidentiality agreements. The fights take place in an old office building, but the windows are boarded up and the candidates entered it blindfolded.

The Mask- Nygma knows all about printer toner

But Nygma may be onto something: printer toner. The medical examiner’s report said the black on the business suit was ink, but it turned out to be toner. More than that, Nygma found staples and graphite chips, meaning that this man must have died in an office building! Yeah, Nygma’s a bit late to the party, but this discovery made him think about another case from a year ago: a young man in a business suit whose esophagus had been lacerated from an index card shoved down his throat. Four men have been killed with office supplies in the last three years. Essen immediately pushes for a confession, but there’s a problem.

Mr. Adams now has a lawyer and any statements made were now done under duress. Unfortunately, he showed up before Adams could sign. The pressing need for now is to find the building. Essen doesn’t think this makes any sense, but no more than the Balloonman or Goat did. Gordon figures nothing changed in Gotham. All this could have been bubbling under the surface, but it needed a spark to get things moving: a spark like the death of Thomas and Martha Wayne. How? The Waynes stood for a decent Gotham. This is a bit of a stretch, but I’ll get into this later.

The Mask- Bruce is outmatched

Bruce is late when Alfred comes to pick him up from Gotham School Musical. He admits what Tommy the asshat said, but knows that he’s outmatched by a boy who is much bigger than him.

The Mask- Gordon enters office building

Following a brief confrontation with Bullock, Gordon heads to the abandoned office and finds three caged potentials, but he’s soon tased by Sionis.

The Mask- Selina Kyle still needs something to do

Oh, and Selina Kyle has moved up to stealing fur coats. A girl has gotta shop. And I guess if you’re gonna get screen time, Ms. Kyle, the writers have to give you stuff to do.

The Mask- Bruce after getting in three punches on Tommy

Alfred gives Bruce a watch that belonged to his father. Why will this come in handy? Because Bruce goes up to Tommy’s house, knocks on the door, and once Tommy answers it, Bruce punches the crap out of him. Well, three solid hits, but it’s still something. When Alfred shows up, Tommy tells him that Bruce tried to kill him. That’s true, and Alfred let him try. Keep that in mind, Tommy.

The Mask- Gordon in Fight Club

Gordon awakens and finds the three men waiting around him. They’re given orders to kill. The first one to get Gordon wins. Heck, there’s even the promise of a $1 million bonus. Hard to compete with that, really.

The Mask- Bullock's speech

Back at GCPD, Bullock isn’t hearing back from Gordon. He needs to check some addresses, but gets no help from his fellow officers. This prompts him to call everyone’s attention. They may dislike Gordon, but damn it, he’s still a cop and no one stood up for him when he needed it. That won’t happen again. It takes a moment, but Captain Essen is the first to lend Bullock a hand. Soon, others join in.

The Mask- Gordon prepares to fight Black Mask

However, Gordon manages to hold his own and takes down all three men. Now, though, he must face Black Mask. He taunts Gordon, asking about his fellow cops, but Gordon is confident that he won’t need them. The two fight and Gordon manages to overtake Black Mask. He has the opportunity to kill, but he won’t. Then the cavalry arrives.

The Mask- Liza returns to Fish

Liza returns to tell Fish that she wants out, fearing that Falcone may be onto her. Is this all worth it? People already fear Fish, but Fish wants more. After all, she watched one of Falcone’s men murder her mother. She then made a promise to never again be powerless. The ledger, which Liza does turn over, is a threat. Pull it and Falcone becomes undone. Though Liza is afraid, Fish promises to never let anything happen to her.

The Mask- Timothy admits to Penguin that there's a mole in Falcone's ranks

A pity that she won’t be able to say the same for Timothy, who spits out that Fish has a mole in Falcone’s ranks.

Gordon thanks Bullock for having his back, but he’s still wrong about him. Gordon doesn’t like to fight, but he’s not afraid to, either. Someone has to fight for the city and he will still go after all of the corruption.

Barbara gets a call from Jim, but ignores it and heads out.

Alvarez informs Gordon that officers brought in a perp that knows him. The charge? Breaking and entering. Whoever did this must have been a real pro. Some master thief that the police have never been able to-

The Mask- Gordon finds Selina waiting for him

-yeah, it’s Selina.

The Mask- Bruce is ready to join Fight Club

Meanwhile, Bruce admits to Alfred that he enjoyed hurting Timmy. He’s angry all the time, but Alfred doesn’t know if it will go away. Now Bruce wants to learn how to fight.

After last week’s very well-done episode, Gotham sort of slipped back into its rhythm of bad guy of the week with “The Mask.” That’s not a bad thing and there’s no way that Gotham can pull off the same quality as “Penguin’s Umbrella” every week so far, but there’s still a lot to like about this episode.

First off, I like the immediate connection to the previous two episodes and Gordon’s strained relationship with most of the police department. It’s one thing to have left Oswald alive, but last week, Gordon saw how few allies he has in his corner. Keep in mind that almost every officer walked out on him when Zsasz entered the department. The only reason Captain Essen left is because Gordon asked her to. Now Gordon realizes that only the likes of Essen and Bullock will back him. I actually like this dynamic because it gives Gordon an even greater incentive to prove to everyone that his way works.

The Mask- Gordon doesn't care that he's screwing over the other officers

Few in Gotham’s ranks are honest and upstanding. Remember that Oswald told Falcone that Gordon was the only one with a conscience. We see that on display here when he refuses Dr. Felton, even though he’s screwing everyone over. Gordon is holding onto a lot of rage and he has every reason to. Sure, he’s got Essen and Bullock, but the bulk of the police department abandoned him. He sees no reason to, as Bullock puts it, play along to get along. He’s going to keep playing by the rules and bring in Gotham’s crooked elements, even if that makes him an enemy of Gotham’s finest. Bullock says at one point that Gordon likes fighting cops and going against the establishment. That’s probably true, but I doubt Gordon does it just to screw with people. He’s doing it because, as he says, someone has to.

Batman 614- Gordon stops Batman from killing the Joker

There’s a line and Gordon won’t allow himself to cross it and become as corrupt as the cops he must work with. This all reminds me of The Killing Joke or Gordon’s conversation with Batman in Batman #614– the philosophy he’ll come to stand by in his later years is developing here. If Gordon wanted to become a corrupt cop, he could at any point, but he won’t because he truly believes that the law, despite how often it fails, can still work. But I’m getting ahead of myself. I don’t want to see Gordon just be filled with angst all of the time, but I appreciate the show giving him some serious conflict with his fellow officers.

The Mask- Captain Essen regrets not standing by Gordon when Zsasz came

That said, there’s one thing Gordon said that bothered me: he told Captain Essen that the deaths of Thomas and Martha Wayne may have been the spark that set off these murders, including the office related deaths. It’s an interesting theory and nice way to try and connect Sionis’ involvement to the Waynes, but we learn from Nygma that there have been office related deaths well before Thomas and Martha Wayne were murdered, so this whole connection doesn’t make any sense.

The Mask- Black Mask

A bit on Black Mask: this could not have been a less subtle way to show us the villain. I mean, Sionis has masks in his office. The only thing left to add would be the very mask he wore during battle, unless I just missed it during the scene where Gordon and Bullock talk to him. I’m also not a fan of the mask itself. It’s a bit goofy looking, for my taste. I blame the Green Goblin’s mask in the 2002 Spider-Man film for that. When the villain is wearing a cartoony looking mask and I can still see their mouth moving behind the mask, I can’t take them seriously.

The Mask- Bullock speaks to the department in defense of Gordon

I am glad that Bullock and Essen are standing behind Gordon when no one else will. Sure, Bullock is trying to play both sides, but he’s more willing to be a good cop instead of just being corrupt. His speech was a good way to knock the other officers out of apathy and a nice character moment for him, but in the end, it didn’t do anything. Gordon ultimately bested Black Mask and the three potential employees on his own and by the time Captain Essen arrived, he didn’t need any help.

The Mask- Barbara leaves again

Well, Barbara looks like she’s gone again. Fine, I guess. I’m still not invested in her as a character. And given how she was adamant on Jim letting her into his life, it’s strange that she would walk out again. But then, we don’t know the reason or whether she’s actually gone for good. I doubt it, but we’ll see. Also, why is drinking her vice? Did she run out of pot?

The Mask- Fish and mom

With so much emphasis on the mob last week, I didn’t mind seeing the Falcone and Maroni war take a backseat this week. Fish is taking careful steps to take down Falcone and she’s got a decent motivation for herself, even if she did lie about her mother dying. She cares for Liza, yes, but Timothy looks like he’s done for, same as Lazlo was. Heck, she really only needs Butch to get things done.

And given what we know about Oswald, I have to wonder whether the ledger will be as impactful as Fish thinks it will.

The Mask- Bruce and Alfred

Bruce, my boy! So Bruce Wayne gets a taste of adolescent violence as he walks the halls of Gotham School Musical. I didn’t mind watching him beat the crap out of Tommy Elliot since, let’s be honest, the prick had it coming. I don’t know how realistic it is for students to suddenly ask a kid about their dead parents, but with Tommy laying it on so thick, he was begging for an ass-kicking. That’s just what he got. It was a strong moment for Bruce, but really, at this rate, the kid will be Batman by the time he graduates.

And I did get a kick out of Alfred prepping Bruce for this confrontation. The chemistry between Mazouz and Pertwee is growing very well. I really liked when Bruce asked Alfred to define normal and make a good case for it.

The Mask- Selina Kyle needs to shop

Did we really need to have another Selina Kyle scene? She could have just been brought in at the end of the episode without having some establishing scene of the officers catching her. And given how quick the girl is, it’s strange that she managed to get caught. Whatever. I hope there’s some sort of payoff to this.

While not as strong as “Penguin’s Umbrella,” “The Mask” helped push Gordon’s conflict deeper as he battles against the Gotham City Police Department with few allies on his side. By episode’s end, all looks to be well, but we’ll see how long that lasts. Meanwhile, Fish is confident that she’s making the right moves to take down Falcone, but Penguin, as we’ve seen, is one step ahead of her.

Oh, and never cross Oswald’s mother, or she’ll report you to the secret police.

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One thought on “A Look at Gotham- Season 1, Episode 8: “The Mask”

  1. They pack a lot of drama into an hour, don’t they? I agree with you about Gordon, and I’m glad he’s sticking around to clean up the mess. Very noble of him. Makes me fantasize about what the world would be if there were more law enforcement officers with his mindset & less with Bullock’s.

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