A Look at Gotham- Season 4, Episode 3: “A Dark Knight: They Who Hide Behind Masks”

Scarecrow’s arc is done for the moment.  Let’s return to Jim taking on Penguin by seeking some help from an old friend.

The episode begins in Arabia 125 A.D. in what looks like the ending to the film 300.  A man on horseback rides through the aftermath of a battle and brings one of the bodies to his sanctuary, which also houses a glowing, green pool of water.  After dumping the body in, the man soon reemerges.  He was no more, but now, he lives because of the water’s power.  The man must now find his heir.  With that, he is given a blade.

In present day, Bruce surveys a shipment that is being brought into the city for Penguin.  Bruce is a bit confident since he’s wearing bulletproof armor, so he tells Alfred that he won’t get shot in the face.  Bruce then spots a thief heading for the cargo.  Against Alfred’s warning, Bruce decides to follow them.

As the thief heads into one of the cargo trucks and cuts open one of the boxes, Bruce, who is watching them while out in the open, is discovered.  He engages the henchmen and, despite being outnumbered and outgunned, overtakes them long enough for him and the mystery thief to escape.  And who is this mystery thief?  Selina, of course.

We then cut to paradise as Jim arrives at a villa down South to meet Carmine Falcone. He comes face to face with Carmine and the two are soon joined by Carmine’s daughter, Sofia, played by Crystal Reed.  Jim explains that Penguin has taken over the city and the GCPD has turned it’s back on Gotham, but there are families loyal to the Falcone name.

However, Carmine refuses to help because, as he admits, he’s dying.  Maybe of old age or karma, but the air down South is better for him.  Sofia offers to go in Carmine’s place, even though Carmine believes that she isn’t ready for Gotham.  There was a point when Carmine would do anything for the city, but those days are gone.  As such, Jim is on his own.

Alfred stitches up Bruce and is furious at the young ward for not listening to him.  Bruce admits that he let his guard down and promises that it won’t happen again.  Even still, Bruce believes that the freighter has a manifest, so he’s headed back to the docks because he feels this is his chance to investigate a real crime and stop it before it becomes something bigger.

However, Alfred doesn’t want Bruce to get shot at or stabbed again.  And he shouldn’t just walk around in broad daylight with a mask.  There are other masks he can wear.  Yeah, how about a cowl?

Barbara tests out some weaponry for some criminal elements just as Selina arrives to tell Barbara that she wasn’t spotted when spying on Penguin’s cargo.  However, since Selina failed to deliver, Barbara doesn’t believe that Selina is ready for this line of work.  As such, she’ll do it herself.  If Selina wants to redeem herself, she can mop the floor.  No dice, Barbara.

Over at the Iceberg Lounge, Zsasz tells Penguin that his men stopped the shipment from being robbed.  The shipment is for black market items that will be auctioned off to Gotham’s elite.  Penguin then asks Zsasz to take him to the warehouse to make sure all of the items are accounted for, and then they can be brought to the Lounge.

When the two leave, though, a woman enters and begins blow-torching Nygma’s cube. Who is this woman?  We’ll get to that in a moment.

Zsasz and Penguin return to find the ice cube thawed.  And whoever did this, Oswald wants them dead.

Nygma awakens and is surrounded by an old elementary school teacher of his: Myrtle Jenkins, played by Ilana Becker.  Ms. Jenkins has been following Nygma’s rise to becoming the Riddler.  Cute.  Ed won’t be going anywhere for awhile- his muscles have atrophied from being on ice for five months.  Since then, Ed learns that he was the centerpiece for Penguin’s club.  Oh, and Myrtle wants to be Ed’s sidekick.

Though, if I didn’t know any better, I’d say she’s doing her best audition for Harley Quinn.

Bruce heads back to the docks and speaks with some men about finding his Uncle Al, so they let him on board to take a quick look.  Instead, Bruce snoops around until he finds the manifest, but the men soon find him.  However, Bruce is saved by the arrival of his Uncle Al-fred, who knocks out the two men.  Improvising, Alfred says, is a very useful weapon in any actor’s tool kit.

Barbara meets with Penguin to discuss a certain knife he’ll be auctioning off tonight and wants it given to her ahead of time because of her interested, mysterious client. But Penguin is still more interested in Barbara’s mysterious benefactor.  If Barbara gives up the identity, then the two will have a deal.  But Barbara refuses, so she’ll have to bid on the item at the auction.  When Barbara leaves, Oswald takes out the blade.

Bruce and Alfred research the same blade, which was used to embalm King Balahsi, who ruled Mesopotamia for the first century.  According to the manifest, there were more valuable items the thief could’ve gone for, yet they went for this blade.  Bruce then observes a photo of a man being healed by water and the two realize it reminds them of Ra’s, even though the photo is 2000 years old.  So Ra’s wants the knife.

Jim calls and updates Harvey on his situation with Falcone before he’s joined by Sofia.  He apologizes for what’s happening to Carmine- despite their differences, Jim respected Carmine.  But Sofia knows all about her father.  Due to him being sick, they now have some semblance of a relationship.  Sofia’s been here since she was 13, as Carmine wanted to send her away from Gotham.  She had Mario with her as well.

Gordon realizes that there’s nothing he can say and that he’s sorry about what happened to Mario.  But Sofia knows that Mario was infected, so Jim did what he had to do.

That night at the Lounge, Zsasz updates Penguin: the thaw job on Nygma might have been an inside job.  And he hasn’t been spotted yet.  So Penguin wants the person who is in charge of hiring killed.

Speaking of, we rejoin Nygma, who is receiving the acupuncture treatment from Myrtle. She explains that it took her months to learn Penguin’s schedule.  Nygma at least admires how Myrtle outsmarted Oswald.  Myrtle then works on getting Nygma’s brain back into shape with some riddles, but he doesn’t give the right answers.  He wants a riddle worthy of his brain.

Jim and Sofia go for a walk on the beach.  She asks if he’s ever thought of walking away from Gotham, and he has, but he can’t leave because it’s in his blood.  His father never took the easy way out, and neither can he.  As the two approach the water, Jim realizes that he can’t remember the last time he just stood still.  Sofia gets closer until she goes in for the kiss.

Alfred and Bruce walk through the plan: Bruce will bid on the item at Penguin’s auction.  Furthermore, Alfred tells Bruce that he has to learn how to assume other roles instead of just being Bruce Wayne.  He must play the role that he was born to play: Bruce Wayne, billionaire brat.

As such, Bruce bids on and wins a piece of artwork.  Alfred advises to show some financial restraint, even though he is the richest man in the room.  However, Bruce is just playing the part.  If he only bids on the knife, it will draw Penguin’s suspicion. But Penguin, who is fine with Bruce bringing his large bank account.  Strange enough, Bruce didn’t bring his Bat-credit card.  Hmm.

Anyway, Bruce is then shocked to see surprised to see Barbara Kean, given that she, you know, died.  Alfred reminds Bruce that if he wins, Ra’s will come after the knife.

It’s time to bid on the knife itself.  The opening bid starts, but Barbara ups it to $100,000.  Bruce ups her and the two get into a bidding contest.  They continue to go higher until Bruce ups the ante to $2 million.  Penguin immediately cuts off the bid and announces Bruce as the winner.  However, Penguin warns Bruce that Barbara will be coming for the knife, so he needs to keep a close eye on it.

Myrtle walks Nygma through some riddles and finds that he’s stalling because he doesn’t know the answer, even though she’s reading riddles from a book for kids.  Nygma believes that he’s fine, though, and he proves this by smacking Myrtle with the book.

Selina heads to Wayne Manor and is surprised to find Bruce sitting in the dark, by himself.  Bruce figures that Barbara sent her to steal the knife because of her huge benefactor, but Bruce won’t hand it over.  Selina wants the knife so Barbara will see her as an equal, but Bruce tells Selina to leave.

Jim returns to the GCPD as Bullock introduces him to a new detective on the force, Harper, played by Kelcy Griffin, who has transferred over from the 3-5.  Soon, Sofia enters the precinct to tell Jim that she’s ready to help.  After all, she’s been preparing for the 10 years while down South.  Plus, she needed to know Jim if the two are going to work together.  If Jim wanted a gangster, he found her.  Sofia will be in touch.

Myrtle confesses to Penguin that she’s the one that freed Nygma, all while informing Oswald that Nygma is having trouble answering riddles.  Penguin wants to make an example of people who steal from him, so he leaves Myrtle in Zsasz’s hands.  At the very least, Myrtle can die knowing that Zsasz likes her dress.

While Nygma stalks the streets of Gotham in a daze, Barbara prepares two drinks when she receives a visit from her benefactor: Ra’s al Ghul.  He’s disappointed that she doesn’t have the knife, but is intrigued to learn that Bruce Wayne has it.  He hoped that after bathing Barbara in the Lazarus Pit, she’d be a competent ally, and she’s done well so far.  That knife is the key to everything.  But not everything, as the two kiss.

So that’s a thing.

With Scarecrow out of the way for now, Gotham returns to business as usual in this very entertaining episode.  In addition to Ra’s, you’ve got Jim battling with Penguin over who has the trust of Gotham’s citizens, so he’s forced to find Falcone.  He does, but rather than get Carmine, Sofia is the one who comes to the city.  Perhaps she’s playing Jim, wants to rule the criminal world, or just wrestle control away from Penguin.

But let’s start with the most entertaining part of this episode: the growing bond between Bruce and Alfred.  Again, minus the cowl, symbol, and a few other bits, Bruce is basically Batman at this point.  He’s snooping around at night to do detective work, is getting better at improvising, and now is playing up the part he was born to play.

After all, if Bruce doesn’t want to arouse suspicion, he needs a mask.  And what better mask to play up than that of billionaire brat and playboy Bruce Wayne himself?  Again, this all feels like a very natural process that the show is taking for Bruce going through trial and error as he hones his abilities.  He can’t become Batman overnight, but he can’t just rush into every situation either.

This is why you have a noble, but firm butler like Alfred to give the wisdom that Bruce lacks.  In addition, as opposed to Alfred just standing back and giving Bruce tips and tricks via communicator, I like how he’s playing an active role in Bruce’s training.  He’s getting involved and going into the field with Bruce.  It gives Bruce an extra buffer if he gets hurt, but allows the two to work together instead of just talk.

Plus, now Bruce is able to play up the part of being a spoiled brat and flaunt his money as he pleases.  Hey, he’s the richest person in Gotham City, so he may as well spend while he can if it helps him gain more information.  And I like seeing David Mazouz play up this side of Bruce.  It’s a nice counter and change of pace to the more reserved and focused Bruce who takes to the streets as a vigilante.

Barbara being in cahoots with Ra’s comes as no surprise because who else would have been able to revive her?  I don’t entirely understand why he’d need or want to work with Barbara, though.  Surely he could have someone in the League take care of his business.  Them or Talia.  But hey, I suppose it’s a way to give Barbara something to do.

My hope is that these two aren’t some kind of romantic item or that Barbara isn’t just a stand-in for another character, like when she acted like Harley with Jerome.  But on this show, Barbara can go in just about any direction, and getting dipped in the Lazarus Pit might have affected her psyche, so maybe she’ll end up crazier than she already is.

Then you’ve got Nygma who doesn’t seem to be the Riddler anymore.  I imagine being encased in ice for so long does that to you, though I’m left wondering what the point of introducing Myrtle Jenkins as a now rabid fan of Nygma was if she was going to be killed off in the same episode.  At least Isabella stuck around for a bit before the show axed her.

Since Crane isn’t the focus right now, Jim is left with few options to help restore some sort of order to Gotham.  Though since Carmine had already left the city, I don’t know what Jim expected by going to him.  If someone else like Penguin wants to rule Gotham, that’s not really Carmine’s problem.  There’s no reason for him to return to the city.

But not Sofia.  This could be her chance to make a name for herself.  It’s too soon to tell what her angle is and I don’t know if I fully believe that she accepts why Jim killed Mario.  For the moment, at least to him, he’s got another ally on his side.  Two,even, with Harper joining the precinct.

“They Who Hide Behind Masks” was a fun follow-up to the madness of the Scarecrow two-parter.  Focus has shifted to Jim’s ongoing war with Penguin and he’s now got a Falcone in his corner.  Whether her intentions are honest, we’ll see.  And now that Bruce is in possession of the knife, Ra’s is sure to pay him a visit soon…

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