Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Review - Gotham: 2x14 - "This Ball of Mud and Meanness"

Episode 2x14 - "This Ball of Mud and Meanness"


Armed with information on who killed his parents (and a snub-nosed revolver) Bruce Wayne travels through Gotham to discovers the whereabouts of Matches Malone. Meanwhile, Hugo Strange continues his psychological experiments on The Penguin to remove his aggressive nature.


After two years, Gotham has finally provided some answers to the central mystery introduced in its pilot episode - “Who killed Thomas and Martha Wayne?”. However, while we do find out the “who” in this episode, we don't get a proper explanation behind the “why”, although given the amount of underhand dealings occurring within Wayne Industries, I'm guessing they were murdered to stop them from pulling the plug on the illegal experiments going on at the Indian Hill facility, presumably something that is made clear in the PC files that Lucius Fox is fixing up. The discovery of Matches Malone and his subsequent punishment was less about the show-writers solving that mystery, but were more about examining Bruce's motivations and seeing him turn from revenge-driven vigilante to someone wanting to prevent a similar tragedy occurring to others. The conclusion of this episode saw Bruce achieve a sense of closure, but rather than reverting back to his childhood innocence, he remains dedicated to tackling crime and chaos within Gotham City on a personal level. His self-imposed exile from Wayne Manor may act as “training” for the character, giving him an idea of the real world outside of his mansion's walls.

David Mazouz did a brilliant job at carrying this episode, taking Bruce Wayne on a quest through numerous Gotham crime hotspots to discover the whereabouts of his parents' killer. Once again, the show managed to evoke that grimy, crime-ridden atmosphere in their sets, with the underground fight-club run by Mr. Cupcake or the Maniax-themed night-club run by the sinister singer, Jeri, clad in Joker make-up to honour Jerome's legacy. I half-expected her to remove all of her make-up to reveal that she was Matches Malone herself, but gender-bending appears to be a step too far for Gotham. Despite what should have been a routine bit of exposition, Jeri definitely stood out, thanks to Lori Petty's strong performance and visual design, and I have a feeling that she may return again in the future – the idea of a Maniax-themed night-club seems too good to waste on a few scenes in one episode. Transitioning Bruce Wayne outside of his manor and onto the streets of Gotham on a more permanent basis is a great move for the show as Selina has felt under-utilised throughout this season and worked best when she and Bruce were on the run from Bunderslaw's assassins. I look forward to seeing their relationship develop further and seeing Bruce get a bit more street-wise in his behaviour.

While the majority of the episode was centred around Bruce's quest for vengeance, there was some small movement on two other sub-plots revolving around The Penguin and The Riddler. Interestingly, the show seems to be concentrating on de-powering Oswald Cobblepot in the wake of his mother's death, removing his viciousness and scheming nature through Hugo Strange's brainwashing techniques. Clearly, Strange has an endgame in plan here, but it's not clear what it may be, especially since Penguin is let loose from Arkham Asylum and on the streets of Gotham alone and more vulnerable than ever. I'm guessing he may turn to his only friend, Edward Nygma, who may be somewhat disappointed at the change in personality, especially since he seems to be becoming more bold and aggressive in his own schemes. I am really excited to see that he is coming up against Jim Gordon, as I think he could be a real threat towards Jim, Lee and Bullock. After such a lengthy build-up, I am looking forward to seeing him become The Riddler and coming into direct contact with the GCPD as a criminal. It will be extremely satisfying to see Cory Michael Smith realise his character's destiny and go “full-Riddler”.

This was another great episode for Gotham, showcasing the strength of its core cast and giving David Mazouz the opportunity to develop his character even further than ever before. The climactic scene between him and Michael Bowen's Matches Malone was wonderfully well-written and acted, and was one of the highlights of the episode, alongside the similarly-charged sequence between Bruce and Jeri. After the flashy special-effects laden two-parter featuring Mr. Freeze, this more character-driven story-arc was a refreshing change of direction for the series, particularly for Bruce Wayne who appears to have passed a vital checkpoint in his journey towards becoming The Batman. While this season has been preoccupied on the villains, it is good to see the odd episode focused on the heroes instead – this is clearly the end of one chapter for Bruce Wayne and I look forward to seeing how the writers intend to move his story ahead over the remaining half of this second season.

Score - 9.4 out of 10

Next Episode - "Mad Grey Dawn"
Gordon and Bullock investigate a trail of clues left in a museum robbery which unbeknownst to them were left by Nygma in a dangerous game of cat and mouse.

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