Last week on Gotham, ‘The Blind Fortune Teller’ saw Jim Gordon still fighting the good fight, Fish Mooney trying to take over the bad side of an organ farm, lil Bruce Wayne giving the board of Wayne Enterprises an ultimatum about getting their act cleaned up, the Penguin receiving a unique gift in the form of a brainwashed Butch and the supposed introduction of The Joker. This week brings yet another classic Batman baddie to the small screen in the form of The Red Hood. The Red Hood has taken many forms in Batman canon, including being part of the origin story for the actual Joker. In ‘The Red Hood’, however, the role is used to demonstrate the essence of crime in Gotham and it’s used to good effect.
We begin with some random criminals on the job, trying to rob a bank. One of them decides he’s going to wear a red hood so that they can stand out from the other, boring criminals. When the heist goes a bit bad, he starts throwing money in the streets. And although this is just a distraction being used to get away from the cops, it turns out to have far-reaching effects.
As Gordon and Harvey hunt down the bank robbers, the hood takes on a life of its own. The members of the bank robbing gang begin offing each other for a chance to wear the hood. It grants leadership, it impresses people, its symbolizes Gotham’s need for an anti-hero to take down the corrupt in the name of the common man. But it’s still being worn by bank robbers and that means the GCPD is on the case. And so it’s goodbye to the bad guys, courtesy of some footwork by the almighty Gordon and his trusty, cynical sidekick. But, alas, though the criminals may fall, the hood itself merely changes hands.
Meanwhile, at the house of Bruce Wayne, Alfred receives an unexpected visitor in the form of an old military buddy. His name is Reggie and he appears to be down-and-out and needs a bit of help. So Bruce lets him stay for a while. In his short stay, Reggie trains Bruce in some alternative and more intense ways to do combat, talks old war stories with Alfred and eventually tries to rob the household on his way out. Oh, did I mention he puts a knife in Alfred’s guts? As it turns out, he’s working for Wayne Enterprises, trying to figure out exactly how much lil Bruce has on them and their many corrupt activities.
On Mooney’s side of the story, she ends up getting that meeting she wanted, although it’s not with the big boss as she’d hoped. Instead, she has to negotiate with middle management. And that guy has no intention of letting her throw her weight around. He decides he’s going to turn her into an organ donor whether she likes it or not. But Fish be crazy – she gouges out her own eye to make sure that her enemy makes no profits on this fine day. In the process, we do finally find out who’s in charge of the operation. It’s none-other-than Doctor Dulmacher – AKA The Dollmaker.
On the sideline, we get a brief look at The Penguin and his newfound “friendship” with a brainwashed Butch. He can’t seem to run his nightclub to save his life and, when a lack of booze causes even more problems, it’s Butch to the rescue. The Penguin gets what he wants, but doesn’t seem too pleased that Butch is the one that made all the pieces fall into place. And even though he’s a valuable asset, The Penguin’s pride may have been hurt.
And then there’s also some stuff with Barbara… She’s hanging out with little Selina and baby Ivy, being all drunk and emo. She even decides to play dress-up with the girls and gives them a pile of her used, fancy clothing. Finally, she tries teaching Selina one of life’s greatest lessons – if you’re a hot chick, then use that to your advantage, as a weapon even.
All-in-all, this was a solidly written and executed episode. The bits with Bruce and Alfred were by far the best. We got to see some more of Bruce’s development, including – perhaps most importantly – his mixture of obedience and resistance when it comes to Alfred’s guidance. Master Wayne is slowly making his way to becoming the badass Batman that we know he’ll eventually be. And learning more about the mysterious past of Alfred was great, even if most of the details were left in the dark. Bruce’s butler and guardian still has a wealth of secrets he’s keeping from his charge, though slowly they slip through the cracks and Bruce is just too damned clever to miss the obvious truths.
Also, the entire concept of the titular red hood was done quite well. In a city filled with despair, only someone who is both criminal and hero can capture the hearts of the people. The rich folks are the enemies, as are the criminals, but when the lines are blurred, the citizens of Gotham will root for whoever seems to have their best interests in mind. In this case, it’s a Robin Hood-like character that gives them money.
There were a couple of elements that went over the top this time around. The bit with Barbara could have been interesting except for one thing – Barbara. This show has been trying to make the character relevant since day one, but has failed miserably at every turn. The life lessons to Selina and Ivy were a good idea, particularly with regards to how their characters will eventually evolve. But having Barbara at the helm of this change was yet another attempt to have her do something useful. And thus, it felt incredibly artificial.
The other main annoyance was the small matter of Fish’s over-the-top eye removal. Maybe it’s just me, but that one was too much even for a comic book. It felt more like something out of a B action film or even a horror movie spoof. It wasn’t the idea that failed, however, so much as the ridiculous execution of that idea.
All-in-all, Gotham is still running strong. They’re managing to keep most of the show intriguing enough to keep us coming back week after week, even if Gordon’s story has become more of a secondary thing at this point. And next week should prove even more interesting. ‘Everyone Has A Cobblepot’ sounds like it should be very Penguin-centric and given the lack of serious screen time he’s gotten lately, we could use a return to our favorite villain. It also looks like The Dollmaker will finally be showing up to meet Mooney, a confrontation that should prove to be quite interesting. Check out the trailer for that one below: