Review: Gotham – Season 1, Episode 17 “Red Hood”

Let me start off by apologizing for the tardiness of this review. I had a lot of shit going down last week and was unable to get to this until today.

So. Sorry.

Before we begin – a shout out to the real star of this episode:

Hold your head high, Spoon.

Our Jimmy G plot line/A story follows Jim and Bullock as they attempt to bust a bunch of bank robbers calling themselves “The Red Hood Gang”. During the Cold Open, which got lost on its way to a Tarantino movie, one of the guys thinks its cool to wear a red hood during the robbery. He mistakenly believes this piece of cloth with holes cut into it is imbued with magical properties. Unfortunately, the writers go with this theme and every person who dons the hood becomes instantly more outgoing and more violent. Even the kid at the end (we’ll get to that.)

Jim gets intel from a real life Velma who has no concept of how banks work (“They were just taking the bank’s money!”) and they learn that these guys have been planning this robbery for some time. Bullock and Jim deduce who the guy in the hood is, but when they get there, SURPRISE! He’s dead.

They get a break in the case from some guy who saw the new Red Hood, and that guy is great. He’s just the type of guy you’d actually run into in a police station – weird, quirky, off without being off-putting. I applaud this actor for doing so much with so little screen time and hope he shows up again. They ID the new Red Hood and decide to let him go so they can track the rest of the gang. Too bad the other guy from the gang is waiting for him. He’s bought into the “Hood is magical!” crap and needs it to impress his girlfriend. He shoots new Red Hood and becomes New New Red Hood. He’s then gunned down in the street because magic isn’t real, even on a Batman TV show.

At the end of the show, Jim is called away and he…forgets?…drops?…the hood in the street. All the other cops, who have never watched one single episode of CSI, forget all about preserving the scene and proper evidence collection. The Hood lies in the street, and some kid picks it up, puts it on, and pretends to shoot the cops. He’s lucky they didn’t see him.

Regardless, let’s just pay homage to the greatest line of the episode:

This storyline was fine – it was perfectly serviceable. The problem with these A storylines is they’re starting to serve as a framework for the real story going on behind it. This wouldn’t be a problem…if Gordon wasn’t supposed to be the main character. (Is he really? Couldn’t you argue this is becoming an ensemble show?)

Side note – I suspect the “Red Hood” episode falling right after the supposed Joker reveal of last episode is not a coincidence. Joker was a member of the Red Hood Gang back before he became the Joker. That kid at the end could be another “possible Joker” if they want to keep playing the “we never said Jerome was the Joker!” card (which I assume they do).

Back in Fish Land

So, Fish finally makes her way out of the basement to talk to “management”. She refuses to talk to the dude at the desk, though I’m 99.9999999% sure he’s actually The Dollmaker. Fish plays tough, Dollmaker sees she isn’t going to go down without a fight, so he offers her a shower and some fresh clothes. When she emerges from the shower, he offers her a cup of tea, which she refuses, because Fish isn’t dumb. I’m positive that shit was drugged. Good move, Fish.

There’s some bullshit about how Fish better play ball or she’ll die OR they’ll just take her eyes out and let the basement people eat her or whatever basement people do. Fish takes door number three AND TAKES HER OWN EYE OUT WITH A FUCKING TEASPOON. And then she STEPS ON IT so The Dollmaker can’t have it.

Holy shit. Holy fucking shit! HOLY SHIT MOTHERFUCKER SHIT FUCK!!!! WHAT? AAAAHHHHHH! Also, AWESOME.

That is so over the top yet it’s perfect comic book TV. The Joker had his face cut off in Scott Synder’s Batman run so I don’t consider a self eye-ectomy to be that far removed from normal in this universe.

Though removing one’s own eyeball is an extreme act, it shows that Fish knows that she needs out outcrazy the crazy in order to survive. Well played, Fish. It’s fucking crazy, but it’s crazy enough to work.

Penguin/Butch

Penguin isn’t doing well as a new business owner. His comedian sucks (another possible Joker?) and he’s run out of booze. See, Maroni supplies this side of Gotham with booze. I’m not sure how that works in the days of legal liquor corporations and not, you know, Prohibition and dudes running hooch for the mob, but, ok. We’ll go with it. No one will sell to Penguin because Maroni wants to light his stupid hair on fire. He goes to shake someone down, and honestly, I don’t know how the fuck he though he was going to do that without any sort of preparation or planning. Penguin’s story always seems to boil down to a loose collection of ambition, half-cocked ideas, and a whole shitload of luck. Just as he’s about to get out of the car to shake down the booze guys, Butch and his fake cops show up to do it for him. Now he has booze! The club can open to poor turnouts for another episode! (There’s that luck.) I’m glad Butch did your job, Penguin.

Selina

Selina and Ivy are still hanging out at Barbara’s apartment. She’s drinking, because she’s an addict, and she admits to a 14-year-old girl that she likes being her friend. Barbara then decides to tell Selina that she’s going to be really pretty one day and offers her the advice that her looks can be a weapon. In a moment that had my feminist heart jumping for joy, Selina turns to Barbara and asks her what good all her good looks have ever done her.

Beauty can be a weapon, and it’s one of the few women have been allowed throughout history. But Selina already understands something that Barbara doesn’t – all the weaponized beauty in the world doesn’t mean shit if you don’t have a brain behind it. Selina doesn’t quite believe herself to be a beauty (yet) but she understands that if she were able to harness that kind of power, she would use it to further her own goals. Unlike Barbara who uses it to…I don’t know…sleep with Jim and Montoya because she’s empty inside and needs to fill that sad, gaping need with attention or sex or drugs. (What happened to Montoya, anyway? Is she still on the show?)

Bruce/Alfred

An old war buddy of Alfred’s shows up at the manor. He’s had a rough go – his wife died, he lost the house, he’s been sleeping under the bridge because he’s an alcoholic. Bruce asks him to stay for a few days because Bruce Wayne is, above all other things, a kind-hearted person who believes in helping his fellow man.

Mr. Payne finds Bruce training and asks to see his fighting techniques. In doing so, he teaches him about how important it is to use your surroundings during a fight. He teaches him not to get mad because it’ll get you killed. He teaches him to go low when knocking down men twice his size. This is a parallel of Selina’s story this week. They’re both learning something that they will come to rely on when they’re adults. And they also encounter adults who don’t quite understand what this lesson really means.

Alfred stops the lesson because he thinks Bruce needs to focus on the self-selected curriculum they’ve already been working on. Bruce, on the other hand, sees that these new techniques have value – just because it’s outside of what Alfred is teaching doesn’t mean it should be discounted outright.

I’m unsure why Alfred, he of the improvised brass knuckles, is against teaching Bruce more dirty fighting techniques, but whatever.

Bruce – smart, adorable, Bruce – offers up a bottle of nice wine for Alfred & his buddy. They drink and share war stories, which is what Bruce wants. (I remember nights when it was deemed acceptable to let the kids stay up and talk with the adults.) We learn the Alfred was an elite solider who killed a lot of people for his country. He’s an “old war dog.”

Later, Alfred catches his buddy stealing from Wayne Room. He asks why his friend didn’t just ask for money and his friend says he’s in too deep and stabs him in the chest. Bruce finds yet another parental figure sprawled on the ground and calls 911.

While Alfred lays in a hospital bed and Jim abandons evidence to be at Bruce’s side, we learn that Alfred’s friend (who has a name I just didn’t feel like using this entire commentary) was working for the board of Wayne Enterprises. In a direct consequence of Bruce’s actions when he confronted the board, he was sent to the manor to see what Bruce knows. I didn’t see this coming and I loved it. Even though we all know Alfred will live, I’m excited to see where this goes.

However – This is what I’m talking about when I mention that Gordon is becoming a frame to hang other bigger stories on. And if Gordon is the main character, this kind of overarching story should belong to him, not Bruce.

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