For of all the origin stories laid out in Gotham‘s first season, “Red Hood” may just be the one with the most impact on the future of Batman and the city itself. In this latest episode of Batman’s rocky origin story, we see hints of the beginning of yet another canon villain, but we also see the initial events that kick off some iconic traits of several other characters. We look at just what the implications of a small red cloth with eye holes cut out are in this week’s Gotham review.
The actual villains of the episode, the Red Hood Gang, are pretty run-of-the-mill bank robbers, but that’s fine. None of the physical bodies getting the money and acting like Robin Hood actually matter. What matters is that little red hood. It passes from person to person, leading each wearer to be betrayed and killed by another member of the gang. Unless you count Fish Mooney’s strange headpieces, this makes the first appearance of a costume on Gotham. Considering what a huge part they play in future villains, and even Batman himself, it’s kind of a big deal. Something major needs to trigger every bad guy in the city putting on crazy costumes and running around doing bad guy things, and this may have just been it.
Gotham also takes the opportunity of having several disposable villains to make them all the Joker. More than once when a character wore the hood they started to talk in a higher pitch and cackle like Batman’s most recognizable villain. Like I said last week, I sincerely hope that Cameron Monaghan is the real Joker given how great his performance was, but it was still fun seeing multiple villains take on his persona just from wearing the hood.
There is also the theme that The Red Hood Gang is a modern Robin Hood. Gotham, ever the subtle show, mentions this several times even after it becomes abundantly clear through their actions that they are indeed acting as a new form of Robin Hood. The group robs banks, they’re generally nice to the people they are robbing, and go to great lengths to only take from the banks themselves and not the terrified patrons. It may be a little cliched at this point, but I do like how they used money to get away from cops by throwing handfuls of it in the air and letting the greedy citizens of Gotham block the cops as they try and grab as much as they can. It’s fun.
After several episodes stuck in an office chair, Bullock finally gets a lot of screen time with Gordon this week as well. Unfortunately, he just feels off. Maybe it’s only because it’s been so long since he’s been on screen for any amount of time, but he’s turned into a parody of himself, or at least what I remember of him. There’s no cop left in his character, corrupt or otherwise, he’s purely there to tag along with Gordon, deliver some weak physical comedy, and eat a lot of food. I really enjoyed the dynamic of Bullock and Gordon before, so this boiling down of Bullock’s character is a major letdown. There is a glimpse of their old good cop/bad cop routine when they are responding to gunshots in one of the Red Hood member’s apartments, but Gordon shuts down that train of thought immediately.
It isn’t all Red Hoods and over-eating in this episode, however. Seemingly every one of Gotham‘s story lines receives at least a little bit of screen time – the most interesting of which is Bruce Wayne’s. Alfred’s old army buddy Reginald Payne drops by the Wayne Manor for an unknown reason. While there, he has a brief sparring session with Bruce Wayne where we see Bruce learning some of the more brutal fighting techniques he knows later on as an adult superhero. It’s hard to imagine that one 5-minute fight session with an old friend is all he needs to learn his dirty fighting style, but it’s definitely meant to serve as a catalyst for his future. I’m not exactly doing everything in my power to avoid spoilers here, but I’ll avoid letting the big one at the end of the episode spill. With that said, can we agree to just say eff Reginald? His scene at the very end also shows just how corrupt and awful Wayne Enterprise is. Even someone as generally terrible as Reginald feels remorse for what he did and wants some sympathy paid for Bruce, but Wayne Enterprises only cares about itself.
I have to say though, while I enjoy the Bruce story in this episode as much as any other, the interaction between him, Alfred, and Reggie are bizarre. There’s this weird sense of Alfred being jealous of the budding relationship between Reggie and Bruce as if they’re some kind of love triangle. While his suspicion makes a little more sense at the end of the episode, there’s no reason he should have suspected anything prior to the big shocker at the end.
Speaking of weird relationships, Barbara, Ivy, and Selina all continue to have an awkward, drunk slumber party together. Barbara gets oddly touchy-feely with Selina and gives her some of her old skimpy clothes. Like Bruce, some of the seeds of Selina’s future are sewn with her interactions with Barbara. While Selina instantly rejects Barbara’s statement that her looks can be “as powerful as any knife or gun,” knowing her future as Catwoman, that idea of using her looks to her benefit surely comes back into Selina’s life later. Outside of that little glimpse into the future, the segments in Gordon’s apartment continue to be nothing but strange and out of place.
I also still have no idea what is up with Fish Mooney, but that seems a little more ok now. Something finally happened in her story, someone lost an eye, and I’m satisfied enough for now. Her character’s story only moved a small amount, but what happens serves as the “big WTF moment” that the show has been severely lacking. Gotham finally takes advantage of the fact that Mooney is a non-canon character and lets her do something truly surprising.
Fish’s old sidekick Butch also remains an enigma. I thought after last week when Zsasz introduced him that he was somehow hypnotized or surgically under Falcone’s control, but that seems like it isn’t the case now. He’s just been convinced to be loyal to Falcone and the bar that Penguin “inherited” from Fish? Maybe he’s been revived as some sort of obedient zombie? So far his intentions remain extremely convoluted, and it’s equally confusing as to why Penguin would even trust him if he’s not in total and complete control. Even if there was the slightest chance he was faking and attempting to eventually report back to Fish, any good villain would have him locked in the basement in a heartbeat. But then again Penguin is far from a good villain at this point in his timeline.
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