Fox‘s Gotham The Mask TV Show Review. Gotham: Season 1, Episode 8: The Mask may be the intellectual nadir of the series, but still grants some guilty pleasure. The Mask is about, in one word, fighting. In more words, The Mask is about more fighting. From its opening with an outright funny scene of two men in business-casual attire fighting each other in an office (it’s explained, but the specific motif is still funny), to its use of violence to make thin talking points about justice being served, its leitmotif is about as subtle as its hook punches and groin kicks.
There are, of course, the arbitrary scenes of Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor) and Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith) furthering their conspiracies–including a smolderingly passive-aggressive scene where the former attempts reconciliation–and detectives Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) butting heads over ideals–though they’re becoming more respectful to each other–but central to this whole episode is an underground fighting ring run by a mysterious man in the titular mask; paying presumably poor people people to fight in his uncharacteristic rings, to be filmed and broadcasted to an audience of ironically high society types. Gordon, as his usual straight self, spares no quarter as he grills a Doctor Felton (Frank Deal) who is obviously dirty, but previously was a useful informant for the police, and gleans from him that the guilty party is a company owned by businessman Richard Sionis (Todd Stashwick), who uses weaponry as a fashion statement, and denies to the detectives that he’s The Mask in such a way that he makes it clear he’s The Mask. The detectives are dismissed, but Sionis, who has picked up that Gordon is a veteran, sends his goons to kidnap him and forces him to fight in the office.
Meanwhile Alfred (Sean Pertwee) forces his young godson Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz), to attend an upscale private academy, where he, too, gets into the fighting spirit, via a rather arbitrary teasing of Batman foe, Hush; real name Tommy Elliot (Cole Vallis), and in the process partially contradicting his original backstory of being Bruce’s friend. Also, Bullock gets to turn over something of a new leaf as he sticks up for Gordon with a ham-fisted monologue chewing out the rest of the cops and ensuring their apathy against Victor Szaz doesn’t repeat itself again.
By the time Bruce Wayne rattles off his throwaway line from the trailer, one may have gotten a sense of twisted irony from this ordeal: We’re watching this story condemning people who commodify violence in-canon, yet at the same time, the episode feels as though it’s doing the same for our own consumption. It should be embarrassing, and it is, but shockingly, its testosterone-fueled spell proved potent. Multiple times, I lept out of my seat and pumped my fists viscerally at watching onscreen fists find their designated homes. This is the sort of hyper-masculin smut that will ruin a drama if it gets out of hand…but as Nietzsche said, even among the highest of us, occasionally the beast must be let out to play.
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