Review: Gotham – S4 E3 “A Dark Knight: They Who Hide Behind Masks”

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“It really opens up the room.”

The best line of the week comes from Victor Zsasz channelling the Big Lebowski, though he wasn’t talking about a rug, which, for the Dude, really tied the room together. We get the return of the Riddler, who comes in from the cold (see what I did there?) in a rather silly episode of Gotham with a really serious title. We have also seen baby steps in Bruce’s journey to becoming Batman, but this week gives us Bruce Wayne taking baby steps to becoming “Bruce Wayne”.

Not the “I’m an orphan and I’m sad because my parents were killed” Bruce Wayne; we’ve seen enough brooding these past three seasons. I’m talking about Bruce “I’ve got more money than brains super rich and I rode here on an elephant” Wayne, the very flamboyant billionaire playboy public persona that is an essential element in being Batman. Because let’s face it, the bread and circuses act is necessary; without the distraction, the citizens of Gotham would figure out the only person who could afford to be Batman is Bruce. We’ll worry about the fact that Batman and Bruce are never in the same place at the same time for a later discussion, much like Clark Kent looks exactly like Superman only with glasses on his face, but I digress.

David Mazouz seems to be finally having fun with the role after three seasons of brooding about, though I’m not sure whether this is a calculated performance on Bruce’s part or he realizes being a billionaire playboy is really a lot of fun. There were also some not so fun moments, like his really bad Brooklyn accent while attempting to sneak onto a cargo ship, but both he and the scene are saved by Alfred, whose outfit and demeanour are worthy of Paulie Walnuts from The Sopranos. And we get to see Alfred take out two thugs, which is always a good thing.

The main performance is, of course, part of a plan to buy an ancient embalming dagger in an auction held by Penguin. Thing is, Ra’s al Ghul (Alexander Siddig) also has his eyes on the prize; seems it was given to him in 125 AD by a mysterious man who resurrected him in the Lazarus Pit. Somewhere along the way, Ra’s somehow manages to lose an ancient, priceless dagger like you or I losing our bus fare and now he wants it back. Siddig has some experience with daggers, as his character was killed by one in Game of Thrones.

An important aside here – the aforementioned mysterious man rocked the best old school goatee since Kevin Sorbo wore it in Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. Rumour has it the make up people cryogenically froze the goatee, only to thaw it out when the economy was better, and since the markets were up last week, the goatee has made a spectacular comeback. And with that comeback are instructions for Ra’s to find an heir, which explains his interest in Bruce.

However you slice it (see what I did there?) dead people are everywhere in Gotham, though not of The Walking Dead variety. Babs is back, and she’s entered into a sex-for-kung fu internship program with Ra’s that for now is mutually beneficial. Then we see the return of Riddler, who technically wasn’t dead, but frozen in a block of ice for five months and rescued by his former high school classmate Myrtle Jenkins. We don’t get much time to know her, but in the 10 minutes of screen time, Myrtle (Ilana Becker) gives us a supervillain superfan cosplayer with just enough of a Riddler obsession to equal Kathy Bates’ performance in Misery. But who is she? Apparently it doesn’t matter as she’s dead by the end of the episode, thus continuing a continuing and now disturbing trend of killing off female characters. Before Zsasz compliments Myrtle on her dress, we have some sexually suggestive soup and “outwitting” Penguin by tip-toeing across the floor of an empty Iceberg Lounge.

Let’s be honest with ourselves, the show needed Riddler out and she was the vessel. Now sufficiently thawed, it is a pleasure to have Corey Michael Smith back in the land of the warm, especially with this week’s delightfully unhinged performance and his best line – “Bring me a riddle that is worthy of my name”.

Meanwhile, Gordon heads down south to ask Carmine Falcone for his help in taking down Penguin as the GCPD apparently doesn’t have the stones to do their job and are feeling unappreciated as of late. Carmine turns him down, saying he’s dying, either from “karma” or “old age” but nevertheless refuses.

But wait, there’s more!

Falcone’s daughter, Sofia is very willing to help. Let’s not get distracted by the fact that she looks a lot like Lee Tomkins. I mean A. LOT. Wait, on second thought, take it in for a moment. Ready? Then we shall continue.

Sofia seduces Gordon and arrives in Gotham just in time, but not as a partner. No, that would be too philanthropic for a Falcone. Sofia declares she’s in town to take her rightful place at the top of Gotham’s criminal food chain. “You came looking for a gangster,” she tells a wide-eyed and shocked Gordon. “That’s exactly what you got.” Why he’s wide-eyed and shocked is eye widening and shocking to me, as Gordon’s main character trait is that he’s a sucker for a pretty face.

No sarcastic Harvey, but Riddler is back, and Babs is Bat-crazy with full membership to the Lazarus Pit. But Myrtle is discarded too easily, reinforcing a theme that women are expendable in this show.

Tune in next week – same Bat-time, same Bat-channel.

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