Episode title: This Ball Of Mud And Meanness
Director: John Behring
Writers: Bruno Heller (developed by), Megan Mostyn-Brown (story)
Stars: Ben McKenzie, Donal Logue, David Mazouz, Morena Baccarin, Sean Pertwee, Robin Lord Taylor, Nicholas D’Agosto, Camren Bicondova, Cory Michael Smith, Michael Chiklis, Drew Powell. Jessica Lucas, Nathan Darrow, Erin Richards, Kristen Hager, BD Wong, Tonya Pinkins and more.
Duration: 42 minutes
In an episode that served as a bridge between what has happened before, and what is to come, some important events still occurred.
Okay, for the first time since I have started reviewing it, the show broadcast a filler episode, designed to set up events that will occur in the future, while tying it to events from recent episodes in the past, but even a filler on Gotham is not completely uneventful, and this one had some surprising developments in store. Even when the really big events don’t occur, there’s still enough meat on the episode’s bones to make a satisfying meal.
This episode served as a reminder that Gotham, the city itself, where all of these events take place, is a character in this story as well as the people that populate it, something that can sometimes be easy to forget. The backdrop of the city and its appearance are an element of the series that give the show a lot of its appeal.
The main focus of this episode was Bruce’s search for his parent’s killer, and his plan to kill the villain when he finds him. Along with this as its focus, the episode also spent a good percentage of its time depicting Penguin’s experiences with Strange’s unorthodox brand of therapy and rehabilitation. There was also a brief check-in with Nygma, that served as a reminder that he’s a human time bomb that is getting closer to exploding, and you just know somebody’s going to get hurt when it happens.
(*possible spoilers follow*)
The episode begins with Alfred confronting Bruce with a question about if he is still determined to seek revenge on his parent’s killer who the pair discovered was one Matches Malone (Michael Bowen) in last week’s episode. The stalwart butler and companion has found another clue that may lead them to Malone’s whereabouts
They make their way to a very questionable part of town where a bunch of social misfits are congregated in some sort of fight club form of entertainment, to find a character known as Cupcake (Jamar Greene), an imposing black man who may know the whereabouts of Matches. He does, but in addition to the money he wants to divulge the information, he demands that Alfred fight him for the info they seek and so he and Bruce can leave without being damaged further.
Unrealistically Alfred wins the fight against the much larger man that outweighs him by about a hundred pounds. More realistically, Alfred is shown in the hospital afterwards leaving Bruce free to follow the trail on his own. Gordon and Bullock show up at the hospital and Alfred tells all, and Godon leaves to find Bruce before he does as he intends and kills Malone.
Meanwhile, we join Penguin in Arkham where Hugo Strange is toying with him like a cat with a mouse. He is still having Penguin jump through some hoops until he is satisfied he has cured him of his violent tendencies. One also gets the feeling it also so Strange can continue to enjoy his sadistic games awhile longer while his yeti-sized companion Misss Peabody looks on. The episode had a surprising development when Strange all of a sudden announces Penguin cured and tells him he is free to go, releasing him from Arkham. This of course made little sense, since Penguin was originally booked for the murder of Galavan, and a few weeks in Arkham would hardly be enough to pay for the crime.
Bruce, following the info given to him by Cupcake, follows the trail to meet Jeri (Lori Petty) who it turns out is a singer in an over-the-top, heavily stereotyped, menacing punk rock nightclub. She wears makeup intentionally designed to be reminiscent of The Joker, but this turns out to be mere coincidence, and has nothing to do with the iconic villain. Jeri is simply a device to move the plot forward. She gives Bruce the address of Malone, and Bruce goes to meet him in a very large and distinctive apartment building where he lives.
Bruce confronts Malone in his apartment, and after telling him who he is, Malone confesses he doesn’t even remember the crime he committed two years before. until Bruce reminds him of his mother’s pearls that were broken on the fateful night. Only then does he recall the events with an apathetic shrug. He does not attempt to escape Bruce’s revenge. but actually encourages him to carry it out, because he explains he is tired of doing bad things and going umnpunished. Bruce changes his mind about killing this man he has imagined paying back for so long, and leaves, leaving the gun he brought for that purpose behind.
As Bruce leaves, he runs into Gordon in the hallway, just as a shot is heard coming from the apartment he has just vacated. Malone has turned the weapon on himself and is dead when Gordon enters the place.
The episode has one more surprise in store. When Alfred returns home later from the hospital, he finds a note from Bruce who proclaims he his leaving for awhile to live in the streets with Cat (Selina Kyle) so he can learn the ways of bad people like Malone.
This changes the traditional mythology of the Batman, and i have to admit, i was disappointed by this because I have been patiently waiting for the portrayal of Bruce taking an interest in the sciences, and learning, so he can grow into the Batman i know and love. Batman’s greatest weapon is his disciplined mind, and the show has all but ignored the opportunity to depict that young Bruce is interested in developing it into the weapon it is destined to become.
So another good episode, despite being relatively uneventful, compared to rest of this season. I suppose, eventually, a time will come when I will tire of all the over-the-top portrayals of all these over-the-top characters,, but it hasn’t happened yet. Even a filler episode of this series is still a good one.