Almost against the odds, Gotham is making this season work. Accelerating Bruce Wayne’s transformation to Batman should have been disastrous and the beginning of the end. Instead, it’s taken the show to this really interesting place. They Who Hide Behind Masks did another great job of turning doubts around. The title was fitting for the continued evolution of the junior Dark Knight.
Once again the highlight of the episode was the Bruce and Alfred segments. Bruce was on patrol at the harbor and saved Selina from getting caught by Penguin’s thugs. With one avenue closed, Alfred suggested Bruce try a different approach and go undercover. David Mazouz has been really impressive this season and he displayed a great command of the full Bruce Wayne mask. Selina’s prototype Catwoman suit looked sharp, but it’s time to her to swipe some cat ears from the dollar store to complete the look.
With a little research, they learned Selina was after a knife connected to Ra’s al Ghul back from Arabia 125 A.D. I appreciated the writers not dragging out that Ra’s is the one who resurrected Barbara. In the context of using her as an agent to help him steer events in his favor in Gotham, her return makes sense. And this also explains why she’s gone through such a drastic personality shift. Instead of making her crazy, this time the Lazarus Pit made her sane.
It felt like a major moment and significant turning point when Alfred steered Bruce into performing as the billionaire brat. This played well on Gotham and it makes sense for a teenager to be so obnoxious with money. Bruce seemed to enjoy the role play and it made for some fun interactions with Penguin and Barbara.
I’m glad Riddler wasn’t on ice too long this season. That was depriving the show of one of its best characters. Ed got to experience a bit of Misery as his old classmate Myrtle Jenkins (Ilana Becker). This was another seemingly odd scenario that paid off. Myrtle had become obsessed with Ed and essentially wanted to be the Harley to his Mr. J.
With Joker off the table, there is a vacuum for that kind of dynamic. I loved the twist of Ed’s body being OK after being a Popsicle for months, but his brain was damaged. To Ed that’s far worse than anything else. Zsasz solving the riddle Ed couldn’t solve was very funny, but sadly Myrtle had to be made an example against those who steal from Penguin. Becker was terrific though, making a strong impression in one episode more than some recurring characters.
Even Gordon’s subplot was tolerable this week. Gordon went to Carmine Falcone for help against Penguin. This was a stupid plan as Falcone had no reason to return to Gotham. The change from dreary streets to waterfront property and a beach was a nice change of pace.
That also got Gotham away from its 1950s set design making for a striking backdrop. Gordon meets Falcone’s daughter, Sofia (Crystal Reed, Teen Wolf), who’s eager to help him for some reason. Sofia is also strangely reasonable with the whole Gordon killing her brother thing. There’s got to be an angle here beyond Sofia’s attraction to Gordon.
On a hopefully positive note, the GCPD got a new arrival with Detective Harper (Kelcy Griffin), who might actually be a decent cop.
They Who Hide Behind Masks was a very strong outing from Gotham. The departures from the old format are paying off, but the staples like the quirky humor and characters continue to make it all come together. I wasn’t sure if I’d be on board with this Dark Knight prelude, but it’s won me over and I’m thoroughly enjoying how this season is coming together.
Rating: 8.5 out of 10
Photo Credit: Jeff Neumann/FOX