Media · Story & Characters

“Gotham” – Episode Seventeen (S1) Review

Red Hood

No, not as in Little Red Riding Hood. Unless Little Red Riding Hood held up banks.

Instead, Red Hood is (in this episode) a gang of bank robbers who take turns wearing a seemingly symbolic red hood. Oddly enough, the hood seems to cause (or, I think a better description would be, encourage) the wearer to act charismatic, even to the point of behaving like a modern-day Robin Hood who takes a bank’s money only to spread the wealth around to random Gothamites. These thugs would like to think there’s something magical about the hood. (Actually, it kind of reminded me of the Elder Wand from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows as it gives its bearer unbeatable power, is highly coveted, is passed along mainly through death or defeat, and has a bloody history. Okay, it’s not a perfect connection but it was the first thing that popped into my head. I really have read way too much Harry Potter. Not that that’s a bad thing, mind you.)

Naturally, the red hood is “magical” only in the eyes of the wearer, and I sense the brashness comes from the fact that no one can see the robber’s face. A hidden face means no one can recognize you, so basically you’re given a license to do whatever you want. Red is an odd choice though since it’s a bright color, but there is interesting symbolism connected to the color red. Red is seen as a “color of extremes” (according to an article on the site Color Matters) as it represents polar sentiments  – love and violence, passion and anger, adventure and danger. Also, interestingly enough, red “symbolized super-human heroism to the Greeks,” which fits with the Red Hood gang in a way. So why red? Not only is it flashy, it also compliments the contradictory way these guys commit crimes yet share the spoils. So it’s a good fit, both as a fashion statement and as a deeper meaning.

Bullock makes an interesting comment regarding this good-bad nature of such criminals: “When crooks become more popular than cops, that’s anarchy.” How so? A basic, brief definition of anarchy is that it’s a social “system” devoid of law or leadership where every person is his own boss. Even the word anarchy means “without ruler” in the original Greek. So to break down Bullock’s statement, when criminals are hailed as semi-heroes by the public, this can instigate a system of lawlessness and a lack of clear governance. And he would be right. Of course, I think it’s safe to say that Gotham has been existing under such a regime for quite some time. That’s what makes the dynamic of the city so fascinating: it’s a case study of what might happen if people really did rule themselves and made up their own laws. Rebels would be viewed as heroes but men of integrity might be seen as threats to one’s way of life. It’s not a pretty picture but it’s not completely unsalvageable. Men like Jim Gordon, Harvey Bullock, and even young Bruce Wayne act as dams against the tide of malcontents who would otherwise be given free reign. So in a way, what Bullock is expressing is a fear of what could be but, luckily, doesn’t exist yet.

But let’s bring up what you might be wondering – if Jerome, the deeply disturbed, soulless ginger from the previous episode, isn’t the Joker, could this be the Joker?
Red Hood
After all, Red Hood has connections to the Joker’s origins (as he once donned the hood himself in some of the comics), though the Joker’s origins are muddled at best. So the best answer is…maybe.

Mainly because the Joker isn’t the only figure to be tied to this infamous head gear. Red Hood was also an identity assumed by criminal Jason Todd, a resurrected Robin who had initially been slain by the Joker. Furthermore, the Red Hood Gang was actually formulated as the result of the Waynes’ deaths. So the whole Red Hood business isn’t clear-cut. Hence, “Gotham” could be setting up any one of these angles from the comics as well as creating its own mythos. Whichever is the case, I hope we’ll see more of the Red Hood hoods later on as I’m curious to see which story track “Gotham” decides to take.

But one storyline that needs to be put six feet under is Fish Mooney’s tale. Evidently, her story arc is doomed to intersect with the nefarious Dollmaker, who sounds like a more psychotic version of Victor Frankenstein. Say what you want about Dr. Frankenstein, but he at least took parts from dead people. But the Dollmaker harvests organs, tissues, and limbs from living, unwilling donors. But just when I thought Fish might meet her end, she pulls a fast one and pulls out her own eye. With a spoon. Then stomps on it.
freak out face can't believe it
Yeah, I know. That was a moment worthy of “The Walking Dead.” And it kind of surprised me as, until now, “Gotham”‘s gore level has been relatively confined to the usual shoot-em-up, mob movie sort of violence. But this? This was a bit much, and this is coming from someone who loves “The Walking Dead” and has watched every episode to date. I’ve come to expect the level of violence from “The Walking Dead” and it fits with the overall story and its nature and tone. But not from “Gotham.” This level of gore is sorely out of place in the city of Batman, so this disappointed me.

Though speaking of “The Walking Dead,” I suppose if there’s any consolation here, at least once Fish Mooney enters the fictional characters’ afterlife, she will have something in common with the Governor…
Maybe they might get matching eye patches!

Speaking of less-than-stellar female characters, enter Barbara, who has decided to let Selina and Ivy shack up with her in the penthouse. Barbara tries to have some girl time and even opens up her wardrobe to the young ladies, which seemed like a nice gesture. (No coincidence that Ivy went for the green jacket, right?) But I have to admit, some of the comments Barbara makes to Selina, given Barbara’s on-again/off-again…um…relationship preferences, were a tad creepy. However, Barbara does make a rather intriguing comment as she tries to get Selina to model a black sequin dress. She advises Selina to use her appearance like a weapon, thus confirming that Barbara really is as shallow and superficial as we (okay, I) thought. She sees a woman’s value as only in how she looks, not by how smart, kind, or honest she is.

Thus, Barbara is making an introspective comment: she sees herself as just a pretty entity who tries to use clothes, makeup, and doe eyes to get what she wants. To be fair, Catwoman, does use her looks as a lure, but Selina is still growing up and far from the Trinity-esque cat suit-wearing lass most Batman fans recognize her as. Thankfully, young Selina here isn’t buying it as she retorts, “What good’s it done you?” Even Selina recognizes the flaw in being just a surface-minded lady as looks clearly aren’t everything. Barbara could learn a lot from her, but I don’t expect a mental awakening any time soon.

Speaking of character transformations, consider Butch, who now assumes a quasi-mentoring role as he helps Oswald build his club and seems to hold no grudges against Penguin. (Though part of that might be due to whatever mind job Victor Zsasz did on him.) Instead, Butch feels indebted to making the club flourish again, and he hopes to make the vision succeed by showing Oswald the ropes.

So now it’s time for Lesson One: How to buy booze in Gotham:
(A). You’re probably better off not doing so.
(B). If you absolutely have to, be prepared to make nice with Maroni.
(C). In order to make nice, buy Maroni a puppy. Everyone loves puppies.
(D). If you can’t make nice with Maroni or he hates puppies or he just hates you, then think of Plan E.

Plan E is where Butch comes in.

I had often wondered how loyal Butch really was to Fish and whether or not some of his actions were motivated more out of self-preservation than trying to advance her cause. This is especially interesting since Butch now feels Fish got what she deserved. Granted, this could be Zsasz’s reprogramming talking, so it’s unclear whether Butch is expressing his true sentiments or if he’s been reconditioned to think differently. In either case, a nice Butch is a nice change of pace.

Quite appropriately, Oswald muses to Butch if it’s our enemies, not our friends, who truly define us. In some respects, he might be right. Friends are people who like us, maybe even love us, so they’re not going to test us or push us to our limit. But enemies (or people who don’t like us) sometimes help us see our flaws or cause us to develop stronger character traits such as courage or integrity. In his case, Oswald has educated himself about the gears of Gotham’s underworld from Fish and Maroni, so now he can glean a better understanding of how its minor parts work from Butch. So in a way, Oswald has learned more from his foes than his friends (whoever those might be – and Mama Penguin doesn’t count).

Along these lines, Alfred discovers that sometimes friends make the worst enemies when he takes in an old war buddy only to be…well….

I’ll just sum up the collective look made ’round the world when Alfred got stabbed…
Oh no
This was a verbal gasp moment for me as I didn’t see it coming. (Yes, I had my suspicions about Alfred’s friend but I wasn’t sure until the penultimate scene.) One thing I don’t doubt is that Alfred will live. He is, after all, Bruce’s mentor who helps make Bruce into the man and superhero he becomes. So Bruce can’t lose Alfred – he just can’t! Because if he does, Pennyworth fans (such as myself) will scorch the Earth.

I’m guessing Alfred will pull, but in case he doesn’t, get those torches ready, folks!
torch and pitchforks riot angry mad
And pitchforks. Don’t forget your pitchforks.

Overall, this was a good episode, minus the useless bits with Fish Mooney and despite the dwindling storyline for Penguin. But something tells me that the closer we get to the finale, the higher the ante will be raised and the greater the action will be. I suspect we better buckle in now because it might turn out to be a race to the finish.

Until later, fellow Gothamites!


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