Monday, March 14, 2016

Gotham Season 2 Episode 13 "This Ball of Mud and Meanness" Review and *SPOILERS*

Faffing About!

Director: John Behring
Writers: Jordan Harper
First Aired: March 14, 2016

*Non spoilers and score at the bottom*

This is it. We’ve come to the end of the road… Sort of. We’ve come to the end of A road, which involves one of our main characters. Since the pilot episode of this series, a question has lingered in the air: Who killed the Waynes? Last episode, we got our answer last fall and on the last episode, Alfred got files on the man himself. Now this week Bruce is going after Matches Malone. While I originally rolled my eyes that Bruce’s future criminal persona is the killer, I have been a bit excited for this to come to fruition, mainly because this is an Elseworld’s story. We don’t know what could happen! Will Malone be a fake? Will he not exist? Will Bruce kill him?! Probably not that last one, but the thought doesn’t escape me! So let’s dive on in to this ending chapter of Bruce’s childhood...

We open the episode with Penguin’s therapy and this time we actually SEE what Oswald is seeing. Nothing too insane… Just him strapped to his family dinner table as his mother is beaten to death by an evil version of himself. While he is suffering, Hugo Strange believes that it’s time for him to go under the ice cream test, which involves him being the only one in the Asylum cafeteria that gets ice cream, which leads to him getting beaten. Now remember this, we’ll be getting back to that much later in the episode… When I mean later, I mean the end! I get we should know what the heck is going on with Penguin during this time, but these scenes are so small and have NOTHING to do with the main plot!

Speaking of the main plot, we find Bruce and Alfred setting off to find Matches Malone, the man who killed the Waynes. Alfred’s lead points them to a man called Cupcake… Who is the leader of a gang called The Mutants… I wish I was joking… Call it anything else! Writers, you did the in your face reference thing back in season one, and you fixed it when season two started! Anyway when they find the gang, Cupcake agrees to tell them … If Alfred can beat him in a fight. Alfred actually does a pretty good job standing his ground and outlasting the brute… but then falls unconscious due to the fight, leaving Bruce to go off to find Malone.

When he comes to, Alfred calls up Gordon and asks him to go find Bruce before he makes a terrible mistake, which he does… But then Bullock says something that makes me realize something… Why tell the cops you are planning to kill? In that moment, the problem with the plot hit me like a ton of bricks. Alfred is supposed to be the stand up father figure in Bruce’s life, so why is he doing something obviously ILLEGAL when he forebode it in the past? Why didn’t he tell the cops about Matches, when it’s clear the case was still open?! Speaking of the cops, after they left, only Gordon goes after him. THIS IS BRUCE FRIGGIN’ WAYNE! EVERY COP NOT ON DUTY WOULD BE SEARCHING FOR THAT KID! I cannot push my suspension of belief far enough with how not only Bruce, but now Alfred is acting.

Bruce eventually makes his way towards a club owned by *sigh* Joker wannabes. I had to put that sigh there because that was my exact reaction to it. Like I get there will be followers of Jerome, but why THIS episode. This is supposed to be the episode of Bruce taking on the man who killed his parents, but we keep getting sidetracked. First the Mutants, than with Ms. Kringle’s disappearance being questioned at the GCPD, and now the Joker club. Then at the forefront at it all: Lori Petty as Jeri… I don’t know… I think she watched Heath Ledger’s Joker one too many times and was trying her best to mix it with Tank Girl. Not saying that’s bad, it just felt like it lifted the plot off the rails in the worst possible way. She points Bruce in the right direction of Malone, and gladly causes a riot to make sure Gordon can’t catch up.

Now we come to the part where I actually enjoyed the episode: Bruce confronting Matches Malone. HO-LEE CRAP WAS IT TENSE AS HELL! The moment the door opened, you were pulled into a dark corner the show has been building towards since the first episode, and it did not disappoint. You understand Malone’s character flaws, you see Bruce’s anger building, especially when Malone fails to remember his victims, but in the end Bruce hears the truth, or truths as the case maybe: He was hired, and he’s just a man who was shaped by Gotham’s crimes… And that is when Bruce puts down the gun he was going to use and leaves… only to have Malone take it and blow his own brains out, due to severe regret over his actions. This entire section could have been the entire episode and it would have been one of if not the best episodes in Gotham to date.

In the end, Penguin passes the “Ice Cream Test,” by not murdering the man who cause him harm in the beginning of the episode, Bruce leaves to live on the streets with Selina, making me wonder if this is the last we’ll be getting any Wayne and Alfred action ever again, and Edward, nervous Gordon is following him to learn about Ms. Kringle, swears to stop him… by drawing a green question mark… That’s right… Riddler is finally here!

Bits and Pieces:

This episode was definitely the Bruce Wayne episode, as we finally see him go face to face with Matches Malone… But the journey there was not fun. It reverted back to making Batman references for the sake of Batman references, completely sidelined all other stories, and gave us a Joker I don’t think anyone asked for. It does promise a darker future, and provide great character building for Bruce, but overall, I left a bit disappointed.


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