Almost everybody has a secret in “Gotham,” and a mask to hide that secret.
Jim Gordon, on the other hand, hides behind no mask. He has his morals and he sticks to them, even at the cost of alienating himself at work.
“You gotta go along to get along,” Harvey Bullock advises Jim. But Jim, still bitter that no one stood up for him at the Zsasz smackdown, insists on locking up the black market doctor. It’s not like he has any chance of winning over his colleagues, anyway.
Sure, he lost the support of all his corrupt colleagues after they found out he didn’t kill Penguin, but there’s an upside to Jim staying true to his beliefs. The loyal (read: Harvey) and respectable (read: Sarah Essen) coworkers are now his biggest and most vocal allies.
You can’t survive any toxic work environment without at least one friend. Who else will come to your rescue when you’re standing up to management or fighting sociopaths?
Jim goes solo to investigate an abandoned office building. There, he finds three caged job applicants vying for a position at a financial firm.
The challenge: Last man standing wins the job. It’s a cutthroat industry, made obvious by the first victim’s gash on the neck. Before Jim can release them, the Mask tazes him and makes killing him the new challenge.
Even more disturbing, the application process has morphed into a dark, twisted reality TV show where the entire staff watches the fight on a TV in a bar. And you thought your office’s team-building exercises were hell.
After taking out the three applicants with his fists and whatever office supplies he can weaponize, Jim and the Mask duke it out.
Jim wrestles the machete from the sadistic businessman. As he’s ready to plunge the knife into him, he stops himself. He’s a fighter, not a killer.
He’s also somewhat boring. I get that cops are supposed to be the tough guys, devoid of any emotions. Anger and stubbornness don’t count — those are just the default feelings for male leads, according to TV dramas.
But Jim is too repressed and clean cut. Relating to a character like that takes patience. Patience I’m slowly starting to lose. The high-octane action scenes make the show so addicting, but “The Masked” dragged at times because of his lack of charisma.
He needs a secret. Not that he needs to go off the rails and kill someone — “Gotham” needs a character with stability. Just a storyline where he dips his toes into relatively minor wrongdoings without diving into the deep end of typical Gotham corruption.
Most likely, he’ll have an affair with Sarah Essen. Why so specific? It’s not just the sparks we saw fly tonight as they fought crime together. In the comic books, they had an affair. That soils his squeaky clean image while still making him a good guy — according to the law, not Barb.
Bruce Wayne, meanwhile, has begun sullying his goody-two-shoes image almost too soon. While it’s exciting to see him learn how to fight, it’s disappointing to see him come off as a sadist. “I enjoyed hurting him,” he admits to Alfred. Easy there, Bruce.
There’s no denying the kid was an absolute scumbag for teasing Bruce about his dead parents and talking smack about his mom. But for the beating Bruce gave him with a makeshift brass knuckle from his father’s watch (how poetic!), you’d think the bully would have given him at least a wet willy. It was too aggressive for the Batman we know and love.
As Bruce Wayne becomes Batman, he’ll learn that he has to hide behind two masks: the one he wears to fool Gotham that he’s a shallow playboy and the one he wears to fight crime. That latter is the one that “speaks the truth” to who he really is.
For now, Jim is Gotham’s only hero. He’ll always be Gotham’s only unmasked hero.
MORE HIGHLIGHTS FROM “THE MASK”:
BEST HARVEY ONE-LINER: Tie! “You give us the info, we let you keep operating. That’s a pun: Operating.” And… “[Jim] can be a total asshat, but he’s a cop!”
BEST LINE OF THE EPISODE: “Define ‘normal’ and make a case for it.” – Bruce to Alfred on being a “normal kid” by attending school. Amen to that! Who wants to be normal when you can be Batman?
“GOTHAM” HOLIDAY SPECIAL: Nice brooch, Penguin. I’d love to see the Gotham villains do a Secret Santa gift exchange.
MOST DELUSIONAL REQUEST: “Tell me there aren’t really any monsters… lie if you have to,” Barb pleads to Jim. Whatever helps you sleep at night.
THANKS BUT NO THANKS: Fish Mooney shows Penguin her gratitude for the brooch he gave her by stabbing his hand with the pin, then licking his blood from the pin. Ew, ew, ew! Contracting Hep A through C won’t taste sweet after she looks at her medical bills. Do mob bosses even have health insurance?
WHOA MOMMA: Jada Pinkett Smith recently said that Fish has a backstory that explains her “grandiose façade.” After she mentioned her “mother’s sainted grave” in this season’s second episode, that made me suspect her backstory involved her mother. For once, one of my predictions was right: She told Liza her mother was a prostitute who was killed by one of Falcone’s men. But it’s never cut-and-dry with Fish. Her mother is still alive and called her out on her fib. “A lie with a heart of truth is a powerful thing,” she replied to her mother. What else is she lying about?
BIGGEST CREEP: Gertrud Kaplepot. It’s always going to be Gertrud Kaplepot. Ed Nygma’s ventriloquist autopsy act (cringe) was a tough one to out-creep, but Kaplepot’s boasts about her generous bosom size to her son made me dry heave.
DEAR JIM LETTER: Is Barb really dumping Jim in a letter? Tacky. She’s definitely not thanking him for being the only ethical cop in Gotham. “Hey sweetie! Thanks for pissing off all your coworkers. LOL! No biggie if that psychopath Zsasz abducts me again. I’m sure your buddies will save me out of the goodness of their hearts. Just like they would with you, right? Kisses! Barb.”