TV Recap: Gotham, ‘This Ball of Mud and Meanness’

Gotham-Wrath-of-Villains-Frozen

This Ball of Mud and Meanness Plot:

Bruce (David Mazouz) and Alfred (Sean Pertwee) track down Matches Malone (Michael Bowen), but Bruce has plans of his own for revenge.  Hugo Strange (BD Wong) continues his experimental therapy on Oswald (Robin Lord Taylor), while Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) becomes suspicious of Gordon’s questioning on the whereabouts of Kristen Kringle.

It’s been two seasons of build up, but Bruce finally comes face to face with the man who killed his parents.  It did not disappoint.  We’ll get to the Oswald/Nygma shenanigans soon enough, but it was all Bruce this week.  While the emotional weight of this episode fell on David Mazouz, the guest stars delivered ten fold.  Not only did we get tense stand offs, Alfred kicking ass (and getting his ass kicked), but there were even two Christopher Nolan nods!  One obvious, and one subtle as hell.  Or maybe my Nolan radar is set too high, I don’t know.

Photo Credit: Jessica Miglio/FOX.
Photo Credit: Jessica Miglio/FOX.

We all knew where this episode was going, but getting there was half the fun.  Alfred got into a fight.  That’s always a pleasure.  Not only did Alfred brawl, but he turned it into a teaching moment for Bruce.  Man, I love Alfred.  The star of the show though was Bruce Wayne.  Boy, did we see some character development in this one, yikes.  This was a tough role for Mazouz to play.  He had to act in control and nervous as hell, all at the same time.  Mazouz crushed it.  The pay off between Bruce and Matches Malone was beautiful writing, and not at all what I expected.  As fantastic as Mazouz was in this scene, Michael Bowen’s turn as Matches was powerful as hell.  You couldn’t have paid this off better.  It also kills you as a viewer, because if Bruce had listened to Alfred and Gordon, things may have turned out better.  We finally got closure to a major storyline, but there’s still a mystery left open for the future.

The other guest star who nailed it was Lori Petty.  While she had a big scene with Bruce in the middle of this crazy night club, I actually liked her moment with Gordon much better.  This is where the subtle Nolan nod comes into play.  Her character, Jeri, wears Joker-esque make-up, and there’s a certain line of dialogue ripped right out of The Dark Knight while Gordon interrogates her.  I’ll never be convinced that wasn’t done on purpose.

Photo Credit: Jessica Miglio/FOX.
Photo Credit: Jessica Miglio/FOX.

While this episode was mainly focused on Bruce, we still got a lot of Oswald/Hugo Strange interplay.  I mentioned last week I wasn’t crazy about this plot, and this episode didn’t change that.  There’s a couple interesting moments, but it never grabbed me.  The resolution is also convoluted.  I’m not really sure where they’re going with this.  While the writing was flat in these sequences, BD Wong still shines as Hugo Strange.

The subplot that did work was Edward Nygma.  With all the Mr. Freeze craziness, we haven’t delved into Ed for a while.  We see the Kringle situation potentially come back to haunt him, as Gordon questions him about her whereabouts.  What I loved about this were the writers showing another huge characteristic of the Riddler – paranoia.  This is always a fatal flaw in the character, and was infinitely more compelling than that split personality crap.  This sets up a great conflict between Nygma and Gordon.

The episode was great throughout, but the clear highlight was Bruce facing off against Matches.  This was easily one of the best scenes in the history of the show.  Gut-wrenching.  They also go full Batman Begins by the end, which is never a bad idea.  It will be interesting to see how long it lasts.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10 (Really Great)

Daniel Cohen is the hard-boiled Film Editor for the Pop Break. Besides reviews, Daniel writes box office predictions, Gotham reviews and Oscar coverage. He can also be found on the Breakcast. If Daniel was sprayed by Scarecrow's fear toxin, it would be watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on a non-stop loop.