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Gotham: Red Hood

Gus: “Mark my words, the people in this town, they’re gonna get me.”

There's some bad news and great news both with this week's episode: bad news is 'Red Hood' doesn't quite give a lot of content to mull over for a review. The great news though is that everything I can over-scrutinize (like I always do) in 'Red Hood' is actually some darn, fine entertainment! "Hooray for being spared Aaron's maddened drivel about Gotham's misogyny and enduring identity crisis!", I'm sure the readers are all chanting in unison.

This week, Gordon and Bullock are investigating a group of bank robbers whose ringleader always sports, to put it simply, a red ski mask over their face. Additionally, these robbers are taking the money they swipe from the banks and tossing a fraction of it back to Gotham’s citizens, leading some to see the group as some sort of twisted Robin Hood.

A small part of me almost wishes Batman could have been a part of this hour of television and in fact, I will even go as far as saying that this could be a script right out of the classic Batman: The Animated Series. For reasons which I will elaborate upon below, the writing and flow of the Red Hood subplot is just really done charmingly! And remember Gordon’s quote in Batman Begins about escalation in the wake of Batman’s appearance? (“We start carrying semi-automatics, they buy automatics. We start wearing Kevlar, they buy armor piercing rounds. And you’re (Batman) wearing a mask. Jumping off rooftops.”) The conspicuous appearance of the red ski mask, the almost-cavalier approach and showmanship these robbers make when they storm a bank, and the influence they unexpectedly begin to have on Gotham’s civilians all feel as if these criminals could be lumped smack-dab in with the freaks Batman supposedly has influenced to rise up over the years in DC Comics mythology. The unexpected impression the Red Hood Gang makes as well as how differently everyone involved in this story reacts to their reign is a highlight for me; this is a band of criminals Gotham has given the audience which feels it could really fit into the modern realism of our own world, as opposed to other entities produced by this season (yes, I’m still taking jabs at Balloonman – hey, I at least tried to exercise some restraint this time).

What’s also remarkable for me is Michael Goldsmith’s performance as Gus Floyd, the first ‘Red Hood’ in this episode. I don’t know if Goldsmith took inspiration from any actors or roles for his work in Gotham, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised to hear if he modeled his delivery and mannerisms after Jim Carrey in... anything. It’s actually quite a little uncanny how similar these two sound, and while Floyd isn’t based on any character from the comics (that I’m aware of anyway), he is an absolute hoot to watch.

Y’know, before they axe him off five minutes into the episode.

I’m on board completely with the notion of what the Red Hood itself means and how it is more-so a symbol that can influence than it is just a moniker of a mere man. But I'd be lying if I said I wasn't caught off-guard when this episode chose instead to tug on that aspect of the story, and not the idea that the Red Hood may be a good luck charm all on its own. After all, Floyd repeatedly hammers this point into the audience’s head in the beginning, on and on about how the heist was a success and how he escaped with his life because the Red Hood brings good fortune. But the point of killing Floyd seems to be the episode’s way of quickly quashing that idea and telling us “nope, just to be clear, we’re not wandering into any sort of supernatural territory today folks, we’re gonna keep things realistic and humble.” Hey, I hear you loud and clear Gotham, but maybe next time, if you’re gonna kill an armed goon, kill one of the plain and boring gunslingers and not Great Value Jim Carrey?

The other major plot going on this week is Alfred’s. Reggie Payne, an old wartime friend (played by David O’Hara), drops by Wayne Manor, evidently seeking shelter for a few days and, out of the goodness of his heart, Bruce sees no issue whatsoever in abiding by this. I need to just get this out of the way – from the get-go, it is very clear from a storytelling perspective that Reggie is only here to spy on Bruce since it was literally only one episode before that Bruce gravely threatened his entire board of directors because of their shady dealings. With that said, it doesn’t undermine or harm Sean Pertwee’s or O'Hara's performance, or the new insight we’re getting on Alfred here either. I would love to see more plots like this centered on Alfred in the future which can show there’s much more to this interpretation of the character than just being the trusty butler. Similar to how Captain America: The Winter Soldier sheds a lot of light on the character of Black Widow while still being a Captain America-centered film, Gotham should know that it can do wonders for the character of Alfred without having to be an Alfred Pennyworth spinoff series.

The final subplot I want to comment on quickly is the brief interaction between Barbara and Selina here. Still taking residence at Barbara’s place, Selina and Ivy indulge in Barbara’s extensive wardrobe, leading Barbara to (in a weird, unsolicited manner if I may add) comment on how Selina could use her beauty as a weapon; quite quickly, Selina dismisses even the thought of such a notion. It’s a small character moment, really miniature actually, but then, I appreciate moments like this regardless of scale because I immediately saw this as a callback to ‘Welcome Back Jim Gordon’ where Selina rejected Bruce’s offer to shelter her at Wayne Manor. I think Selina takes a certain degree of pride in the fact that she is a self-made girl, and she would never just abandon all of that just to play house with the nice billionaire boy, or try and get by in the world through looks and glamour alone. With her at odds with Barbara though, her bench of allies is slowly running out, leading me to wonder where that will leave her by Season one’s finale, and who will she side with in the end.

Other Thoughts:

• Am I the only one thinking that this episode’s end tease with a young kid putting on the red hood would have been just as solid a Joker tease as last week’s ‘The Blind Fortune Teller’ was? I’m a sucker for short and sweet stingers like that, and it’s known by many that ‘Red Hood’ was an alias for the individual who went on to become Joker afterwards...

• Butch coming in clutch for Oswald like that, especially with the alcohol shipments, was just what this show needed right when I began to feel Oswald’s storyline was getting a wee bit tedious.

• Am digging the insanely eerie buildup to ‘The Dollmaker’ and is a testament to the fact that sometimes, a dark-and-gritty tone is warranted when source material calls for it. I’d say an organ harvester certainly calls for it.

• Episode automatically gets bonus points from me for making me laugh like an idiot at this exchange:

Gordon: “You see that?”
Bullock: “No ‘cuz you took my glasses.”

Aaron Studer loves spending his time reading, writing and defending the existence of cryptids because they can’t do it themselves.

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