TV Review: Gotham Series 1 Episode 17: ‘Red Hood’

More potential Jokers appear in another high-quality episode of Gotham, says

Gotham Red Hood

 

This review contains spoilers

 

★★★★☆

This week in Gotham, #HOODSARERED! After last week’s episode brought us a potential candidate for the future Joker in one of the strongest episodes in the series thus far, this episode keeps roughly to the same level in terms of quality while giving us a whole lot of Joker candidates! So we have that.

This week’s procedural plotline follows a gang of criminals on a bank-robbing spree, one of whom wears a red balaclava over his face for luck. After one of their getaways involves tossing money into the streets to serve as a distraction, they become impromptu Robin Hoods, and decide to play to their newfound fame by becoming the Red Hood Gang. But Gordon’s – of course – on their tail, and that’s before they start killing each other for a chance to wear it…

It’s an interesting plotline for this show – one of the cursed artifact which brings bad luck to whoever puts it on – and the actual supernatural elements are left suitably ambiguous. Although most of the gang ends up killing each other by the end, they each get a little bit of personality, complete with a Django Unchained-ish conversation about hood quality. And the episode gets to play a bit with the idea of the criminals being more popular than the cops, and the systemic problems within Gotham City itself that allow something like that to happen (wealth inequality being most prominent).

Meanwhile, this week’s major subplot centers around Alfred and Lil’ Bruce – one of Alfred’s old war buddies, Reginald Payne, shows up at Wayne Manor needing a place to stay for a few days, and Bruce insists that he’s welcome. But soon Payne’s teaching Bruce to fight more pragmatically, using his surroundings – an actually well-done piece of foreshadowing for his future nocturnal career choice – and dredging up some of the darker parts of Alfred’s history. Sean Pertwee, as ever, plays the butler excellently, and he gradually reveals that he needs Bruce just as much as Bruce needs him. When Payne finally stabs Alfred and runs, it’s a genuinely saddening cliffhanger, and the reveal that the Wayne Enterprises board wants Bruce eliminated too has me intrigued.

And speaking of shocking moments, there’s Fish Mooney’s subplot. She finally gets to meet the owner of the organ-harvesting prison she’s currently trapped in, who turns out to be one Dr. Dulmacher (who MIGHT actually be the Dollmaker at some point, but I think that’s supposed to be a twist). He reveals that he wants her for her eyes, and traps her in a room to make sure he can get them, so to force him into letting her out Fish yanks out one of her eyes with a spoon and stamps on it.

You know. As you do. Actually, between Selina clawing out someone’s eyes back in the second episode and the prisoner whose eyes were harvested, someone on the writing staff must bitterly hate the concept of eyesight (I wonder what their budget is for gouged-out socket effects). Also, Barbara’s subplot of rooming with Pamela and Selina continues! She offers them both makeovers, presumably for a lack of anything more interesting to do, and teaches the lesson that beauty can be a weapon to the homeless girl who showed up on her couch.

But overall, it’s a good episode with its fair share of subtle examinations of Gotham and its citizens, captivating moments and character growth. And next week’s a Penguin episode, so maybe the quality’ll keep on up…

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