‘Gotham’ Review: “Red Hood”
FOX’s Gotham detects its 17th installment in “Red Hood,” as a string of bank robberies brings citywide attention to a masked criminal group, while Alfred suspects something amiss about his old friend's return, and Fish lays eyes on her mysterious captor.
Last week’s Gotham installment, “The Blind Fortune Teller,” saw Gordon investigating a murderous feud between circus performers and a certain jokester, while Fish Mooney attempted to negotiate her release, and Bruce brought accusations to the Wayne board members, so how does the latest episode of FOX’s Bat-prequel drama shine a light on the city’s villainous beginnings?
Read on for your in-depth review of everything you need to know about Gotham episode 17, “Red Hood”!
Before we begin, a brief reminder: only one week ago, we were all a-tizzy about a Joker appearance that producers swore up and down would prove the defining origins of a “saga” exploring Batman’s greatest villain. They lied. Not only does the entire incident fail to merit mention in tonight’s episode, but the arrival of the “Red Hood” gang in no way ties into Jerome or the Joker’s history, despite decades worth of comics linking the two. This is how much interest Gotham has in developing its characters’ narrative through-lines. Remember that.
Apart from any Joker origins we might infer, the Red Hood gang historically operates under a unique set of circumstances, often press-ganging civilians into wearing the titular garment as a means to take the fall for the real criminals. Gotham instead presents the group as ordinary bank robbers, one of whom dons the hood on a whim, and subsequently finds himself empowered enough to take over the operation and earn the admiration of the public by tossing away stolen cash. His co-criminals grow jealous and one-by-one seek to steal the title for themselves.
There’s a larger point Gotham wants to make here, using the throwaway criminals as a means to establish the significance of wearing masks, and crafting personas that garner a reaction from the city, a sentiment Gotham will undoubtedly forget as quickly as previous teases of Batman's beginnings (see: balloon vigilantism). Not to mention, Bruce himself is nowhere near any aspect of the Red Hood investigation, calling into question who, if any of the show’s characters, has anything to learn about the philosophy of masked identities. It’s a peculiar omission too, considering Bruce’s storyline proves the most affecting of all this week, despite being treated as the B-side.
Of all the liberties Gotham took in translating Bat-mythology for an earlier era, Sean Pertwee’s Alfred has long proven one of the bright spots, breathing new life into a character historically treated as an afterthought or prop. In addition to the bond forged between he and Bruce in prior episodes, this week also gave us a glimpse into the caretaker’s violent past, specifically how falling into the role of a surrogate father had changed him for the better.
As such, the arrival of Alfred’s old friend Reggie driving a wedge between the two resonated moreso than anything else, making Alfred’s stabbing an emotional gut-punch, before even learning the clever twist of Reggie’s true motivations from the Wayne board. The regular inclusion of Alfred and Bruce Wayne seemed like Gotham’s earliest structural flaw, so it’s especially impressive to find the Wayne Enterprises intrigue proving the strongest, most consistent of the series’ many major conflicts to date.
The rest of the hour’s threads proved largely dead-end, considering how little ultimately resulted of the Red Hood Gang’s crime spree, which itself unfolded without any connective tissue beyond the GCPD. We finally got the long-awaited origin story of how Penguin managed to stock his new club with liquor, while any and all incorporation of Butch Gilzean’s apparent hypnosis last week seems to have been dropped. Elsewhere, on the increasingly insane Fish Mooney organ-trafficking show, Gotham's campiest character gouged her own eyeball out with a spoon, and squashed it to spite Jeffrey Combs.
Yes, this was the same hour that saw a drunk Barbara Gordon flaunting adult clothes for children, and telling a pre-teen orphan Catwoman to use her sexuality as a weapon. Not Li’l Poison Ivy though, whom Barbara apparently finds as ugly as sin, and unworthy of creepy motherly affection.
Gotham will likely always prove to be a bubbling cauldron of hot crazy, though “Red Hood” admittedly offered a less infuriating look at the underlying exploration of the Caped Crusader’s origin than last week. Butch even says it best, in eulogizing Fish, that perhaps our enemies define us, and both Bruce and Alfred got the benefit of that mantra tonight in going up against the Wayne board. Obviously Alfred isn’t going anywhere just yet, but the idea of Bruce having to avenge his fallen mentor and seek justice at such a young age seems more promising than at the series’ outset, while the “Red Hood” gang itself proved entirely incidental to the idea.
AND ANOTHER THING…
- It should perhaps be noted that tonight gave us our first insight into
The DollmakerDr. Dulmacher’s operation, though the point gets a bit lost in the chaos of Jada Pinkett Smith, you know, gouging out her own eye and squishing it.
- At no point in the subplot of gang members killing one another to steal the hood’s power for themselves did anyone think to cut two holes in a different red hood. Gotham!
- Hey look, another comedian at Oswald’s! And then some kid picked up the red hood that the police apparently never collected! Are they our new Jokers, OMG?
- One of Penguin’s men has an eyepatch. Was this distracting character bit at all necessary?
- So…the robberies were actually revenge robberies for denied bank loans on a bakery? Alright.
Well, did Gotham’s 17th episode “Red Hood” help set the stage any further for Batman’s beginning? How did the prequel drama fare in its latest Joker tease? Don’t forget to check back next week for our review of Gotham’s latest installment, “Everyone Has a Cobblepot” on FOX!