Well, that was a nice step up from last week's circus detour. As we wind down to the end of Gotham's first season, S01E17's "Red Hood" is hopefully a sign that the show will be finishing off the season strong. Right off the bat, the episode improves upon last week's awkward circus fight crime of the week by giving Gordon and Bullock a bank robbing Red Hood crew to deal with.
Batman aficionados will know that the Red Hood was first introduced as being the character that ended up birthing the Joker. Gotham has a lot of fun over the course of the episode playing with this idea and during the first bank robbery we see the guy who wears the red mask up on the bank's counter, cackling and telling jokes and throwing money around in a very Joker-y fashion.
No More Jokers?
But no, Gothamites, this guy didn't last very long, did he? The "Red Hood" episode of Gotham was particularly good at giving viewers some unexpected twists - like quickly putting a couple bullets in the first Red Hood and making the mask the real motivator for the criminals involved in the bank robbing gang. He who wears it is the leader and the person commanding respect.
So the red hood passes hands during the episode and each one who wears it ends up eating a fair amount of lead until it ends up on the street after a diminished Red Hood Gang has a bloody shoot out with the police. And who picks it up? A kid, about Bruce Wayne's age who immediately starts making some not so friendly pistol fingers at the police on the scene.
So is Gotham completely separating The Joker from Red Hood in S01E17? Is this kid who picks up the mask just another sly question mark to keep us guessing? Should we just accept that Jerome from last week's episode really is supposed to be The Joker? Oh, Gotham, you tease, you...
The Dollmaker and The Fish
So while Gordon and Bullock were on the trail of the Red Hood Gang, the second biggest basket of easter eggs came with Fish Mooney's story. She's finally being taken out of the weird basement world she's been stuck in for a while now and being taken to see the man in charge. Unceremoniously billed as "Office Manager", guest star Jeffrey Combs (the Re-Animator himself) lets Fish Mooney and viewers in on who's behind this kidnapping and body-part harvesting business Mooney find herself in the middle of.
That would be none other than the Dollmaker, of course. Or, I'm sorry, Dr. Dulmacher... So yeah, how she ended up in this situation is still some weird business but Fish Mooney is in it up to her eyeballs (*ahem*, sorry) with this organ and limb harvesting business. Combs actually offers Mooney a trade, her life for her peepers, to which Mooney replies by gouging out her own eye and stepping on it before passing out.
This bit of business... I don't know what to say. It defies all logic and a rational viewer would think that Combs or the Dollmaker would just kill her already than deal with the troublemaking she's causing but we'll have to wait until next week to see what's in store for One Eyed Fish Mooney and her time at the Dollmaker's Hospital.
Alfred's Backstabbing Friend
Better written was the time spent in Wayne Manor with Lil (Bruce) Wayne, Alfred, and his mysterious visitor, Reggie Payne. Payne is played by the excellent actor David O'Hara, who lends some nice gravitas and menace to his military history with Alfred. He not only shines some light on Alfred's past, but in another unexpected moment in the episode, he turns on his old friend and stabs "Alfie", stealing some documents from Wayne Manor and revealed to be working for Wayne Enterprises' corrupt Board members.
Alfred ends up in the hospital and Reggie suggests that if the Board wants to take Bruce out, now would be the time. This bit of plotting is one of the best cliffhangers Gotham has produced. Will Gordon take care of Bruce while Alfred is sidelined? How evil will the Board members of Wayne Enterprises get - will they actually try to kill a 12 year old kid?
Penguin's Missing Plot
Less interesting was the time spent with Penguin, who used to be the shows most entertaining storyline. Basically we see Penguin and Butch bond over their shared interest of making his club work. The scenes did feature the other nice Joker easter egg by shining a brief spotlight on a struggling stand up comic getting booed off Penguin's stage. This was the profession of the Red Hood in Alan Moore's landmark comic The Killing Joke.
Here's hoping that [Gotham](series:1127075) has something more exciting planned for Penguin in the show's final five episodes than him moping around his club or sitting in a car while some flunkies get a supply of booze. I like Butch, he's turned out to be one of the show's better developed characters, and I like how the show has made Penguin to be a genuinely sympathetic character - but let's get back to the scheming Penguin that was really tying the show together earlier on.
Gotham's Girl Dilema
Oh, and least we forget (but I am trying to) - the show spent about a minute dealing with Barbara and Lil Catwoman and Lil Poison Ivy. The trio of female characters that the show struggles to figure out what to do with. As with last episode the answer this week is, Try on clothes! Ooh, Poison Ivy likes the color green! Catwoman doesn't care about looking pretty! Really, Gotham... You can do better.
My guess is that next week we might see Bruce mixing it up with Selina and Ivy again as he's forced back into the protection of the Gordon's. Whether or not this means that Jim and Barbara might talk to each other for the first time in what... ten or so episodes? Who knows. Hopefully next season they'll actually give Barbara and these kids something to do.