'Gotham' Has a "Mask" Problem

by Kayla Hawkins

Gotham City has already exploded into activity with vigilantes and crazy criminals, and yet we're still years away from Batman's first night as the caped crusader. So for the moment, the GCPD is on their own. Enter "The Mask," not just this week's Gotham episode title, but also the title of another of Gotham's masked killers who is responsible for another civilian death in Gotham City. Sidebar: Gotham City's murder rate must be skyrocketing this year, and yet somehow Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock have solved all of them. I can't figure out if these are the best or the worst cops on TV. What I can try to figure out, however, is who is behind the mask.

One thing we can know for sure is that "The Mask" probably isn't one of the established characters. These villains are the case of the week on Gotham, and just like any other cop procedural, they put away the bad guys at the end of every episode. But according to some trailers, we may be breaking the pattern of "disillusioned madman takes it upon himself to change the city" and showcasing a more cutthroat killer. In a clip from FOX, Gordon and Bullock check out a finance professional whose love of samurai warrior culture sets off their and the audience's red flags.

That promotional clip seems pretty clear — sometimes the red herring mustache-twirler is bad enough that he turns out to be the culprit. According to a synopsis from FOX, "The Mask" makes his potential employees compete in an underground fighting ring in order to prove that they're suitably warlike to destroy in the cutthroat financial sector. Unlike the organized crime world, where it's customary for underlings to be forced to kill in order to make it, the business world has a verneer of respectability that, in Gotham City, is ebbing away. Anyone who watches the show should be able to predict this.

It's not that this isn't a valid entry in the Gotham-before-Batman villain category. It's that it's still relying on the same formula of all of the episodes past, making the stakes for this episode pretty low, especially since they've already basically revealed either the killer or the biggest suspect in a preview clip. There's no doubt that The Mask will end up behind bars by the end of the episode.

I, for one, would like to see all of these killer-of-the-week characters come back (well, maybe not the Goat) next season or maybe in Season 3 of Gotham, twisted and damaged from Gotham City's "correctional" facilities and Arkham Asylum. That might make these repetitive early episodes feel meaningful.

Images: Jessica Miglio/FOX; Giphy