A Recap, by definition, WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS! Proceed at your own risk!
There was a terrific quality that permeated last night’s episode of “Gotham.” It isn’t so hard to describe the episode “Red Hood”, but it was another episode (like several before) that you wouldn’t want to miss. Was it the best episode yet? It may have been as it certainly came very close to being up there with some of this season’s other episodes, but if you ask me, it was miles ahead of last week’s “The Blind Fortune Teller.” The episode of “Red Hood” also teased fans with the possibility of introducing us to the man who may become The Joker.
The appropriately titled episode starts with a bank robbery. Before the robbers enter the bank, one of them pulls a red hood over himself. During the robbery, the man with the red hood starts talking to the crowd with a flair for showmanship. A security guard tries to shoot him, but misses, and later leaves the heist believing that the red hood kept him from being shot. He believes it was a distraction and decides to continue wearing it. While they make their escape, they see the GCPD closing in on them which leads the Red Hood to throw money in the air to cause a distraction so they could get away. It seems very likely that this may be the person who becomes The Joker and the qualities expressed could definitely lead one to believe this as true.
The gang makes their way back to Kleg’s Auto where they begin to plot their next heist, but things don’t go as well for the Red Hood. While he begins to rile up the other members by saying how the Red Hood is a symbol, Destro (another member who appears to be the leader) shoots him. It’s a shocking moment, but another expertly staged surprise at the hands of the cast and crew of “Gotham.” It’s a pull the rug kind of moment that doesn’t feel forced and works well with the tone that we have become familiar with throughout this first season. So, it would seem apparent that the Red Hood is not The Joker! Destro then pulls on the hood and it would seem very likely that he won’t be the last person to do so. Even after the investigation leads Gordon and Bullock to stopping the Red Hood and his gang from their bank robbery near the end, we are given a final tease during the closing moments. A young man picks up the red hood off the street, pulls it over his head, and then mock shoots the police in a quit, but very disturbing final moment. It’s exactly this kind of uneasy element to the series that provide “Gotham” with a unique standing among its other DC Comics television series that air during the week.
The “Red Hood” episode of “Gotham” works very well, especially as a “one-off” episode that follows up “The Blind Fortune Teller.” It also works in explaining showrunner Bruno Heller’s idea of introducing audiences to a red-herring every week. While we haven’t gotten a Joker-esque character every week, we have been given enough clues that would lead fans to suspect that he could be lurking in the shadows. Perhaps he’s the man teased in the final moments of the episode. Or not. A Red Herring for the Red Hood.
Another fun, entertaining, and surprising turn of events was the arc for Reginald Payne. Early on in the episode he’s introduced to us as he arrives at Wayne Manor. Played by David O’Hara, Reggie seems like the kind of guy you haven’t seen in a while and decide to hang out with, but while you’re out, you remember why you haven’t seen or spoken to each other in years. David O’Hara is a great addition to the supporting cast and works extraordinarily well in bringing to life and Alfred that fans are only familiar with through the comic books. Reggie stays with them for a few days and teaches Bruce alternative fighting methods that immediately resonate with Batman fans. He doesn’t seem all that trustworthy though, and while Bruce may not realize it immediately, Alfred recognizes the dark traits in his old pal from the S.A.S. During a particular story the men recount while sharing a glass of wine from a bottle Bruce chose from his father’s collection, Reggie says that Alfred is a “cold blooded lethal war dog.” It’s a sentiment that rings true, especially with the casting of Sean Pertwee as Alfred. He is considerably more strict, soldier-like, and a father figure to Bruce as opposed to what we have seen before. It’s a performance that may have been jarring at first due to his gruffness, but inevitably wins you over as you continue through the season. Two thumbs up for Sean Pertwee as Alfred in every episode. He has terrific chemistry with David Mazouz and “Red Hood” clearly shows that.
The standout surprise is the revelation that Reggie is working with the shady and devious board members of Wayne Enterprises. After he is caught stealing from Wayne Manor, he then stabs Alfred in the chest and leaves Bruce to find his butler laying lifelessly on the floor. It’s a moment that shocks the audience and works, but we all know Alfred will come out on top despite what he goes through during next week’s episode. That’s the only real concern I have with the show. It’s hard to up the ante and create high stakes tension when dealing with certain mythological characters such as Bruce, Alfred, Gordon and others. We know they can’t die so no matter what perilous situation they find themselves in, we ultimately know they will be alright. However, the outcome of Fish Mooney’s meeting with an associate of Dr. Dollmacher (Doll-Maker) proved to point out that with even with the main cast (despite Fish not appearing in comic books) nothing is off the table. While she learns that Dollmacher has been experimenting on bodies for his own interest and wants to harvest her eyes, Fish disturbingly scoops out her own eye with a spoon. The scene plays out in gory detail and is shocking! It’s surprising that they would immediately change Fish’s character in such a dramatic way, but the bold choice should be applauded.
“Red Hood” was a perfect balance between comic-book and a neo-noirish realism that the best episodes of “Gotham” have proven to be. A real plus to how well “Gotham” exceeds is that it’s filmed on location, if you will, in New York and most of the on the streets scenes feel real due to this. The Red Hood bank robbery scenes played out in a convincing and gritty way and while most of the most recognizable elements of New York have been digitally removed, the Big Apple lends a certain look and tone to the series that elevates it in only a way New York can!
“Red Hood” earns five out of five stars.
“Gotham” airs Monday nights on FOX at 8 p.m. Check your local listings,