Check out Our Review [WITH SPOILERS] of Gotham Season 2 Episode 14: “This Ball of Mud and Meanness”
Well I’ll be damned, for an episode that that featured a character named Cupcake, “This Ball of Mud and Meanness” is a pretty intense installment of Gotham.
There are three story lines to cover this week so let’s do the weakest first. The Hugo Strange/ Penguin nonsense continues this week and while Hugo Strange is still such a fun villain to watch, the whole thing just feels tacked on and ill-conceived. Strange tortures Penguin using his Batman Forever mind control device thing, gets Penguin beat up over ice cream, and then watches as all the violent urges are drained from Cobblepot. The rest of the episode was so real-world gritty and poignant, this cartoon stuff stood out like a sore thumb.
The second story arc is much more effective as Edward Nygma continues his plunge into super-villainy. This week, Nygma starts getting paranoid that Gordon is beginning to suspect him in the death of Miss Cringle. Of course, between trying to find Bruce Wayne and the murder of Theo Galavan, Gordon has more important things on his mind, but Nygma’s ego won’t allow the future Riddler to take second place. Instead, Nygma gets more and more paranoid and is beginning to resemble the classic Riddler more and more every week. Penguin is let out of the Arkham at the end of the episode, so hopefully the bromance between Cobblepot and Nygma will continue because Nygma can really use some R&R. I mean, he’s starting to draw little green question marks on everything. That can’t be good, right?
This week’s main event was the confrontation between Bruce Wayne and Matches Malone. Ofttimes, this show can’t get out of its own way and indulges in camp when things should be taken seriously. Not this week, as Bruce and Malone have an intense confrontation in Matches’ apartment. Bruce discovers where Matches hangs his… er, matches when Alfred has to win a street fight against a thug named Cupcake. Alfred is incapacitated so Bruce goes it alone. The episode never makes it clear on whether Matches actually killed the Waynes, but it ends up not mattering as Bruce refuses to pull the trigger on the gun Selena Kyle gave him. But Matches does, killing himself and leaving the question of his guilt forever lingering. It really feels like at that moment, a spark of Batman is born. Really powerful and heady stuff.
I should probably mention something about Lori Petty as a Joker like punk rocker. Petty kills it as she always does and her inclusion shows how the evil of Jerome is still spreading like a virus around Gotham. Petty’s clown gives Bruce the location of Matches, so we’re hopeful this Joker-inspired character will be seen again at some point.