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By: Darryl Frisbie

GOTHAM - Black Mask

The scoundrel of this episode is a businessman who runs a firm and he hires men in the most unconventional way possible. He has men brawl to the death to win over a position in his firm and they use commonplace office supplies to kill each other. Eventually, Jim Gordon is dropped into the arena and has to fight to the death to become the victor. The villain who runs this firm has a fascination with masks and shares the same thoughts of the mask’s purpose as the famous Oscar Wilde; “Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.” This was the only moment where I found his character to be compelling. I’m realizing there is a pattern to each episode in which we see a component to Batman’s psyche whether it be the mask, or the vigilante, balloon man, targeting corrupt citizens. The villain was not the greatest highlight for me in this episode. The most engaging aspect to the story was the excellent development of Alfred and Bruce’s relationship.

GOTHAM - Alfred Gives Bruce A Gift

I’d like to delve deeper into this dynamic relationship that we see unfold and draw parallels to Nolan’s universe, Tim Burton’s version, and Batman the Animated series. Bruce is being bullied and Alfred’s response to this problem is to empower Bruce to fight back and give this bully a good beating. The bully mocks the death of Bruce’s parents and taunts him on many levels. Rather than getting the kind of advice Uncle Ben would give to Peter Parker in being a peacemaker, we get the opposite from Alfred. Alfred’s attitude is, if you’re getting cut down by someone, give them hell! He hands Bruce his father’s thick metal wristwatch and Bruce punches the bully with all his fury. Then Alfred tells Bruce when he’s had enough of a beating to stop and then acting like nothing has happened, he asks Bruce if wants to order pizza. I clapped at that moment and laughed hysterically. Then at the end Bruce asks Alfred if he can teach him to fight and with a gleam in Alfred’s eyes, he says yes! This is a totally different Alfred then what I’ve seen in the past. Rather than curb Bruce’s violent anger, Alfred enables him to be a fighter and not the victim. In Nolan’s universe Alfred is more of a wise mentor and father figure. In “The Dark Knight” he says to Bruce, “Know your limits Master Wayne.” Alfred does not enable his alter ego Batman but he doesn’t prevent him either. I think Michael Caine’s version cares more about Bruce Wayne’s name and the Wayne legacy instead of Batman’s legacy and we see this more prevalent in “The Dark Knight Rises.”  Alfred says, “The city needs Bruce Wayne. Your resources, your knowledge.” And in some ways Alfred’s sentiments are similar to Tim Burton’s 1989 version. For example this quote from “The Dark Knight Rises”- “I’ve sewn you up, I’ve set your bones, but I won’t bury you. I’ve buried enough members of the Wayne family.” And here is the comparison to Alfred’s line in the 1989 version, “I have no wish to fill my few remaining years grieving for the loss of old friends. Or their sons.” These versions of Alfred care for his well-being rather than fanning the flame of Bruce’s vengeance. Although we aren’t sure how Alfred will treat Bruce in this TV version when he becomes Batman. Tying in a quote of Alfred from The Mask of the Phantasm, “Vengeance blackens the soul, Bruce. I’ve always feared that you would become that which you fought against. You walk the edge of that abyss every night, but you haven’t fallen in and I thank heaven for that.” I could delve deeper into Alfred’s intentions for Bruce but that would be a twenty page long essay. Overall it was a really good episode

Overall Grade: 9/10  

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