In this episode of Gotham, “Wrath of the Villains: This Ball of Mud and Meanness,” while trying to located Matches Malone, Bruce comes across some interesting characters. Alfred gets hurt, leaving Bruce free to execute his plan without interference. Gordon looks into Miss Kringle’s disappearance. And Professor Strange continues to work with Penguin.
The treatment Cobblepot believed to be a nightmare is very much his day-to-day reality inside Arkham. Strange and Beatrice discuss his progress, and Penguin is proving to be the model patient. The same guy that stuck an umbrella down Theo Galavan’s throat has turned into a delight, even when another patient violently attacks him over ice cream.
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Selina Delivers on a Promise
While Oswald Cobblepot deals with his demons, Bruce Wayne is getting ready to face down one of his own. His plan to kill Patrick “Matches” Malone is moving forward. He meets Selina in an alley, and she’s got the gun he requested. Bruce questions if it’s loaded, and the always-pragmatic Selina tells him there’s no point in an unloaded gun. Guns aren’t for show and they aren’t for protection; they’re for one thing.
Whatever Happened to Miss Kringle?
Lee comes to Gordon with a stack of Kristen Kringle’s paychecks. Nygma told her that Miss Kringle had up and left town with Dougherty, but when Lee paid a visit to human resources to get her new address, they gave them to her. Lee also discovered that Kristin left no forwarding address. Gordon admits it’s odd but suggests that Dougherty has money and the two may be traveling.
Lee tells him that Kringle admitted to her that Dougherty wasn’t the nicest guy, and now that her friend has gone missing, Lee is alarmed. Gordon asks if Lee has spoken to Nygma, suggesting that maybe he’s heard from Kristen, but Lee doesn’t want to worry him; she just wants to know Kringle is all right. Gordon offers to look into it and let Lee know what he finds out.
Alfred and Bruce Begin Their Search
Alfred is making good on his promise to help Bruce track down Malone. They go to visit a former associate of Malone’s, a man named Cupcake. Malone ratted Cupcake out and sent him away for 10 years. Well, Cupcake is out and running a gang called the Mutants.
Alfred warned Bruce to let him do the talking, but Cupcake is curious as to who Bruce is and even more so when Cupcake learns that he’s billionaire Bruce Wayne. Bruce offers to pay Cupcake for any information, which leads the ex-con to question why. Bruce admits he believes Malone killed his parents. This generates laughter among Cupcake and his cohorts.
Cupcake wants a cool million to talk, but he was aiming for the fences on that offer. His second one is a bit more reasonable. Bruce can give him $50,000 and leave with his fingers and toes. Alfred steps in, and Cupcake assures him that he would never actually hurt Bruce because he likes little boys. Not sure if that came out the way it was supposed to.
While Cupcake has some kind of affinity for little boys, he’s not a fan of Alfred’s. For $50,000, Cupcake will tell Bruce where to find Matches, but Alfred has to find him first. Think Fight Club minus Brad Pitt’s six pack.
Alfred tries reason, but with a huge felon named Cupcake, that’s a dead end, so he finds that he has no other choice. Alfred isn’t too happy with Bruce, who thinks the end result would have been the same had he kept his mouth shut. Alfred tells Bruce that if they walk away alive, he should take this as a lesson to “pick your battles and not let them pick you.”
Cupcake is big and strong, but Alfred is quick and smart. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t get the bloody crap kicked out of him, but he’s willing to endure a beating to show Bruce that bigger isn’t better; all you’ve got to do is outlast.
Mr. Cupcake is a man of his word. He directs Alfred and Bruce to a place called Celestial Gardens and tells them to ask for Jeri; she’ll know where to find Matches. Alfred tells Cupcake that it was a pleasure doing business with him and then passes out.
Gordon Questions Nygma
Gordon questions Nygma about Kristen. Nygma shows a particular interest when, after asking Gordon if he thinks something bad has happened, Gordon says, “We’re not there yet.” Nygma wants to know who the other part of that pronoun is, but Gordon says he was referring to his own curiosity.
Gordon wants to know what Dougherty was like, and Nygma says, “Rotten.” Gordon affirms that Kristen told Nygma she was moving south with Dougherty. Nygma replies that she left a note, but when Gordon wants to see it, Nygma says he didn’t keep it. Gordon gets a call, which abruptly ends the conversation.
After Gordon leaves, Nygma begins talking to himself. He thinks Gordon knows more than what he’s saying, and Nygma is not about to be played for a fool.
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Through the Looking Glass
Things couldn’t have worked out better for Bruce, as Alfred has to be hospitalized, leaving him free to go off on his own.
Alfred calls Bullock and Gordon, and tells them they got the name of the man who killed Bruce’s parents, and Bruce has gone after him. Bullock doesn’t see what harm Bruce can do given that he’s a kid, but Alfred assures them that Bruce plans to kill Matches, and they need to know this isn’t a game.
Bruce heads to Celestial Gardens, which turns out to be a nightclub with a rough-looking clientele. The singer immediately recognizes Bruce and asks him what took so long. He says he’s looking for Jeri, and she tells him to follow her, with the crowd closing in behind him.
As she leads Master Bruce into the darkest recesses of the club, Bruce sees and hears things not meant for such impressionable, young eyes. They finally make their way upstairs, and the woman admits she’s Jeri (Lori Petty). She looks just like a female joker; white face paint, red lips drawn out into a grin that extends unnaturally up to her cheeks. Her head is shaved and she wears glasses.
Bruce assumes Cupcake must have warned her he was coming since she knows his name, but Jeri wants Bruce to tell her why he’s there anyway. He tells her he’s looking for Matches Malone, and when Jeri asks why, Bruce responds that Malone killed his parents. This prompts Jeri to question what Bruce plans to do when he finds Matches. Bruce admits that he plans to kill the man, which elicits laughter from Jeri.
Jeri tries to explain that killing people ain’t that easy, that is unless Bruce has done it before. Bruce says nobody has killed his parents before. Good answer.
Jeri warns Bruce that Matches has killed dozens of people: men, women and children. Matches is a professional.
Jeri knows where Matches is; they happen to be friends, and she needs a reason to tell Bruce where he is because the dead parents thing is apparently not enough and she’s not concerned about justice. Bruce offers her money, but Jeri can’t be bought either.
Bruce, convinced that he’s hit a dead end, starts to leave, but Jeri sells out old Matches. Bruce questions why Jeri would tell him where to find her friend. She says Matches is going to be happy to see Bruce, saying, “You, my boy, are the childish hand of fate.” Jeri feels that makes her God in a way, and who doesn’t like to play God?
On his way out of the club, Wayne runs into Gordon. He tells Bruce this is as far as Bruce goes. Bruce doesn’t derive any comfort from Gordon’s promise that he’ll take things from here. But fate, or Jeri, smiles on Bruce. She shines a spotlight in Gordon’s face as she takes the stage, and the crowd picks up Gordon and carries him off.
Just a Man
Bruce goes to Matches’ apartment and actually knocks. Whatever memories he had of his parents’ killer are now replaced with an old, less than insidious man. He’s no Santa Claus, but he lacks the flair of most Gotham villains.
Bruce tells Matches he wants to hire him. Bruce wants to know if Matches is an experienced killer. Bruce is having trouble believing that this utterly ordinary-looking man is the one he’s after. Matches brags about his extensive experience. He earned his nickname by setting a man on fire.
Gordon arrests Jeri, looking for answers regarding Bruce’s whereabouts. Jeri isn’t exactly cooperative, and Gordon warns her not to make him angry. Ahhh, but Jeri’s heard all about the infamous Jim Gordon and his temper. Jeri’s less worried about her own well-being than curious about why Gordon is so interested in what Bruce Wayne is up to.
After pushing some buttons and determining that Gordon is “a lot less fun than advertised, ” Jeri asks for the time. He shows her his watch, and Jeri says Gordon should be able to get there just in time for the clean-up. I love this chick. She’s got that special something.
Bruce finally gets down to it. He pulls the gun and tells Matches he killed his parents. This still doesn’t ring a bell and he has to be reminded of the particulars. Bruce looks devastated that Matches has zero recollection of his role in the event that changed Bruce’s life forever. What a letdown. Matches shows zero remorse or concern that Bruce is pointing a gun at his face.
Bruce continues to try and jog Matches’ memory and finally strikes oil when he mentions his mother’s pearl necklace breaking. Bruce wants to know who hired him, but Matches either doesn’t remember or is acting as if he doesn’t. He figures Bruce and his parents just looked like an easy score, like suckers. They deserved it because they let it happen.
Matches refers to Bruce as “son,” and Bruce tells him not to call him that. But Matches says he might as well since he made Bruce into what he is now.
Bruce wants a name, but Matches refuses. If he did what Bruce says he did, and if someone hired him, he’ll never tell. Even killers live by a code. Bruce can take him apart piece by piece, but we all know he wouldn’t anyway, as does Matches.
Bruce realizes Matches wants to die. The man confesses that after doing so many horrible things that go unpunished, a man starts to question if there is a God.
Bruce can’t go through with it. Matches tells him not to lose his nerve. Matches says he’s a monster who needs to die, but Bruce says Matches is just a man. Bruce leaves, and Gordon is in the hall. A gunshot goes off, and Gordon sees that Matches killed himself.
All Part of the Plan
Oswald tells Professor Strange that he’s reformed. He feels remorse for all of the terrible things he’s done. Oswald doesn’t think Hugo believes him, but the Professor lets Penguin know that he can tell when someone is lying. Huge thinks Oswald is a great success story, or he will be after a few more treatments.
They shut Penguin in a room with the guy who attacked him. The man is tied to a chair and blindfolded, and there’s a knife on a nearby table. Hugo and Beatrice look on as Penguin interacts with the guy. He offers to help the guy out if he promises to be nice and cuts him loose.
Later, Professor Strange informs Penguin that he’s passed all of the state’s mandated tests and is now officially sane. Oswald is a free man. No reason for a sane man to be in a mental institution. Penguin says he’s fine just where he is, but Hugo assures him it’s normal to be nervous. Oswald thanks Hugo for his friendship.
Beatrice Peabody asks if Hugo is sure it’s a good idea to let Penguin go. Only time will tell; Penguin is an experiment. She urges him to at least alert the police, but Hugo has plans for Oswald Cobblepot, ones she can’t even know about right now, for her own safety. Worse than the creatures in the basement? Peabody’s glad to stay in the dark.
Alfred arrives home from the hospital to find a letter from Bruce. He’s decided to live on the streets with Selina to familiarize himself with the world he’s been so carefully sheltered from.
Nygma’s unraveling, convinced that Gordon knows more than he’s letting on. He’s set his sights on the detective. And at long last, the infamous question mark makes its first appearance.
Gotham airs Mondays at 8pm on FOX.
(Image courtesy of FOX)