Season 2, Episode 14: “This Ball of Mud and Meanness”
Directed by John Behring
Written by Jordan Harper
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “A Dead Man Feels No Cold” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Mad Grey Dawn” – click here
Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor) is having visions of mother (Carol Kane) at the dinner table, he’s tied to his chair, an awful meal on his dinner plate. Behind mom, another Penguin appears, whacking her with a baseball bat. Of course it’s all a form of aversion therapy, produced through that helmet Director Hugo Strange (BD Wong) and Ethel Peabody (Tonya Pinkins) have him wearing. Next, Strange suggests “the Ice Cream Test” for him. Oh my. Sounds delicious, right?
When Oswald sits at a table in the cafeteria. He has ice cream and the man across from him has none, driving him nuts. Oswald doesn’t respond with violence. He’s “docile” and manageable. The perfect inmate.
Young Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) meets Selina Kyle (Camren Bicondova) in an alleyway. She’s got a gun for him. He’s still planning on killing Matches Malone. I wonder if he’s planning on keeping the deal he made with Alfred (Sean Pertwee). Starting to think he may try taking this justice outside the law into his own inexperienced hands. That’ll be very, very bad.
At the GCPD, Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and Dr. Lee Thompkins (Morena Baccarin) wonder about Kristen Kringle. They doubt the story Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) gave about Dougherty, but only because they’re suspicious of the cop. Jim decides to start digging into it. You know sooner than later they’re going to stumble onto things. Wonder how Ed’s gonna react.
Bruce is playing along with Alfred, at least for now. They’re going to hunt down Malone. They hear about a gang called the Mutants. This takes the lads down to a sketchy part of Gotham City. They’re searching for a man called Cupcake (Jamar Greene). When they find him the guy tries extorting the little billionaire. Things get a bit violent. Particularly when Cupcake wants to rumble with Alfred before they’re getting out of there without losing any appendages. Reluctantly, the butler gets ready.
And boy, Mr. Pennyworth doesn’t play. He does take a nice beating in the process, no doubt. However, he’s able to fight back, and show Master Bruce a few things about beating big motherfuckers like Cupcake. The big guy does give over info about where they’ll locate word about Matches. Although Alfred has to take a “couple of hours‘ kip” in the hospital before he’s able to do any more investigatory work. Sadly doesn’t appear Bruce is willing to do the same.
At Arkham, Hugo does some word association with Penguin. Typical psychiatry-style work, as opposed to the torture he does down in the basement, and at Indian Hill. “I want to be normal,” Oswald tells Arkham’s director.
Over at the PD, Jim goes to see Ed, talking about Kristen. He asks about Dougherty, which gets the typical reply from the riddling forensics expert. We can see that Dt. Gordon knows something isn’t quite right, just doesn’t know where the dots are to connect. But it’s obvious Nygma thinks there’s a game afoot, and that only spells trouble; no riddle required.
Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) and Jim go see Alfred, who tells them about Matches Malone, and that he assumes Bruce is trying to chase down the man. The butler warns them about what the kid wants to do. Sure enough, Bruce is headed to the Celestial Garden. An interesting little club. Onstage, a punk band rocks out to clips of Jerome on the Gotham News in the background. Lead singer Jeri (Lori Petty) even dons creepy Joker-looking face paint. She’s been waiting for young Wayne to arrive.
Backstage, Jeri brings Bruce through a sleazy set of hallways to her dressing room. He asks about Matches, so she wonders why; he explains the murder of his parents. He’s a serious kid, no matter his age. It’s kind of funny for her to hear him say he wants to kill Matches. She warns that Malone guy is a professional killer. Yet she lets the “childish hand of fate” play out, giving over the man’s address to the revenge seeking billionaire.
On his way out Bruce runs into Dt. Gordon. Of course the place goes a bit wild when they find GCPD officers there, Jeri drives the crowd into a frenzy and it distracts Jim long enough for the kid to flee. Our cop is very worried, and so he should be – Bruce is going right for the address Jeri gave him.
At an old apartment building, Bruce finds the apartment he’s looking for, and he knocks at the door lightly. Matches (Michael Bowen) answers the door. The kid offers a roll of cash to hire him for a job. They step into the kitchen to talk. Bruce starts questioning him about his work.
Jim’s questioning Jeri at the precinct, hoping to find out where Bruce went. Could be too late, though. Young Mr. Wayne is holding a gun to Malone, finally confronting him fully. Will he pull the trigger? He listens to the man recount the crime after a bit of chatting. No answers, only Malone talking bullshit about Gotham. Rather than kill, Bruce chooses to leave him for the police.
In Arkham, Penguin and the big ice cream guy are put in a room. The big guy is strapped down. Oswald has a sharp knife. The little man helps his big friend out. No violence or anything crazy. He has been declared “sane.” Cured of his illness. It’s actually an experiment Director Strange wants to use to his advantage. “Deeper plans,” he tells Ms. Peabody. Imagine the trouble Cobblepot will get up to on the streets.
When Alfred gets back to the manor, he sees a note Bruce has left. The young man is going to live on the streets a while with Selina. He wants to get closer to the real, gritty life of Gotham, which certainly worries the butler. However, it’s just the fact Mr. Wayne wants to learn how to “live in the same world that others have to live in,” so he can battle the darkness of Gotham.
Super intense episode, we’re seeing so much more of Bruce and his moral quandaries over the death of his parents. Part of which is solved now, so this marks a journey on which he’s embarking that will take him, someday, towards becoming Batman. Moreover, Edward is transforming into the Riddler all the time.
“Mad Grey Dawn” is up next.