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"To the contrary. A mask hides the face, but frees the soul. A mask speaks the truth."
Richard Sionis to Detectives Gordon and Bullock

"The Mask" is the eighth episode of the first season of Gotham. It aired on November 10th, 2014.

Synopsis

Gordon and Bullock investigate a Gothamite who runs a deadly fight club for candidates applying for a job at his financial firm. Meanwhile, Bruce returns to school and gets a visit from a new friend.[1]

Plot

In an abandoned office, two well-dressed, masked men savagely fight until one of them kills the other (though not before having his thumb bitten off), under the watchful gaze of a camera.

The next morning the body of the fallen fighter is found near the river covered in black ink. The case is assigned to Detectives Gordon and Bullock who with the help of Nygma discover that the corpse's name is Coleman Lawson, a young man who recently moved to the city and was trying to make a career in finance. Noticing something, Nygma asks if he should run "all" of the fingerprints in the case, and Bullock sarcastically says, yes, like always. Nygma reaches into Lawson's mouth and extracts a human thumb, dryly asking, "this one too?"

A well-dressed woman is accosted on the street by Oswald Cobblepot, who compliments her on her lovely brooch - shortly before stealing it and carrying it to his meeting with Fish Mooney at her nightclub. Acting on behalf of Don Maroni, Penguin conveys the peace terms agreed upon between Maroni and Don Falcone. Fish looks over her shoulder and addresses her newest "umbrella boy," Timothy, remarking that Penguin used to have his job, and now look at how far he's come. Penguin presents her with the brooch as a peace offering. Fish says it is beautiful... then stabs the pin into Penguin's hand. His bodyguards go for their guns, but Penguin motions them back. Fish tastes the blood on the pin, and says Penguin still has not suffered enough for betraying her, and the truce between Falcone and Maroni is the only reason Penguin is still alive, which means Penguin should be praying, daily, for Falcone's good health. Chuckling heartily, Penguin replies, "Oh, I do."

Bruce is forced by Alfred to return to school, at Anders Preparatory Academy. Bruce is against the idea, arguing that home study is just as effective, and he finds other children his age "somewhat childish." Alfred tells him to start walking.

Gordon interviews Lawson's distraught mother, who says that her son was a good man and she had no idea why anyone would want to harm him. She adds that he was smart, hard-working, and ambitious, the first member of their family to go to college, and had he lived he would have been a great success in the city.

From her office, Bullock and Captain Essen watch Gordon, Essen noting that the other officers at the GCPD are still treating Gordon like a leper. Scornfully, Bullock says Gordon is a walking reminder of their own cowardice, fleeing the building when Victor Zsasz arrived to kidnap Gordon. Essen remarks that, in such a tough situation, Gordon is lucky to have Bullock as a partner. Bullock, remembering well his own less-than-heroic reaction when Gordon was in danger, half-heartedly agrees.

Since none of the city's hospitals have reported treating a man with a severed thumb, Gordon and Bullock visit a black market doctor, who admits to treating the injured man, but says he never learned the man's name. Gordon is not satisfied, and starts overturning the office, until the doctor cracks and admits that a card for Sionis Investments fell out of the man's pocket. Still not satisfied, Gordon places the doctor under arrest for illegally practicing medicine. Back at GCPD, Gordon marches the doctor into a holding cell, and several detectives, especially Alvarez, protest, saying that the police deliberately let the doctor stay in business so he can provide them with information. Gordon retorts that he is past caring about how the rest of the department enforces the law. Bullock takes Gordon aside and says that he has come to respect Gordon's integrity, and the rest of the department eventually will as well, but he has to take things a bit more slowly and not be such a hard-liner. Gordon acknowledges the point, and reluctantly releases the doctor from the cell.

On returning home, Jim finds Barbara, slightly drunk and pointing his spare gun at the door. She admits that she has been totally consumed by her fear of Zsasz, who held her prisoner in Falcone's mansion. She pleads with him to reassure her that "there are no monsters," even if it means he has to lie to her. Gordon takes her in his arms and tells her what she wants to hear.

That night, in the same abandoned office, a masked man addresses three new contenders, who are being imprisoned in cages, preparing them for the next match.

Nygma begins to do his own autopsy on Coleman Lawson, but he is soon discovered by the actual medical examiner, who kicks him out.

At school, Bruce is accosted by his classmate, Tommy Elliot, who asks him needling questions about the night his parents died.

In a church, Liza meets secretly with Fish in the confessional. She gives Liza a sleeping drug to slip into Falcone's meal, and tasks her with copying two specific pages from Falcone's diary. Liza admits to being a bit nervous, and asks why Fish doesn't simply kill Falcone if she wants him out of the way. Fish explains that removing Falcone would create a power vacuum and lead to war between his lieutenants. Instead, she needs to take Falcone's strength for herself, so that once he is gone, she will be his natural successor.


The next day, Gordon and Bullock enter the office building of Sionis Investments. While they are waiting to meet with Mr. Sionis, they notice several employees with wounds on their faces. Shown into Sionis' private office, the detectives see it decorated with medieval weaponry and armor, and antique masks from various cultures. Sionis admits that Coleman Lawson interviewed for a job with his company, but Sionis has no idea how he was killed. Gordon asks about the employees' injuries, and Sionis responds that his employees' weekend sports matches get pretty intense - which he sees as a good thing, since a competitive spirit is necessary to be a success in the financial world. Gordon accuses Sionis of arranging the fight that killed Lawson, and Sionis challenges him to prove it.

While leaving the office, Gordon notices a trail of blood on the floor leading to the bathroom. Following it, he finds the employee missing his thumb. Gordon tries to apprehend him, but the man overpowers Gordon and runs for the door, where Bullock stops him.

At Anders, Bruce is once more confronted by Tommy and his band of friends who mock him for being an orphan. Bruce is momentarily carried away by anger and slaps Tommy in the face, which Tommy laughs off as a pathetic gesture.

At the GCPD, the Sionis employee, Adams, confesses that Sionis arranges regular "death matches" between applicants to his company, and he was the most recent victor. When they share their findings with Captain Essen, Bullock adds that all of the applicants signed releases consenting to participating in the fights, so it is doubtful whether Sionis can be indicted without a signed confession from Adams. Before Adams can sign a confession, however, a lawyer from Sionis Investments appear to represent him and discourage him from saying anything further to the police.

Alfred picks Bruce up from school and sees the signs that he is being bullied.

While Gordon and Bullock are investigating the several abandoned buildings owned by Sionis, Gordon receives a call from Barbara, who needs his help, but he tells her he'll have to call her back.

There are so many properties that Gordon and Bullock have to split up. Investigating one, Gordon finds the cages holding the three men, but before he can release them he is stunned by Sionis with a taser.

Alfred drives Bruce to Tommy Elliot's house and gives him his father's watch. When Tommy answers the door, his first thought is that Bruce is planning to tell on him to his parents, but Bruce takes a more direct approach, using the watch as a knuckle duster to deliver two fierce punches that drive Tommy to his knees, warning Tommy never to talk about Bruce's mother again. Bruce delivers a third punch, before Alfred tells him to stop, his point has been made. Tommy clutches his bleeding mouth and protests that Bruce tried to kill him. Alfred agrees this is true, and encourages Tommy to keep that in mind the next time he sees Bruce at school.

When Gordon wakes up, he is surrounded by the three candidates. Over a loudspeaker, Sionis says the rules of the match have changed; instead of fighting each other, the three candidates are ordered to kill Gordon, victory going to the one who succeeds. Gordon warns the three men to stay back, reminding them that he is a cop and, so far, none of them are guilty of any crime. Then Sionis adds that the victor will get a $1 million signing bonus on top of a job, and the three men lunge at Gordon, who soon is fighting for his life. Elsewhere, at Sionis Investments, all the employees are eagerly watching the match on a closed circuit television.

After Gordon has been missing for several hours, Bullock asks the other detectives and officers for help in checking out the addresses of Sionis' abandoned buildings. All of them refuse to help, claiming to be busy. Fed up with their attitude, and deeply concerned about the whereabouts of his partner, Bullock stands up at the head of the squad room and yells for everyone to listen to him. He says Gordon may be "a total asshat", but he is still a cop, and when he most needed their help, every single one of them turned their backs on him. Bullock says he will be damned if he lets that happen a second time, and repeats his demand for help. After a moment of silence, Essen steps forward and takes a couple of the addresses, and she is reluctantly followed by Alvarez and several uniformed officers.

Despite being outnumbered, Gordon succeeds in fighting off the three men and emerges victorious, much to the dismay of the watching Sionis employees. Then Sionis himself appears in the room, wearing a black mask and brandishing a samurai sword. Even unarmed, Gordon is the better fighter, and manages to parry Sionis' attacks with a paper cutter, and knock him senseless. A few moments later, Bullock arrives with Essen and several officers, who finally traced him to the right building.

At Fish Mooney's nightclub, Liza gives Fish the information she wanted, but says she doesn't want to be involved anymore, it is getting too dangerous. To motivate her, Fish tells her a story about her childhood: that when she was little, she occupied a cramped apartment with her mother, and had to stay behind a curtain while her mother "serviced" the men who came to pay for her favors. One of those men beat her mother to death, and Fish was trapped with the body until morning. While she was, she made a promise to herself. Liza's first thought is that Fish swore revenge on her mother's killer, but Fish says no, she swore to herself that she would never be powerless. Liza is helping Fish to keep that promise to that little girl.

Later, an elderly woman (strongly implied to be Fish's mother) who was performing on stage during their conversation, approaches Fish at the bar and scolds her for making up the story. Fish says the woman shouldn't be eavesdropping, and "a lie with a heart of truth is a powerful thing."

Following the advice of his mother, Penguin kidnaps Fish Mooney's new umbrella man, Timothy, and interrogates him. Timothy confesses that Fish has someone planted close to Falcone, though Timothy doesn't know who. Satisfied with this information, Penguin orders his men to kill Timothy, but make sure the body isn't found, so as to keep the peace between the families.

At GCPD, Gordon thanks Bullock for having his back. During the fight in the office, Sionis taunted Gordon that he cares less about enforcing the law than he does about indulging his natural talent as a fighter. Gordon tells Bullock that Sionis was wrong, Gordon has never enjoyed fighting - he is simply not afraid to, which is why his resolve to end the corruption in Gotham is stronger than ever. Alvarez drops by and tells Gordon that a teenaged girl, arrested for shoplifting from a high-end boutique, wants to talk with him. Gordon looks over at the bench and is surprised to recognize Selina Kyle.

At her penthouse, Barbara closes a suitcase and leaves out the front door, leaving a note for Jim saying she has tried to stay brave for him, but the strain has become too much and she has to leave Gotham.

At Wayne Manor, Bruce admits that he enjoyed beating Tommy, and asks Alfred if the anger he feels all the time will ever go away. Alfred says he can't answer that question. After a brief pause, Bruce asks if Alfred can teach him to fight. Alfred smiles and says yes.

Media

References

  1. Gotham Episode 8 Description: “The Mask” - GothamSite

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