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"I wish you were a monster. But you're just a man."
Bruce Wayne to Matches Malone

"Wrath of the Villains: This Ball of Mud and Meanness" is the fourteenth episode of the second season of Gotham. It aired on March 14, 2016.

Synopsis

Alfred and Selina help Bruce on his quest to find his parents’ killer, Matches Malone. Meanwhile, Gordon follows up with Edward Nygma on Kristin Kringle’s whereabouts and Hugo Strange continues his treatment to reduce Penguin’s aggression.[3]

Plot

Under the effects of Hugo Strange's therapy, the Penguin suffers a hallucination in which he finds himself handcuffed to a chair while watching as his murderous counterpart hits his mother with a bat. Outside of the room, Professor Strange is pleased by the results of his therapy after the inclusion of the Crane fear formula created by Gerald Crane. However, Hugo sought to check how Oswald would react to negative stimuli, deciding to give Penguin the test of ice cream. Moments later the Penguin enters the Arkham cafeteria with a scoop of ice cream on his food tray, sitting across from Aaron Helzinger. However, after Helzinger sees this, furious at not having received ice cream himself, quickly attacks. To Strange's approval, Oswald shows no signs of violence while being attacked by Helzinger. Elsewhere in Gotham, Selina Kyle meets with Bruce Wayne to give him the gun he had requested, warning that guns only served one purpose.

At the GCPD, Leslie goes to Jim to ask him to find out the whereabouts of Kristin Kringle since she hadn't received her last paychecks, and Leslie was afraid that Tom Dougherty might have hurt her. Meanwhile when Bruce returns to Wayne Manor, Alfred tells Bruce that to find Malone they need to visit a former associate of his nicknamed Cupcake, who spent ten years in Blackgate Penitentiary because of Matches. Alfred informs Bruce that Cupcake led a criminal gang known as the Mutants. Soon after, the two visit the place where Cupcake organizes fights among his gang. Alfred asks Bruce not to say anything, but when talking with Cupcake, Bruce reveals his identity and offers to pay him $ 50,000 in exchange for the whereabouts of Malone. Cupcake accepts the deal, but also requires Alfred to fight him out of respect. Annoyed with Bruce for not knowing how to choose his battles, Alfred fights Cupcake, eventually receiving a beating but quickly subdues Cupcake after he slows, allowing Alfred to use the weaknesses in his favor. Once defeated, Cupcake told Bruce to go see Jeri at the Celestial Gardens to find Malone, but right after, Alfred thanks him and suddenly faints due to Cupcake's blows during the fight.

Later at the hospital, Alfred asks Bruce to do nothing 'till he recovers but once he goes unconscious, Bruce uses the opportunity to go to the Celestial Gardens. At Arkham Asylum in Hugo Strange's office, Hugo and Oswald have a brief round of word association. Noting the progression of Cobblepot, Strange confirms that only a few more sessions would be enough to successfully rehabilitate him, though the news did not sit well with Cobblepot. Meanwhile, Gordon visited Edward Nygma to question him about Kristin Kringle in order to see if he knew where she could be, but leaves when he suddenly gets an unexpected call. After Gordon leaves, Ed becomes paranoid and states that Gordon won't outsmart him. Later at the hospital when Bullock and Gordon arrive to see him, Alfred informs them they discovered the Wayne killer was Matches Malone and informed them fearfully that Bruce had gone to kill him.

That night, Bruce reaches the Celestial Gardens, a crowded dark club with multiple screens showing videos compilations of Jerome Valeska and The Maniax. At center stage, stood Jeri, a quirky woman with a face painted white and a smile painted in the style of Glasgow. She stops playing with her band and invites Bruce to her dressing room to have a private chat. Once alone with Jeri, she questioned him about his reasons for wanting to find Malone and after discovering the truth warns Bruce that Malone was a professional murderer. However, she refused to reveal his whereabouts asking for a good reason. When justice and money don't convince Jeri to do so, Bruce brings out the gun in his pocket, but Jeri quickly realizes that Bruce is unwilling to shoot her. Seeing Bruce leave with disappointment, she finally decides to provide Malone's address in an attempt to intervene and play god. Thankful, Bruce begins to leave but unfortunately while doing so crosses path with Detective Gordon, who tries to convince him not to continue with killing Malone. However, suddenly Jeri returns to the stage and orders all of her followers to act against Jim, which gives Bruce a chance to escape.

Later, while Jim arrests Jeri, Bruce reaches Malone's apartment where finally, after two years of searching, finds his parent's killer. Using the excuse of wanting to hire his services, Bruce enters Matches' home and asks him if he was a proficient killer. Drunk, Malone confirms that he is, telling Bruce that he's killed the rich, poor, men, women, children, which reassures Bruce that he found the right person. Meanwhile, at the GCPD interrogation room, Jeri plays with Gordon, asking him questions about his relationship with Bruce, and remarking on his widely known temper. About to lose his cool, Gordon threatens to get violent if she doesn't divulge Bruce's whereabouts, but she decides, to tell him the truth as the Detective would be unable to prevent Bruce from killing Matches at that point. At Malone's apartment, Matches tells Bruce the prices he charged for each type of person he'd kill, Bruce soon after confesses that he and Matches had met before and takes out the gun and accuses him of being his parent's killer.

With the gun pointed at Malone, Malone reassures Bruce that although he could jump him, he wouldn't as he was too tired. After asking Bruce's name, and being given the description of when and how he killed Thomas and Martha Wayne, he confesses to not remember much about it as he was busy that year. However when Bruce goes into detail about the killing, Matches finally remembers the job, but despite threats from Bruce who threatened to shoot him, he refused to tell him who hired him, as the killer's code wasn't much, but it was all he had. When Bruce realizes that Malone wanted him to kill him, he asked for an explanation. This prompts Malone to confesses of being tired of committing so much evil in his life and not being punished. However, after considering it, Bruce decided not to kill him. Angrily, Malone reminds Bruce that he was a monster, but Bruce told him that although he wished he was a monster, he was just a man. He then drops the gun on the table and goes out into the hallway coming across Detective Gordon. At the same time, the two hear a gunshot, and Gordon goes into Malone's apartment finding Malone who had committed suicide.

At Arkham, Hugo has Oswald put into a room alone with Helzinger, who was tied to a chair, with a knife placed on a small table. To the surprise of Professor Strange, rather than enact revenge for what happened in the cafeteria earlier, Oswald takes the knife and uses it to free his attacker. After which, Strange decides to give Oswald a certificate which stated that he was cured and was legally sane, and could, therefore, could be released. At that Cobblepot has a burst of joy and returns to his room to collect his belongings, but Ms. Peabody disagrees with the idea and suggests warning the police about Penguin's release. Somewhat annoyed, Hugo reveals that Oswald was an experiment which he had deeper plans for, and at the moment could not reveal them to her for her own safety. Notwithstanding, Ms. Peabody finds his explanation ridiculous and as what could be deeper than the monsters they were creating in the Indian Hill facility below. Outside, Oswald was released from Arkham.

At the GCPD, Bullock reveals to Gordon that Malone was never a suspect in the Wayne murder as he spent the last few years without work, successfully flying under the radar. After that, Ed approaches Gordon to ask if there was news about Kristin Kringle, but Jim says no because he was busy with other things. When he leaves, Ed becomes paranoid and believes that Gordon was trying to impart a false security on him to catch him when least expected. However, Ed vows to make his own plans to avoid being caught. At Wayne Manor, Alfred enters Thomas Wayne's lair where he finds a letter for him from Bruce in which he informed him that he went on the streets to live with Selina, as the experience with Malone had made him understand that the only way to fight evil was by not doing so. As such he needed to learn specific skills and concludes the letter by asking Alfred to honor his wishes and not to try to bring him back. At Nygma's apartment he holds a newspaper article with Jim Gordon in it, drawing a green question mark on it and ripping the picture out.

Trivia

  • Matches Malone seems to be occupying the role usually held by Joe Chill in the comics.
  • Matches mentions a mustachioed fellow he keeps thinking of who seems important to him. This is a possible reference to his comic book appearance, where he sports a huge ridiculous pornstache.
  • Jeri's makeup is a clear allusion to the Joker.
  • This isn't Lori Petty's first comic book adaptation. She was also the eponymous character in the Tank Girl movie and voiced the Superman villainess Livewire in the animated series.
  • The club where Bruce Wayne met Jeri, had strong similarity with the club, owned by Top Dollar, the main villain into the super-hero movie The Crow.
  • The street gang known as the Mutants are mentioned, originally from the comics having made their first appearance in Frank Miller's 1986 graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns.
  • Jeri's club are shown to be dressed like The Maniax who had appeared in the opening of the Rise of the Villains story arc for Season 2. Footage and photographs of their actions and also their mugshots can be seen as taken from the episode "Rise of the Villains: Knock, Knock".
  • This episode takes place two years since Thomas and Martha Wayne were shot dead in the first episode "Pilot".
  • The fight club Bruce and Alfred approach can be heard chanting "Solomon" and "Grundy", a nod towards the supervillain Solomon Grundy.
  • Bruce mentions that it's been 2 years since his parents were murdered, and since Bruce was 12 when his parents were killed, that means Bruce is about 14 in this episode.

References

  1. Monday final ratings: ‘The Bachelor’ and ‘Scorpion’ adjust up, ‘Blindspot’ and ‘After the Final Rose’ adjust down - TV by the Numbers
  2. Broadcast Live +7 ratings: ‘Modern Family’ and ‘Blindspot’ gain the most for March 14-20 - TV by the Numbers
  3. Gotham - Episode 2.14 - 2.15 - Press Releases - SpoilerTV

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