Gotham: This Ball of Mud and Meanness – We all Scream for Ice Cream (Review)


Gotham: This Ball of Mud and Meanness may have been a reality check for Bruce Wayne, but in other areas the black comic touches were to scream for, like ice cream, for instance. There were many quirky and odd things going on. Lori Petty as Jerry, the “Joker” makeup and strange Ellen DeGenres type delivery, a mountainous street villain called CupCake and Nygma moving swiftly into Riddler mode.

While all these things were part and parcel of the Heller-verse of Gotham pre Batman and therefore not too surprising, the tale of Penguin’s rehab manages to almost overtake the main storyline of Bruce Wayne taking his gun to town. Or more accurately Matches Malone’s apartment.

Line of the episode goes to Michael Bowen as Matches:

Matches: “I kill all kind of folks. Just about every way you can. Rich, poor, guilty, innocent. By hand, by blade, by gun. Burn just one guy to death, they call you Matches the rest of your days.”


Back to Penguin’s therapy. It is odd to see Cobblepot turned into a cringing inmate with a kicked-dog demeanor.  While it is tempting to think that Strange has broken the villain, one only has to see the real distress in his eye when the doc mentions therapy to believe that Oswald is playing Hugo.

The “ice cream test”  was brilliantly funny. The delivery of the line by Strange (BD Wong)  dredged up images of some warped psycho test and instead there is Cobblepot limping into the chow hall with a big ball of ice cream on his tin tray. Cue the biggest chap in the room pitching a fit because he has no ice cream.

The follow-up to the therapy has Oswald let into a room. This quickly turns into outright comedy as the second Cobblepot spies the big ice cream goon in a chair, he turns on a dime and begins pounding the door to be let out. He then grabs the knife and offers to cut the big fella loose.

Penguin then gives the guy a glass of water.  Strange and Miss Peabody applaud his move.

Equally amusing is the mosh pit capture of Jim Gordon so Bruce Wayne can escape the club where he meets Jerry.

This episode of Gotham is not all laughs and giggles however. When Wayne finally confronts Matches he finds that pulling the trigger on the pistol is too hard. Why? Well, the boy expected to see a full-on monster in that apartment.

Instead, Bruce finds a tired older man who looks, for all intents and purposes like any other older man.  The tired killer knows what young Wayne does not. Monsters come in all shape and sizes.

Matches: “Look at me! I’m a monster. You need to kill me.”

Bruce: “I wish you were a monster. But you’re just a man.”


Sadly young Master Wayne has not learned yet that men can be monsters. The boy leaves the apartment. Matches and his gun are left behind. Wayne meets Jim Gordon in the hallway and a shot rings out. Malone really was tired of it all and he takes the fast train out.

On the lighter side, Petty’s Jerry gets the second best line in the episode during her interrogation scene with Ben MacKenzie’s Jim Gordon.  She baits the cop, taunting him about his temper.

Gordon: “You’re trying to make me angry. Do you want me to hurt you?”

Jerry: “Could you? I got nowhere else to be.”

By the end of the episode Bruce runs away from home to live on the streets with Selena. (Can’t blame him really, Alfred is pretty capable in terms of protection, but Kyle is no slouch and much prettier…) The butler is distraught at the note he finds from Bruce and Nygma takes one long step toward becoming the Riddler.

It has to be mentioned that the Lee and Jim interchange where the M.E. brings up the question of the departed Kris Kringle is funny. It is a variation on the old “you don’t ring, you don’t write”  complaint. It this that starts Nygma on what looks to be the last of his more “normal” self and on to the green question marks.

Sidenote: Back to Penguin: And just how disturbing was that dream? Two Cobblepot’s and one carting a baseball bat ready to bash in dear momma’s head. It is to shudder…

Bruce Wayne is taking those first steps that will bring him to Batman  later in the Gotham-verse.  Meanwhile, Oswald Cobblepot is a free man with a certificate to say he is sane. Smart money says that Penguin is just playing along and that he will revert to form now he is out of Arkham Asylum.

Loved the music in this episode. In parts it felt very Sicariothat sliding cello bringing on a tone of foreboding and a touch of trepidation. Other times it was B movie horror, or science fiction, and all the ambiance gave the episode an excellent nuance to  the action on screen.

Gotham airs Mondays on FOX.


Author: Mike's Film Talk

Former Actor, Former Writer, Former Journalist, USAF Veteran, Former Member Nevada Film Critics Society

4 thoughts on “Gotham: This Ball of Mud and Meanness – We all Scream for Ice Cream (Review)”

  1. That’s funny that you mention Lori Petty’s “strange Ellen DeGenres-type delivery.” My dad thought it was Ellen. I knew by the voice it was Lori Petty, but she did seem to be channeling Ellen.
    Not sure what Hugo’s end game is with releasing Penguin, especially when he didn’t seem convinced that he had really been rehabilitated (or was it his assistant who doubted? I can’t remember).
    And “Jimbo” better be careful with Ed. He should know better than to treat him like a fool. I’ve heard it said that the less elaborate the lie the easier it is to pull off a con, because there are fewer details on which to trip. So Jim should have simply told Ed (whom they don’t suspect as of yet, anyway) the truth: She never cashed her last checks, and no one has heard from her, so they are worried.
    So, who hired Malone? What a twist it would be if it’s revealed “the butler did it!” Haha, no chance, of course.
    Keep up the good work on the reviews!


    1. That’s the word, channeling! It was definitely Petty’s phrasing that made me think of Ellen! Sorry had to pass on Gotham this week as an interview was scheduled along with the return of a favorite program! 🙂


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