When I read the title of this episode, I was sure this would be the introduction of the infamous villain ‘Clayface’. But I was to be disappointed. The episode is mostly about young Bruce Wayne, and the muck and mire he’s going through to find Matches Malone, his parent’s killer. And honestly, his story isn’t all that interesting. They dress it up to look really nice, wrapping it in darkness and colorful characters. But in the end, Bruce’s actions never have any real consequences, for his character. As dark and deadly as Gotham is supposed to be, Bruce just skips through it without so much as a skinned knee. But Alfred gets the bejesus beat out of him. And all because Bruce does and says whatever he wants, with no regard for anyone else. So far poor Alfred has been betrayed, lied to, stabbed, shanked, beaten down, and beaten up. I hope the Wayne’s left him a good chunk of change in the will, because his medical bills must be through the roof.
At least Alfred’s doctor isn’t Hugo Strange. Oswald Cobblepot, also-known-as The Penguin, isn’t having a great time with his medical treatments. His latest session at Arkham triggers a disturbing vision: Penguin is tied up at a table with his mother, who is still alive and talkative. And he watches, as a version of himself comes out with a baseball ball and beats her to death. So Oswald watches The Penguin commit Matricide. Now that’s therapy! But hey, it seems to be working. Because Penguin is all mellow now, even when they give him the ice cream test. That’s when they give Penguin ice cream and then sends him back in with the general inmate population, who didn’t get ice cream. Of course some big bruiser beats the snot out of him and takes the tasty treat for himself. But that’s only part one of the test…
Selina, who now seems to be at Bruce’s ‘beck and call’, gets him a gun. He intends to kill Matches Malone, even though he promised Alfred he wouldn’t. Bruce Wayne’s word isn’t good for much these days. But the kid knows what he’s doing because he’s like rich and stuff. Alfred and Bruce go to the Gotham version of Fight Club, to get info on Matches from a dude named Cupcake. This Cupcake is the leader of the club and a big brawler. Alfred tells Bruce to let him do the talking, and he agrees. But then Bruce totally disregards what Alfred just said and mouths off, putting them both in danger. Now Alfred has to fight to get the info they need, and to stay alive. He’s a tough old bird though, and he wins the fight, but gets so jacked-up in the process he needs medical care. That’s when Bruce slips off to do a little investigating on his own.
Meanwhile, back at the precinct, Lee is concerned about Miss Kringle. She was the woman Edward Nygma was in love with, and killed. Nygma told everyone that she ran off to be with her abusive boyfriend, who Nygma also killed. But things aren’t adding up. So Lee asks Jim to look into it, which he does. Jim asks Ed a few questions, but nothing accusatory. But it triggers a paranoid response. And now Nygma thinks that Jim suspects him, which he doesn’t. But in Nygma’s twisted psyche, Jim has become the enemy.
Bruce strolls through the worst part of town to an S&M club. Of course he’s not hassled and is let right in. He meets with Jerry, a woman who knows where Matches Malone lives. Jerry’s makeup is very reminiscent of Heath Ledger’s Joker. And she’s wild and colorful enough to be a female joker. She likes Bruce’s gumption and gives him Matches’ address. Bruce makes it to Matches Malone’s place with a gun in one pocket and a big wad of cash in the other. He must have just gotten his weekly allowance. But Matches isn’t the monster Jim was expecting. Though he does own up to being the hired gun that killed his parents. He’s a tired man that’s ready for the end. So he doesn’t protest when Bruce points a gun at him. In fact he tells Bruce where to shoot to get the best result. But what he won’t tell Bruce is who hired him to kill the Waynes. Even cold-blooded killers have a code of ethics. In the end, Bruce doesn’t take the shot, and walks out unsatisfied.
Jim finds Bruce outside Matches Malone’s place. And Bruce lets Jim know that he didn’t kill Malone. Then a shot rings out. And Jim opens the door and discovers that Matches Malone shot himself in the head with the gun Bruce left behind. Now they’ll never know who put the hit out on the Waynes. Or will they? And does Bruce get arrested for any of the things he’s done that led to Malone’s demise? Of course not. Was that gun stolen, or used in other crimes? Who cares, he’s Bruce Wayne. And to add insult to injury, Bruce runs away with Selina to live on the streets. He wants to be one with the grit and grime of Gotham. He needs to learn about evil, if he eventually wants to fight it. You let him go Alfred, because that’s good parenting. I guess we’ll see if anything actually comes of this.
To wrap it all up: Edward Nygma is in full paranoid mode and makes Jim his next target. On a newspaper clipping, he draws a question mark over Jim’s face. That’s the mark of The Riddler, one of Batman’s primo villains. We knew Ed would become him someday. But it looks like the transformation is coming sooner than later. And Penguin passes the second part of the ice cream test. He finds the guy that beat him up in a room, all tied up. There’s a knife in the room as well. But Penguin doesn’t take any revenge on the guy. He cuts him free. That was the test. Hugo Strange proclaims him sane, gives him a sanity certificate, and sets him free. But is he really cured of his evil ways? Hugo doesn’t think so. But he’s got plans for Penguin that he won’t even tell his trusted assistant Miss Peabody about. STAY TUNED!!!!
SIDE NOTE: So far we’ve gotten Mister Freeze, Firefly, Penguin, Catwoman, The Riddler, and many variations of The Joker. Let’s hope that Clayface and Killer Corc are on the horizon.