Gotham Season 2, Episode 14 Recap And Review: “The Ball Of Mud And Meanness”


Gotham may have abandoned much of its source material, but “The Ball of Mud and Meanness” episode has given us a Bruce Wayne we’re all familiar with. It was an episode that didn’t provide much in terms of surprises. However, the overall ridiculousness of past episodes has been toned down dramatically.

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Spoilerific Recap: We open with Penguin tied up at a dinner table. His mother, Gertrud, talks to him. As he struggles, he sees himself, carrying a baseball bat, approach his unaware mother from the back. His doppelganger then beats his mother to death. It’s soon revealed that Penguin is in a hallucination created by Strange. The next step of this experimentation is what Strange has dubbed the “ice cream” test.

At Arkham’s cafeteria, Penguin, holding a lunch tray with a large scoop of ice cream, arrives at the table of another inmate. The inmate becomes jealous of the ice cream and assaults Penguin. However, Penguin shows no aggression whatsoever. Strange comments that his treatment is working.

Bruce and Selina meet at an alleyway in Gotham City. She hands him a gun, and after a few moments of trepidation, he takes it.

At GCPD, Leslie asks Jim to investigate Kristen Kringle’s mysterious absence. Jim promises to look into it.

At Wayne Manor, Bruce and Alfred review Malone’s file. Alfred wants reassurance from Bruce that he’s ready.

Bruce and Alfred arrive at an industrial building housing a notorious gang. Alfred seeks out a large man named Cupcake. After Bruce, in his moment of impatience, offers to pay Cupcake for information leading to Malone, Cupcake forces a deal on Alfred: pay him and also fight him, or else he won’t let them leave. Alfred reluctantly agrees.

At first, the good butler does a good job holding Cupcake at bay. However, Cupcake overpowers him. As Bruce tries to stop the fight, Alfred tells him that he’s allowing Cupcake to gain the upper hand in order to tire him. The plan works, and Alfred soon wins the challenge. Cupcake makes good on his deal and tells them the location of someone named Jerry, who will be able to find Malone. Before they’re about to leave, Alfred passes out from exhaustion.

Alfred ends up bedridden in the hospital. As Alfred falls unconscious, Bruce leaves to seek out Malone by himself.

Strange quizzes Penguin on various word associations to gauge his aggression. Penguin is revealed to feel guilt and remorse for his past actions. To Penguin’s surprise, Strange has more torturous treatments planned for him.

Jim interrupts Ed in his lab. When the topic of Kristin comes up, Ed fakes concern over her safety. Ed is saved from further questioning when Jim’s phone rings.

Jim and Harvey visit Alfred at the hospital. Alfred implores the two detectives to find Bruce, as he plans to kill Malone.

Bruce arrives at a punk bar where the band’s lead singer, Jerry, greets him and takes him to her dressing room. There, she questions why he wants to find Malone. After telling her that his goal is to kill Malone, Jerry releases a series of taunts. Knowing that she won’t reveal his location, Bruce somberly leaves. Jerry suddenly reveals his location, hinting that she also wants him dead. As Bruce exits, he runs into Jim. Jim tries to chase after Bruce, but Jerry enlists the crowd to stop him. Bruce sees his chance and escapes.  Later, Jim takes Jerry into custody.

Bruce arrives at an apartment and knocks on the door. A man answers and Bruce nervously asks if he’s Malone. After the man confirms his identity, Bruce takes out a wad of cash and asks to hire him. Malone seems to be reluctant.

Jim interrogates Jerry, asking her about Bruce’s location. At first, Jerry stonewalls him with taunts and misdirection, but finally opts to give him Bruce’s whereabouts.

Bruce asks Malone if he remembers him. Malone has no recollection. Angered, Bruce takes out his gun and aims it at him. Malone is unfazed and compliant. Bruce gives a recount of the night his parents were murdered in an attempt to jog Malone’s memories. It wasn’t until Bruce mentions Martha’s pearls does Malone recall the hit. Bruce wants to know who hired him. Malone tells Bruce that no amount of torture will make him reveal that information. Malone then implores Bruce to kill him. Bruce admits that he doesn’t see a monster in Malone, just a man. Placing the gun on the table, Bruce exits the apartment.

Just as Jim runs into Bruce in the hallway, the two hear a gun go off. They enter the apartment to see Malone dying from a self-inflicted gunshot.

Penguin is escorted to the treatment chamber where he finds the inmate who assaulted him. The inmate is bound and blindfolded. Near the inmate, Penguin finds a large chef’s knife. He approaches the inmate and removes the blindfold. Strange and the other staff watch the experiment unfold in another room. Surprising everyone, Penguin uses the knife to cut the restraints of the inmate, freeing him. Strange and the other staff clap at the success of their treatment.

Strange awards Penguin with a certificate of sanity, and tells him that he is now a free man. Penguin doesn’t want to leave, but Strange assures him that good things will always happen to sane men. As Penguin thanks him, Strange sends Penguin off to his room to gather his belongings. Dr. Peabody, Strange’s assistant, is hesitant in allowing Penguin to go free. Strange assures her that this is just another one of his plans. She alludes to the other experiments at Indian Hill and tells him that she doesn’t want to know about his “deeper” plans.

At GCPD, the Wayne murders are now closed with Malone’s confession to Bruce. However, Jim still wants to know who paid Malone to do the hit. Running into Ed, Jim tells him that he’ll let him know any other progress with Kristin’s mysterious absence. As Jim leaves, Ed goes into a rage and starts talking to himself.

While looking for Bruce in Thomas Wayne’s secret cave, Alfred discovers a letter addressed to him from Bruce. Bruce tells Alfred that he has chosen to life on the street with Selina. He now knows that he can’t “kill” murder, and that one day, he will do something to help the people of Gotham. His final words tell Alfred not to worry, as this is something he needs to do.

Ed, at home, cuts out a section of the newspaper and marks it. It’s soon revealed to be a picture of Jim scrawled with a green question mark.

Next: Catch up on Gotham with a Recap of 'A Dead Man Feels No Cold'

Best Moment: Alfred taking a beating just so he could make his opponent weaker. Now, I could’ve thought of some better ways of doing that than let your face be a punching bag, but it was still a pretty badass moment.

Final Thoughts: From the way Malone confessed, it sounded as if the whole mystery hasn’t been solved yet. I have a feeling that the identity and history of Malone was made up. Perhaps, like the internal workings of Wayne Enterprises’ board, there’s a bigger conspiracy. I’m guessing that we might hear the name “Joe Chill” sometime in the future.