Gotham: Return of the Joker

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By: Tyler Carlos (@tylos624)

Gotham Episode 312: “Ghosts” Review

Where We Left Off

In the midseason finale of Gotham, we left Jim Gordon staring at Lee Tompkins after he had just shot and killed Lee’s husband, and Don Falcone’s son, Mario Falcone. Mario, driven mad by the Tetch virus, was about to kill Lee when Jim shot him, due to the fact that a part of her heart would always love Jim. Among the craziness of Jim’s situation, we also left Bruce, Selena and Alfred in the Court of Owls mansion, having just been saved from Talon by Selena’s long-lost mother. They had just obtained a crystal statue, which is said to be a weapon that could bring down the Court. Lastly, friendships were broken and new alliances were formed between the villains. Edward has sworn to bring destruction upon Penguin for killing Ms. Kringle’s doppelgänger Isabella, and he (Nygma) has joined forces with Barbara and Tabitha, who want to take over Gotham’s underworld.
 

Where We Are Now

The midseason premiere episode “Ghosts” showed us the consequences of Jim’s actions. Lee is left heartbroken and angry. Falcone is hungry for vengeance. Jim is guilty for the death Mario, knowing he had no choice to save the woman he loves. And now, it seems, madness is again brewing in the streets of Gotham when a young girl is discovered to have been killed, not once, but twice.
 
ghosts
 

Caution: Spoilers ahead.

 

Review:

Keeping on par with what has been an explosive season, the midseason premiere gave us a lot to look forward to in the second half of the season. The relationship between Jim and Lee continues to grow more complicated by the minute. Truthfully, there can’t be much hope left for these two lovebirds. Jim has lied to Lee, broken her heart, ruined her wedding, AND killed her new husband. I mean, among all of these things, Lee has almost lost her life numerous times due to the sole fact that she was with Jim. After all that Jim has been done to her, how can these two live happily ever after? Falcone can see that Lee still loves Jim, but COME. ON. Lee would have to forgive-and-forget quite a lot to make that relationship work again.
 
The situation between Selina and her mother happened rather unoriginally, though that didn’t make it any less heartfelt. Selina was cold and suspicious of her mother’s intentions from the beginning, but it was nice to learn of more Selina’s backstory. Selina doesn’t know who her father is (meaning there is some kind of reveal coming soon), and the moment when Selina opened the box of her baby shoes and pictures melted my heart. But it’s clear that there is more to Selina’s mother’s visit than meets the eye, and I fear that it will leave Selina heartbroken.
 
The one disappointment in this episode was the first step in Edward’s attempt to destroy Oswald. Almost everything was perfect. Bringing out Penguin’s madness was fun, and his father’s bones were the perfect tools. The whole set up of the television interview and Penguin’s fall from grace was smart and well executed. The set up of the Deputy Chief of Staff and his death was smart. Even Clayface’s involvement was fun, because it reintroduced that character in the Gotham world. But in the end, the whole plan revolved around a fake ghost. I mean, when we first see Penguin’s father, he’s freaking glowing. Then, he reappears while Penguin is sleeping looking like Jacob Marley from A Christmas Carol. All it would have taken for the whole plan to fall apart was if Penguin had reached out to hug his father. We were eventually shown how the whole plan worked itself out, and the end results (Penguin murdering the Deputy Chief of Staff) were fulfilling, but it seemed to be just a bit too unoriginal.
 
The best gift this episode offered was the promise of Jerome Valeska’s return. The cult of Jerome has been brewing in the Gotham underground since his death in episode 203 “The Last Laugh.” Jerome’s final message to the people of Gotham led to the insanity of many, showing just how gullible and influential the people of Gotham truly are. The episode ends with Dwight Pollard and many other cult members plotting to bring Jerome back from the dead, and the last moment of the episode is a glorious shot of the smiling, preserved corpse of Jerome Valeska. CAN. NOT. WAIT.
 
Overall, this was a good returning episode, setting up a lot that will carry Gotham, maybe not for the rest of the season, but at least the next few episodes.
 

Favorite Moments:

“Who’s my father?” – Selina Kyle – Who else can’t wait to find out?
 
“Doesn’t anyone stay dead in Gotham anymore?” – Det. Harvey Bullock
 
Victor Zsasz’s visit to Jim in the beginning – clever and hilarious.
 
Jerome is coming back!
 

Rating: 4 out of 5

 

Gotham Episode 313: “Smile Like You Mean It” Review

Jerome 2
Now THIS was the episode to bring in the second half of Gotham Season 3. While there may not have been any crazy revelations, it was a still a fun and explosive episode that promises wonderful things in Episode 314.
 

Caution: Spoilers ahead.

 

Review:

Edward and Barbara’s plan to take down Penguin is going remarkably, and excitedly, well. While I think the use of a ghost in the last episode was a bit unoriginal, it nonetheless has brought Penguin’s character to a critical point. It’s clear that Barbara is only out for herself and Tabitha, and in the beginning of this episode, Barbara wraps Penguin around her finger. Her plan to take over Penguin’s empire is going so well that Penguin actually figured it out and she STILL managed to bring it back around. Under Barbara’s influence, Penguin has managed to bring down everything he has built: his mayoral popularity, the five families his crime empire stands upon, and his friendship with Ed. All that’s remaining to complete the plan is for Ed to get his revenge and for Barbara to take over Penguin’s empire – which will presumably happen in the next episode. But let’s face it; this is Gotham. Nothing ever goes down as planned.
 
Can we also just take a moment and talk about how great of a character Barbara Kean has become? When the show first began, Barbara was the biggest wild card. She was winey, flakey, and overall just not that interesting or likeable. But look at her now. She is just steps away from taking over Gotham’s underworld, and she continuously brings a level of fun and unpredictability to the show. And you can tell that she just loves doing it. Bravo to the writers and Erin Richards for bringing this awesome character to life.
 
Then there’s the relationship between Selina and her mother, Maria. We all knew that she was up to something, but it is still heartbreaking how it all went down. Selina finally let her guard down with her mother, only to have her mother stab her in the back. And then, when she confronts Bruce about it all, she’s furious at Bruce for letting her put her guard down. Bruce is too good, and money is nothing to him. He thought he was doing the right thing, and it just sucks that it backfired so much. The cherry-on-top was Selina telling Bruce how much it hurt that the only reason her mother found her was because of him. This was all well done and kept well to the characters, and Camren Bicondova’s emotional performance drove all of this home.
 
And then there’s Jerome. Oh, Jerome. Being dead didn’t slow him down at all. Right when he comes back, he takes Lee prisoner, which led into the highlight of the entire episode. Lee’s conversation with Jerome was just great to watch. Her “I-just-don’t-care-anymore” attitude with the whole thing was amusing, and it was a fun trip down memory lane as Jerome came to learn everything that had gone down during his long sleep.
 
Cameron Monaghan’s portrayal of Jerome is inspiring. He’s really embraced the different sides of this character. While we don’t yet know if he will actually become The Joker that we love, I’m getting a lot of Ledger/Nicholson vibes in his interpretation that emulate this iconic character. Hopefully, we’ll get to see this character continue to grow and evolve in coming seasons.
 
And then there’s that ending. Gotham has gone dark, and madness is stirring in the abyss. Jim Gordon is going to have his hands full dealing with Jerome and his minions. This was an exciting end to the episode, and the winter finale is sure to be explosive.
 

Favorite Moments:

Barbara telling Penguin to do that “disco vampire thing” with his hair.
 
“Maybe you’re dreaming. Try shooting yourself.” – Lee Tompkins
 
The whole Jerome/Lee scene.
 
Camren Bicondova’s emotional performance.
 

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

 

Gotham Episode 314: “The Gentle Art of Making Enemies” Review

Jerome 1
Jerome’s arc has come to an end. While the majority of the episode was high energy and exciting, the real shock of Episode 314 came in the end. And now we have to wait until April to see what happens. APRIL. WHY?!
 

Caution: Spoilers ahead.

 
Babs, Tabs and Butch:
 
It looks like Gotham has a new queen. Barbara, Tabitha and Butch have managed to take down everything that Penguin built, finally putting Barbara at the head of the table with plenty of room to grow. Originally an underestimated character, Barbara now has all the power in the Underworld, setting her up the same way that Fish built her empire. The difference is Barbara, though clearly insane, doesn’t have any major enemies. And let’s face it, Gordon would still save her if the situation called for it. Let’s just hope that Barbara doesn’t lose her power the same way that both Fish and Penguin have. She has allies. She has Jim Gordon. She has Tabitha and Butch. And she may even have Edward Nygma (though that remains to be seen).
 
It was nice to see Tabitha and Butch back in the spotlight. All three actors work well off each other, making their scenes some of the most enjoyable of the episode. When Butch and Tabitha abducted Penguin, they bantered like an old married couple and it was fantastic. Can’t wait to see what the future holds in store for Gotham’s new leaders.
 
Gotham Has No Heroes *cue Batman music*:
 
Jerome’s return from the dead was done well, though I must say, it was a little less impactful than I had hoped it would be. Cameron Monaghan was superb as the young maniac. But even though we all knew that Jerome wouldn’t actually kill Bruce or Alfred, I wish his arc had ended with more lasting repercussions. The bright side is that Jerome was not killed again. He is simply being moved to Arkham Asylum, so we will undoubtedly see the future Clown Prince of Crime again at some point – maybe with Jervis Tetch and Colonel Barnes at his side?
 
The main thing that Jerome’s return did solidify is Bruce’s evolution. Bruce had the opportunity to kill Jerome, and he said himself that it felt like it would have been justice. But Bruce decided not to cross that line, and he has made the choice that he will not kill. And now, the next phase of his journey to becoming the Dark Knight begins. He has established the rules that he will live by, and now he and Alfred will up the training so that he can be the hero that Gotham needs. As Jerome said, Gotham has no heroes.
 
It was great to see Bruce actually use some of the skills that Alfred has been teaching him. We haven’t seen any intense training sessions in quite some time. We had a brief glimpse of Bruce’s increasing skill in the previous episode when Selina wanted to fight, so it was good to see that those haven’t stopped. Also, the kid practically beat Jerome’s face off (I say practically because Gordon actually did beat his face off – disgusting, btw).
 
Jerome 4
 
Eddy and Ozzy:
 
It guess it’s safe to say that the relationship between Penguin and Edward can’t get more complicated. Edward’s final goal in his scheme to destroy Penguin was to take away everything that Penguin believed. Well, Penguin proved that he had the ability to love another human being, screwing up Ed’s plan. But in the end, Ed still couldn’t forgive Penguin for killing Isabella, and Ed shot him and pushed him into the river. But is Penguin really dead? Have you been watching Gotham?
 
My one problem with Edward’s whole revenge plan is the fact that he was only with Isabella for a week or two. I would understand Edward’s lust for vengeance more had Edward and Isabella been together longer, but I kind of find myself wanted to just slap Edward and tell him to get over it. Edward has spent more time trying to avenge Isabella than they were actually together.
 
Also, can we talk about Isabella for a hot second? Why did she look so much like Kristen Kringle? I’m hoping that she is some kind of clone set out by the Court of Owls. Perhaps Isabella and Ms. Kringle were both part of the Court as spies, and they are the ones that give the Court all of their intelligence. But above all, I hope that the writers eventually explain this. There had to be a reason the producers brought back the same actress as opposed to a similar looking one, right?
 
And then there’s the cliffhanger ending as we go into a two-month hiatus. Is Penguin really dead? I doubt it. If you want someone to stay dead in Gotham, you shoot them in the head. If you don’t, they can always come back. But that’s not really the point. If Penguin isn’t dead, then he will surely be after two things when he returns: 1) the reacquisition of his empire, and 2) vengeance upon the friend that betrayed him. He will have to learn to cope with the loss of love and to stand on his own. This is great kindling for Penguin’s fire. But what about Nygma? He was left up in the air. Only time will tell.
 
No One Refuses the Court:
 
And finally, the Court has returned. The night’s events were so horrific that they were almost forced to intervene. But now, they are able to put their unknown plan into action. But first, they need Jim Gordon, and Gordon’s Uncle Frank is the one to do it. This is great, because Gordon’s character has been a bit stale compared to the others during this arc. Everything has been happening around him. But he has a huge decision coming that will undoubtedly shape both him and the rest of the season. We may not know what this plan is yet, but it involves Clone-Bruce, Jim Gordon, and the broken owl statue. Lots of great things are on the horizon.
 

Favorite Moments:

 
Jerome’s hilarious responses retorts.
 
The face getting punched off – disgusting.
 
The reintroduction of the Court of Owls arc.
 
“I made Edward Nygma!” – Penguin (remind anyone of someone particularly fishy?)
 

Rating: 4.5 out of 5


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