Thursday, May 17, 2018

'Gotham' Recap: "One Bad Day" (4x21)

If you’re reading this, then you’ve probably chosen either to spend your summer in the great indoors or to bring your devices outside and suffer the scorn of your parents. Either way, it’s time for another Gotham recap—believe me, this is one episode that ends in a bang.

This week’s episode, “One Bad Day,” focuses on Jeremiah Valeska’s two goals: first, to blow up the city, and secondly, to drive Bruce Wayne insane. Given that the episode centers on Jeremiah, I’ve decided to ditch my usual plot-splitting format. While this episode can be divided up into different plots by character, these plots are extremely interconnected and each one impacts the others as Jeremiah’s schemes unfold. Because of that interconnectedness, it makes more sense to discuss this episode as a whole than to divide it up.

Warning: the following recap contains MAJOR SPOILERS for Gotham. The episode itself contains violence and self-harm.

Plots A, B, and C: V is for Valeska’s Vendetta.

The episode opens with a TV news reporter explaining that Captain Gordon was at the scene of the bunker explosion and is still missing, though feared dead. Harvey turns his attention from the TV to Lucius, who says that search and rescue haven’t found any signs of life at the bunker. Harvey tells Lucius to order them to keep looking and insists to everyone that Gordon is still alive.

Harvey tells the first responders to head out, along with the CSIs, and says that everyone else needs to look for Jeremiah and Bruce. One cop points out that the last time they followed Harvey, Professor Pyg killed several cops, but Harper cuts in and says that Gordon trusted Harvey, so that should be good enough for them.

At that moment, Detective Alvarez rushes in and tells Harvey that Jeremiah wasn’t in the bunker when it blew up. Harvey asks how he can be sure, and Alvarez replies that he’s outside the precinct and he’s not alone. Harvey follows him outside, to where Jeremiah stands with Jerome’s former followers, who are now uniformed and stand in position, awaiting commands.

Jeremiah explains that his brother’s former followers are now loyal to him, as he did something his brother never could: he killed Captain Gordon. He then explains to Harvey that he has bombs planted all over the city, which will go off the second he hits the detonator—or loosens his thumb to activate the dead man’s switch.

Harvey calls Jeremiah more sick than his brother, but Jeremiah denies it.

He then tells Harvey that he’ll detonate the explosives in six hours, so they’d better start evacuating the city. Harvey says it’s impossible to evacuate the whole city in that time, but Jeremiah insists that no one has to die . . . except for everyone at the nearby clock tower, which he blows up as an example for Harvey. Harvey sends officers to the scene, and Jeremiah leaves, but not before reminding Harvey that he only has six hours.

Meanwhile, at the Sirens’ Club, Barbara muses over the clock tower’s destruction and Gordon’s apparent death. She says that he always wanted to die a hero. At that moment, Penguin arrives with Butch.

Penguin explains that Jeremiah Valeska is behind the bombings. He adds that he and Butch learned more about Jeremiah’s plans by torturing the knife thrower (who was among Jerome’s followers). Penguin tells Barbara that there’s an opportunity for money and glory in the midst of the confusion but admits that he doesn’t have the manpower to execute his plans alone. He offers her a 50-50 split of the profit, but she doesn’t go for it.

Penguin then adds that he’d hoped to use the money to cure Butch with Strange’s help. Tabs, wanting to help, insists that Barbara go along with the plan and reminds Barbara about how she (Tabs) almost got killed by Ra’s. Barbara reluctantly agrees and asks what Penguin has in mind.

Back at the GCPD, Harvey pushes the mayor to make the evacuation order and reminds him that they’ve got five and a half hours left to evacuate the city. Harvey then notices Bruce, who’s just entered the precinct. Harvey rushes over to make sure he’s okay. Bruce asks if it’s true that Gordon’s dead and tells Harvey not to lie to him about it. Harvey admits that the chances of Gordon being alive aren’t looking good. He then asks if Bruce saw Gordon, as well as how he and Jeremiah escaped the blast.

Bruce explains that they’d already left the bunker and adds that Jeremiah was sprayed with his brother’s insanity gas. Harvey asks if Bruce has heard about the clock tower explosion. Bruce admits that it’s his fault, as he funded Jeremiah’s plans to create generators. Harvey almost loses it after hearing that Wayne Enterprises built the bombs, but Bruce adds that there are schematics for the generator batteries in his company’s R&D labs. Harvey insists that Gordon would want Bruce to be safe and tells him to go home.

After Harvey walks away, Bruce gets a call from Alfred’s number. He answers it, only to hear Jeremiah on the other line.

Bruce demands to know where Alfred is, but Jeremiah says Bruce shouldn’t be so angry and ungrateful after all Jeremiah has done for him. Bruce points out that Jeremiah lied to him, used his company to build bombs, and tried to kill him, but Jeremiah insists that if he wanted Bruce dead, he’d just shoot him. Jeremiah reminds Bruce that he sees him as a best friend and says that he’s going to prove it to Bruce. He tells Bruce to meet him at an address within an hour or Alfred dies. Jeremiah adds that he’ll know if Bruce tells the police . . . and he also knows that Bruce is currently with them.

The idea of Jeremiah watching Bruce is highlighted by a graffiti drawing of evil eyes and a grinning smile made up of the words “HA HA”, left behind by Jerome’s followers in their riot. You might recognize the design as a recurring motif in season 2. It often appeared as graffiti around the city, reinforcing the belief that Jerome would live on after his (first) death.

Meanwhile, Gordon wakes up in a bed with an IV attached to his arm. Lee walks in and explains that the Riddler sent people to follow Gordon (while he broke her out of the precinct), and they saved him from the blast. Gordon says he’s surprised Lee didn’t kill him. She admits that she is too, and says she’s not sure what she plans to do with him.

Gordon insists that he needs to return to the GCPD to stop Jeremiah, but Lee says he’s not going anywhere. He tells her to grab his jacket. She does; inside one of the pockets is a paper he grabbed from Jeremiah’s bunker. It displays a kind of maze diagram that might be a clue to Jeremiah’s plan. Gordon says he needs to get it to Harvey, but Lee takes the paper and locks the door behind her, leaving Gordon to get some rest.

Elsewhere, Bruce and Selina walk down an alley. Bruce explains that Jeremiah’s followers must’ve taken Alfred while Bruce and Jeremiah were at the cemetery. He thanks her for agreeing to help him out and admits that he knows he’s asking a lot. Selina simply says she’ll always be around whenever he needs her.

The two of them peer around a corner to scope out the address Jeremiah gave Bruce. They don’t see anyone, and Selina points out that it could be a trap. Bruce says that Jeremiah still wants him alive for some reason, so he needs to look for Alfred, even if the address is a trap.

Selina scales the roof, while Bruce enters through a door into a dark room. He calls for Alfred, and a video projector turns on, displaying a video feed on the walls of Alfred being beaten and tortured.

Back in the Narrows, Lee tells the Riddler that if they can solve Jeremiah’s plan using the paper Gordon found, they can trade the information for clemency. The Riddler, however, asks if there’s something more going on, some other reason she wants to work with Gordon. Lee insists that she and Gordon aren’t together and that she’s trying to protect and she and the Riddler have built. The Riddler says that he’d prefer to use Gordon as a hostage, but Lee points out the leveling half the city will destroy resources and hurt the Narrows. The Riddler gives in, saying that he’ll go along with Lee’s plan for her sake, and she kisses him.

Over at the GCPD, Harper updates Harvey on the ongoing evacuation. The roads are full of people trying to drive out of the city, the national guard’s coming in, and some people just don’t want to leave. Lucius then arrives with the generator schematics from Wayne Enterprises. He says that the generators, when supercharged, turn into bombs capable of blowing a city block. He explains that the bombs are connected by a central nervous system; if they find the core relay, they can stop all the bombs.

Meanwhile, Jeremiah watches a video feed of Bruce wandering through the building. He remarks that Bruce is about to have a “very transformative experience.” He then tells one of his henchmen to call “our friend” and let him know that he should kill Alfred, as he’s no longer necessary.

As Jeremiah walks down the stairs into his hideout, he sees Penguin, Barbara, Tabitha, and Butch . . . along with the knife thrower, who has a grenade in his mouth and the core relay in his hands. Penguin tells Jeremiah not to get any closer and says that the four of them have their own demands to make.

Namely, 50 million dollars to return the core relay. Jeremiah says that he doesn’t have that much money lying around, but Penguin says that all he needs to do is call the mayor, give him another hour, and add the money to his list of demands. Jeremiah notes that this plan casts him as the Villain, while the rest of them get away rich, but he agrees to the deal.

Barbara says that, having met (and worked with) Jerome, she expected a crazier reaction. Jeremiah tells her that he’s both sane and intelligent, which is why he’ll succeed where his brother failed. He then calls the mayor and adds the 50 million dollars to his list of demands.

As he talks on the phone, Tabitha asks if they’re really going to let him blow up the city. Penguin says that they won’t; his plan is get the money, kill Jeremiah and his henchmen, split the money, and be seen as heroes by the citizens of Gotham. Tabitha reminds him that they also need to cure Butch, and he hastily adds that the to-do list.

Jeremiah turns away from his phone and remarks that the mayor’s office put him on hold. He says that it’s time for a change of plans . . . i.e., grabbing a rocket launcher and blowing up the knife thrower.

Penguin asks if he’s insane, but Jeremiah says it’s not crazy to have a backup plan. He tells them that the building they’re in is within the blast radius and notes that he plans to detonate the bombs as soon as he’s within a safe watching distance. He remarks that it’s their fault he moved up the timetable and tells his men to kill Penguin and his allies before they can escape. The henchmen whip out guns and the shootout begins.

Meanwhile, Bruce continues to wander through the building and call for Alfred. A recording of Jeremiah answers him. He says that his brother claimed that “One bad day is all it takes to reduce the sanest man alive to lunacy.” Jeremiah says that Jerome gave him what the thought was the worst day of his life but adds that losing everything made Jeremiah face what was inside of him.

Jeremiah says that there’s something inside Bruce as well, but in order to free that “something,” Bruce has to lose everything he holds dear. The video feeds reappear on the walls. Bruce watches, horrified, as Scarecrow sprays Alfred with the Joker gas.

Over in the Narrows, the Riddler sends for Gordon so they can discuss Jeremiah’s plan. The Riddler tells Gordon that he’s not doing this to save the city; he’s doing it because he’s with Lee now. When Gordon says “Fine,” the Riddler says that he’s just pretending to be nonchalant, but Gordon replies that he wants to save the city; he could care less if the Riddler thinks he’s in a relationship with Lee.

Gordon says that the Riddler is a psychopath and a murderer, and the very fact that he wants Gordon to recognize that Lee loves the Riddler means he doesn’t believe it either. Gordon then states that stopping Jeremiah is what matters, but the Riddler says that since they’re on his turf and not the GCPD, they’re going to talk about Lee before addressing Jeremiah’s plans.

Gordon states that Lee has changed and that she might not be the person he used to know, but she’s not the person the Riddler thinks she is either. He adds that Lee is with the Riddler because she wants something from him, and once she gets it, she’ll get rid of him.

The Riddler points out that while Gordon seems to believe that Lee can’t love him (the Riddler) because he’s a murderer, Gordon is a murderer himself. Gordon admits that he’s right and says that might be the reason Lee and him aren’t together anymore. He then asks if they can move on to discussing Jeremiah’s plan.

The Riddler agrees and pulls out the diagram. He explains to Gordon that most labyrinths are built around having one way in and one way out, but this isn’t like that. So maybe it’s not the plan, but the end result, Gordon realizes. The Riddler pulls out a model of the maze, with each of the red lines depicted as a little tower. Gordon identifies each as buildings around town, such as the headquarters of Wayne Enterprises. The Riddler explains that when the bombs go off, the buildings will collapse to form the labyrinth.

Gordon tries to leave, but the Riddler won’t let him. He says that Lee and him plan to send the information to the mayor in exchange for clemency. The Riddler’s about to lock Gordon in, but Gordon calls him back, saying he made one mistake in the model. The Riddler leans in to examine it, and Gordon punches him out.

Back in Jeremiah’s hideout, Penguin’s side wins the shootout. Barbara chews Penguin out for almost getting them killed and Butch says that everything that’s going wrong is Penguin’s fault. Penguin promises to fix it. He then calls Harvey and informs him that Jeremiah plans to detonate the bombs early by “rewiring the bombs to connect with each other in a direct sequence.”

Harvey hangs up on Penguin and relays the info to Lucius, who says that the direct sequence is a function from when the bombs served as batteries. He says that they can disrupt all of the bombs by disarming them first, like how breaking one Christmas light breaks the whole strand. Harvey wishes that they knew where the bombs were . . . and who should walk in but Gordon, who happens to have the location of every bomb. He hugs Harvey and the two of them get to work.

Elsewhere, Selina walks down a set of stairs from the roof the building she climbed up earlier. She hears Bruce yelling and sees two men watching him on camera monitors. Scarecrow appears behind her and said that Jeremiah thought Bruce might bring a friend. Selina claims she just wandered in, but he doesn’t believe her and the two of them begin to fight.

Over in the GCPD, Lucius and Harvey explain the bomb sequence to Gordon. Lucius says that he still needs to figure out the best way to neutralize the bombs. Harvey tells them to have the bomb squad meet him at the first building (not sure how he figured out which one was the first; maybe they were numbered on the map). Gordon says that Harvey should let the squad meet him there, but Harvey says he needs to go.

Meanwhile, Selina fights against Jeremiah’s thugs. When she gets the upper hand, Scarecrow sprays them with his fear toxin and turns his attention to her. He swings a scythe at her. When she dodges, he says that it doesn’t matter that she’s winning, as Bruce will soon be driven mad. Scarecrow then leaves her.

Bruce runs through the building, still surrounded by the projected video of Alfred screaming he inhales the gas. Bruce is so focused on finding Alfred that he doesn’t notice the green gas being pumped out of pipes around him. Everything begins look fractured in his mind and his vision distorts. He runs out of the hall and screams.

Bruce then comes to a room where Alfred sits with his head down. There’s the sound of laughter, and as Bruce draws closer, he realizes that the laughter is coming from Alfred (much like that one scene from Joker: Death of the Family).

Alfred is both laughing and crying. He sticks a knife in his mouth and slices the sides of his lips to give himself a Glasgow grin. Bruce begs him to stop, and Alfred, still laughing, attacks Bruce with the knife. Bruce holds his own but begs Alfred to stop. Alfred tackles him, but as Selina looks at the video monitor, she sees Bruce fighting someone, but it’s hard to make out who. She figures out how to turn off the gas pipes and then hears footsteps. She opens a nearby door, and an unknown figure stumbles through with a sack over his/her head.

In the fight, it seems like Alfred has the upper hand. He’s got Bruce pressed up against a rail and holds a knife to Bruce’s mouth, telling him to smile. Bruce begs him to stop, saying that Alfred is stronger than whatever Jeremiah has done to him. Suddenly, someone shoots Alfred in the head and he tumbles over the railing to his death.

Bruce watches in horror as the blood pools out of his body. Selina grabs Bruce and tells him to breathe. She explains that Scarecrow used his fear gas on Bruce to make him see what what he was afraid of. She then shows him the real Alfred (presumably, the guy in the sack). Bruce scrambles to get a better view of the man who fell over the rail, and realizes that he was never Alfred at all. The real Alfred tells Bruce that he’s fine.

Gotham, you need to stop acting like you’re about to kill off Alfred. It’s too much for me to take.

At the same time, Harvey tells Lucius over the phone that he’s at the bomb site. Lucius tells him that the evacuees have jammed the streets and the bomb squad is still en route. Harvey says they can’t afford to wait, as Jeremiah could detonate the bombs at any time. Lucius tells him to unscrew the antenna and deactivate the kill switch. Before Harvey can begin, the bomb starts to glow red and hum. Harvey tells Lucius, who replies that Harvey needs to work quickly.

As this happens, Jeremiah enters a room full of his followers. He says that they’re about to share in the dawn of a new Gotham where they’ll all be free.

Lucius tells Harvey that after he unscrews the antenna, the kill switch breaker should appear. Harvey tells him that there’s two identical breakers, and Lucius says Jeremiah must’ve changed the design on the bombs. He tells Harvey not to break both of the breakers, as one of them might be a failsafe which detonates the bombs.

Jeremiah is about to detonate the bombs when he’s distracted by a newscast where Gordon announces that he’s alive. Jeremiah initially denies it, but Gordon happily declares that Jeremiah failed and calls him a poor copy of his brother.

Jeremiah’s followers say he lied to them about killing Gordon, but Jeremiah says that it doesn’t matter, as the new world will still be born when he hits the switch.

Harvey, torn between the two breakers, ends up deciding by the most scientific method at his disposal: eeny-meeny-miny-moe. He chooses a breaker and breaks it.

At the same time, Jeremiah flips the switch, but nothing happens. He fiddles with the trigger and his followers call him a fake and a liar. He yells at them to stop, before laughing quietly to himself. He says that their fickleness is hurtful . . . and predictable. He quickly runs out of the room and locks them in, before hitting a button marked “PURGE.” After he does so, the room fills with fire and screams.

Back at the Sirens’ Club, Penguin tries to convince his disillusioned allies that his plan was worth the risk. Barbara tells him to leave, and Penguin acquiesces, telling Butch to come with him. Butch refuses, saying that since they teamed up, everything’s gone wrong. Penguin insists that he knows where Strange is, before adding in that he only found out recently. He also reminds Butch that they still don’t have a way to pay Strange, but Tabitha says she can persuade him (read: torture him).

Elsewhere, Jeremiah looks over his schematics. He surmises the Gordon must’ve stolen his blueprints and sabotaged the sequence. He ruefully admits to himself that he’ll have to start over. Suddenly, a man’s voice says that Jeremiah is "tenacious." Jeremiah turns, looking for its source. The voice says that he had a vision of Gotham in flames. The speaker, Ra’s al Ghul, appears, and says that together, he and Jeremiah can make that vision a reality.

Jeremiah replies that he’s decided to work alone from now on and shoots at Ra’s. Ra’s disappears before the bullet can hit him and reappears at another spot in the room. He tells Jeremiah not to be foolish. Jeremiah shoots at him again, but he disappears again before appearing right behind Jeremiah, much to the latter’s annoyance. He asks why Ra’s thinks Jeremiah needs his help. Ra’s replies that both of their plans aren't about Gotham. They're about Bruce Wayne.

In the Narrows, Gordon walks in on Lee. She asks if he’s there to arrest her (which, you know, is his job), but he says that he’s there to thank her and give her an offer. He tells her to leave Gotham and and start a new life somewhere else. Alone. Gordon says that they can’t change the past, but whatever happens next, he’ll always care about her. He walks away, not realizing the Riddler has been listening to the entire conversation.

At the GCPD, Harvey reenters and orders the cops to tell the Mayor not to lift the evacuation order until all of the bombs are secured. He also reminds them that everyone needs to be looking for Jeremiah. They all stare at him silently, until Lucius begins to cheer and the rest of them join in.

Over in Wayne Manor, Alfred tells Bruce that he’s about to take a long hot shower, and then he’s going to fry up some dinner. He asks if Selina’s joining and she replies that she has no other plans. Alfred asks if Bruce is alright, but he doesn’t respond. After Alfred leaves, Bruce and Selina sit down on the couch. He thanks her, says that he doesn’t know what would’ve happened if she hadn’t been there . . . and kisses her.

It took 21 episodes, but we finally got a Bat-Cat kiss this season! Let’s just sit back and enjoy that for a second.

Okay, second’s over.

Selina asks if Bruce knows why Jeremiah is obsessed with him. Bruce repeats what Jeremiah said about one bad driving a person insane. He admits that watching his parents die might’ve made him a little insane and theorizes that Jeremiah wanted to bring out that insanity. Selina says that Jeremiah failed.

Jeremiah, however, begs to differ. He shows up, says he's not done yet, and shoots Selina in the stomach.

Alfred tackles Jeremiah and beats him, while Bruce cries over Selina and tries to stop the blood as it spills out of her.

A Brief Interlude:

Before getting into the verdict portion of this recap, I should point out that “One Bad Day” borrows heavily from Batman: The Killing Joke. That being said, it’s difficult to discuss the episode without drawing comparisons between it and the aforementioned graphic novel. In order to make the comparisons clearer, I’ve included a summary of The Killing Joke below, along with a comparison between it and the episode (separate from the verdict). If you’re unfamiliar with the plot of that story and want to know more, read on. However, if you plan on reading The Killing Joke and/or watching its film adaptation and do NOT wish to have its plot spoiled, please skip ahead until you see a picture of a stop sign.

The Killing Joke: A Summary

Batman: The Killing Joke tells two stories. The first takes place in present day, as the Joker enacts a plan to drive Batman insane. The second takes place in a series of flashbacks. This second story tells what the Joker claims to be his origin. Supposedly, the Joker used to be an average man, down on his luck, who got mixed up with a gang of robbers in order to make some money to help his pregnant wife. In the span of a single day, several things go wrong for him: his wife dies, the gang frame him as the leader, and, while running from Batman, he falls into a vat of chemicals that forever alter his appearance and sanity.

Because of this, the Joker claims that, “All it takes is one bad day to reduce the sanest man alive to a lunacy” and sets out to prove that he's right. In present day, he escapes from Arkham Asylum and shows up at the house of Commissioner Jim Gordon and his daughter, Barbara (aka Batgirl). Barbara opens the door, only to be shot in the stomach by the Joker. The Joker then has his men take away Commissioner Gordon while he starts the next (and arguably the most horrifying) phase of his plan.

Warning: the following paragraph contains references to both physical and sexual abuse.

So what’s the Joker do? Leave Barbara to bleed out? No. No, he strips her down, beats her, and takes pictures of her naked body. And here’s the thing: when you’re reading the book, this is all spelled out for you by the Joker, rather than being displayed as actual pictures. On the one hand, that’s a relief: you don’t have to watch Barbara get violated by the Joker. But on the other, you don’t know the full extent of what he did to her. You don’t know if the Joker went so far as to rape her, and that ambiguity haunts the story.

From there, Barbara’s out of the picture. (Later comics show that the wound didn’t kill her, but instead damaged her spine and paralyzed her legs, which put her in a wheelchair.) Commissioner Gordon gets taken to a demented circus set up by the Joker, where he is stripped down, put in chains, and forced to look at the pictures the Joker took of his daughter.

Batman eventually arrives to save the day, but the damage to Barbara and her father sets him on edge. On the final page of the comic, after Batman has caught the Joker, the Joker tells him a joke about two lunatics. Batman responds by laughing . . . and then grabbing the Joker. The panel is framed as a kind of silhouette, so it’s hard to tell whether or not Batman is putting his hands on the Joker’s shoulders to steady himself or if he’s strangling the Joker.

This presents another ambiguity for the reader to puzzle over: has Batman finally snapped and killed the Joker, or has he simply been turned into a laughing lunatic? While I don’t care for the story, I tend towards the first possibility. I think it’d be out of character and downright awful for Batman to simply share a laugh with the Joker after all his friends have endured. So as much as I hate to think about Batman killing anyone, that option makes more sense.

My personal view of The Killing Joke:

I don’t think it should be praised as heavily as it is. My main problem with the story is that Barbara Gordon is objectified, both in and out of the context of the story. She’s treated as leverage against Batman. The Joker violates her as part of his plan to drive Batman insane. In other words; the story isn’t about her. She gets beaten, possibly raped, photographed naked, and almost killed . . . and the story still isn’t about her. No. It’s about Batman and driving him insane. Barbara is violated (which is wrong in and of itself), and the story doesn’t even focus on that as a primary plot. She’s treated as a minor character, a cog in the Joker’s machinations.

And then there’s the Joker. If the purpose of his backstory is to make me feel sympathy for the guy, then it failed. So the Joker lost everything he cared about and went insane. That’s supposed to make me feel sorry for him, after what he did to Barbara?

Let’s be honest: the story isn’t about Barbara, or even about Batman. It’s about the Joker. If you like it, that’s fine, but don’t call it “a great Batman story.” Call it “a great Joker story.” It’s all about his supposed origin, his ideology, his view of Batman.

As it relates to Gotham:

“One Bad Day” isn’t the first episode to borrow from The Killing Joke. “The Gentle Art of Making Enemies” also centers on the idea of madness (and takes place at a twisted carnival, much like the comic book). Jerome argues that all it took was a blackout to make normal people show their true insanity and drive the city wild. Bruce, however, argues that there are still good people in Gotham, though Jerome tells him there are no heroes left in the city.

In that episode, Bruce proves himself a hero, as he takes down Jerome, but resists the urge to kill him, even though he thinks Jerome had Alfred killed. It’s also the episode that makes Bruce realize his training is leading him to a greater purpose.

The interesting thing about “One Bad Day” is that it borrows events from The Killing Joke but switches them out of order. Jeremiah’s plot starts with forcing Bruce to watch Alfred get beaten and ends with shooting Selina right in front of him. This change of order almost lulls the anyone who’s read The Killing Joke into a false sense of security.

Since the shooting of Barbara is the inciting incident in The Killing Joke, you’d expect a parallel moment to happen early in the episode. So you’re tricked into thinking that they’re just going to focus on Bruce having to watch Alfred get tortured and fight Jeremiah’s madness. You don’t expect someone to get shot after that, and you certainly don’t expect it to be Selina.

And yet, it makes sense, as Bruce takes Gordon’s role from The Killing Joke, the role of a helpless viewer watching the torture of a loved one. So it makes sense that he’d be the one to lose someone close to him. And since it’d be overkill (I’d be lying if I said “no pun intended”) to have Alfred almost killed twice in the same episode, it makes sense that Selina would be the one to get shot.

You don’t expect it because, up until that point in the episode, she’s been untouchable. Jeremiah was seemingly ignorant of her presence in the building, Scarecrow can’t beat her, and she’s the one to save both Bruce and Alfred. You don’t expect her to get hurt in the slightest, and that makes it all the more devastating.

So what do I think of this episode, as someone who was never a fan of The Killing Joke? I’d say I like it better—not necessarily in terms of writing or quality (as Alan Moore is no slouch), but in terms of the bare bones of the plot. As I said, The Killing Joke is all about the Joker, and this episode makes it clear that Jeremiah’s the central character.

Also, while I’m not a fan of shooting characters (female or otherwise) for the sake of drama, I’m not as upset over what happened to Selina as what happened to Barbara—mainly because she didn’t get violated in the same manner. What happened to her was still wrong, but there’s less magnitude in what happened (less implication of sexual abuse, especially). And let’s be honest: people get shot on Gotham all the time. Some even survive a shot to the head. I doubt they’d kill Selina off, given her chemistry (and future) with Bruce. Will she end up in a wheelchair, a la Oracle? It’s hard to say. But a recovery arc, at the very least, could be an interesting turn for her.

The Verdict

The weak points in this episode are definitely the respective subplots of Lee and Penguin’s allies. While I wasn’t opposed to a relationship between Lee and the Riddler, it’s really starting to drag on. The more she leads him on, the dumber the Riddler seems. This storyline is turning Lee into a manipulative jerk and the Riddler into a lovestruck fool, and that’s not fair to either character. And let’s be honest: after two seasons of will-they-won’t-they, the relationship between Lee and Gordon is also getting old.

As for Penguin, I could care less about his plans to take back the city. Lately, they’ve been predictable and easy for other characters to outmaneuver. I’m hoping that will change in the finale. Typically, Penguin’s best gambits are revealed near the end of the season (like when he made the Riddler think he had the upper hand before having Freeze turn him into an ice sculpture).

When it comes to the GCPD part of the episode, I was happy to Harvey get some recognition, but I feel like he should’ve already gotten that after he nearly sacrificed himself in “One of My Three Soups.”

And then there’s Bruce. At first, I found Jeremiah’s plans for Bruce to be underwhelming. However, in retrospect, I’ve come to see that the video feed of Alfred getting tortured wasn’t the main element of his plan; it was merely a distraction to keep Bruce from noticing that the fear toxin was being pumped into his system.

I like that distraction; I also appreciate how the episode tricks you into thinking Alfred’s “death” is the climax of that plot, only for Jeremiah to come back and shoot Selina (I wonder if Ra’s gave him that idea). Do I think she’s gonna die? Nope, absolutely not. Too many people survive gunshot wounds on this show for her not to be one of them. But will the bullet damage her spine? I don’t know. I think it should—not because I want to see her hurt or immobilized, but because I think there should be some lasting consequence of what Jeremiah did.

Overall, it was a decent episode, and not a bad way to lead into the season finale. Still, it did feel a little underwhelming, especially since Jeremiah’s plan to destroy Gotham was foiled in this episode, rather than leading into the next (or actually succeeding). I’m interested to see what his and Ra’s next plan is and how it affects Bruce. And again, I hope Penguin pulls out a good plan next week. I could honestly care less what happens with the Lee-Riddler-Gordon love triangle; I just want it to end at this point.

Speaking of endings, I've got some good news and some bad news. The good news is that Gotham has been renewed for a fifth season, according to Variety. The bad news (depending on your point of view) is that it will be the final season.

I personally think that it's good that Fox was upfront about the fact that season 5 will be Gotham's final season. It ensures that the writers will do their best to create a satisfying ending that provides closure. I think that it could also encourage everyone involved with the show to make sure that the final season is the best, as it could be the one they're most remembered for. Will I be sad to see the show end? Sure, but it's better to go out with a plan than to stretch on for too many seasons and run out of original ideas. I'd rather have closure than a stream of lackluster episodes.

Feel free to comment below with your questions, comments, and theories. What do you think will happen to Selina? Do you think this was a good adaptation of The Killing Joke? What do you want to see in 4x22? Until the next recap (which will be a little late) have a good week or two, and try to avoid psychos who like building massive labyrinths from destroyed cities.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

'Gotham' Recap: "That Old Corpse" (4x20)

If you're reading this, you've probably survived both your spring finals week and Avengers: Infinity War. Or you've been going out of your mind trying to study while simultaneously plugging your ears to avoid spoilers. Either way, I'm glad to have you back for another Gotham recap.

This week's episode, "That Old Corpse," focuses on a scheme involving Jerome's followers, the Riddler's efforts to break Lee out of the GCPD, and Penguin and Butch's attempts to learn what's really going on. Warning: this episode contains violence, suicide triggers, corpses, and a whole lot of clowns. The following recap also contains SPOILERS, as usual, so stop reading if you didn't watch the episode and want to be surprised (and let me tell you, this is one episode where you want to be surprised).

Before we get started, I feel it necessary to set the mood with some Joker-appropriate music.

Earbuds in? Great. Let's get going.

Plot A: Some Days, You Just Can't Get Rid of a Bomb.

The episode opens with Jerome's grave, which is surrounded by a bunch of his clown-themed followers (a group that's most likely made up of cult members from last season, new minions from prison, and maybe even a few citizens who felt like joining the madness). Jerome's headstone appropriately reads, "The second time's the charm." 

A member of the crew, who happens to be a knife thrower, addresses the rest of the followers. He tells the others to raise a glass to Jerome. As they do so, a woman rides in on a motorcycle, dressed in a black bodysuit, a harlequin headpiece, and a mask. 

(I know what you're thinking: Could this be Harley Quinn? Trust me, I'll get to that later.)

The knife thrower tells the harlequin that the event is invitation only and throws a knife at her. She dodges it and pulls out a megaphone. She holds a pre-recorded tape of Jerome's voice up to it so that everyone can hear his message. Jerome tells his followers that even though he's dead, there's one party left to throw, and they can start by digging up his body. The followers eagerly dive right in, swarming the grave and pulling up fistfuls of dirt.

Over at the GCPD, Harvey and Fox show Gordon a videotape addressed to him from Jerome. The tape claims to be Jerome's last will and testament. Harvey quickly asks Fox if he's certain that Jerome is dead. Fox says that there's no way he could've survived the vivisection, let alone the process of having his brain cut out (Glad someone in this city's infrastructure is doing their job. It's a lot harder to bring psychos back from the dead if their heads are empty).

Once they put the tape into the TV, Jerome explains that if they're watching this, he must've died. He says that his last request is for Gordon to throw him a wake. He tells Gordon not to worry about sending out invitations, as Jerome already did that himself. Gordon rushes to the window, only to see that the precinct is surrounded by Jerome's followers. He tells Harvey to lock down the building. As he does so, an orange car pulls up next to the precinct, with a coffin strapped to the roof. 

Gordon then calls Alfred and asks where Bruce is. Alfred explains that he and Jeremiah are at the underground bunker, working on the energy project. Gordon says that the two of them could be in trouble, given the resurgence of Jerome's followers, but he admits that if they're safe anywhere, it's probably in the maze. Alfred resolves to meet them at the bunker to provide extra protection. After Gordon hangs up, he notices that the followers are getting closer to breaking down the barricades. They've even started to use Jerome's coffin as a battering ram.

Harvey asks what the plan is and Gordon tells him to open up the armory. Gordon then explains to Harvey that they're not going to shoot down Jerome's followers. Jerome works through misdirection, so the assault on the GCPD is probably a ruse to distract Gordon from another scheme. Gordon says that the GCPD needs to put up a believable fight before falling back, cordoning off the building, and trapping the followers inside.

Meanwhile, Jeremiah shows Bruce the generator he's been building. They test it by disconnecting the bunker from the power grid before turning on the generator. The lights turn off, then come back on in a manner of seconds. Jeremiah explains that the generator is a clean, stable source of energy that doesn't need cables or wires, and it's inexpensive to boot. (Bruce should get one of those for the future Bat Cave to keep his vigilante activities off the electrical bill.)

Bruce remarks that generators like this one could power all of Gotham, causing Jeremiah to quickly ask if he's told anyone else about the project. Bruce says that no one outside of Wayne Enterprises knows about it, but Jeremiah retorts that it's always the people closest to you that you need to watch.

He then grabs a box of Jerome's belongings (sent from Arkham) and shows Bruce his brother's diary. Jeremiah explains that the diary contains all of Jerome's goals and twisted ideas, including ways to kill and torture Bruce, Gordon, and Jeremiah. He says that if Jerome had been sane, he could've succeeded. Bruce, however, insists that Jeremiah should stop reading the diary and take his brother's death as an opportunity to rejoin the world. Jeremiah admits that he still has a hard time believing that Jerome is dead.

The conversation is interrupted by a phone call from Alfred, who tells Bruce about how Jerome's followers have attacked the GCPD and adds that he's on his way. After hanging up, Bruce tells Jeremiah that it was just Alfred calling about lunch plans. Jeremiah doesn't buy it and says that Bruce is lying. Bruce admits that Jerome's followers have risen up. Jeremiah, paranoid, insists that his brother is alive and that Jerome is coming for him.

Back at Wayne Manor, Alfred dons his coat. As he does so, he hears the sound of breaking glass. After grabbing a gun, he goes into the kitchen to check out what's going. The door slams behind him. Off-screen, we hear gunshots and the sound of a scuffle.

In the bunker, Bruce tries to calm down Jeremiah and convince him that Jerome is dead. Jeremiah then tells Bruce about how Jerome left a trap for him, a batch of gas that's affecting his mind. He tells Bruce that he keeps seeing Jerome climbing out of his grave, and even though he knows it's not real, it feels real. Bruce says that he can prove to Jeremiah that his brother is dead; all they have to do is visit his grave. Jeremiah initially refuses, but he eventually gives in after Bruce argues that seeing the reality of the situation will free Jeremiah from the hold Jerome still has on his mind.

Over at the GCPD, Gordon gets a police escort to move the prisoners to a van while the doors to the precinct are broken down by the mob. Afterward, he tells the other police to fall back, as there are too many of Jerome's followers for them to handle. As they retreat, a few of the followers decide to go after Gordon and corner him in the locker room. However, Bullock comes to his rescue and tases most of the followers, except for one, who happens to be the knife thrower from the beginning. Gordon tells the knife thrower that he needs to start talking. 

The show then briefly switches to a shot of the kitchen of Wayne Manor. Alfred's phone lies on the ground, vibrating next to a pool of blood. We then cut to Bruce and Jeremiah in the cemetery. Bruce wonders why Alfred's not picking up but decides that he's probably just driving to the bunker and will call once he realizes they're not there. 

Jeremiah is anxious and wants to leave, but Bruce convinces him to follow Bruce to Jerome's grave. However, they arrive only to see that the grave has been dug up and emptied. Jeremiah screams that he was right and that Jerome is alive before running off. Bruce chases after him.

Back in the city, the police move out from the precinct in search of Jerome's real plan. Meanwhile, Harvey and Gordon try to question the knife thrower, who's tied up in Harvey's truck. Harvey asks if he's ready to tell them any other instructions that Jerome gave him, but the knife thrower refuses to betray his idol. Gordon tases him and says that he'd better talk while he's still lucid enough to do it. The knife thrower gives in and says that it's too late, anyway; Bruce and Jeremiah are already dead. Gordon, not sure if he's telling the truth, decides to check the bunker.

Meanwhile, Bruce runs after Jeremiah, following into some sort of mausoleum or crypt. He tells Jeremiah that they need to leave the cemetery because it's not safe. Jeremiah, from the shadows, asks if Bruce believes that Jerome is alive now, but Bruce says he's not. He says that Jerome's followers must have dug him up and adds that they could be nearby, so he and Jeremiah need to leave. Jeremiah, however, asks how he can trust Bruce if Bruce doesn't believe him.

Bruce says that Jeremiah can trust him because they're friends. Jeremiah steps closer to the light and says that he wants to believe Bruce, especially since Bruce offered him everything he could ever want after years of living underground. Bruce says that he did it because he believes in Jeremiah and believes that the two of them can do great things for Gotham. "We could," Jeremiah replies. "We really could. I thought we would." 

(And let me just say, that line nearly killed me, so you're lucky I survived to write this recap.)

Bruce says that there's no reason for them to stop working together. All they need to do is leave the cemetery. Jeremiah says that Bruce is confusing him; Bruce originally said that all Jeremiah needed to do was come to the cemetery, and now he's saying they need to leave. Jeremiah asks Bruce to remind him why they came to the cemetery. Bruce says that he thought it would help Jeremiah. Jeremiah responds by drawing a gun and shooting at him. Thankfully, he misses. 

He says that he knows what's going on and tells Bruce to stop pretending to be his friend. He claims that Jerome killed Bruce and stole his face. He shoots at Bruce again and misses. He then presses the gun into the back of Bruce's head and tells him that it's time to return to his grave. 

Back at the bunker, Gordon finds the generator, which is still running. As he stares at the blueprints next to it, a nearby video monitor turns on.

At the cemetery, Bruce tries to convince Jeremiah that the gas has twisted his mind. Jeremiah presses on, leading Bruce to Jerome's grave . . . only to find Jerome's body lying in the dirt. 

In the bunker, the video monitor plays a pre-recorded message from Jerome. He tells Gordon that he's still dead and admits that he only planned the attack on the GCPD because he knew Gordon would see through it and come looking for the real scheme. As Jerome speaks, the girl in the harlequin mask from earlier arrives and presses a gun to Gordon's head. Great job, Gordon.

Meanwhile, Bruce tries to convince Jeremiah that Jerome's followers must've removed the body and put it back based on Jerome's instructions. Jeremiah,  however, still believes that Jerome switched faces with Bruce and begins to chase Bruce with a switchblade. 

Over in the bunker, Jerome explains in his video that the harlequin is there to make sure Gordon pays attention to the "movie" and gets sucked in by its twists. Suddenly, a pair of hands appear on the screen and begin to choke Jerome. At the same time, Gordon manages to get loose and begins to fight the harlequin. He knocks her out and removes the mask to reveal the face of Ecco (Jeremiah's proxy and bodyguard). 

Onscreen, Jerome is still being choked. Suddenly, the video monitor flickers off, and the screen to the right of it turns on. Jerome's hands are outstretched in this video, as if he was the one choking himself in the other video. He jokes that suicide really takes it out of you and pretends to mop sweat off of his brow. As he does so, part of his face peels off, but there's only skin underneath, rather than blood. Jerome then begins to dab at his face with a handkerchief.  

At the same time, Bruce tells Jeremiah not to let Jerome win the battle in his mind. Jeremiah scoffs that he'd never let Jerome beat him. Suddenly, Jerome's followers swarm the grave. They grab Bruce, and Jeremiah grins. The followers then begin to chant that Jerome is victorious. Jeremiah, annoyed, grabs his gun and shoots one of them. He then wipes the blood off of his face, along with makeup, to reveal deathly pale skin.

In the bunker, the recorded "Jerome" uses his handkerchief to wipe the makeup and prosthetics off of his face to reveal his pale skin to Gordon. 

In real time, Jeremiah kicks his brother's body back into his grave and tells Jerome's followers that he's the one who's really victorious.

On the video, Jeremiah tells Gordon, "Jerome is dead. Long live me."

In the cemetery, Jeremiah tells Bruce that, like the rest of Jerome's plans, his gas failed. Jeremiah claims that the gas's only effect on him was to change his appearance; it didn't change who he was inside. Jeremiah explains that he only pretended to be his brother in his video and audio messages to show how weak his brother was in comparison to a true mastermind. Jeremiah calls himself "the face of true sanity." 

He then holds up his brother's diary and promises to outdo every one of Jerome's goals. Jeremiah says that Jerome wanted to turn the city into a madhouse, but he himself believes that, in order to build something new, you have to tear down what's already there.

Onscreen, Jeremiah explains that he used Jerome's followers to misdirect Gordon and lure him into the bunker. Suddenly, the harlequin runs out and locks the doors behind her, trapping Gordon in the room. Jeremiah tells Gordon that the generator produces an enormous amount of energy, which will cause an explosion if it overloads. As he speaks, the generator begins to glow red and hum.

Meanwhile, Bruce tells Jeremiah that Jerome's gas did work on him, as trying to carry out his brother's plans in a sane manner is a crazy idea. Jeremiah, however, opens the book and explains to Bruce that his brother wrote up the idea to kill Bruce by covering him in honey and have him be eaten alive by beetles. Jeremiah then tells Bruce that if he wanted to kill Bruce, he'd just shoot him in the head and be done with it . . . but he doesn't actually want to do that. The crowd boos him for this, but Jeremiah shrugs it off.

He tells Bruce that he doesn't want to kill him because he wants to show Bruce how much the two of them have changed things. He then tells Bruce that he couldn't have carried out his plan without Bruce's help.

Back in the bunker, video-Jeremiah tells Gordon that the humming he's hearing from the generator is a bad sign. He adds that Gordon is his first test subject.

The generators that were made with Bruce's funding work even better as bombs, Jeremiah explains in the cemetery. 

And they'll work to gain the loyalty of Jerome's fanatics by killing Gordon, the video explains.

The bomb goes off, causing Harvey to see a flash of light and cloud of smoke over the city as he and the GCPD prepare to reenter the precinct with tear gas. Bruce can see the explosion as well, and Jeremiah tells him that progress requires sacrifice. Bruce says that he'll stop Jeremiah's plans. Jeremiah replies that if Bruce gets in his way, he'll have to kill him, although he'd rather not. He then punches out Bruce and drops him into the open grave with Jerome. 

Over at the GCPD, the cops lock up Jerome's followers. Fox tells Harvey that he's found the epicenter of the explosion: Jeremiah's bunker in the woods. 

Elsewhere, Jeremiah enters a Wayne Enterprises building. The security guards (who can't see Jeremiah's pale face in the shadows) ask if Bruce is with him. Jeremiah says that he's not, but adds that he's not alone. Ecco appears and shoots the guards. He grabs one of their IDs and uses it to gain access to a room filled with the glowing blue generators he built. He tells Ecco that it's time to give Gotham a new face, and the episode closes with a glowing variation of its usual logo.

Plot B: Clownin' Around.

Prior to the attack on the GCPD, Gordon stares at an interrogation room that holds Lee Thompkins. Harvey suggests that Gordon can let her slip out the back door while he looks the other way, but Gordon refuses. Harvey points out that the bank she robbed was a dirty one and adds that both he and Gordon have gotten away with worse crimes (murder, for example). Gordon insists that it doesn't make what she did right and tells Harvey not to throw his mistakes in his face. Gordon then enters the interrogation room and simply asks, "What the hell, Lee?"

Gordon tells Lee that she should give up the Riddler, return the money, and ask for supervised probation. He says that she's still Lee Thompkins, which means that she must be doing all of this to help people, but he adds that she can't keep working outside of the law. Lee replies that Gordon wishes he could work outside the law like her and points out that it's meaningless anyway. He says that if the law has lost its meaning, it's because people like her are breaking it. Lee says that if that's how he feels, he should just lock her up. 

Gordon says that he doesn't want to do that and admits that he wishes he could let her go. She asks why he doesn't just do it. She suggests that letting her go free might just help him let go of the baggage he's been carrying around. He admits that there are things he wishes he could change, but before he can go into detail, Harvey and Fox confront him about the video message sent by "Jerome."

Over the Narrows, a crowd of citizens tells the Riddler that they owe it to Lee to break her out of the GCPD, after all she's done for them. He agrees, but says that they can't just rush in without a plan. He's already devised one, which involves a crack team of Narrows citizens and several assorted objects. Four members of the team will accompany him, while the others will keep an eye on Gordon and make sure he doesn't get hurt in the escape, as Lee wouldn't like that. 

Back at the GCPD (and in the midst of the riot of Jerome's followers), Gordon moves Lee and the other prisoners out of the building. She asks what he was trying to tell her and suggests that if he'd just let her go and come to the Narrows, he could make up his own rules about saving the city. Gordon doesn't reply, as he notices that Jerome's followers have just succeeded in breaking down the doors to the precinct. He sends her and the other prisoners away with a police escort. As the men fall back, retreating in the midst of chaos, someone backs into Lee, and her head knocks against a wall. She falls to the ground, unconscious.

Later, the Riddler and his team approach the GCPD. He remarks that the mob is a complication and decides that the GCPD have probably removed the prisoners. He checks a nearby van but doesn't find Lee. He asks the prisoners how they exited the building, and leaves once he's gotten an answer. 

The Riddler then tells his team that they need to get in and out of the GCPD before the police deploy tear gas. He adds that he'll also need a costume to blend in with the rest of the freaks.

Meanwhile, Lee wakes up in the police station and stands up. Jerome's followers seem to be too busy trashing the place to pay any attention to her, so she walks around freely.

Later on, the Riddler enters the GCPD in a ridiculous clown disguise. Someone grabs him by the arm and leads him to Jerome's coffin, which is now filled with ice and beers. He grabs one before going to the medical examiner's office. The second he walks inside, Lee knocks him out with a frying pan, only to realize her mistake too late. 

A little while later, Lee remarks that while the Riddler is the smartest man in Gotham, he still lets his heart do the thinking. She tells him to wake up and slaps him. His eyes open, and he can't help but grin and ask if he's really the smartest man in Gotham. Lee says that there are better things to aspire to, like the abilities to be himself, let go of the past, and change. She then asks if he brought another disguise for her.

He says that he only brought a costume for himself, but he did manage to procure some gas masks so that the two of them can avoid getting stung by the tear gas. As the gas fills up the GCPD, the two of them share a kiss before escaping. 

Plot C: Butch Gilzean and the Penguin Kid.

Over in the Falcone mansion, Penguin tries to eat his dinner, only to have Butch grab the chicken leg away from him. Penguin asks why Butch is angry enough to make Penguin starve. Butch points out that Penguin promised to cure him and regain control of the underworld. Not only have neither of those things happen, but the two of them have also been played by both Jerome and the Riddler. Butch adds that they've been reduced to robbing liquor stores and squatting in Sofia's house while everyone else is taking over the city.

Butch begins to threaten Penguin, but Penguin tells him to stop so that they can see what's going on on the TV. The news shows the riot at the GCPD. Penguin tells Butch that "Confusion is an opportunity for the clear-headed" and says that the riot is their chance to figure out who's pulling the strings now.

The two of them go to the GCPD and search the transport vans, before grabbing the knife thrower from Jerome's mob and leaving the rest of the criminals.

Butch and Penguin take the knife thrower back to the Falcone Mansion. He refuses to tell them what Jerome's followers are up to, so Butch decides to torture him by shoving chicken bones up his nose until he talks.

The Verdict

Plot A: Up until Thursday night, I could only think about one thing: the aftermath of Avengers: Infinity War. But after watching this episode, all thoughts of Marvel were pushed out of my mind. All I could think about was every bombshell this episode dropped, both literally and metaphorically.

If I wasn't already sold on the Jeremiah twist, this was the episode that did it for me. I love Jeremiah's interactions with Bruce, the way he manipulated him but still sees him as a sort of friend. And then, on Bruce's end, he looks at Jeremiah and sees someone with so much potential, someone who originally wanted to change the world for the better. This, ladies and gentlemen, is how you create the dynamic between the Batman and the Joker.

This is why Gotham's version of Batman will never kill the Joker: because Bruce sees someone that he wants to redeem, someone who went crazy through almost no fault of his own. And Jeremiah doesn't want to kill Bruce because there's a part of him that looks at Bruce and sees the one person who reached out to him and saw him outside of his brother's shadow.

Also, another hats-off to Cameron Monaghan. No matter how many times he plays a character with ulterior motives, I always believe both his (and the character's performance). I was convinced that the man on the tape was Jerome and equally convinced that Jeremiah really was trying to fight off the gas's effects. 

And kudos to him for being able to play two different kinds of Jokers. Jerome was more manic, like Mark Hamill or Jack Nicholson. Jeremiah is quieter and colder, like Heath Ledger in the more subdued scenes of The Dark Knight. And it's this second Joker that, in my opinion, is the scarier of the two. Unlike Jerome, Jeremiah doesn't waste time toying with people. Sure, he manipulates them, as he did with Gordon, Bruce, and Jerome's followers, but he does it efficiently and ruthlessly, rather than drawing the process out. 

As for Harley Quinn, here's what I'll say: Jerome and Jeremiah have been the Joker in all but name. In the same vein, Ecco may as well be Harley, even if they never call her that in the show. She's blonde, she's badass, she's loyal to Jeremiah (even after his transformation), and she's dressed in a harlequin headpiece. Sure, she's a little colder and quieter than most versions of Harley, but I think that suits Jeremiah's cold, ruthless Joker. If she were bouncy and bubbly, he'd get sick of her. 

If the Joker is more of an idea than a man, then Jeremiah is simply the second incarnation of the Joker. And Ecco might as well be the first incarnation of Harley Quinn. After all, in Joker: Death of the Family, it's implied that the Joker has gone through several henchwomen who bore the same moniker. 

Two last things on this storyline: no, I don't think Gordon is dead. He's supposed to be the main character of this show; they wouldn't kill him, especially not offscreen. And Alfred? Well, you'll have to wait for the trailer at the end of this recap to see what's going on with him.

Plot B: This was a fun enough side plot, although I don't really see the point in having Gordon arrest Lee if she's just going to get broken out an episode later. I'd say the only purpose in that was to have her and Gordon interact some, possibly in a way that pushes him towards a decision about how much he's willing to stretch the law to do the "right" thing (I use quotes because that's a very relative term in Gotham). 

Still, it was fun to the Riddler and Lee interact, and I'm interested to see what the two of them do in the next two episodes. Since neither of them has a stake in the League of Shadows conflict, I assume Lee will take issue with Jeremiah's plan to remake Gotham and stand up to him. I think that will lead to a big choice for the Riddler: whether to run or stand his ground with Lee in the face of catastrophe. If I'm right, I can't wait to see how it plays out.

Plot C: While this storyline wasn't very interesting in and of itself, it did add another element to the attack on (and escape from) the GCPD. It's always interesting to see episodes like that, where so many characters are in the same place at the same time, but they keep missing each other.

Other than that, this plot felt mainly like a setup for an upcoming conflict between Penguin and Jeremiah. That's, fine though. This episode had enough going on; it's good that this storyline was short and simple. I just hope that Penguin and Jeremiah play off of each other well.

Overall, this was an amazing episode. Not only did it solidify Jeremiah as a menacing and efficient villain, it also managed to set up conflicts that will play out in the final two episodes of the season, without feeling too heavy-handed (except maybe in Plot C). I can't wait to see where the final episodes take us, especially with this promising White Band trailer:

Next week's episode is entitled "One Bad Day," in reference to a line from Batman: The Killing Joke. While I'm personally not a fan of that particular graphic novel, I am interested to see how next week's episode borrows from it, with Jeremiah attempting to drive Bruce crazy.

Comment below with your comments, questions, and reactions. How do you feel about Jeremiah's transformation? How much do you want to see of The Killing Joke in the upcoming episodes? What do you think happened to Gordon?

Until next time, have a good week, and remember kids: it's all fun and games until your best friend inhales insanity gas and decides to turn your life upside down. Then it's time to get a new best friend.