In Thomas Wayne’s secret study, Bruce finds weapons, bags of blood, a bullet-proof vest with two shots in it, and many other things that make Alfred nervous. Just as Bruce is about to turn on the computer that holds all of his father’s files, Alfred smashes the computer. Bruce is livid. Alfred defends his actions by saying he is just trying to protect the boy, as that computer most likely holds the information that got Thomas Wayne killed.
Still angry, Bruce fires Alfred, who then reluctantly packs his things and leaves.
Bruce stops Alfred at the train station. He tells him there’s no way Alfred can stop him from carrying on his father’s work, but he doesn’t want him to leave. The two make a deal – Bruce will obey Alfred from now on and even go back to school, and Alfred will come back, fix the computer he broke, and teach Bruce to defend himself in case anyone comes after him.
Alfred runs into Lucius Fox at a bar. Alfred tells Lucius he needs to confide in him, but threatens to kill him if it turns out he’s not trustworthy.
When Lucius is confused by this, Alfred reminds him that he’s the one who put Bruce on the track of Thomas Wayne’s secrets. Lucius assures him he only has the best intentions at heart for Bruce. He agrees to come to the secret office and help fix the computer. When Bruce thanks him, Lucius says he loved Thomas Wayne, and that he wished he could have done more for him while he was still alive.
Eddie tries asking Kristen out on a date, but chickens out at the last minute.
After she leaves, Eddie’s other self tells him that Kristen would like his darker side more. Eddie angrily tells his other self to leave him alone.
Theo Galavan kidnaps the mayor and threatens him into calling his secretary to tell her he’s run off with some woman and will be sending written instructions.
The mayor’s alleged affair hits the newspapers, to the annoyance of the paper’s editor who wants better headlines. But his anger is interrupted when bodies begin falling from the roof of the building.
The Maniax, Galavan’s band of broken-out Arkham inmates, have kidnapped workers from the shipyard, spray-painted letters across their chests, and are tossing them over the roof's edge to spell out the name of their gang.
After this stunt, Galavan tells the Maniax that this was merely their overture, that now their audience is expectant, and it’s time for them to make their grand entrance. He tries to teach them stage craft, testing their showmanship abilities, and Jerome’s performance ends up being his favorite.
Meanwhile, Tabitha and Barbara are entertaining themselves by torturing the kidnapped mayor.
They say they feel left out, and Barbara wants to know when her time is coming.
Theo assures her that her time is coming soon, and asks her for information about Jim Gordon.
Jerome Valeska and Robert Greenwood begin fighting over which of them is the leader of their group. Theo Galavan says to solve it with a game of Russian Roulette. However, Jerome decides to take three turns in a row.
This leaves all remaining turns to Greenwood, meaning he gets the bullet. However, Galavan takes the gun away and says Jerome is the boss.
At the station, the newly promoted Commissioner Essen plans to reform the GCPD into an honest police force. Essen and Jim also assemble a team to take the Maniax down. With so few good people on their side, Jim visits Harvey at his new workplace to ask him to come back to the force. Harvey’s fiancée, Scotty, isn’t having any of it, and is reluctant to even let Jim talk to Harvey.
Harvey assures her it will be okay, and declines Jim’s offer. Before Jim leaves, Harvey wonders aloud to him why the Maniax kidnapped people from the shipyard specifically, and says that could be a clue. Jim follows up on this and discovers a refueling tank loaded with gasoline is missing from the shipyard. He puts out a search for it.
The Maniax, driving around in the stolen tank, stop a bus filled with highschool cheerleaders.
Jerome douses everyone on the bus with gasoline.
He tries to set the bus on fire, but the lighter won’t work.
He’s about to use Arnold Dobkins’ lighter when the GCPD arrive, having spotted the stolen tank. A brief shootout ensues, but the officers are unable to keep shooting without hurting the kids on the bus, and Jerome runs out of bullets.
Jerome orders Dobkins to light up the schoolbus while he and the other Maniax escape.
Jim knocks out Dobkins, but not before part of the gasoline trail is lit on fire. Jim quickly drives the bus away from the fire to save the highschoolers.
Once everyone is safe, Jim tries to question Dobkins, but Dobkins gets shot by Tabitha from a roof before he can say anything. Back at the GCPD, Essen wonders what the Maniax’s motives are, since they didn’t ask for a ransom nor would they have gained anything from killing the cheerleaders. Jim says their only motivation must be a desire for chaos and panic.
Jim gets a phone call from Barbara. He tries to convince her she’s sick and needs to turn herself in, but she laughs at him. The laugh echoes through the station, and Jim realizes she must be in the room with him. After he spots her, she walks out and he follows.
Once Barbara has lured Jim out of the building, the Maniax raid the station. Jerome holds up Essen as everyone else in the station is shot. Lee hides under a table, and Eddie protects Kristen. Once almost all the cops have been killed, Essen tells Jerome that he’ll be dead soon and no one will remember his name. He tells her that he will leave a mark on the city that will spread like a virus.
Jerome murders Robert Greenwood when he steals one of his lines. Essen calls him crazy, which he is not too pleased about.
Essen spits in his face, but it doesn’t have quite the effect she hoped for.
She knocks her head against his, which does finally hurt and upset him, and he decides to kill her.
Meanwhile, in an alleyway outside, Barbara tells Jim that he's misjudged her.
She has Aaron Helzinger beat up Jim. Once he has the fight taken out of him, she kisses Jim and tells him he better get back to the station to take care of the mess back there.
He returns just in time to be with Essen in her last minutes.
Thankful that Eddie saved her during the shootout, Kristen helps Eddie recover from his wounds.
Bruce and Alfred hear about the shootout and rush down to make sure Jim is okay. When they find him, Bruce apologizes to Jim again for being so hard on him the last time they talked, and tells him he’s a good friend.
Harvey Bullock arrives, in uniform, and says Essen was a good woman. Jim adds that she was a good cop. Harvey announces he’s officially coming back to the GCPD, as there’s no use in fighting his status as an officer.
A recording made by Jerome is televised, in which he tells the citizens of Gotham to embrace chaos like he has in order to be free.
This is the kind of episode I’ve always wanted from Gotham. And also exactly what I was hoping to see from Jerome. The pacing, the writing, the acting, the chaos, the intensity, everything was spot on.
I have only one complaint about this episode, and that is – IT’S NOT POSSIBLE FOR A CHILD TO /FIRE/ THEIR LEGAL GUARDIAN. I mean, Bruce Wayne is a minor! Who would have taken care of him? Who did take care of him while Alfred was gone? And how did Bruce even get to the station to get Alfred back, when Alfred is the one who drives Bruce everywhere? Bruce is too young to drive. And as far as I know, he doesn’t have any other staff working at the manor. None of that made sense.
But aside from that, this was an absolutely perfect episode. Best in the series so far. And my favorite part, of course, was Jerome Valeska. Cameron Monaghan is doing a stellar job in this role, and I’m so happy they’re giving him the opportunity to unleash full Joker-like chaos on-screen, rather than just show little hints of the madness he could bring when he’s older.
I find it interesting that Essen told Jerome that, one day, no one would remember his name. One of the main problems people have with Jerome possibly being the Joker is that, in canon, no one knows the Joker’s real name. No one knows who he really is. Whereas, right now, on Gotham, everyone knows Jerome’s name. I can’t help but wonder if this was the writer’s way of addressing this. That maybe it’s a hint saying that, even though everyone knows Jerome’s name now, so many more people will rise up to cause chaos, his name will be lost among them all. And once that happens, maybe he will be the Joker, or maybe he won’t be. Nobody knows.
I’d like to talk a bit about the death of Sarah Essen. Many fans are upset by her death, and are accusing the showrunners of “fridging” her character. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term “fridging”, TV Tropes describes it as follows:
“A character is killed off in a particularly gruesome manner and left to be found just to offend or insult someone, or to cause someone serious anguish. The usual victims are those who matter to the hero, specifically best buddies, love interests, and sidekicks….The term was popularized by comic book writer Gail Simone through her website "Women in Refrigerators." On that site, Simone compiled a list of instances of female comic book characters who were killed off as a plot device. The term came to be used more broadly, over time, to refer to any character who is targeted by an antagonist who has them killed off, abused, raped, incapacitated, de-powered, or brainwashed for the sole purpose of affecting another character, motivating them to take action.”
Many people are claiming that Essen’s death was a case of fridging and sexist writing, because it was the death of a woman used to further a man’s story, i.e. Jim Gordon’s. Here’s the thing. Every time a character dies in a story, it is used to further the storyline of surviving characters. Otherwise, it’s a needless death. So if we go by that logic, it would be sexist literally every time a female character dies. If characters are meant to be treated equally regardless of their sex, then female characters should be able to die just like male characters. A female character’s death being used to further the plot of another character – male or otherwise – is not fridging. Fridging occurs when the doomed female character is used solely as a prop.
In other words, fridging is when a doomed female character's humanity is forgotten, when she is nothing more than a bleeding object of pity on the ground, and the only purpose of her suffering is to show the pain the poor men go through at seeing her die. This is not the case with Commissioner Sarah Essen. After her death, she is not thrown aside, but honored. When Harvey calls her a “good woman”, Jim adds that she was a “good cop” to bring attention to her contributions as a leader of their force. Essen’s death is tragic, not because it gives Jim “man pain” as they say, but because she was Gotham’s first honest commissioner, who would have saved the GCPD and perhaps all of Gotham had she lived. This was a hero’s death, and was treated as such.
The only problem I have with her dying is, one, I wish we could have seen her as Commissioner a bit longer than just one episode because it was an opportunity for a lot of great scenes. And two, Gotham is losing their women of color quickly. First Fish dies, then they seem to have taken Montoya off the show with no word about it, and now Sarah Essen is dead. I really hope they further develop Tabitha, and I hope the upcoming Firefly ends up being a great character as well.
Speaking of sexism, The Mary Sue and many other blogs have recently been discussing the relationship between Eddie and Kristen, and talking about how they find it problematic. Many viewers find it troubling that, even though Kristen Kringle has turned down Eddie’s advances multiple times, he still continues to pursue her. What’s more, they feel the show is taking Eddie’s side on this, painting him as tragic for being rejected, and labeling Kristen as the “bad guy” who’s responsible for his eventual downfall due to her rejection of him.
For the record, it is sexist to blame women for rejecting men, and for men to feel entitled to a woman they feel attraction toward. However, I have gotten a very different impression of Gotham’s portrayal of their relationship, and so I thought I would weigh in on the matter.
To start off with, I believe Kristen Kringle has done everything right. She has not led anyone on, she has been upfront about her feelings, and she has done so in as polite a manner as possible under the circumstances. Eddie’s behavior, on the other hand, has been as it has consistently been with anyone on the show he cares about – awkward, lacking self-awareness, and accidentally inappropriate.
Many viewers have commented on how his interactions with others seem to insinuate he may have Asperger’s Syndrome, a condition on the high-functioning end of the autism spectrum. He doesn’t understand people or how to communicate with them appropriately. As such, it took Eddie some time to realize that Kristen genuinely had no interest in him. Now that he has finally realized this, Eddie acknowledges she doesn’t like him back and that he should leave her alone. However, as of the S1 finale, Eddie also suffers from having a split personality. And this second personality, who has far less honorable intentions toward Kristen, is a side that is clearly shown to be evil and selfish, and which Eddie is actively fighting against.
I must also point out that the writers have, time and time again, referred to this second persona as dangerous. They have also interacted with fans on Twitter, warning that men like Nygma are stalkers, are not safe, and that women should be careful not to get involved with such men. They are not condoning what Eddie does, but rather directly speaking out against it.
We know that Eddie’s dark side does eventually win out. It has to in order for him to become the Riddler. And we will witness things from his point of view, and see his story as tragic. However, this does not mean that his actions are being condoned, or that he’s not to blame for the bad things he does. It’s no different from when we sympathize with Oswald, even though he’s murdered countless people. This is an origin story told from the viewpoint of the villains of the Batman universe. This is the story of how they became evil. How events and people – some of whom are morally to blame for the villains going bad, and others who are not – shaped these characters and sent them, intentionally or not, down the path of villainy.
It’s possible to find a villain relatable and sympathetic without viewing them as a good person. It’s possible to understand what led them to make their choices without excusing those choices. And it’s possible to view a character as tragic without blaming the other characters around them for the tragedy, even if they had somewhat of a hand in it, directly or indirectly. This, I think, is what Gotham is going for. Kristen’s actions may have a hand in turning Eddie into the Riddler. But that doesn’t mean she is responsible for what he does, and it doesn’t mean the writers are blaming her – cause and effect do not necessarily carry connotations of moral responsibility. The writers are simply showing how a character goes from Point A to Point B, and how the little things in a person’s background affect them on a psychological level. Each Gotham subplot is a study of the mind of a corrupt person. It doesn’t excuse their bad decisions; it merely explains them.
I will admit that using rejected advances is a cliché plot point to use in fiction. Regardless of whether or not it's sexist, it would have been more interesting if they had gone another route. And who knows? Maybe the writers will end up doing something sexist with it down the line. But from what's on screen so far, I’m not seeing any sexism, or blame being thrown at Kristen by the writers. All I see is a formerly good man letting his loneliness and bitterness get the better of him, and the show calling him out for what he is – a future villain.
What’s To Come:
Below are the promos, featurettes, and sneak peeks for tomorrow’s episode that have been released so far:
From the previews, we can tell that Lee Thompkins will finally meet both Bruce and Alfred for the first time. Her meeting with Alfred is especially meaningful, as the two characters dated in the comics.
There’s a rumor going around that Jerome Valeska will be in 2 more episodes of Gotham. But I would like to point out that this rumor is most likely false. Cameron Monaghan’s name does not appear in the list of guest stars for episode 4. The rumor was most likely due to an error on IMDB (which, for the record, has happened before, back when it said Monaghan would appear in last season’s "Red Hood" episode). The next episode of Gotham, “The Last Laugh”, is most likely Jerome’s final appearance on the show.
There's a lot to look forward to next episode, however, as we watch Jerome's grand finale – which will include a reunion with his father, and holding the baby-bat himself, Bruce Wayne, hostage.
The biggest question is, how will Jerome leave the show? Will he be taken back to Arkham, maybe to one day get free again and become the Joker? Will he escape and leave Gotham? Or will he be killed? Personally (and reluctantly), I tend to lean toward the last possibility. I think it very unlikely Jerome will survive tomorrow’s episode. He is just too totally and obviously like the Joker to actually be the genuine article, considering that the showrunners want their Joker to remain a mystery or be more of an idea than a single individual.
But this leads to another question – how will Jerome die? Will he kill himself? Will he be taken out by Barbara, one of the Galavans, Jim, or Alfred?
Or perhaps it will be a stranger. Maybe Jerome’s speech on TV will inspire someone (perhaps the true future Joker) to embrace their own chaos, and that person will kill Jerome out of a desire to take his place. Or maybe it will be a character from a previous episode. The official synopsis for tomorrow’s episode mentions Jim and Gordon going after an old nemesis. Perhaps this old nemesis will be the one to take Jerome out. In the promo for tomorrow’s episode, we can see a man shooting up the magic show where Jerome is holding Bruce hostage. I can’t tell who the man is, or if he’s on Jerome’s side or not. But perhaps it’s possible Jerome will get killed accidentally in the crossfire, as the unidentified man attempts to take over.
There’s a certain irony in the idea of Jerome being killed in the chaos he loves so much, which he himself brought to Gotham in the first place. So it would surprise me if the show didn’t go with some form of that route in ending him. It's also possible they may "kill" him in a way where his death is ambiguous, so viewers don't truly know if he's alive or dead. Similar to what they did with Fish.
Upcoming villain Amygdala is rumored to be Aaron Helzinger, the only living member of the Maniax left besides Jerome and Barbara.
The Penguin will soon be getting his first umbrella that serves purposes beyond keeping out the rain. Specifically, an umbrella that also functions as a gun.
Episode 7 will see the return of Harvey Dent and (according to rumor) Ivy Pepper.
The full episode schedule for the next month has been released! The schedule goes as follows:
October 5th – Episode 3: The Last Laugh
October 12th – Episode 4: Strike Force
October 19th – Episode 5: Scarification
October 26th – Episode 6: By Fire
Synopses for most of these episodes have also been released (the full cast and list of guest stars can be viewed by clicking on their titles):
The Last Laugh: "Gordon and Bullock track down a nemesis from the past, leading to a standoff between Jerome (guest-star Cameron Monaghan) and Gordon. Meanwhile, a magic show at the Gotham Children's Hospital gala turns into a hostage situation."
Strike Force: "Captain Barnes (Michael Chiklis) is called to duty to create a law-abiding task force, with the help of Gordon. Meanwhile, Penguin gets caught up in a favor for Galavan, and Nygma asks Kringle out on a date."
Scarification: "Galavan and Penguin join forces with a dangerous family in Gotham. Then, as the rivalry between the Waynes and the Galavans resurfaces, Gordon struggles to maintain order in the city."
The synopsis for "By Fire" has not yet been released, but it and "Scarification" have been labelled as a two-parter about upcoming villainess Firefly.
And that’s it for this time! Join us next week as we delve into what could be the goodbye episode for the much-loved proto-Joker, Jerome Valeska. See you then!