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.


Post a Comment