As a lot of other TV shows return from their winter breaks, ‘Gotham’ is just taking one now – and this right on the heels of having been away for all of December . It’s a good thing this week’s episode leaves off on a strong note.
Gotham is in chaos. Lunatic Jerome has blown up a power plant and plunged the city into a blackout. Rioting and looting have broken out all over and the GCPD can’t keep up. Jim Gordon is convinced that things will calm down if he can capture Jerome, the figurehead instigating the worst of the violence. When Lee remembers that Jerome had babbled something about wanting to kill Bruce Wayne, Jim heads straight for Wayne Manor.
Jerome has already broken into the mansion of course. This place must have a million unsecured entrances considering how easily so many bad guys slip into and out of it. While taunting Bruce, he smashes the glass statue stolen from the Court of Owls. Bruce suggests that killing him at home would be poor showmanship, and that the death of Bruce Wayne ought to be a public spectacle. Although Jerome knows that he’s just stalling for time, he concedes that the boy has a point. He drags Bruce away, but leaves some henchmen behind to finish off Alfred.
Jim arrives in time to save Alfred, but Bruce is already gone by the time he gets there.
Jerome brings Bruce to the boardwalk circus where he grew up and paints his face with clown makeup. “Let’s turn that frown upside down,” he says while dressing himself up like a ringmaster and wheeling out a comically large cannon. All around them, nutjobs torment the paying customers.
Jim, Harvey and Alfred determine that Jerome is most likely at the circus. A strike force team is several minutes behind them, but they can’t wait and rush in on their own. Jerome handcuffs Bruce to a chain and lights the fuse on the cannon. Jim tries to fight his way through the crowd before the cannon fires. Fortunately, Bruce is able to pick the locks on the handcuffs using a couple of staples that Jerome had shot into this arm to torture him.
In the confusion of the scene, Jerome chases Bruce into a Hall of Mirrors, not realizing that it’s a trap. Bruce toys with him for a few minutes and then uses his fight training to beat him silly. However, at the moment he has Jerome at his most vulnerable, Bruce sees his own crazy-eyed reflection in the mirror and holds back from killing him.
Bruce exits the mirror exhibit and is relieved to be reunited with Alfred. Jerome stumbles out after him with a gun, but Jim rushes in and hits him so hard that he literally punches Jerome’s face off.
The next day, the city finally quiets. After some surgery to reattach his face, Jerome is shipped off to Arkham Asylum. Bruce and Alfred have a heart-to-heart about the line between vengeance and justice, and Bruce vows that he’ll never kill.
Watching with interest as all this transpires are Kathryn from the Court of Owls and a new co-conspirator played by James Remar. With them is Five, the Bruce Wayne clone they abducted and have apparently brainwashed.
Later, after Jim Gordon returns home, he receives a knock at his door from a relative he hasn’t seen in a long time. It’s his Uncle Frank… who of course is Kathryn’s new partner.
Penguin & Riddler
Penguin rushes to the chemical plant to rescue Ed, only to discover that he’s perfectly fine. Ed shoots Penguin’s goons and reveals that he’s been masterminding the plot to drive Penguin crazy. He ties Penguin to the wreckage of Isabella’s car and rigs up an elaborate contraption involving a block of ice that will melt and dump a vat of acid on him.
Penguin confesses that he had Isabella killed, but says that he did it for Ed, because Ed would have killed her eventually anyway and wouldn’t have been able to live with himself for it. Ed doesn’t buy this story. He leaves Penguin to die.
Luckily for Penguin, a security guard happens by and is able to free him from the car before the acid drops. That seems awfully convenient, doesn’t it? Furious, Penguin storms home to gather troops for revenge against Ed, only to immediately get captured by Tabitha and Butch, who bring him to Barbara.
Barbara says that she’s looking for Ed. Now that she has bumped off the heads of all the city’s crime families, she doesn’t need him anymore and plans to dissolve their partnership… permanently. She threatens to kill Penguin unless he talks, but Penguin has a revelation that he doesn’t actually want Ed dead, because he realized that “Love is sacrifice.” Until now, his love for Ed was entirely selfish, not genuine. But now he’s willing to die for Ed, if that’s what it takes.
No shock to anyone except Penguin, Ed then steps out of the shadows. He’s still been working with Barbara the whole time, and this was all a ploy to make Penguin squirm and suffer. (I suppose this means he arranged for the security guard to save him from the acid too.) However, Penguin’s big change of heart leaves Ed at a loss for what to do with him next.
Nygma drags Penguin out to the city docks (the same spot where Jim Gordon pretended to kill him in Season 1?). Penguin again professes his love and begs for mercy, but Nygma isn’t swayed. He shoots Penguin and shoves him into the water. The episode ends with Penguin’s body sinking beneath the surface.
If I could believe that the show really just killed off The Penguin, years before he ever officially faces off against Batman, that would be a truly ballsy move on the writers’ part. Unfortunately, I’m sure there’s no chance of that. Either Penguin will survive the injury, or he’ll die and be resurrected like seemingly every other villain on the series.
I also have to say that I’ve been very disappointed in this season for turning Penguin into a love-struck idiot. I have no problem with him being gay, but his actions since falling in love with Ed have not exactly been consistent with a criminal genius.
That said, I quite enjoyed this episode overall. Jerome is a really fun villain. His scenes ride a very fine line between dark-and-gritty and cartoonish-and-campy, yet I think he pulls it off. Given that he’s been sent to Arkham, we will undoubtedly see him again – which increases the chances that he really is The Joker. If you paid attention to the episode’s musical score at all, you may have noticed the introduction of a distinct Batman theme as Bruce Wayne comes into his own.
After this week, the show will take a hiatus until April 24th. The remainder of the season will focus on the rise of Nygma as The Riddler.