‘Ace Chemicals’ switches gears, putting Jeremiah exactly where he wants to be: centre stage with his own spotlight.
It’s been several days since Alfred went missing. Bruce with the GCPD has been searching tirelessly for him. Despite Jim’s warnings about exhausting himself, Bruce continues the search on his own. Out on the streets, he finds newspaper headlines about the death of his parents plastered over the walls. He sees two figures, looking like his parents and follows them. This leads him to Jeremiah’s tunnel, which takes him to Wayne Manor. At his home, he’s greeted by Alfred and two people who seem to be his parents. There’s also a dinner guest, Jeremiah.
The couple is a random pair Jeremiah kidnapped and had plastic surgery done on so they would look like Thomas and Martha Wayne. The couple, along with Alfred, are all hypnotized. Jeremiah’s plan is to recreate the night Bruce’s parents were murdered, only now he can insert himself into the narrative. In his mind, this is how he binds himself to Bruce.
They share a final meal with the fake Waynes. Jeremiah’s planned all the details of the night, down to the fake Thomas giving fake Martha a pearl necklace. Jeremiah leaves with the fake Waynes as he activates bombs he’s planted in the house. Bruce grabs Alfred, escaping with him to the tunnel just as the explosion goes off. The bombs destroy Wayne Manor. The blast knocks Alfred back to his senses. Injured by the blast, he urges Bruce to go on ahead of him to stop Jeremiah.
Meanwhile, the government is talking about the reunification of Gotham to the mainland. After Walker’s plot was uncovered, there’s nothing dissuading the government from moving in. But as quickly as the glimmer of hope appeared, something happens that could threaten it. The bodies of four men are found in the streets, killed by chemicals. Knowing if word of these deaths reach the mainland Gotham’s reunification will be stopped, Jim is motivated to solve these murders as quickly as possible.
The murdered men are all part of a gang from the Narrows, so he goes to the former Queen of the Narrows for information. But Lee isn’t his only ex at the hospital when he arrives. Barbara wants Lee to be her doctor for prenatal care. What’s a few murder attempts between friends? This is Gotham, after all. Barbara isn’t thrilled to see Jim. She’s planning on raising their kid on her own and only told him out of courtesy. Their conversation doesn’t last long and Jim still has a murder plot to solve before he can worry about his personal drama.
He and Lee go to the Narrows, discovering someone has Ace Chemicals up and running again. Inside the factory, they find the rest of the gang, all hypnotized by Jervis Tetch. The gang is producing fireworks filled with the same chemicals that killed the men from before. Tetch and Ecco find Jim and Lee, capturing the pair.
Elsewhere in the city, Penguin is working on the details of his escape plan. His tests taking a boat across the river, but they end explosively. The Government filled the river with mines. Selina suggests they take Jeremiah’s tunnel to the mainland. Unbeknownst to Penguin, she has a plan with Barbara to kill him and take the loot he’s gathered. However, when they get to the tunnel, they encounter Alfred. He tells them of Jeremiah’s plan to recreate the night Bruce’s parent’s died, which prompts Selina to go after Bruce.
Bruce goes to the theatre, finding Jeremiah’s version of The Mark of Zorro playing. When the fake Waynes leave, he follows. Jeremiah is there, gun in hand, to kill the couple. But they aren’t the fake Waynes anymore. Knowing this staged replay of that night couldn’t pass for the real thing Jeremiah improvised a twist. Now it’s Jim and Lee standing in for the surrogates of Bruce’s parents.
But unlike the first time, Selina doesn’t watch from the shadows. She stops Jeremiah when he aims his gun and snaps the pearl necklace on Lee which is the trigger to break the hypnosis on Lee and Jim. Jeremiah’s plan isn’t over yet, though. Ecco arrives with a truckload of chemical rockets, setting off the timer on them. Jim takes the truck while Bruce goes after Jeremiah.
Bruce and Jeremiah end up at Ace Chemicals. Above the vats of chemicals Bruce and Jeremiah fight, with the latter falling into the vats. Jim drives the rockets into the river before they can go off. This stops anyone from dying due to the poison, but the river is contaminated with the chemicals. The Government now knows Gotham isn’t as stable as they believed and reunification is put on hold.
Penguin, meanwhile, goes to Ed for help leaving the city. They return to Penguin’s home, where Barbara is waiting, ready to kill. Before she can, Ed realizes she’s pregnant. Penguin uses the information to bride her, offering a way off the island for her and her child. Ed’s come up with a submarine that they can use to avoid the mines in the river. They just need to build it. Barbara takes the offer, letting Penguin live.
‘Ace Chemicals’ works well as a retrospective for the series as the end draws closer, for Bruce and Selina especially. The Waynes’ death was the event the series began on. Revisiting it now, in this way, shows how the future Batman and Catwoman have developed since that beginning. Neither took action back then. Bruce, because he was a young boy, scared and sheltered. Selina because she was too jaded by Gotham to be willing to helping anyone but herself.
While not as apparent as Bruce and Selina, for the other characters who’ve been around since the Pilot, this episode commented on the journeys they’ve taken. Penguin, Ed and Barbara have each grown to prominence in the city. Jim began as the over-idealistic cop trying to rid Gotham of its darkness. Now he’s a hero risking his life to save the city, regardless of how dark it may seem.
As for Jeremiah, even if he never takes the name the Joker in the series, tonight was his birth as Gotham’s version of the character. His charisma was undeniable in this episode. He was entertaining, even when he had Jim’s and Lee’s lives in the balance. He may not have taken the spotlight in the murder of Bruce’s parents, but he had it for ‘Ace Chemicals’.