Thursday, June 20, 2024

Gotham Pulls Off the Twistiest of Twists

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When we were last in Gotham Lee and The Riddler were trying to set the all-time record for bank heists. Jerome took his final bow. Or maybe he didn’t, because this episode starts at his funeral with his followers having a drink in his honor when a woman who could be described as an off-color, knock-off Harley Quinn shows up. She has a message from Jerome from beyond the grave. Okay, it’s actually a recording, but his lackeys are still excited to hear their old boss again. They jump right into action when his first posthumous order is to dig him up.

At the GCPD, Jim doesn’t know what to do with Lee. Jim knows she was stealing from a corrupt bank to help the Narrows; Harvey knows it; Lee knows it. Right or wrong, it’s still illegal and he can’t let her go. Harvey reminds him that people have gotten away with much worse in Gotham, including the two of them, but Jim doesn’t want to even toe the line again. After spending most of the season on the other side of it, you’d think he’d be fine with toeing it just a little.

Jim doesn’t get too much time to be conflicted over Lee because a present of the brightly wrapped variety shows up for him. A tape inside is the last will and testament of one Jerome Valeska. His last wishes? For Jim to hold a wake for him, at the GCPD. Right on cue, Jerome’s lackeys come knocking, with Jerome’s coffin.

They barricade the doors, giving themselves time to formulate a plan. Jim calls Alfred to give him and Bruce a heads up. If Jerome has a plan it probably involves trying hurt Bruce and Jeremiah. Almost as if planned, Bruce happens to be with Jeremiah in his bunker at that moment. Jeremiah isn’t showing any signs that got a face full of toxic gas that made him crazy. He’s demonstrating an ambient generator to Bruce, a completely wireless clean energy source.  Just one is able to run his entire bunker. At Wayne Industries, there are dozens more that could power the whole city. But, as he starts to speak about his brother, the first cracks starts to show. He received Jerome’s personal belongings after his death, including a journal filled Jerome’s insane ramblings and plans.

Jeremiah confesses to Bruce about the gas and reveals he’s been having hallucinations. He sees his brother clawing himself out of his grave, coming for him. Ever the protector, Bruce comforts Jeremiah with the knowledge Jerome is dead. Alfred has unfortunate timing and calls just then to warn Bruce that Jerome’s men are at large. Jeremiah is convinced this a sign Jerome isn’t really dead. Bruce believes seeing the truth will break Jeremiah out of his hallucinogen-induced paranoia and takes him to Jerome’s grave.

Meanwhile, the GCPD is preparing for a war. Except for Jim, who’s planning their escape. They’ve dealt with Jerome too many times to not know this is a distraction. If Jerome’s lackeys want the precinct so badly they can have it, while the force slips out a back door and surrounds the building.

All the prisoners are being transferred, including Lee. She makes one last appeal to Jim, offering a place in the Narrows were he could do some real good without having to follow the law. The moment is over before it began when Jerome’s loons bash their way in. In the confusion, Lee gets knocked out. Jim, Harvey, and Harper capture one of Jerome’s men, interrogating him for information. By interrogating I mean poking him with a cow prod until he talks. He gives up Jerome’s plan is to go after Jeremiah and Bruce. Jim heads to Jeremiah’s Bunker to check on them.

At Wayne Manor Alfred hears something strange. He goes to investigate and a fight ensues. I can’t tell you anything else about it because it’s completely off-screen save for a few glimpses of shadows under the door and the sounds of gunfire and punching. The next shot inside the manor is of the blood-covered kitchen floor and Alfred’s cell phone ringing next to the pool of blood as Bruce tries to call. Jeremiah is near the point of a nervous breakdown as they walk through the graveyard. Seeing Jerome’s dug up grave is the moment that pushes him over the edge. He bolts away, leaving Bruce to chase after.

Bruce follows him to a mausoleum and it seems clear at this point that Jeremiah’s sanity is gone. It’s a bittersweet moment to watch. Bruce truly considers Jeremiah a friend and is trying to bring him back. Knowing who Jeremiah’s destined to become makes this glimpse of a friendship all the more tragic.

Jeremiah is convinced Bruce is his brother in disguise. He’s convinced enough to kill Bruce, to return him to the grave. Holding Bruce at gunpoint he walks him back to Jerome’s grave. They aren’t the only ones there when they get back. Jerome’s there too, or at least his body is. The body doesn’t do much to convince Jeremiah Bruce is really Bruce. He wants better proof, which he thinks he’ll get by slicing Bruce’s face off.

Jim, meanwhile, is at the Bunker, looking for Bruce and Jeremiah. Instead, he finds the room with the generator and another tape from Jerome. Oh, the monochrome Harley knock off is here too. Their fight ends with Gordon knocking her out and unmasks her. It’s Echo, Jeremiah’s assistant.

Jerome’s lackeys show up probably thinking Jeremiah is Jerome rising from the grave. Jeremiah sets the record straight with a bullet to the head, killing one of the henchmen for calling him Jerome.

As the scene cuts back and forth between Jim watching the tape and Jeremiah with Bruce, it becomes clear what’s happening. We were warned to pay attention or we would miss the twist. There is no missing this because there was no Jerome this episode. All the tapes were Jeremiah. This plan was Jeremiah’s.

Jeremiah said it himself at the beginning, Jerome could have achieved so much more if he wasn’t so unhinged. Jerome’s gone, but Jeremiah’s still here and he can surpass his brother. He claims the gas didn’t affect him beyond a skin makeover, but this isn’t the Jeremiah we thought we knew. I don’t think this is even the Jeremiah that Jerome knew. Jerome kept hinting Jeremiah was more like him than he wanted to admit. With Jerome gone, Jeremiah’s set free and he’s ready to burn the world down, starting with Gotham.

The generator he showed Bruce is good at producing energy but it’s also great at exploding, as Jim quickly discovers. The explosion is seen across the city. Bruce makes a last-ditch attempt to reason with Jeremiah, to no avail. Jeremiah knocks out Bruce, leaving him in the grave with Jerome’s body.

Meanwhile, the Narrows wants their Queen back and the Riddler has a plan. He then needs to come up with a new plan when he arrives at the GCPD and finds it under siege. Luckily, he sees the prison transport and finds out how they got out. Grabbing himself a clown suit from a costume store he slips in with the chaos. He heads to the autopsy room because naturally, that’s where Lee would hide. She’s in there, waiting with a pan to knock out the first person to come in. Unfortunately for the Riddler, that’s him. But it leads to a genuinely touching moment between the two.

While the city’s been going insane, again, Butch and Oswald have been squatting at Falcone’s mansion. Butch thought by this point they’d be the kings of Gotham again and he would have been a lot less zombified. The reality is much less glamorous. They’re pulling off petty crimes for food. But Oswald hears opportunity knocking when the news shows the GCPD being overrun. They head down there themselves to grab one of Jerome’s men for information.

The GCPD take their house back while Lee and the Ridder use the chaos to escape. While Harvey and the rest of the force are putting the precinct back in order, Fox figures out the explosion they saw originated at Jeremiah’s bunker, the last place they knew Jim was going.

Jeremiah and Echo head to Wayne Industries, stealing the rest of the generators. The episode ends with the end title card glowing the same neon blue of the generators, a warning of what’s to come.

That was the most Gotham Twist that Gotham ever pulled

Wow. This episode built to a twist that I didn’t see coming. Even when they said in no uncertain words that there was a twist I was still floored. Of course Jeremiah was going to take up his brother’s mantle, but I could have never guessed it would be like this. Gotham pulled a brilliant red herring with this one. Even going so far as releasing a trailer focused on Jerome to make this twist even more surprising.

Coming to the realization that Jerome’s post-mortem plan was actually Jeremiah’s was a jaw-dropping moment. It’s been a while since I’ve been this blindsided by a twist, and it was wonderfully terrifying. Before the reveal, around the moment the tape started playing in the bunker for Jim, there was this sense of dread created by the fact that Jerome could and had planned this far ahead.

But with the revelation that it was Jeremiah, that sense of dread only grew. Perhaps the biggest revelation of the episode was the fact that the gas didn’t make Jeremiah insane. Or so he says. Insanity can come in many forms. No place is this truer than in Gotham. Sane or not, Jeremiah is out to exceed his brother. Jerome wanted to turn Gotham into a madhouse. Jeremiah wants to build one from the ashes of the city.

That wasn’t the only thing to take me by surprise this episode. Alright, Gotham, you got me, I’m on board with Lee and Ed/the Riddler. I want to see where this goes. Does part of me still want see Ed and Os together? Sure. Penguin and The Riddler are too charismatic together, romantic or not. But those two missed the light-hearted and fun honeymoon phase and went straight to being bitter exes with no character growth for either in between.

As for Lee and the Riddler, it’s a bit of stretch to say they bring out the best in each other. Encouraging one another to rob banks isn’t really a good thing, even when the banks are dirty. But Lee did get the Riddler to not kill anybody. And the Riddler recused Lee of own his volition. You could say they bring out the better in each other. They are both trying to help the Narrows, and their chemistry is undeniable. That’s the fact that ultimately sold me

The penultimate episode of the season is next and everyone seems to think Jim Gordon is dead. I refuse to believe it. Next week promises Jeremiah channelling an 80’s fashion guru, everyone fighting, and Scarecrow introducing himself Bruce.

Images Courtesy of FOX

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