Gotham: The Last Laugh

"Your legacy will be death and madness."

Commissioner Essen's gone, leaving Jim frustrated, angry, and still struggling to take the reins of Gotham's police force. When both you and the maniacs are throwing people out of buildings, though, can you expect the city to see the difference? His rage leaves a gap for Theo Galavan and his released-nutjob crew, led by Jerome, to attack Gotham once more.

People flying off buildings is going to become boring; this is the second episode in a row starting off with appendage flailing. True, Jim's different from Jerome; his bodies have bags underneath them. Still: the fall, and the rush through glass, can't be pleasant. Certainly not as pleasant as watching this episode itself. There were many fantastic moments for all of our actors (and while Ben McKenzie may be something of a wooden and stoic guy on screen, I don't tire of seeing him in a tank top, which says something.) The police hunt for Jerome and Barbara lead them back to Season One and the blind fortuneteller, Jerome's father, who for some reason has stayed in town.

It was great to see the continuity. Jerome really comes into his own in this episode–I know I've said that for the past two, but each episode Monaghan's in, he takes the character further. What the show does here is set up Jerome as a psychological opposite for Bruce. Jerome's father's prediction–if it was real–does the same; someone who will harm the city against someone who wishes to do good. He even states the obvious on stage: Bruce's parents were killed, while Jerome killed his parents. In the moment it gains a little profundity, which Jerome is clearly capable of in his own psychotic way.

Watching Theo's plan develop from a simple attack to a complex and nuanced attempt to manipulate Gotham society is engrossing. The Theo/Jerome/Barbara/Tabitha group simply work. Barbara is clearly attracted to power and danger; body and form don't seem to matter to her so much. First Tabitha as the physical muscle, then Jerome as the unpredictable showman and finally Theo as the secretive mastermind. When will she realize how much power she truly has? Of all these fiends it's Barbara who's always moved most fluidly through all the spheres this show creates in Gotham. The kiss Barbara and Tabitha share in the beginning–and her catapulting to Theo in the end–both seem entirely in character.

The scenes in the charity ball (how many does Gotham have, in a given year? Ballpark figure?) built up tension slowly and carefully - the arrival of our bad guys, how they took over the show, Bruce catching Selina showing up to steal, the awkward moves Alfred was putting on Lee, the effectiveness of Jerome's beard (and how Lee was the first person to identify Barbara, despite the sparkling mask). I appreciate shows where every moment is well-crafted. When Jerome finally revealed himself and started the killing and the laughing, ladies and gentlemen, we definitely find ourselves thinking of the Joker. Theo's take-down of Jerome was shocking but not surprising, and after Theo letting his guard down early in the episode and showing us the true depth of his own obsessive madness, possibly even predictable. The following scenes are this side of terrifying though: Jerome's wide, connotative smile in death, the rise in citizen violence. I found the scenes of citizens watching Jerome and catching his madness highly chilling. (BTW: What did Theo kill Jerome with? I thought it was a syringe.)


Even Bruce shows a little development. He's starting to open up to others: the confession to Gordon in the other episode, and now his confession to Selina. I love it when Bicondova uses her face and eyes; she does a wonderful job of being steely and emotional at the same time.

I'm not sure what to make of the ending. I appreciate Harvey protecting Gordon, but I have so many questions. Is this about ordered crime versus chaotic crime? Is Jerome really dead? (Is Fish?) He's in the morgue now–is Nygma going to get involved somehow? (OK, so I don't want him to be dead.) Will Penguin or Theo become the true King of Gotham Crime? And what does it mean that Harvey is drinking once more? In three episodes this season is so much better than last I can barely compare. Will the show be able to sustain this pace without Monaghan's wild, psychotic energy? It's a valid question: this show invests a lot into its villains.

Bits and Pieces

Lee and Gordon actually have some good energy going in this episode. I don't mind Gordon being wooden now and then; when he slips up, and shows us a true feeling, it just makes it that much more empathetic.

Jerome having that conversation about and with his father, and then subsequently killing him by stabbing him in the eye. Metaphor with irony, or just appropriate?

Quotables

Theo: What Gotham wants is a hero. And tonight I'm going to give them one.

Selina: I'm working. And I hate magicians.

Overall

In sum: I'm liking what I see and want to see more. Cautiously. Four out of four Joker-heralding chemical death-syringes.

3 comments:

hekates said...

I was surprised when I saw a lot of sites saying point blank that Jerome is dead. I'm not sure, and heck, I'm not sure about Fish. (and I don't want either to be dead so there's that.)
I like that the waters are being muddied between the "ordered criminals" and the "chaotic criminals."

Diogo said...

I think Jerome really is dead, but the point is that in death he has truly given birth to the Joker. Not necessarily Joker, the man, but Joker, the symbol; because just like Batman will become a symbol of heroism and hope to inspire the people of Gotham to be brave and believe in good, the Joker has now become a powerful symbol to inspire villainy and chaos. In the comics (and the movie The Dark Knight Rises), Batman is a symbol and a legacy that can be passed down even when the original dies/steps down (to people such as former Robin Dick Grayson), but I think this is the first adaptation that goes out of its way to portray the Joker like that as well; the Joker is now not just a incredibly dangerous madman, but also something akin to a virus, a twisted ideal to be spread, one that even death cannot stop. He has truly become the anti-Batman.

I did not see this coming, and I love it. It's a really fresh, original take on the Joker. Rather than simply picking one actor to play him, it's possible we may actually see many different iterations on the character, which suits him because there have been so many different reinventions of the character already. Well done, Gotham, well done.

Marianna said...

I didn't really get the ending. As far as I know in previous representations of the Joker whenever his Jokerness spread it was always because of a drug or subliminal messages. I don't understand why previously normal people would suddenly start murdering for fun.

I loved that everyone hating magicians was kind of a running joke throughout the episode, and yet people seemed to like the magic show before the murdering started.

Bullock's back! Yay! He's actually my favorite part of the show. I hope his fiancee doesn't leave him for rejoining the force, but she probably will, especially because he's already started drinking again (Penguin's wine).