GOTHAM: Side Show Freaks

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GOTHAM: Logo.
Episode 203 “Last Laugh”

[photos: Nicole Rivelli /Fox]

In the aftermath of the precinct rampage Harvey and Gordon are reunited. Hitting the streets, they send a no holds barred message that the GCPD will find Jerome and his gang. Theo sits down with Barbara reveals his motivation behind his plan to terrorize the city.

Spoilers_GothamBatman

Galvan’s family, though rich, has been forgotten with time; their contribution and sacrifices unknown. This seems to be pointing towards CBS’s rendition of the popular “Court of Owls” storyline from the comics, in which the wealthy elite are part of an Illuminati type organization, manipulating and ruling from the shadows. Theo promises to reward Barbara’s participation with assistance in destroying Gordon, body and soul.

Jim will have one shot to save Bruce.

Gordon is on edge, his emotions frayed. As lead in the investigation to capture Jerome, he is determined to locate the suspects, but not desperate enough to involve the Penguin. One could suspect he regrets racking up a debt with the new criminal kingpin. He gives a sobering speech to the other officers about the Maniax’s bold and ruthless execution of Commissioner Essen and six other officers. Lee tries to crack his shell, providing him the tender interaction he needs to keep from exploding with rage.

Tabitha and Jerome pay a visit to his stepfather Cicero (Mark Margolis), who has settled in Gotham for unknown reasons. They have concocted a plan to frame Cicero for the Arkham inmate liberation by planting evidence, including sleeping gas, in his apartment. The very same gas Zardon expelled while in custody. Jerome confronts his stepfather and details the plan before killing him. Cicero’s last words are a haunting statement that Jerome’s legacy in Gotham will be lunacy and murder.

Gordon and Harvey arrive at Cicero’s apartment as Jerome is dealing the killing blow. Accidentally triggering the release of the gas, Harvey and Gordon get a heavy dose, debilitating them. Jerome takes the opportunity to taunt the pair while they are drowsy.  Though weakened, Gordon still surprises him with a sudden attack, trying to choke Jerome to death.  Tabitha interrupts and cautions Jerome not to harm Gordon as he has a larger role yet to play.

Lee emcees for the annual Gotham Children's Hospital fundraiser.

Alfred and Bruce attend a children’s hospital fundraiser organized by Lee. This affords her an opportunity to finally meet Bruce. Alfred, unaware of Lee’s relationship with Gordon, takes a shine to her and demonstrates his English charm. Bruce runs into Selina (Camren Bicondova) working the wealthy crowd with deft hands. She is dismissive of Bruce, preferring instead to focus on her fat cat marks.

Alfred continues to dig a hole with his flirtations while Lee tries uncomfortably to let him down easy. Luckily she is whisked away to host the benefits main event – a magic show. Unknown to the crowd Jerome and Barbara have replaced the actual talent. The show starts off with a few simple tricks and then steps it up by recruiting Bruce for a classic trick. With the audience’s attention in the palm of his hand, Jerome ups the ante. Luring the deputy mayor onto the stage, he unceremoniously murders him on live TV. GCPD quickly respond surrounding the building and Gordon shows up moments later.

Jerome broadcasts his hijinx to every home in Gotham.

Theo confronts Jerome on stage, but is knocked unconscious by Barbara cutting his heroics short. Jerome continues to terrorize the audience, while Gordon is sneaking into the building with Selina’s help. Jerome then calls Bruce to the stage urging him to sacrifice himself or witness Alfred death in his stead. Bruce encounters Gordon hiding off stage before submitting to Jerome’s demands. He smuggles a gun to Alfred and is taken hostage by the young clown prince. Gordon and Alfred quickly take out Jerome’s support but enter a stalemate fearing a stray shot hitting Bruce.

In the episodes and arguably the season’s most shocking moment Theo stabs Jerome in the neck for all to see. Cementing his arrival in Gotham as he transitions from shadowy manipulator to public hero.

Theo goes off script and takes down Jerome.

Barbara escapes and the terrifying ordeal comes to an end. As the episode ties up, Harvey pays the Penguin a visit and asks him why Gordon was hesitant to involve him.  Oswald acts coy, but Harvey is not buying it. As a parting shot he reminds Penguin that he will always be Fish’s umbrella boy. Back at the fundraiser, as Theo is preparing to leave, he meets Gordon and Bruce, demonstrating his mock humility and offers his future aid. As he and the young master leave, Alfred notices Lee and Gordon kissing, much to his embarrassment.

The strangest turn of the episode shows many of Gotham’s citizens motivated by Jerome’s antics to burst into laughter and begin committing deviant and hostile acts at random. A foreshadowing of Cicero’s curse?

What worked?

Aside from the overall quality of the production, nothing stood out this week.  All the acting was canned and uninspired compared to last week’s episode. And what about the story? Three episodes and Theo’s master plan to bring Gotham to its knees involved a handful of graphic murders, a botched kidnapping and a 10-cent magic show. The Maniax are dead or missing, save for Barbara Kean, a disturbed woman who may or may not have committed patricide. Theo and Tabitha are nothing more than entitled maniacs with low self-esteem. Whom is Gotham supposed to be afraid of?

Cameron Monaghan was wasted in this role.  He showed a promising start to what could have been a creative portrayal of the Clown Prince of Crime.

There are plenty of other shows that deserved your views to secure their production. With the up and down nature of this story, it’s off to an uncertain start. Next week the titan Michael Chiklis arrives as Captain Nathaniel Barnes. With luck he’s good at his job and will help this show find its future.

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Christopher Jensen

Christopher Jensen grew up surrounded by fandom. Sharing a love of comics with his father and movies & TV with his mother there was no shortage entertainment. Now based in Kansas City he has taken the next step, entering the world of independent film production.

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