Gotham Season 2.3: “Last Laugh”
Two of the problems with the first season of Gotham was that some of the story-lines either ended abruptly with no real payoff that was worthy of the build-up (such as the female mole Fish had trained to kill Falcone) and that, possibly since more episodes had been ordered by the network than the producers originally expected, a few of the story-lines – namely, the one involving Fish herself near the end of the season – simply were running in place, for a long time. There’s certainly no denying that the new season’s more singular story-line involving the Maniax is steamrolling ahead at a pace that leaves the first season in the dust. I might prefer the “villain of the week” format of the first season, but the new season is forging on ahead ahead with a greater sense of purpose. It is not running in place.
Gordon and Bullock have thrown the police rule-book out the window – along with (literally) a bunch of low-lifes – as they try to find the Maniax, and their main target is the Joker-like Jerome Velasquez. Since it’s par for the course on Gotham that a false lead will still lead to the right guy somehow (again, this show spits in the face of cop procedurals), the partners believe that strange blind fortune teller – Jerome’s father from the aptly titled “Blind Fortune Teller” episode of the first season – was the guy who broke Jerome out of prison, so they start knocking on his door in a scene that reminded me of the part in Se7en where Mills and Somerset find the killer’s apartment well ahead of the killer’s own “schedule” and start knocking.
No, Apgar was not involved in breaking his own our the clink. Why would they even think that? He’s a pretty frail old man, and, yes, I’m calling him Apgar because the very same actor Mark Margolis played Professor Apgar in that immortal Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “A Matter of Perspective” and I won’t get a chance to use that again, as “Apgar” is done away with this episode and the line that’s screaming in my head is from that Trek episode where Riker just spews out “You’re a dead man, Apgar! ‘A dead man!.”
Thanks for letting me get that off my chest. Gotham ain’t that serious of a show, so I can do that. Turns out that Gordon and Bullock’s visit – them knocking on the door- occurs in the midst of a good scene between the proto-Joker Jerome and “Apgar,” and Tabitha are facing off against the blind fortune teller. Here, Cameron Monoghan’s Jerome gets his best scene to date s he explains to his father the very day he went off his rocker. Christopher Nolan’s Joker didn’t have an origin, really: he just was, but Jerome has some real demons in him that he feels his father should be aware of before he kills him.
That Gordon and Bolluck survive this scene and weren’t killed by Jerome and Tabitha as they escape the apartment using some kind of gas might be pushing things a little, but, at this point, Jerome and Tabitha still are intent to see how Gordon might function in Galavan’s overall plan.
The centerpiece of this episode leads all of the characters to a benefit function with the performing magician. Despite the fact that his girlfriend, Leslie Tompkins, is hosting the event, Gordon continues to try find Jerome, but she does find Bruce and Alfred there, and Bruce find Selena there, and when Tompkins realizes that the female magician’s assistant is actually Barbara, there’s no doubt that Gordon’s going to be there…
The episode actually does a much better job (trust me) than this review at convincing us that all the major players would show up at one event, and frankly, it’s about time something like this happened: it was quite thrilling to see many of the show’s plot-lines all converge into a single set-piece scene, and the events that play out at the magic show make up what might some of the best cop-hostage style hostage style action we’ve seen on the show yet. The magician reveals himself to Jerome, and, with most of the major players at the show as he starts to ask for “volunteers,” there’s quite a lot more tension in this episode than we usually feel watching Gotham. When the magician puts Bruce in his “slice him in half” magician’s table, you feel as Alfred does: suddenly really concerned.
What’s so great about the scene at the gala is that the viewer knows that everything about the show will change by the time the scene is over and the guns start going off. Someone is going to buy it.
The producers don’t wimp out on us. They deliver a scene that rivals anything in the movies, and it is punctuated by a game-changing conclusion.
And that’s where this review will have to end. It’s spoiler-city to tell how the gala showdown plays out. Originally, I was going to mention how cool the final shots of this episode were, but I’ll have to discuss that in next week’s review.
Watch for the great scene between Bullock and the Penguin. I’m so glad Bullock is back in the fold!
My rating: 4.0/5 Yeah yeah yeah it’s slightly lower than the last episode. A fantastic couple of scenes might elevate this episode, but the character stuff was a little better last time.