TV Review: Gotham - Season 2 Episode 3 "The Last Laugh"
Season 2 Episode 3: "The Last Laugh"
Synopsis:Gordon and Bullock track down a nemesis from the past, leading to a standoff between Jerome (guest star Cameron Monaghan) and Gordon. Meanwhile, a magic show at the Gotham Children’s Hospital gala turns into a hostage situation
Recap: Once again, Gotham has proven that the second season improvements are not a fluke with the third solid episode in a row. This week's offering not only further developed Jerome's Joker-esque personality and Barbara Kean's Harley Quinn impression but managed to tie in Selina Kyle, Alfred, and Bruce Wayne in a plot that has heavy echoes of the classic 1966 Batman television series and Tim Burton's BATMAN movies. All in all, this hour of television should please fans of the Dark Knight with a unique take on the mythos and some great menace from the rising villains.
As I have been reading your comments week after week, I sense many of you are enjoying these improved stories and cohesive plots while many of you are still writing the series off as a failure. I implore you to look at the show as what it is and not expect it to be a reverent adaptation of the DC mythology you have come to know and love. There does need to be a certain level of respect for the source material and that was very lacking last season. But, this hour dives deep into what makes Batman's world so entertaining by giving us a balance of the light and the dark. It also doesn't hurt that more screen time is given to the bad guys than Benjamin McKenzie's JIm Gordon. I do find McKenzie's performance this season better than last year, but he still has a long way to go.
This episode is set almost entirely at a gala for the Gotham children's hospital where Jerome and Barbara impersonate a magician and his assistant. The gala, a staple location in so many Batman tales, brings together the primary characters. Gordon's girlfriend, Lee, organized the event while Theo Galavan attends as Gotham's latest philanthropist. We learn early that phase one of Galavan's master plan stems from his family having helped build Gotham City, literally, and yet receive no acclaim or accolades for it. Through Jerome, Galavan hopes to unleash hell on the city while also giving himself the chance to pose as the new white knight for the metropolis. The gala also brings Bruce Wayne and Alfred, placing them directly into Galavan's plan which involves Jerome killing the Deputy Mayor before holding Bruce hostage.
Despite being explosed to Galavan's toxic gas last seen in the season premiere, Jim Gordon sneaks into the gala where he and Alfred are able to turn the tables on Jerome who holds Bruce at knifepoint. At that moment, Galavan stabs Jerome in the neck, seemingly killing him. Many may breath a sigh of relief that this means Jerome is not the Joker, but never say never on a comic book series. Galavan has now positioned himself as the hero that Gotham deserves along with the respect of both Gordon and Bruce Wayne. Where his plan goes next remains to be seen, but we do see a developing love triangle between Galavan, his sister, and the bisexual Barbara. There is also a fun subplot featuring Alfred flirting with Lee only to learn she is with Jim Gordon.
In what was almost a perfectly structured episode with no secondary plots, we get a single scene of Harvey Bullock visiting The Penguin. Bullock insults Penguin by referencing his time as Fish Mooney's lackey before threatening to protect his partner at any cost. There does not seem to be much purpose for the scene but I am sure it will come back in an upcoming episode. The real power of this episode comes from the closing moments. Jerome's father, whom he killed earlier in the episode, is heard in voice-over repeating his vision of Jerome's legacy haunting Gotham city for years to come. We see several quick scenes of citizens laughing maniacally as they watch Jerome's crimes on the news. Adults, children, and even a couple of street thugs laugh with the final pair murdering a homeless man and then each other before the camera centers on Jerome's lifeless corpse in the morgue, eyes wide open and bloodstained mouth looking very familiar.
I really liked where this episode took the plot, especially in that it stretched the story over multiple episodes rather than neatly wrapping it up in 44 minutes. The over-arching plot this season is developing nicely and I hope the next handful of stories keep the momentum going. The key is not trying to force too much in each hour and so far, so good. I am still holding out hope that this trio is the start of something special from Gotham and that we haven't seen anything yet.
Episode Final Verdict:
Next Episode: "Strike Force" airs October 12th - Captain Barnes (Michael Chiklis) is called to duty to create a law-abiding task force, with the help of Gordon. Meanwhile, Penguin gets caught up in a favor for Galavan, and Nygma asks Kringle out on a date