Gotham Season 3 Episode 12 Review: Ghosts

Oswald goes off the rails and Lee somehow still loves Jim in a predictable midseason premiere episode of Gotham.

This Gotham review contains spoilers.

Gotham Season 3, Episode 12

Gothamis back and it continues to stumble through the middle of its season. There were a few things to like here — “Ghosts” saw the return of some popular faces in Paul Reubens (Penguin’s dad) and Cameron Monaghan (Jerome) — but, for the most part, the midseason premiere was a predictable slog through plot mechanics we’ve seen on this show.

Someone tries to kill Gordon, but he manages to escape certain death. Lee kind of hates Jim Gordon, but just can’t quit him totally. Someone Penguin once thought of as a friend is telling him lies.

Jim Gordon lives to fight another day.

“Ghosts” picks up a few days after Jim shot and killed Mario Falcone in order to save Lee’s life. Well, we know it was to save Lee’s life. Carmine Falcone and Lee Thompkins aren’t too sure. And, kind of understandably, they don’t care. They just know that Jim killed a man that they loved and, in Carmine’s case, after Jim explicitly promised that he wouldn’t.

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For me at least, it’s always hard not to watch the careless brutality of the police and, specifically in this episode, a debate over whether a police officer had to kill a man to do his job and not think of the real-world police and Black Lives Matter. I highly doubt that Gothamis thinking about its depiction of police through this lens, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t effect how issues like police brutality are viewed in the real world. I am a firm believer that pop culture matters and has a responsibility to think about these things. 

But I digress… Was there nothing else Jim could have done to stop Mario? The way it was depicted, probably not. But maybe he could have shouted to Lee? Or shot the poor guy in the leg or something? I don’t know. I just know that it sucks that Mario had to die because he was infected with some crazy-making virus. And Lee isn’t wrong when she mentions that, somehow, Jim found a way to keep Barnes alive, despite his infection.

I believe that Lee wouldn’t wany Jim killed, but I don’t believe that she would still love Jim, as Falcone suggests in the episode when Lee asks him to spare Gordon’s life. (Because there could be no other explanation for Lee not wanting Falcone to murder someone than her deep, burning love for Jim Gordon.) Then again, I have never really gotten the Jim/Lee relationship, so… 

Though I wasn’t enthused about watching Jim trying to outrun death (this time, at the barrel of Victor Zsasz) for the umpteenth time, it did give us more Bullock time. As always, Harvey Bullock is a bright light of sarcastic quippery amongst a sea of self-serious drama. Give him his own show and be done with it, Gotham.

Selina gives her mom another chance.

Meanwhile, on the portion of this show that values positive human attributes like empathy and forgiveness, Selina’s mom is back in town!

After not seeing her mother for 11 years, a teenage Selina is asked to sort through her complex emotions concerning her newly-returned mom. It’s Bruce who convinces Selina to give her mother another chance, one that he will never have with his own parents.

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It’s sweet and proves that Bruce and Selina have what is probably the healthiest relationship on this show (which isn’t a very competitive field, but these two really are pretty good at eventually talking through their feelings). However, I fear that Bruce and Selina’s kindness will come back to haunt them. By the end of the episode, Selina and her mom has already been strong-armed into telling some burly man (possibly Selina’s dad?) about Bruce. Ten bucks that Selina’s mom is in on this little scam.

Ed trolls Oswald with the specter of his dead father.

Well, this is sad. How far Nygmobblepot has fallen. Again, I would be a million times more into this storyline if Ed had known Isabella for more than five minutes, but Gothamhas never been known for its slow, meticulous unfurling of a storyline. The closest we got was the relationship between Ed and Oswald and look how that turned out?

As payback for Oswald’s murder of Isabella, Ed has devised a scheme. He gets Clayface to dress up like Elijah Van Dahl, aka Penguin’s late, beloved father, and to haunt the heck out of him. Eventually, it drives Ed to kill poor, unsuspecting mayoral staffer Tarquin — and on his birthday, no less! This happens only minutes before Ed appears live on national TV for a very important interview.

Sufficed to say, Ed loses it, apparently killing his chances at running for public office on the national scale. Then again, he has apparently done wonders for Gotham’s unemployment and crime rates. Maybe he should run Star City, too?

Ed’s part in the scheme is revealed in the episode’s third act like some kind of Sherlock explainer. The big takeaway? Ed, Tabitha, and Barbara continue to be in cahoots, and this is just step one of their larger plan for Oswald’s demise. Ed wants to make him suffer. Remember when they were brewing tea for one another? Those were the days.

The cult of the Joker is ambitious.

One of the storylines that worked best in “Ghosts” came not in the main plot points, but in the slow teasing of the cult of the Joker. Gordon and Bullock first catch wind of the cult’s existence when a corpse up and walks out of the morgue. They follow Dwight the coroner to a Joker celebration and, I have to say, though I don’t agree with the cult’s if-then logic, some of their ranting kind of made some sense. (Should I be worried that the villains on this show sometimes make more sense than the supposed heroes? I can’t tell.)

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This gang of Gotham-ites really, really like the Joker. So much that they meet up and watch videos of his best speeches like some kind of performance art project. It’s kind of adorable. 

Their end goal is even more ambitious, though: to bring Jerome back to life. They even have his body in some kind of cryo device. Given that Dwight used to work at Indian Hill, it seems like the cult of the Joker might be able to do it, too. If only the GCPD had this kind of ambitious, clever, hardworking team to accomplish its goals, this city might actually feel protected.


3 out of 5