This Gotham review contains spoilers.
Gotham Season 4 Episode 17
Super villain brunch is now my new favorite thing. Can you imagine Sinestro, Doomsday, and Reverse Flash all chowing down on Cobb salads? Just awesome. But evil brunch is just one of the many chaotically messy moments in another overloaded episode of Gotham.
While “Mandatory Brunch Meeting” takes a couple of detours (one intriguing, one not so much), really, this week is all about Jerome. In the latest installment of Gotham, we learn a great deal about Jerome’s past, and what should be hacky adds a level of interest to the is he or isn’t he the Joker conundrum.
Last week, Jerome learned from his abusive uncle the location of a certain somebody. This week, Jerome finds his target, but not before calling together a cadre of super villainy including the Mad Hatter, Scarecrow, Firefly, Penguin, and Mister Freeze. Over brunch, the crew discusses their master plan before Jerome goes off on his side quest to find the mystery person. Turns out, the mystery man in question is none other than Jerome’s twin brother Jeremiah. Yeah, I know, twin brother plot line, take a drink. But stop and think for a moment. Jeremiah blames Jerome for years of torture when they were children. It is revealed that Jeremiah caused a wedge between their mother and Jerome and so he is still bitter. While Jerome has descended into madness, Jeremiah has become a famed architect, even working with the Waynes before their death.
I know, all this sounds kind of interesting, but how can any of this excuse a twin brother plot, the most hackneyed of go-to plot twists? Well, think about it. Jeremiah lied. He’s a genius who built his own labyrinth inside his hideout and has a keen mind for planning and details. He is immoral and manipulative. All of this begs the question: Could Jeremiah be the Joker? It seems like Jeremiah’s lies about his brother created Jerome’s madness. It could be viewed that Jeremiah is obsessed with Jerome. It’s not such a leap to imagine that the obsession could soon turn to admiration and bring Jeremiah down the same dark path as Jerome. Yeah, it’s hacky, but boy does this twin brother reveal add a new layer to the Joker mystery.
So Jeremiah kidnaps Jerome while Gordon, Bullock, and Jerome’s goon squad all descend on Jeremiah’s hideaway. Gordon protects the architect from the rogues’ gallery as Mad Hatter and Scarecrow spring into action. And man, how awesome is Scarecrow’s look on Gotham? This might be my favorite non-comic version of the character ever. Gordon and Bullock save Jeremiah and bring him into protective custody, but not before Jerome confronts his twin and lets him live so Jeremiah can see Gotham City plunge into madness. How, you ask? We’ll get to that in a minute.
First let’s look at this week’s B and C plots, the not so awesome one first. This week, we get to witness Riddler setting up his own game show where he tries to stump people with riddles in a money or death contest. Riddles in the dark it ain’t, but when Lee Thompkins discovers this deadly game show, she demands it be shut down. Riddler refuses and they play the riddle game with Lee in the role of Bilbo.
Somehow, this turns into a reveal that Riddler loves Lee and they kiss, and wait…what? Since when does Lee Thompkins sexually manipulate murderers? I mean, Lee intimately knows what Riddler did to Gordon. Remember when Riddler made Gordan choose between the lives of Lee and Valerie Vale which caused Vale to get shot in the chest? Yeah, I’m not sure Lee would work up the ardor to make out with Ridder after witnessing Nygma almost blowing out Vale’s lung. Not even in an attempt to manipulate Nygma. This plot direction is just a big fat no that goes against anything that has been established about Lee.
Plot C sees Penguin trying to help Butch who is now in control of the Grundy persona. Butch is desperate to become normal again so Tabitha will love him, and Penguin agrees to help Butch find Hugo Strange in order to reverse the Grundy mutation. So Penguin brings Grundy into the Joker gang as Jerome’s muscle. You know what’s almost as great as villain brunch? A brooding Solomon Grundy doing whiskey shots, that’s what. Now that Jerome’s gang is complete, the maybe Joker’s master plan is revealed with the intro of the newly Scarecrow created Joker venom. Hell yeah, the ol’ gas that leaves people dying with laughter has come to Gotham, and Jerome can’t wait to reveal the concoction to the city and his newly revealed twin brother.
So despite the Lee Thompkins Riddler nonsense, the episode might have been messy and loosely held together (but the same could be said for every episode of the series since day one), but the coming of Jeremiah and the introduction of Joker Venom at least adds some fun to this chaotic pile of story bits.
– The Joker venom first appeared in the very first appearance of Joker in Batman #1 (1940). Joker used the deadly gas to kill his initial victims and has been a Joker staple in all media ever since.
– Having the Scarecrow create the famed Joker venom establishes a bond between the Joker and the Scarecrow. I kind of love this twist that makes Scarecrow a very important element of the Joker mythos. It also makes sense because while comic book Joker always had a penchant for chemistry, Jerome certainly does not, which allows Scarecrow to step up.
– Joker venom has had many names over the decades including Smilex, Smylex, Laughing Gas, Joker Gas, Happy Gas, Giggle Gas, Joker Juice, Laughing Toxin, Laugh-A-loads, Perma-Smile, Smiley Gas, and Joker Toxin.
– Of course, in the 1989 Batman film, Jack Nicholson’s Joker calls his rictus causing death gas Smilex. That was the last time the gas appeared in live action.
– Now that we have met Echo, a devotee of Jeremiah, is there any chance that the loyal and physically capable woman has some connection to the future Harley Quinn?