A Look at Gotham- Season 3, Episode 12: “Mad City: Ghosts”

Gotham returns for a three episode arc before going on a break until April.  With Jim killing Mario, Nygma plotting to take down Oswald, and Selina reuniting with her mother, this should make for a pretty emotional and character driven episode.

Not the case here, but hey, Jerome is coming back to Gotham.  The show’s proto-Joker is set to bring anarchy back to a city that’s known for anarchy.  Let’s jump right into “Ghosts.”

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The episode begins with Mario’s funeral.   Jim, fully aware of what Falcone may do, watches from a distance, though Bullock advises that he leave.  Jim justifies his decision, saying that the infected Mario would’ve killed Leslie.  Even still, this isn’t the time or place to apologize or discuss the past.  As the two leave, Falcone watches them from a distance.

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Penguin, meanwhile, gets zero call time with Nygma, but there’s good news on the horizon.  As Oswald enters for his press conference, he’s greeted with applause and learns that his numbers are high across the board- jobs are up and crime is down.  Oswald’s new Deputy Chief of Staff, Tarquin, played by Dave Quay, tells him that the best way to capitalize on his success is a sit-down interview with Margaret Hearst.

After all, everyone watches her show, so she can help solidify Oswald’s legacy on a national level.

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Jim returns to his crappy apartment, where he hears a noise and finds Zsasz waiting for him with a message: Jim messed up by killing Mario.  Jim wants to speak with Carmine, but there’s no time for that, as there’s already a hit out on Jim.  Zsasz promises that Jim won’t see him coming.  If the two don’t talk before Jim’s death, Victor has at least liked getting to know Jim.  Well, that’s a minor consolation prize.

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Bonding time.  Selina demands to know why Maria is in town after 11 years without ever bothering to check in on her daughter.  Fair question.  Maria apologizes, but she promises that Selina has been in her thoughts, even though Maria left her at the same orphanage where she grew up- St. Maria’s.  When Selina asks about her father, Maria switches gears and asks if Selina is dating Bruce.

Maria admits that she got in trouble with the law, and since she couldn’t run fast with a five-year-old, she had to dump Selina.  Bad call, and though all Maria wanted to do was tell Selina how much she loves her, she’s got her chance right now, so Selina then shows her the door.

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Oswald is introduced to Margaret Hurst, played by Jan Maxwell, who tells him that she plans to get in his head and share what she finds with Gotham’s citizens.  Hurst has some conditions: the interview is to only happen this Friday at City Hall.  Live.  Hurst isn’t one of Oswald’s fans, so she has no intention of holding back.

If the truth is in Oswald’s numbers, then Gotham should have no problem seeing him for who he is.  And then Oswald has a quick glimpse of his father.  Wait, what?

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Over at GCPD, Lucius Fox show Jim and Bullock the body of Melanie Blake, who was found wandering the train tracks last night.  She collapsed soon after and died in the ambulance of coronary failure.  Before the train tracks, though, someone gave her a strong electrical current.  More than that, she’d been stabbed three days ago by her boyfriend and was pronounced dead in the ambulance.  Ms. Blake can’t catch a break.

So even though Ms. Blake here was taken to a morgue, she then wound up walking down train tracks.  Bullock is quick to question whether anyone in Gotham City actually dies, but hey, we’re talking a comic book based world, so of course not.

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But enough about that.  How about some drama?  Leslie storms into the precinct and demands that Leslie enters the precinct and demands that Harvey arrest Jim for Mario’s murder.  Sure, Mario was infected, but Jim spared Barnes’ life, but he killed Mario on his own wedding day.  Leslie goes as far as calling Jim a virus, saying that he seeps into people’s lives until he destroys them.

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That night, Penguin awakens in a cold sweat and finds one of his framed certificates smashed.  He then spots Elijah’s ghost pleading for help and saying that someone is not to be trusted.  Who?  Never mind that.  Oswald then receives a late visit from GCPD officers who inform him that someone broke into the cemetery and dug up Elijah’s remains.

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At the morgue, Jim and Bullock speak with the night manager, Dwight Pollard, played by David Dastmalchian, about Melanie Blake.  To his surprise, her body isn’t in the designated drawer.  Worse for the detectives, the morgue has no  security cameras since nothing ever happens there.  Jim decides that he and Bullock should stick around, though Bullock can’t help but notice how jumpy Jim is right now.  Heh.  Jumpy Jim.  Claimed.

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At Wayne Manor, Bruce and Alfred ponder why the owl ornament is so important to the Court, but they’re interrupted by a knock at the door.  As Bruce finds a spot for the ornament, he doesn’t see that when light reflects on the owl, images display on the wall.

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Turns out that the visitor is just Maria Kyle popping before she leaves town.  She hands Bruce a box to give Selina, but Bruce, knowing what it’s like to miss family, advises Maria to stick around.  He’ll take it upon himself to speak with Selina.

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Falcone isn’t concerned with whether Mario was indeed infected, even though the autopsy confirms that he was.  Jim still killed him, and while Falcone cared for Jim, he must take Jim’s life- blood for blood, after all.  In agreement, Leslie blames Jim on all the bad things that have happened to her.

Carmine cautions Leslie: if Jim dies, that’s a weight they will both have to carry.  Falcone is used to such burdens, but not Leslie.  As such, Carmine will be the one to kill Jim.  He asks Leslie if she can live with that.

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Bruce pops by Selina’s spot with the box from Maria, but Selina’s not in a talking mood. While Bruce can’t imagine what Selina is feeling, he knows how hard it can be to forgive. Selina admits that she’s upset about Maria leaving her, but Bruce tells her that Maria is at least trying to reach out.

This may be Selina’s only chance to reach back.  If she pushes away, she may never see her mother again.

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Selina opens the box just as Maria enters and the two hug.  To my dismay, there is no cat costume inside the box.

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Jim and Bullock, having learned that Dwight used to work at Indian Hill- of course- tail Dwight to an old theater where a crowd has gathered.  Dwight takes center stage and rails against Gotham’s finest, calling them slaves who are mentally shackled, but do nothing about it.  But there was one fearless man who understood and stood up to the jailers and puppets.

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Dwight hits the projector and plays footage of Jerome’s message to Gotham when the Maniax attacked the GCPD.  The crowd eats into Jerome’s speech about sanity and repeats it like a mantra.  Jim and Harvey crash the scene and the crowd disperses.  They beat down as many followers as they can, but are unable to locate Dwight.  As the two flee, Jim spots Zsasz and his henchwomen start opening fire.

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Jim flees into a restaurant while Zsasz and his attackers pursue him.  As Zsasz gets out some new guns, he monologues about Jim having a good run.  However, Jim soon engages Victor in a fight and manages to overtake him.

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Meanwhile, back at Oswald’s manor, Elijah’s ghost tells Oswald that he cannot rest until he is underground again.  Worse than that, Isabella is also on the other side and whispering tales of murder.  He informs Oswald to not trust the birthday boy.

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At Arkham Asylum, Leslie speaks with Barnes, who tells her that the virus has made him more focused than ever before.  He calls the virus an antidote for his body and doesn’t believe he needs a cure.  In his future, he plans to judge Jim once he escapes.  Following that, the rest of Gotham’s garbage will be tried, convicted, and executed.  Getting nowhere with this, Leslie leaves.

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Back at Wayne Manor, Alfred gets some compliments from Maria in his cooking, though he ought to keep his eyes open, as both Maria and Selina are able to deprive him of some valuables.  How Alfred keeps Wayne Manor running when he can be robbed so easily is anyone’s guess.  Anyway, Bruce says that Maria can stay the night and leave tomorrow morning.

The next day, an exhausted Oswald arrives at City Hall and hears a crowd wishing Tarquin a happy birthday.  Well, there you have it.

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Oswald enters Tarquin’s office and finds footprints that soon lead him to a closet.  Inside said closet is a bag containing a skeleton.  Tarquin enters, though when Oswald accuses him of this crime, Tarquin admits that he has no idea what Oswald is talking about.  Unsatisfied with Tarquin’s answer, Oswald beats him to death.

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With a bit more clarity thanks to her talk with Barnes, Leslie requests that Carmine call off the hit on Jim.  Carmine rightly guesses that Leslie doesn’t really hate Jim.  Instead, her anger is just to mask the fact that she still loves Jim.

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Interview time.  Ms. Hurst’s first question is how did Oswald do it?  There’s a huge spike in job growth and prosperity.  Immediately, Oswald goes for his glass of water before finally speaking.

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Jim again returns to his crappy apartment just as Bullock enters with extra firepower.  He wants to know why Jim didn’t mention the hit, and it being just Jim’s business isn’t enough of an excuse, given what the two have been through already.

Zsasz enters and lets the machine gun fly.  As the two sides come to a standoff, Carmine enters and tells Zsasz that the hit is off.  Without argument, Zsasz leaves.  Before Carmine exits, he tells Jim that if it were up to him, Jim would still be dead.

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Ms. Hurst chronicles Oswald’s rise, fall, and how people died so he could reach this point. Oswald calls it scandal, but it was murder that sent him to Arkham.  Even still, he considers killing Theo Galavan a service to Gotham City.  Then Hurst brings up Elijah’s suspicious death.  As it turns out, there are rumors that Oswald killed the family to inherit Elijah’s wealth.

Oswald then spots Elijah’s ghost making off with a bloody trophy.  Even though Hurst insist that Oswald stay since the people of Gotham and America want to know the truth, Oswald says the hell with the people and rushes off.  Not the best thing to say on air, Mayor Cobblepot.  However, when he returns to the office, he finds no body or sign of a murder.

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From a distance, Nygma hides the two bodies and congratulate Clayface on a job well done.  Barbara and Tabitha applaud Nygma’s ability to predict that Oswald would go mad on national TV, but Nygma says that it was just about the power of suggestion.

He walks us through his plan, though Tabitha wonders why Nygma didn’t leave the bodies for the cops.  That, Nygma says is too easy.  Rather than send Oswald to jail, Nygma wants this to be a slow and painful death.  First, you take away Oswald’s mind, destroy and take his empire, and once Oswald is alone, put him out of his misery.

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Before Maria can leave, she has some unattended business to attend to, as Selina follows her to a room where she speaks with a man from her past: Cole Clemons, played by P.J. Marshall, who is asking about his money.  Selina tells Cole that the two can get him his money since Bruce Wayne is a friend of hers.  That’s good enough for Cole, who soon leaves.

Maria tells Selina that they have to warn Bruce about Cole.  This man was Maria’s past coming back to haunt her.

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Over at a lab, Dwight reams out a lab technician over Melanie Blake’s disappearance from the morgue.  Upset as he is, this proves that the designs work.  She came back to life, but not for long, as her body couldn’t take the current.  Dwight tells the man to gather the others, as it’s time to get him.

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And who is him?  Why, it’s Jerome, who is in stasis at Indian Hill.

So “Ghosts” throws us back into character conflicts as Jim deals with the consequences of killing Mario, Selina and Maria attempting to bond, Nygma’s revenge on Oswald, Leslie’s conflicting feelings for Jim, and an extended look at the Jerome cult that we saw a bit of on Season Two.

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Now I’ll tackle that first because it was the most interesting part of the episode.  A bit odd, considering that Jim and Bullock don’t get that much ground covered.  They learn about resurrections from Lucius Fox, and Jim has already seen this cult before.  He and Harvey don’t find Jerome or, as far as I can tell, even know that there are plans to resurrect him.

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Maybe that’s because Jim spends the bulk of his time running from Zsasz.  Victor manages to energize any scene he’s in and I’ll admit that I liked the shootouts here more than I have any of Jim’s previous shootouts.  Though for all his talk of how he doesn’t try to kill but outright does it, and then fails, he’s not the best at following up on his assassination promises.

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But once Carmine calls it off, I’m left wondering why.  Jim still killed Mario and Falcone sees that Leslie still has feelings for Jim.  Wouldn’t that make him even more enraged that his son died and Leslie didn’t fully love him?  If anything, I would think that he would still want to have the hit carried out to completion and not change his mind just because of Leslie’s visit with Barnes.

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That’s another thing: Leslie already knows the effects of the virus and what Barnes did while under the influence.  Why would a visit change her mind?  She seemed gung-ho on having Jim killed, which was a huge step up from blaming him for the crazy stuff that’s happened to her, but how does Barnes’ behavior lead to a change of heart?  It didn’t tell her or us something that we already knew.

It felt like an easy way to create conflicting feelings on Leslie’s part, but she was so all over the place here that I almost expected her to try and carry out the hit herself.  She’s already got motivation and Jim, as far as I can tell, hasn’t brought up the knife or done a good job defending himself.

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And I agree with Bullock: why wouldn’t Jim bring up that Falcone is gunning for him? These two have been through hell- a courtesy of living in a city where nobody dies- and there’s no rhyme or reason why Jim would keep this from Harvey.

Oh, about Jerome’s return: who found him?  I would guess Dwight, but Jerome was one of the escapees on that bus that Fish stole in the Season Two finale.  We heard his laugh as he and various others made their way into the city, so between then and now, someone had to find and stick him in this chamber, but I don’t see Jerome going down without a fight. Unless that wasn’t Jerome and just a tease.

Okay, I’m pretty sure that no one really gives a damn about this in the grand scheme of things, so let’s move on.

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As with him getting the better of Jim last season, I liked seeing Nygma be the architect of someone’s slow downfall, even though this wasn’t through riddles- just mind games and screwing with Oswald’s head.  Though in hindsight, when all was said and done, him being involved made sense since Tarquin was only introduced this episode and it would be easy to finger him as the culprit when we don’t know his motivation.

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And between Oswald losing his mind and his comments on public television about the public, his popularity could begin to wane, which could lead to a slow descent for Mayor Cobblepot. And by the way, if Gotham was going to bring back Paul Reubens, even for a bit, I wish more had been done with him.

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Meanwhile, Selina and Maria get a chance to bond, and I appreciate that they don’t click right away.  Of course Selina is going to be upset about Maria for abandoning her and she has every reason to resist Maria’s attempts to reach out to her.  But Bruce, who can’t reach out to his parents anymore, had a point about giving Maria a chance because she may not get another opportunity to reconnect.

Plus, while I don’t know whether the show is trying to set up Maria with Alfred, I did like seeing the two Kyles pull a fast one on Alfred and get some of his goods.

I’m glad that Maria’s presence hasn’t brought the Court of Owls storyline to a halt, as Bruce and Alfred still have the ornament and Court on their mind, but I’m guessing that Maria’s past and Cole’s presence could push the Court to the sidelines for the moment.

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Oh, and one more thing that I’m sure everyone and their mother has no doubt noticed, David Dastmalchian- you remember him, right?  Played schizophrenic Thomas Schiff on The Dark Knight.  Sheesh.  Whether in Nolan’s Batman universe or here, this guy just cannot escape the Joker.

“Ghosts” was a decent return for Gotham, but a bit tedious at times with the main storyline involving Jim, Falcone, and Leslie.  Tedium aside, I am curious where things go and do like the setup.  Nygma will no doubt continue his plan to bring Oswald to his knees, Bruce and Alfred will soon have to deal with more than the Court, and Jerome is set to cause mayhem in Gotham once again.

And with Gotham set to go on another break until April once the next two episodes air, here’s hoping Jerome’s return is an exciting one.

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