Jerome, Mad Hatter, and Scarecrow joining forces? Sounds like a plan.
The episode begins at Arkham Asylum as a guard plays music on her cassette player when an alarm is raised. Why is she doing this? Because she heads to Jervis Tetch’s cell, but she can’t hear his attempts to hypnotize her. But it turns out that Tetch isn’t talking to her, but Tortuga, who is standing behind her. And she’s not wearing head phones, so it makes sense why she’d stab the guard.
Tetch and Tortuga leave, passing every dead guard in their way. They head to the cell of Jonathan Crane, now played by David W. Thompson, but he’s hard at work on a concoction. But in due time, he’s ready.
With Crane’s concoction, they break Jerome out of his cell and there will be time to backstab each other later. For now, they will stick to Jerome’s plan to carve up Gotham. It’s time to think big and kinky. Oh, and Tortuga has to go. Tetch releases her from her service, and she slits her throat in the process.
They free everyone remaining in Arkham and the lunatics go wild and march behind their fearless leader as they’re lead out of the asylum and into the city.
GCPD later arrives on the scene, with Jim, fresh out of the hospital, and Harvey learning that 87 got out of the violent ward. Some guards believe Tetch was behind it, but for something this big, Jim believes this was Jerome’s doing. Harvey knows that Jim wants to tell the truth about Sofia and Lazlo, and he reminds Jim not to slip. He should be big Jim Gordon, hero cop. It’s what they need, even if it is a lie.
Jim then tells the officers that Jervis Tetch, Jonathan Crane, and Jerome Valeska are on the loose and working together. He informs the officers to have each other’s backs because it could be a long night. Jim then gets a call from Tetch himself, Tetch saying that he’s going to kill someone, but Harvey thinks that this is a setup. Since the force is spread too thin, Harvey and Jim will go after Jervis themselves.
They arrive at a spot and discuss what to do if Tetch tries to hypnotize them. Soon enough, they find a bride and groom standing in the middle of the road, but as they approach, they find themselves approached by men all around, including Jervis Tetch. Mad Hatter reminds Jim of his first arrival in Gotham and how he tried to save Alice. He still wants her, but Jim prevented him from saving her. Jim gave Tetch no choice.
So Tetch won’t give Jim a choice, so Jim is helpless to watch as a wrecking ball smashes the couple. As Tetch leaves, the people start crowing.
Elsewhere, Bruce and Selina arrive at the precinct, with Selina still talking about her debt. When this is settled, though, Bruce tells Seina that things between the two of them will be square. Right now, though, Bruce wants Selina to retrieve Jerome’s file from the captain’s office.
Tabitha and Barbara overhear the news of the breakout at Arkham. Barbara is still plagued by her glowing hand and headaches. She’s been reading everything that might reference Ra’s al Ghul, as he did bring her back to life. She wonders why she was chosen, though Tabitha thinks Ra’s might have lied to her. Right now, it hurts for Barbara to remember.
Her attacks feel like memories are trying to push into her brain, but when she tries to touch them, she feels a searing pain instead. Tabitha tells Barbara to let those memories in, saying that she has the answers, but is afraid of the pain. To her, Barbara wouldn’t let anything stand in her way, even pain.
Barbara has a seat, as her hands start glowing, and she remembers her last moments. After revisiting the moment when she was electrocuted, the episode flashes back to Ra’s bringing Barbara to a chamber and giving her a few drops of water from the Lazarus Pit. In no time, she’s revived. Ra’s informs Barbara that she is the one he’s been searching for, and he has a present for her, but it’s a surprise.
She shall become the Demon’s Head and The League of Shadows will be hers to command.
In the present, Barbara tells Tabitha that the light is a beacon and the League of Shadows is coming.
GCPD arrive at Jim and Harvey’s location. Midnight is in less than an hour, so Jim and Harvey dissect Tetch’s clue and figure he’s got something bigger at play. They rush to a rooftop and find several people standing atop a ledge. And it’s not just this one ledge, either.
Back at the precinct, someone finally questions why Bruce Wayne is there- it’s Harper. He demands to know where Jim Gordon is, though he’s trying to distract her. He stalls for as much time as possible when Selina finally finds the file. She sneaks out of the office, and that’s just the distraction Bruce needs to escape.
Back on the ledge, Jim and Harvey weigh their options, knowing the people will jump at midnight. Harvey proposes putting a net around the building, but Jim realizes that won’t work as the two realize that every rooftop as far as the eye can see is filled with people ready to jump…
Bruce and Selina look over Jerome’s file, with Bruce finding information on Jerome’s uncle. He could’ve killed Jerome when he had the chance, so any harm Jerome causes, Bruce feels he’s responsible. He can’t wait to see what the cops will do, he has to get him back to Arkham. Selina notes how huge Bruce’s ego, saying not everything is his fault or responsibility. He needs to get over himself.
He thanks her for the advice and tells her that she doesn’t owe him anything. With that, the two part ways.
At a diner, two officers ask Jerome’s uncle, Zachary, played by John Treacy Egan, if they’ve seen him, and he plays dumb, saying that he hasn’t seen his nephew. When the officers leave, Jerome emerges from under the table.
Back on the ground, Harvey alerts Jim that thousands are climbing atop the roofs. Jim figures that Tetch is broadcasting over a radio to address all citizens. They check the cars to identify a radio station, but each car is playing a different station. And there’s only one way to know which one Tetch is using. Harvey locks himself in one of the cars and starts checking the stations.
At the same time, Jerome tastes three different soups and remembers his time at the circus…and the time that Uncle Zachary dipped Jerome’s hand into a boiling pot of chicken stock. As for the soups, Zachary reveals that they aren’t poisoned, but saved for all of his guests.
The third guest being a strongman from the circus: Lunkhead, played by Hank Strong. He manages to subdue Jerome, while Zachary reveals that the ‘too hot’ soup is for Jerome, so he pops it into the microwave.
Barbara and Tabitha discuss the League of Shadows and how the organization is coming for Barbara. She knows that they’re already present. As if on cue, the lights flicker on and off until dozens of figures appear from the darkness, demanding to know where the Demon’s Head is. Barbara raises her hand as the light shines.
Harvey soon finds the radio station, exits the vehicle, clocks Jim, and heads inside a building to join the rest of Gotham’s citizens atop the roofs.
Jim calls Harper at the precinct and informs her that Tetch is broadcasting from the WZPZ radio station. As such, he wants all cars on the street ready to amplify on the emergency G911 band. He then heads toward the radio station.
Zachary douses Jerome in the soup, saying that his sister should’ve killed Jerome. As he’s about to put Jerome out of his misery, Bruce enters the diner, interrupting the family reunion. Bruce tells Zahary that Jerome doesn’t deserve this. Instead, he should be arrested.
That’s fine, but Zachary then orders Lunkhead to get rid of Bruce. The two fight while Jerome grabs his gun and manages to overtake Uncle Zachary.
Back at the Sirens’ club, one member notes that while Barbara has the mark of the Demon’s Head, no has ever been allowed to lead the League of Shadows. However, that’s not a law, just a tradition. As such, the League must follow her. One outspoken member threatens to cut the Demon’s Head from Barbara, and she kills him for his trouble.
But since Barbara can’t leave well enough alone, she tempts fate and asks if anyone else wants a shot at the title, the League is all too willing to oblige.
As Bruce continues to fight, Zachary gives Jerome the name of a school: St. Ignatius. Still, Jerome kills him, telling Bruce that no one ever helped him when Uncle Zachary beat him, so he wonders what the hell is wrong with someone like Bruce, who just saved his life. What would be funnier is if Bruce was killed by the same person he stopped from killing Jerome.
At the WZPZ radio station, Tetch informs all of Gotham to throw themselves from the roofs at midnight, but he’s cancelled when Jim arrives, who takes over the broadcast. He tells Tetch to inform everyone to step down and save their lives, or he’ll start firing. To prove he’s not kidding, Jim puts a bullet through Tetch’s hand. Well, at least Jim isn’t wasting any time.
Even still, Tetch admits that he can’t stop it. If anyone tries to save themselves, they’ll jump.
Back at the diner, Jerome watches Bruce’s struggle, which is interrupted when Selina whips the gun out of his hand. Jerome doubts that Selina will shoot him. She does open fire, and when Jerome avoids the shot, Bruce wrestles the gun away from Selina, giving Jerome the opening needed to escape. Bruce reminds Selina that he’s responsible for Jerome, but she’s not taking responsibility for this mess. However, this isn’t over yet.
As Selina leaves, she warns Bruce not to take on so much responsibility that he gets killed. Bruce, meanwhile, picks up the address that Jerome needed…
At the club, Barbara realizes why Ra’s chose her: she’d see how weak the League is and that it’s afraid of taking orders from a woman. She declares herself the Demon’s Head and demands that the League bows to her, and they do…but then the lights go out.
And when the lights come back up, all of the male League members are found dead, with only the female members remaining. The sisters of the League are now Barbara’s to command, and though Tabitha warns Barbara that she doesn’t know what the League wants, Barbara still accepts what’s been given to her, so she asks what she needs to know.
Okay, so if we don’t include Tabitha, the League of Shadows now has a grand total of six members. Delightful.
With midnight approaching, Jim realizes that he can’t save the people. So he tells them to save each other instead. When midnight strikes, the people do just that, as everyone prevents one another from jumping to their doom. Harper informs Jim that his plan was a success.
Back at the precinct, Jim and Harvey learn that Tetch hasn’t spilled anything about Jerome’s plans, but at least 40 inmates are back in Arkham. Harvey decides that Jim needs a drink, so he breaks out a bottle and pours some for the two. Jim feels that he should still be in jail for his crimes, and Harvey agrees, but if Jim was arrested and in prison, thousands would be dead.
Jim notes that Harvey was heroic tonight, but Harvey tells Jim that when he got in the car, he knew that if it went sideways, Jim would save him. Gordon admits that he shouldn’t have judged Harvey for as long as he did, but Harvey knows that what Jim knows about him is just the tip of the iceberg. There are no heroes here.
I’ll drink to that.
Harper enters and informs Jim that Bruce is on the line. Bruce tells Jim that Jerome killed his uncle and is now he’s headed to St. Ignatius. Jim warns Bruce to stay away, but Bruce remains adamant that Jerome is his problem as much as anyone else’s.
As Tetch is carted off to Arkham, his ride is interrupted when he’s rescued by Jerome and Crane, who got his fear gas. And now that Jerome has his information, everything is going according to plan, so now they have bigger fish to fry. The three load up and ride off to bring more mayhem to Gotham City.
Every now and then, Gotham pulls out what I consider to be a stellar episode. Not stellar for Gotham’s standards, but an all around great episode. This was one of those, and again directed by Jim Gordon himself. McKenzie’s direction here is a big improvement over his previous outing, “These Delicate and Dark Obsessions,” mostly because this was a much more dynamic episode.
But still well paced from start to finish. Though I wasn’t big on the Barbara stuff, and I will definitely get to that, each scene from each subplot built on previously established character beats and did advance each respective character’s arc. Scenes felt integral and the episode remained focused.
That’s a good word to use- focused. Many times on Gotham, we’ll cut to a character whose storyline has no bearing on the plot, as was the case as recent as last time with Bruce and Selina, and I still feel them retrieving the item she stole from Roland Charles could’ve happened off-screen, but I digress.
We don’t cut to see what Ivy’s doing. We don’t check in on Butch. And we don’t get an update on Riddler, Penguin, and Leslie. We’re either with Jim and Harvey, Bruce and Selina, Barbara and Tabitha, or the villains. That’s it. For me, that’s how it should be, as it keeps the episode flowing at a good pace and doesn’t throw in characters for the sake of reminding the audience that they exist.
No, we’ve got a more condensed episode that, while still busy, allows for some slower moments to compliment the faster paced ones.
For one, with this season of Gotham taking inspirations from The Long Halloween, I love the notion of Jerome, Jervis Tetch, and Scarecrow joining forces. Each one of them could easily bring mayhem to Gotham City on their own, but together? To quote Gordon in the 1966 Batman film, the sum of the angles of that rectangle is too monstrous to contemplate. Well, we’ve got a trio here, so I guess it’s a triangle. For now.
The plan was divide and conquer, and it went off fine, albeit with a few hitches. While I’m disappointed that we didn’t get more of Crane this time around, I enjoy seeing the Mad Hatter back to toy with Jim and Harvey. And at the same time, because resources are spread so thin, that means Jerome is free to pursue his Uncle Zachary.
By the way, speaking of Crane, I get why Charlie Tahan had to leave the role of Jonathan Crane because of his commitment to Ozark on Netflix, but it’s still another recast. Hell, this new Crane is much taller than Tahan was. I have to wonder if Crane wearing the burlap sack and Scarecrow outfit the entire time is to, for now at least, hide the recast, even though David W. Thompson and Charlie Tahan sound nothing alike.
But moving on, it helped that Tetch managed to get control of so much of Gotham’s populace at such a specific point of time that Jim and Harvey’s options were limited. They can’t go after Jerome or Crane because they only have until midnight to stop the citizens from jumping to their deaths. Though I have to wonder why Tetch didn’t just have the people jump immediately instead of waiting until midnight.
Sure, it’s all part of the game, but he didn’t need to wait until midnight. That just gave Gordon ample time to catch him.
Speaking of, Gordon is still punishing himself for his past actions, feeling that he should be back in prison for being in cahoots with Sofia. His guilt is eating away at him and I figure that him being back in the field so soon after getting shot multiple times is his way of atoning for his past sins. He could let Harvey and the force handle it, but he’s still partially responsible for Sofia’s actions, so he can’t sit on the sidelines.
But Harvey, always the wiser, reminds Jim to just play the part. In a city like Gotham, there are no heroes. Not yet, anyway. So right now, Jim has to be the hero that Gotham needs right now, not necessarily the one that deserves, to borrow a bit from The Dark Knight. If Jim was in prison, he wouldn’t have stopped Tetch and hundreds of people would be dead, assuming no one else figured out how to keep the people from jumping.
So there’s still some good in him, and it’s great that Jim and Harvey are continuing to reconcile their partnership, with Jim admitting how much he judged Harvey. We’ve seen that behind Harvey’s rough exterior, there are shades of a good man, so I wonder just what other demons he may have when he told Gordon that what he knew about him was just the tip of the iceberg.
Bruce and Selina’s subplot managed to build their characters a bit, with Selina, also the wiser, reminding Bruce that not everything is his fault. If Bruce takes on too much of the burden, he’ll put himself in danger…more danger than he’s already putting himself into right now, anyway. In her own way, Selina does care for Bruce’s well-being and knows just what to tell him, regardless of whether he wants to hear it.
And by having the two cross paths with Jerome, their subplot connects to the main storyline, as well as Jerome’s upcoming visit to St. Ignatius. And at least this time, Bruce is keeping Jim in the loop, so hopefully Gordon doesn’t shoot him again.
With all these positives, this would make for a great episode, but I must take issue with one plot thread.
The one subplot I wasn’t a fan of this week was Barbara’s. And while it does add to her character arc with her accepting the mantle of the Demon’s Head, I don’t think it was necessary to see. Plus, the execution was just…odd. Okay, so the League of Shadows arrives to pledge itself to Barbara, but one member has a problem with a female leader. So, the female members, in turn, slaughter all of the males.
First of all, why would the League have an issue with a female leader? If Gotham has Ra’s in its universe, I have to assume that Talia may be around somewhere or pop up at some point down the line. I mean, if the League of Shadows only has female members right now, it’d be even stranger for Talia to not show up here.
Based on how Season Five of Arrow ended, Talia’s fate is up in the air, assuming this is an instance where Gotham and the Arrowverse can’t use the same character. If that’s not the case, then again I’d expect Talia to appear.
She’s led the League of Shadows before, and I know it’s not reasonable to expect what happens in comics lore or some adaptations to be applicable here, I don’t get why the League in this instance would be so against the idea of a female leader, or at least the one loudmouth that Barbara kills. And it’s merely tradition, so it’s not like that can’t change. Again, the execution is just weird.
That aside, “One of My Three Soups” is, for my money, the best episode of this season so far and definitely one of Gotham’s finest. On first viewing, I would definitely put this alongside some of this series’ best, like “Penguin’s Umbrella” and “Knock, Knock.” Ben McKenzie’s second go behind the camera delivered a strong entry for the series and this is definitely an episode to remember.
But with Tetch free and reunited with Jerome and Crane, things are about to get even crazier.