A Look at Gotham- Season 4, Episode 17: “A Dark Knight: Mandatory Brunch Meeting”

Perhaps Gotham should’ve saved “Legion of Horribles” as an episode title for this one instead of in Season Two. Ah well. Time for a Mandatory Brunch Meeting.

The episode begins with Bruce heading to the headmaster’s office at St. Ignatius. He asks if the headmaster, played by Steven Hauck, if he’s seen Jerome, and he hasn’t, but he has spoken with Jervis Tetch, who wanted the name of a student who graduated from St. Ignatius some 10 years ago- Xander Wilde. As for why Jerome wanted him, Tetch didn’t say why. But he did have a message.

That’s when the headmaster turns around and reveals a bomb is strapped to his chest. Bruce tells the headmaster that he’s being hypnotized by Tetch. As Jim and Harvey arrive, Jim shoots the clock, hoping to break Tetch’s spell. However, the headmaster also has a pocket watch, so that continues to tick as the headmaster activates the bomb, killing himself.

Jerome assembles his Legion of Horribles for his mandatory brunch meeting. This Legion of Horribles includes Victor Fries, Bridgit Pike- with Michelle Veintimilla back in the role- Jonathan Crane, and the host, Oswald Cobblepot. He tells them that he wants to turn Gotham into a madhouse and he’s on the cusp of making that happen, but he needs help.

As Victor is the science guy, Jerome will need a lab. Bridgit reminds Jerome that he still hasn’t said how he plans to take over the underworld. But Jerome just wants to paint the town crazy. After that, he doesn’t care what happens to the city. One last essential ingredient is needed, and that’s when Jervis Tetch returns.

Back at St. Ignatius, Jim asks Bruce if Jerome’s uncle had any information. He then asks if Alfred knew that Bruce was going after Jerome. If Bruce gets involved again, Jim will have no choice but to press charges. Harvey then tells Jim that there’s a child prodigy who is working as an engineer, so this is who Jerome wants.

Speaking of, Jerome arrives at Meyer & Hayes to see Xander Wilde. Without an appointment. You always have to have an appoint, Jerome. He interrupts a board meeting and tells the members that he has a proposition.

One member says that Xander Wilde isn’t present, and Jerome doesn’t buy that, so he kills one of the attendees. One member has only spoken to him through proxy, so Jerome wants to know where he can meet this proxy.

Jim and Harvey arrive at the building just as employees begin to flee. They open fire on Jerome, but then Firefly arrives and keeps them at bay because that’s how Firefly rolls.

Later, Harvey informs Jim that Allan Hayes was the only one who knew this Xander Wilde, but since he’s dead, obviously he’s not talking. And Xander is practically a ghost. Jim thinks this is personal for Jerome, and the two then examine a painting with has the initials X.W. More than that, it’s has ‘Wayne Plaza’ on it, so Jim and Harvey will be paying Bruce Wayne a visit.

At the Narrows, Riddler hosts his very own game show. He tells his studio participant, Lars, played by Jason Yudoff, the rules: answer a riddle right, and he’ll walk out with cold, hard cash. As Lila prepares the timer, Riddler presents his riddle: I am heavy forward, but backward, I am not. What am I? As time runs, Lars guesses the hourglass. But he’s wrong. The answer is the word ‘ton.’

So it’s time to spin the wheel of misfortune. However, Leslie arrives to stop the festivities. She wants the games stopped, but Riddler won’t have that. Neither will the audience. Okay, so Leslie takes the stage and declares that she will best Riddler. She knows that if she loses, the spins the wheel. But if she wins, Ed is to shut this place down. And so the game has its next contestant.

So Jerome enters the apartment of a woman who turns out to be the proxy. But it seems that she’s been waiting for him to arrive. Rather than tell him Xander’s location, she points to an empty cage and tells him that this is how she will transport him. She swiftly knocks him out and makes a call, saying that she’s got him.

Penguin heads to a bar and meets up with Butch, saying that he heard that he was different. However, Oswald likes the look. He asks if Butch heard about the Arkham breakout and explains that after his brunch with Jerome, there are plans for Gotham that involve a lot of paint. However, Oswald believes that people like Jerome will flame out, and in the rubble, Oswald will reclaim the underworld. He wants Butch at his side.

Butch thinks that Oswald has run out of allies. He’s already done that job and is his own man now. Neither of them is the same man, and Oswald reminds Butch that they used to run this town together. Butch, though, knows his life won’t be the same again. More than that, Tabitha will never love him. He warns Oswald not to cross paths with him again.

So Jim and Harvey come to Wayne Manor and tell Bruce and Alfred that Thomas Wayne once met with Xander Wilde. Alfred pulls one of Thomas’ books and confirms that the two did meet at Wayne Plaza. No address in the notes, though, just a street. Bruce realizes the man must have been important if Thomas met him alone. And this recluse isn’t hiding from the world, he’s hiding from Jerome.

Speaking of, Jerome awakens and feels around his prison for a weak spot until he spots a camera watching his every move. He tells the person watching that he would never hurt them. Rather, he can’t wait to see him. But then the viewer gets an alert of a car going through the woods. He brings it up on his surveillance camera.

It is indeed Jim and Harvey, who find a facility in the woods. They announce that they have arrived to meet Xander Wilde and are granted entrance. Upon entering, an employee, Ecco, played by Francesca Root-Dodson, tells the two that construction was completed on this facility six years ago.

They’re then brought face to face with Xander Wilde, who is also played by Cameron Monaghan. Huh. Go figure. But his name is actually Jeremiah, and he owes Jim a debt solving his mother’s murder and putting Jerome in Arkham. And from the letters his mother sent, Jerome never spoke of Jeremiah after he left the circus. He was hidden away to be protected from Jerome.

Jerome and Jeremiah were always different. Jeremiah was the proficient type, while Jerome had a penchant for chaos. He even once lit Jeremiah’s bed on fire. Harsh. Fearing that Jerome would succeed, their uncle took Jeremiah away to St. Ignatius, where he got a new name and life. But in Jeremiah’s heart, he knew that Jerome would come for him one day.

However, Jeremiah has taken precautions, should the day come when Jerome would come for him. For example, the proxy name given to Allan Hayes was a fake. Jim and Harvey don’t buy it and wonder why the monitors inside are off when the security cameras outside were functioning. Jim he turns some on and finds one showing footage of Jerome.

Back to the game show. The Riddler tells the crowd that Dr. Thompkins knows what’s good for the people of the Narrows, but they know better. Right now, it’s quiz time. Riddler delivers his riddle: I can be broken without being held, given, and then taken away. Some people use me to deceive, but when delivered, I am the greatest gift of all. What am I?

As time passes, Leslie doesn’t surrender. Instead, she knows that Riddler will give her the answer, because deep down, she knows that he wants to do that. Riddler won’t be manipulated the way that Ed was, since she lied about wanting to fix him. Leslie, though, knows the answer, saying that the Riddler just gave it to her. Riddler is right, she didn’t fix her, and that is the answer: a promise.

That is correct! But the game is only halfway over, and Riddler assures Leslie that he will not be stumped.

Back at Jeremiah’s facility, Jim demands that Jeremiah hand over Jerome, even though Jeremiah knows that no prison can hold Jerome. Then Harvey spots on the monitors that they have company. Indeed, Jervis Tetch and Scarecrow have arrived with a now hypnotized Ecco leading the way. Jeremiah will lead the detectives out, but he’s not abandoning Ecco.

Though Jeremiah is the only one who knows the way out, he, Jim, and Harvey end up running right into Ecco, who manages to overtake them. She takes Jeremiah, but Jim and Harvey eventually manage to knock her out, while Jeremiah has fled.

But he runs right into Jerome. While Crane and Tetch find Jim and Harvey, Jerome is happy to have finally caught up with Jeremiah after 15 years. Jeremiah knows that Jerome blames him for everything that’s gone wrong in his life, but he knows that Jerome was born bad. So Jerome wonders if that’s why Jeremiah said that Jerome tried to kill him. Funny story that turned out to be.

Even if the stories weren’t entirely true, Jerome did still kill their mother. But since she hid Jeremiah away, she had turned everyone against Jerome because of Jeremiah’s stories. But it’s just like they say, we all could go insane with just one bad day. Or, in Jeremiah’s case, one bad spray. We’ll get to that later.

Before Tetch can hypnotize the officers, Harvey, fed up with being hypnotized just rushes at Tetch and Crane. That’s one way to do it.

Jerome will kill Jeremiah, but he first wants to turn him mad. However, then Tetch and Crane rush by, so Jerome takes Jeremiah hostage long enough to escape from the cops. Once Jim and Harvey give chase, they end up in the woods with Jerome, Tetch, and Crane nowhere to be found.

It’s Leslie’s turn to come up with a riddle: what three words are said too much, meant by few, but wanted by all? Riddler knows the answer, and says the first two words ‘I love,’ but won’t say the last word, figuring that Leslie is trying to awaken Ed. Riddler refuses to answer, and that’s when time has expired. Leslie wins.

Penguin returns to the bar, where Butch immediately chokes him, but stops when Oswald says that he can reverse Butch’s condition and help him win Tabitha. He points to a nearby Slaughter Swamp barrel, saying that the swamp made him what he is.

So the two must team up and find the one man who can cure Butch, and that man is Professor Hugo Strange. Butch doesn’t have to be like this forever. He agrees to help, but Penguin better deliver. With that, Oswald leaves.

So with Riddler’s game over, Leslie returns and realizes that Riddler set up shop in the Narrows because he wanted her attention. She knows that the people love the money, and she can give them what they want, but she needs his help. She knows that Ed loves her, but Riddler denies that. So Leslie dares him to kill her. He won’t, though. She then asks about his record for how many banks he’s robbed in a day.

It’s three, and Leslie believes that he can do better. A dangerous game indeed, as the two kiss.

Jim and Harvey haul Jeremiah into the precinct, much to the surprise of the officers who are stunned into silence. Jim tells Harper that this is Jeremiah Valeska, not Jerome, and he needs to be put into protective custody. Jeremiah thanks Jim for his help, saying he wouldn’t be alive if it weren’t for him. Jim and Harvey wonder how Jerome will turn Gotham City mad, with Harvey noting that it already was. No kidding.

Speaking of, we return to Jerome, who shoots and kills one of his henchmen, but it doesn’t make him feel better. While Penguin brings in Butch as good muscle for the team, Crane and Tetch arrive with a businessman who will serve as the test subject for Crane’s concoction, which turns out to be a painful laughing gas.

The man begins laughing so hard until he bleeds…

The interesting thing about Gotham is how it’s approached the Joker, whether the character itself or mythology surrounding him. For so long, it seemed like that would obviously be Jerome. But then the show would say that he’s merely an inspiration for the person who would later become the Joker. That’s a hard pill to swallow, given how much of the Joker is present in Jerome right now.

So the idea that Jerome would still just be the spark that lights a fire under the real future Joker is still a strange one, but the show does attempt to make a case for it with Jerome’s sibling, as well as Jerome’s plan to drive him mad.

There’s a lot of Killing Joke dialogue sprinkled into Jerome’s plans. As was said in Alan Moore’s graphic novel, all it takes is one bad day to reduce the sanest man to lunacy. And Jerome and Jeremiah could not be any different. Jerome’s insanity is out there for the world to see. Jeremiah, by comparison, is calm, collected, and has been preparing for Jerome’s arrival. For the most part, he has his situation under control.

Someone like Jerome, though, doesn’t believe in control, just chaos. And with his Legion of Horribles and Gotham’s take on the Joker venom, he’s ready to bring mass panic to the city. Now, we’ve seen this before, both from Jerome and previous villains, so this isn’t new territory for the show. But there’s an added interest here with the prospect of the show actually giving us its own, real take on the Joker.

It’s interesting that this would all boil down to Jerome’s anger at Jeremiah for turning everyone against him, which wasn’t as true as Jeremiah made it out to be. So Jeremiah saw it one way, Jerome another. Another Killing Joke nod there with the notion of preferring your past to be multiple choice. And since Jeremiah received a new identity after he left, that’s another change in his upbringing.

And since there’s no apparent sign of lunacy in Jeremiah yet, it does seem like it just take one little push to send him to the brink of insanity. That and, presumably, Jerome would have to be removed from the equation altogether.

I like the idea of Jerome assembling a Legion of Horribles, though admittedly, he probably could have achieved the same results- albeit with a bit more time- were it still just him, Crane, and Tetch. Though I am slightly curious why Riddler wasn’t invited. Were Zsasz here, he’d have conflict with Penguin, and Ivy has her own plans altogether, but I think Riddler would play along.

Victor and Bridgit are extra firepower and resources, and Penguin has no reason to even be interested in this. In addition to what he said to Butch, Oswald as far back as Season Two felt that someone like Jerome has no interest in tradition or building things. In fact, Jerome would rather watch it all burn.

So it’s interesting that Penguin would even entertain Jerome, more so after turning him down while in Arkham. Though I am interested in seeing him attempt to make good on his promise of turning Butch back to his former self. That and whether Hugo Strange will even be of any help.

While the Riddler and Leslie stuff did build on their arc, it ultimately didn’t add anything to the episode and could’ve been saved for another installment down the line. Furthermore, is Leslie trying to reawaken Ed? Also, is she trying to help the Narrows or just make them financially secure? Because I can’t imagine that she wants to play a part in Riddler’s robberies or even encourage it.

But besides that, this was a pretty good episode. With the introduction of Jeremiah, coupled with Jerome’s plan to bring madness to Gotham with the new laughing toxin, things are about to get even crazier in Gotham City. All it takes is just one bad day…

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