A Look at Gotham- Season 4, Episode 20: “A Dark Knight: That Old Corpse”

Behold, the face of true sanity.

The episode begins with Jerome Valeska’s funeral, as a group of his followers drink to their fallen leader. A motorcycle approaches and a person in a Harley Quinn-esque outfit joins the group…uninvited. She plays a message on a tape from Jerome: even though he’s dead, he has one last task- dig up his body. So the mob gets to it.

Over at the precinct, Leslie sits in interrogation while Harvey and Jim weigh their options. Jim won’t let her walk free, though Harvey feels that her crime is small compared to what others have done, the two of them included. True as that may be, Jim tells Harvey to leave.

He heads in to confront Leslie, who isn’t apologetic about what she did. Jim will help, so long as she gives up Nygma and turns in the money. Leslie won’t turn over Ed, but Jim sees Leslie’s behavior as a way of helping people. He gets that. But she’s still breaking the law and Jim doesn’t want to send her to Blackgate. Leslie figures that if Jim lets her go, he’d let himself go as well, but there are many things Jim would change.

Then Harvey and Lucius present a gift, courtesy of Jerome Valeska. They play the video tape and it turns out to be Jerome’s Last Will and Testament. On said video, Jerome acknowledges that thing didn’t go his way. He wants Jim to throw him a wake at the GCPD, and the invitations have already been sent to the guests.

As if on cue, Jerome’s army arrives outside the precinct.

Over at the Narrows, the citizens want to free Leslie by force, but Nygma won’t allow that. If it were his way, Jim Gordon would be out of the way once and for all, but Leslie’s instructed him to use nonlethal means. He gathers his team to free Leslie, while instructing one member to keep an eye on Jim. If Jim comes under harm, assist him, so Leslie doesn’t blame Riddler if Jim is killed by friendly fire.

Jim calls Alfred, who tells him that Bruce is meeting with Jeremiah Valeska about the energy project. When Jim informs Alfred that Jerome’s crazies are at the precinct, Alfred prepares to leave and head to Jeremiah’s maze. At the same time, the mob starts banging on the doors of the precinct with Jerome’s coffin. The plan? Open up the armory. Jim figures this is a distraction while the followers hit the real target.

If the mob enters in the front, the precinct falls back and gets a few shots. Once the officers escape through the old service door in the back, they’ll circle the precinct and smoke out the mob. As for figuring out who or what the real target is, Jim has an idea, but its sketchy. He then addresses the officer to fill them in on his plan.

That Old Corpse- Bruce and Jeremiah observe the generator's power- Gotham Fox DC

Bruce, meanwhile, speaks with Jeremiah about the generator, which is set for a demonstration. When Bruce kills the light, the generator lights up and powers the entire room. True, ambient energy. No cables or wires of any kind. This could even power all of Gotham. No one outside of Wayne Industries knows about this yet, so Jeremiah warns Bruce to keep an eye on the people close to him.

Jeremiah reveals that Arkham Asylum sent him Jerome’s items,his journal among them. Bruce suggests that Jeremiah not spend so much time reading it, but Jeremiah knows that Gotham would be in ruin if Jerome had succeeded. Still, Jerome is dead, so it’s time for Jeremiah to come out of the bunker and join the world. Bruce then gets a call from Alfred, who updates him on the activities of Jerome’s mob.

Bruce lies to cover it up, but Jeremiah sees through it, so Bruce comes clean and admits that Jerome’s followers are causing trouble. A now fearful Jeremiah worries that Jerome, still alive, is coming after him.

As Alfred prepares to leave, he hears something break and goes to investigate. Upon entering a room, a fight breaks out.

Jeremiah, now frantic, tries to calm down. He tells Bruce that after Jerome died, he left one last trap- he sprayed him with a special mixture of his insanity gas. Now Jeremiah can’t stop seeing Jerome clawing out his grave to come after him. Even though it’s not real, it feels real and Jeremiah can’t control himself. Bruce offers to show Jeremiah that Jerome is dead and buried by going to the grave site.

If Jerome took Jeremiah’s mind, then Jeremiah can be free if he sees the reality, thus freeing him from the trap. Sounds flimsy, but Jeremiah is up to try.

The mob continues bashing the door to try and enter while Jim informs Leslie that she’s going to be transferred. She, though, wants him to come to the Narrows and see how things operate. But before Jim can weigh his options, the mob breaks through the doors. As they lay waste to the precinct, the officers fall back on Jim’s order. Leslie, left in Alvrarez’s hands, is knocked out when she hits a wall.

Some of the mob corners Jim in the locker room, ready to carve him up, but they’re immediately subdued by Harvey, who has arrived with Harper.

At a cemetery, Bruce calls Alfred, but gets no response, so he and Jeremiah continue towards Jerome’s grave site. Jeremiah is unsure that he can do this, but Bruce assures him that this will be quick. But when they arrive at the site, they find Jerome’s grave empty. Jeremiah, fearing the worst, flees.

Then we cut to Penguin and Butch, both of whom are holding up in Falcone’s mansion and still livid that they got played by Nygma. Butch still wants his cure, and Penguin admits that, through not fault of his own, things haven’t gone the way they wanted. They’re barely getting by while others carve up Sofia’s empire. Penguin prefers to play the long game, but Butch promises to crush Oswald.

Then the two see a report on Jerome’s followers attacking the precinct. Confusion is an opportunity for the clear-headed. As someone is showing their cards, Penguin wants to take a look.

Then at the precinct, Jim instructs the officers before turning to the one member who Harvey knocked out. They ask if Jerome had any other instructions, but he gives them nothing, even after being tased. When Jim uses the taser, the follower says that ‘they’ are already dead. They being Jeremiah and Bruce Wayne. Jim then heads off to Jeremiah’s bunker while Harvey holds down the fort.

At the same time, Riddler and his cronies arrive to find the precinct a bit occupied. However, he spots some prisoners being loaded up in a van, but Leslie isn’t among the prisoners. Hell, Riddler doesn’t even free them. Instead, they must improvise, and this involves finding a costume shop.

Not long after, Penguin and Butch arrive at the same truck and snatch one of the prisoners. These perps are funny, by the way. The episode clearly should’ve used them more. But inside, meanwhile, Leslie awakens to find the loonies still raining down hell in the precinct, so she uses this an opportunity to slip into the medical examiner’s lab.

Bruce pursues Jeremiah and yells out that he can trust him, as they’re friends. Still, Jeremiah assures Bruce that he has no idea what it was like to live in hiding. Then Bruce came to offer everything Jeremiah ever dreamed of in his life. Jeremiah steps into view as Bruce says that they should leave, but Jeremiah doesn’t think it’s that easy. He wants to know why Bruce really brought him here.

Then Jeremiah opens fire with a gun and demands that Bruce stop pretending to be his friend. He says that Bruce can’t behind the new face of his, saying that this is Jerome. Jeremiah orders his brother to turn around, saying that he killed Bruce, so the two are going for a walk.

So Riddler’s outfit is that of a clown and he’s given a drink right out of Jerome’s coffin. Classy. As the mob continues its assault, Nygma slips into the medical examiner’s lab and is knocked out by Leslie. By accident.

Jim, meanwhile, arrives at Jeremiah’s bunk, but finds no sign of either Jeremiah or Bruce. He enters the main lair and examines Jeremiah’s generator and plans when the monitors turn on.

Back outside at the cemetery, Jeremiah leads Bruce onward when he spots Jerome’s corpse resting on the headstone.

The tape turns out to be another recorded message from Jerome. The shenanigans at the station are a way to let his fans continue his fun. But Jerome figured that Jim would see through this, so he gave his followers a script to follow. Oh, and not-Harley appears to keep Jim in place.

Bruce tells Jeremiah that Jerome’s followers are doing this to torment him. As Jeremiah examines the corpse, he pulls out an razor blade in an attempt to cut off Bruce’s face to see Jerome’s real face underneath.

Not Harley-Quinn is instructed to keep Jim quiet, but when Jerome is choked on video, Jim uses the distraction to attack her. A fight breaks out and when Jim manages to knock her out, he takes off the mask and it turns out to be Ecco.

And Jerome was just being choked by…well, himself on another monitor. When Jerome is finished, he pulls off his stitches.

Bruce manages to subdue Jeremiah and tells him to fight off Jeremiah, but they’re interrupted when Jerome’s followers arrive. Jeremiah shoots and kills one of them before telling the mob that Jerome is not, in fact, victorious. He’s dead, after all. Jeremiah then wipes the blood from his face, revealing white skin underneath. He kicks Jerome’s corpse into the ground and declares himself victorious.

Indeed, it’s not Jerome whom Jim has been watching on these tapes, but Jeremiah, who reveals his true face.

Jeremiah tells Bruce that the insanity gas failed, aside from cosmetic changes. He donned his mask to show them how feeble they are compared to actual greatness. His face is the face of true sanity. He has a compendium of Jerome’s obsession and promises to outdo every one of them. Jerome wanted Gotham as a madhouse, but to build something, you must tear down what is already there.

In the bunker, Jeremiah on tape tells Jim that he pretended to be Jerome just so he could persuade the mob to attack the precinct. As Ecco flees, sealing Jim inside the room, Jeremiah explains the self-perpetuating generator next to Jim stores an incredible amount of energy. Jim should flee in the event that it would overload.

Bruce, though, feels the gas did work if Jeremiah want to sanely carry out Jerome’s plans. Jeremiah reads a page from Jerome’s notebook, saying that if he wanted to kill Bruce, he’d just do it instead of through some overdone, master plan. But Jeremiah doesn’t want to kill Bruce because he wants to show him how much he’s changed things. How they’ve changed things. He couldn’t have done this without Bruce’s help.

Jeremiah is indebted to Bruce. The generators built with Bruce’s money work better as bombs.

In the bunker, the generator starts pulsating and fluctuating between blue and red. Jeremiah explains that this sound isn’t good at all. And this will make Jim into one of Jeremiah’s guinea pigs for his plan. Killing Jim will help secure the loyalty of Jerome’s minions. However, Jim does manage to find a hidden button which opens a door. He takes one of the blueprints and flees the room.

As Harvey prepares to lead the officers to reclaim their precinct, a massive explosion gets their attention.

Jeremiah, accepting that Jim is dead, warns Bruce not to try anything, unless he also wants to die. Again, Jeremiah doesn’t want that. In fact, Jeremiah considers Bruce is very best friend. He knocks him out and throws his body in the hole alongside Jerome’s. With that, the mob takes its leave.

Penguin interrogates the mob member about what the mob was doing, but the member won’t betray Jerome’s memory. Expected. But Penguin wants him to betray who he is currently betraying. So Butch decides to try, saying that he sometimes scares himself when he sees himself in the mirror. The longer he’s like this, the angrier he gets. Right now, the man is preventing Butch from finding a cure, and that makes him very angry.

But Penguin figures that this plan won’t work. And it doesn’t, so Butch decides to stuff chicken bones up the guy’s nose until he talks.

Riddler finally awakens as Leslie tells him to just be himself and let go of the past. She likes that guy better. Riddler doesn’t have an extra outfit, but he does have an extra gas mask for when the cavalry arrives.

As if on cue, tear gas canister are lobbed into the precinct as Harvey and the officers take on the mob. In the middle of the madness, Leslie and Riddler use this as an opportunity to escape. And to kiss.

Lucius tells Harvey that he found the epicenter of the explosion- at Jeremiah’s bunker.

At the Wayne Research facility, Jeremiah arrives and tells two guards that though Bruce isn’t with him, he’s not alone. Indeed, he’s got Eccowith him. After she shoots and kills the guards, the two grab their key cards and enter the facility, which is filled to the brim with tons of generators. It’s time to give Gotham City its new face.

After checking in on Barbara’s encounter with Ra’s al Ghul, Gotham returns to the madness storyline involving Jerome, nay, Jeremiah, as he’s stepping up to become even better than Jerome ever was. Judging from what we see here, I think that’s very much possible.

It all comes down to differences in execution and the ways Cameron Monaghan differentiates his performances between Jerome and Jeremiah. While Jerome was very in your face, always had a reason to laugh, and more concerned about the spectacle, Jeremiah is quiet, collected, and, in his eyes, very much in control. He sees no madness to his methods.

And, in a way, I think that gives him the potential to be more dangerous than Jerome because he sees himself as the sane one. His plans are still just as elaborate. To put on Jerome’s old look and send out video tapes to get the mob on his side makes sense. Jeremiah lives in seclusion, aside from Ecco. He has no followers, but Jerome does. And with their leader gone, the mob is in free fall without someone to guide them.

That’s where Jeremiah steps in to take charge, and I like how Monaghan is playing this role. Jerome had control, too, but he was more interested in chaos. So is Jeremiah, as he wants to tear down the city in order to build the madhouse that Jerome craved. To be clear, we don’t know everything that Jeremiah wants, and what we do know is just because he tells us. And I don’t see a reason why he’d lie about anything. Yet.

Because he’s very clear and forthcoming about his directions. Rather than put Bruce in an elaborate death trap, he’d just shoot him and be done with it. There wasn’t enough time permitted in the season, but I do wish we’d gotten more of Bruce bonding with Jeremiah. At least enough for it to feel earned when Jeremiah calls Bruce his best friend. They haven’t had many encounters, so there’s not much to go off with this.

Having said that, I do like the show’s approach to Jeremiah right now. Jerome embodied so much of the Joker that I feared Jeremiah would be a retreated. And he’s not. Him being more reserved and even not laughing doesn’t make him any less Joker-like than Jerome. Him believing himself to be the face of true sanity makes him sound even crazier. Jerome at least accepted his insanity. To Jeremiah, nothing’s changed for him.

Save for the change to his appearance, in a nice little nod to how Jack Nicholson’s Joker in the 1989 Batman film wore skin colored makeup to cover up his pale, white skin. This colder, more calculating approach makes me very excited to see where Jeremiah goes from here. With all those generators, it’s sure to be explosive.

Everything else was fine. Serviceable, but the Leslie/Riddler and Penguin/Butch stuff did at least somewhat tie into the Jeremiah stuff because both teams ended up at the precinct for reasonable explanations: Riddler went to free Leslie, while Penguin and Butch went to grab a member of the mob for information.

I do kind of like the dilemma that Jim is in with Leslie.  Even though she is committing crimes by robbing banks, it’s not to prop up or inflate her ego. She’s doing it to help the people of the Narrows. That’s no excuse for what she did, but Jim is less hesitant to throw the book at her compared to something like murder. And, as Harvey points out, it’s small potatoes compared to what the two of them have done.

With that said, this was a very good and focused episode of Gotham. No League of Shadows stuff for now. Just Jeremiah’s emergence as he prepares to give Gotham City its new face. And both Bruce and the GCPD will need all the help they can get when dealing with this madman. As for Alfred and Jim’s fates? Don’t worry. Their plot armor is thick enough to survive anything thrown at them. They’ll be fine.

The takeaway from this is that all Jerome cared about was madness. Gotham City deserves a better class of criminal, and Jeremiah’s gonna give it to them.

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