A Look at Gotham- Season 3, Episode 13: “Mad City: Smile Like You Mean It”

Ladies and gentlemen, gather around.  It’s time for everyone’s favorite not-Joker to make his grand return to Gotham.  After ending on his body last time, Dwight is set to revive Jerome and put his plan into motion.  And even though I had some issues with this episode, it was a fun one all the same.  Let’s jump into “Smile Like You Mean It.”


The episode begins with Dwight and his clown-faced entourage entering a facility.  One of the guards is killed by his laughing cop cohort, so he picked the wrong day to work the night shift.  The mob makes their way further down until they find Jerome’s chamber.


As per usual, GCPD are quick to follow up on the scene.  Turns out that after Indian Hill was shut down, everyone was shipped to this facility, which happens to be a subsidiary of Wayne Enterprises.  Of course.  And given that Hugo Strange worked on psychopaths, it’s no surprise that Jerome wound up here.

Lucius Fox tells Jim that to revive someone requires warming the body.  If GCPD is lucky, they have three hours.  The three hear a noise and soon find one of the cult members hiding. Rather than take him to a hospital, Jim elects to bring him to the precinct instead.


Over at Wayne Manor, Cole speaks with Bruce and Alfred about Maria Kyle owing him $200,000, even though it was originally $100,000.  Now Cole would never hurt Maria, but he’d feel justified in giving GCPD enough evidence to put her away.  As long as Cole gets his money, he’ll vaporize.  Sounds simple.


Next day at GCPD, Jim tells Leslie that he needs to talk with the cult member, though Leslie insists that the member should be sent to a hospital.  On the relationship front, Jim is grateful for Leslie asking Falcone to call off the hit, but Leslie would prefer if Dwight could revive Mario.  There’s always a condition.


Jim asks the cult member why the group stole Jerome, but the member replies that it’s far too late to stop Jerome’s awakening.  It gets worse.  While the cult may appear small, they are, in fact, everywhere.  Jim immediately puts out a citywide call  to the rest of the officers.


At the same time, just as the vans are packed and ready to go, Dwight gets to work reanimating Jerome.


Barbara speaks with Oswald about his on-air gaffe, which has now made the headlines. Oswald is more concerned with Ed than the city, but Barbara tells him to focus on his real job: being the king of Gotham.  Some of the Gotham families, and Tommy Bones in particular, apparently have been talking about Oswald losing his spark.

To mitigate this, Barbara will call the families together so Oswald can squash the rumors.  As for why Barbara is helping, people think that Oswald is scared of her.  As long as that’s true, she gets to keep living.


Bruce gets the money since it’s the least he can do for Selina and Maria, though Selina wants Cole arrested to prevent him from returning.  Maria offers to leave, even though she’d rather not, but Selina isn’t a fan of any of this.  She leaves in a huff.


Jim and Harvey go over some pictures, with Jim thinking that there’s some truth to the possibility of Jerome having a cult.  Then Lucius enters with a map.  See, the amount of electricity that Melanie Blake received when she was revived would have caused a power surge.  There were several from a specific location, and a similar surge just came 15 minutes ago.  As Jim and Harvey organize Strike Force, one officer makes a call…


Dwight continues the reanimation, but Jerome still hasn’t awakened.  Gus has a few suggestions, but Dwight kills him and advances his plan.  People just want to see Jerome’s face, so Dwight grabs a scalpel and gets to work.


Jim, Harvey, and Strike Force converge on the location, but don’t find Dwight…just Gus’ body and Jerome with his face carved off.


Dwight, now wearing Jerome’s face, addresses the cult and tells them that Jerome has arrived.  The crowd isn’t convinced that he’s the prophet.  They want the real Jerome. But Dwight convinces the group that they all kept Jerome alive.  As such, they are all Jerome.  Soon enough, the crowd buys into it and begins to chant “We are Jerome.”


Back at GCPD, Leslie gets to work on Jerome, who isn’t altogether dead.  Meanwhile, Lucius, Jim, and Harvey examine a phone that last received a call from the GCPD, indicating that a mole at the precinct tipped off Dwight.


With that in mind, Jim addresses the officers about a possible mole in their ranks.  To weed out the traitor, Jim begins to call the last number.  This throws the mole, Officer Dove, played by James Mount, into a run, but he’s subdued in no time.  Nice bluff, Jim.


Penguin pops by Barbara’s club, but no sign of the families, so he figures that they are rebelling against him.  Barbara suggests that Tommy Bones be killed in order to clean house, but then Penguin reveals that he knows Barbara had a plan: get him to do the dirty work of attacking subordinates so Barbara could pick up what’s left.

Barbara insists that she wants to help, but then she gets a call from Tommy Bones, who tells Oswald that he doesn’t work for him anymore.  This, of course, gets under Oswald’s skin and he issues a threat, but Bones says that if anything happens, Nygma will die.  With that, Oswald vows vengeance.  Oh Oswald, you almost figured it out.


Once Oswald leaves, Barbara calls Bones and speaks with Tabitha, telling him that Oswald bought it.  With that, Tabitha kills Bones.


In interrogation, Dove tells Bullock and Gordon that he stopped being the cop on the night that the Maniax attacked the precinct.  He’s not afraid of being sent to Blackgate and despite both officers pulling a bad cop and beating the hell out of him, Dove just laughs.  I guess the two have nothing to threaten him with- nothing to do with all their strength.  You know the line.


Leslie  enters and sedates Dove with a solution that will get him talking.  Jim is grateful, but he didn’t want her to do that, even though he didn’t fare much better with the bad cop routine.  Leslie reams him out for bending the rules, which she did as well, but it got results.  Jim is fine with Leslie blaming him for Mario’s death, but he doesn’t want her hatred to turn her into something that she’s not.

Why the hell is Leslie even here?


Anyway, Dwight is about to make an announcement on a local news network this evening, and he gets right to work when he and his entourage enter and take over the station and prevent it from closing.


Leslie returns to the medical examiner’s lab and finds an officer knocked out.  Before she can do anything, a bandaged Jerome surprises her from behind.  He’s feeling a bit fuzzy and is surprised to be alive, as last year was nothing but darkness to him.  He then asks Leslie about the cult.

He then wants to know if Leslie and Jim are still an item, but of course that’s not the case. Tragic news for Jerome, as he liked the two of them.  Leslie tells Jerome what Jim did to Mario, which Jerome finds hilarious.  He finally remembers how he was about to kill Bruce Wayne, but then Theo Galavan killed him.

But of course, Theo Galavan died, then also came back to life, and was blown to hell. After this round of questioning, Jerome finally asks where his face is.  You’d think that would be the first question.


GCPD arrive at the channel 9 news station, where they find the cult holding the employees hostage.


Because nothing else is on the air, Cole is watching this hostage situation just as Maria arrives with the money.  He tells her that the two won, but then Selina enters and figures that Maria took advantage of her being with Bruce Wayne just to pull this scam.  Maria doesn’t deny that.

Even if Bruce and Selina don’t care about the money, Selina is still upset that her mother came back just for money.  Selina tells Maria to never come back to Gotham.  Well, that was petty drama.


Dwight goes over his prepared speech when one of the members alerts him that GCPD has arrived.  Jim calls and tells Dwight to release the hostages since he knows the cult won’t follow Dwight.  He doesn’t have what it takes to lead.  Dwight, though, insists that he is Jerome.  However, Jim tells Dwight that at least Jerome never bored him.  Bullock, meanwhile, finds a way in through the ventilation system.


Over at the club, while the families bicker, Tabitha and Barbara marvel at Nygma’s plan. However, Tabitha reminds Barbara that Nygma must still die once this is all over.  As for the families?  Well, Tabitha guns them down.  Barbara then calls Nygma and tells him that Oswald is his for the taking.


Dwight finally begins his address while Leslie and Jerome watch.  He’s unimpressed by Dwight’s lack of charisma.  After donning a cop uniform, Jerome leaves.  He just waltzes right out of the precinct without any officer putting up a fight.

And then he manages to get his hands on a police cruiser that he uses to speed down Gotham’s streets.  He even hit a man who, to be fair, is busy yapping away on his cell phone and not paying attention while crossing the street.


At the same time, GCPD enters the station and manages to subdue Dwight and the rest of the cult.


Because this was a plot point, Bruce gets back to training when Selina storms in and asks if he knew that Maria only wanted the money.  He did, yes, but in his defense, hehad hoped that Maria sticking around for a bit would let her get to know Selina a bit more instead of skipping town.

He just didn’t tell her the truth.  Selina’s anger rises and she slugs Bruce, but he manages to dodge each subsequent attack.  Before leaving, Selina tells Bruce that he is the reason that Maria returned.  Hell, Selina, that’s not Bruce’s fault.


As GCPD cleans up, Leslie calls Jim and tells him that Jerome is alive and coming for Dwight.  And the officer who was taking Dwight away?  Oh, he’s dead.  Pity how that happens.


Dwight, meanwhile, is being whisked away in a news van with Jerome, who soon staples his face back together.  Dwight likes the look, but you wouldn’t lie to a guy you just brought back to life. Jerome isn’t angry about Dwight cutting off his face.  He’s just happy to be alive again and is prepared to make a statement to Gotham.


Gabe tells Oswald that Nygma wasn’t at any location belonging to Tommy Bones’ or The Duke.  Oswald insists that Nygma is in danger when he suddenly gets a call from a frightened Nygma who can’t talk for long.  Before Penguin can learn where Nygma is being held, the line disconnects.


Jerome interrupts the Channel 9’s feed and addresses the city.  He tells the city that death itself is dull, but coming back is something else, as dying gives you a new perspective on life.  He tells the citizens that tonight, there are no rules.  Do and kill who you want.  When morning comes, everyone shall be reborn.


He then tells Dwight, who is strapped to a number of explosives, that he doesn’t forgive him for his face after all.  As the fuse gets closer, Jim heads to the precinct rooftop just in time to see the explosion near the power plant.  As such, all power goes out and Gotham slips into darkness.

So Jerome is back and in a big way.  They’ve been teasing it for some time, but Gotham has brought Jerome back from the dead to bring mayhem to the city once again.  And as much as I’ve enjoyed the Mad Hatter, Jerome brings a certain level of energy that you come to expect from the Joker or a Joker-like character since Gotham hasn’t flat out said this is that proto-character, despite the telltale signs.


While I was iffy on him before just because I wasn’t sure where the show would take him, I do like the intensity that Cameron Monaghan brings to his performance.


Gotham pays homage to actors who have played the Joker prior to this, but as has been the case before, it weaves in elements from The New 52.  In this case, instead of the Dollmaker cutting the skin from Joker’s face, it’s Dwight taking the face for his own purposes: inciting the cult to believe that they are all Jerome.


And a brief aside, I did like that they didn’t immediately buy into Dwight wearing Jerome’s face and accepting his proclamation.  They were, as most people would be, confused as hell, which I find appropriate.


It was foretold that Jerome would be a curse upon Gotham and that’s evident here not just in the dressed-up members, but those like Officer Dove, who was inspired by the attack on the GCPD that left many officers and Sarah Essen dead.  And there’s something twisted about that, but hey, if he’s the only convert, maybe there’s hope for some sanity and rigidity at the GCPD.


I don’t have an issue with Monaghan’s performance, per-se, but my issue is that it’s too similar to Heath Ledger’s take from The Dark Knight.  And understandably so.  If you’re gonna borrow, borrow from what I would wager is the most memorable live-action Joker.

It helps to take inspiration from what came before, and there have been shades of both Ledger and Jack Nicholson in this performance, but here, all I can think of is Ledger specifically, more so from the mannerisms and inflection in Jerome’s voice.  It’s like watching an imitation rather than using that to establish your own take, even if I did like the performance.


Say what you will about Suicide Squad, but Jared Leto’s performance and that entire design are, without a doubt, his particular Joker.  When I watch Leto, I don’t find myself thinking about how I hear other Joker actors in his voice or actions.  Even if you disagree with the aesthetics, and I have my own issues with the design as well, it is very much a different Joker than what we got with The Dark Knight.


By comparison, Jerome, as fun as he is to watch, feels like taking what Heath Ledger did and just porting it to the small screen.  Again, a lot of that is in the voice, but if I wanted to stretch, perhaps Jerome sounds this way a. because he stapled his face back together, and b. he’s still delirious from being brought back to life.

With all that said, I’m still interested to see what he has in store.  Plunging the city into darkness and telling the citizens to kill who they want and they will be reborn is a good way to spread mass hysteria throughout the city just for the hell of it.  And the sight of Jerome with his face stapled back on- which can’t be safe, but whatever- is a gruesome sight that I find appropriate for Gotham.


So even though I find Jerome all-too-similar to Ledger this time around, he’s still fun to watch and all of his antics, from taking over a broadcast to having a civil, yet tense chat with Leslie, did all felt very Joker-like and kept me entertained.


That said, I still have to question how the hell Jerome, who is a known psychopath and killer, just brought back to life, could walk right out of the police department without anyone stopping him and he manages to get his hands on a police cruiser.  Look, I’m all for the ridiculous on this show, but that’s just absurd and makes the officers look even more incompetent.


With Jerome taking center stage, the other plots weren’t as engaging.  Jim and Leslie are still having their spat, but I’m left wondering why Leslie would even return to the GCPD. Yeah, it’s her job, but she and Jim are  going to have tension, more so after she wanted Harvey to arrest him.

She helps out with Officer Dove and rightly rakes Jim over the coals for abusing his authority, but just one episode ago, she wanted him killed…and then changed her mind. She’s not in any position to get on a high horse.


Then there’s the Bruce and Selina stuff, and I’m wondering if Maria is going to play a greater role in the Court of Owls stuff or this storyline going forward.  Otherwise, bringing her back felt like a waste of time.  It just made some easy pathos for Selina, who now has issues with Bruce as well for not being honest with her.


We didn’t even need Maria if she was going to turn out to still be a deadbeat mother. That’s not even worth our time.  And the relationship didn’t progress.  In fact, Selina is in a worse place with both Maria and Bruce.  Again, if there are bigger plans for this and Maria manages to redeem herself, then fine.  Otherwise, this felt like a pointless detour.


And Oswald should be smart enough to see through this ruse.  Maybe not that Nygma masterminded it, but he was so close to exposing Barbara.  For a guy who crawled all the way up to become the king of Gotham, he’s not showing his smarts right here.  And with Jerome throwing the city into darkness, this subplot could turn just as upside down as the city soon will.

“Smile Like You Mean It” was a good, energetic episode despite my reservations, as there was far more good than bad here.  It was a welcome return for Jerome as he incites the city to do as they please in order to be reborn.  With power now out in Gotham and Jerome on the loose, we’re about to experience a real mad city.

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.”


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.


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.


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.


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.


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?


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

A Look at The Walking Dead #162- “The Whisperer War: Part 6 of 6”


Before jumping into issue #162, think back to the ending of All Out War: Negan had been taken down, the communities seemingly had a new ally with the reformed Dwight leading the Saviors, and for the first time in a long time, it appeared that the communities could be at ease without some looming threat outside of the occasional roamer.

Fast forward to today and the ending of The Whisperer War might be the end of The Whisperers trying to overtake the survivors, but they don’t have to do the heavy lifting anymore.  You saw the herd that Alpha showed Rick.  A string of small victories against The Whisperers is nothing when they still have a massive weapon to unleash.


But we’ll get to that later.  We start off with Negan laying Lucille to rest…which is funny and somewhat tragic at the same time.  The Lucille that we’ve known since issue #100 has been a staple for so long, so to lose her is a huge deal for Negan.  It makes sense that he’d want to bury her.

At the same time, this is his chance to say goodbye to Lucille for real.  As “Here’s Negan” has shown us, Negan never got a chance to bury his actual wife, Lucille, so this is a way for him to pay his respects to his wife and the bat for which she’s named.  Serious of a moment as this is, I did get a laugh out of Negan hoping that Lucille is in Heaven getting her brains fucked out and in by someone special.

Who thinks that?


William and his entourage from the Kingdom finally arrive at what remains of the Hilltop. While it’s unfortunate they were too late, Maggie is correct to tell William that it’s not his fault.  Who could’ve predicted such an attack?  Like Maggie says, the Kingdom could’ve been hit.  There’s no telling how long it would take reinforcements from other communities to arrive.

But regardless of what’s happened, I like that William isn’t an unwilling leader.  He’s out on the frontlines and offering whatever services he can to Maggie.  But Maggie is already looking towards the future.  I don’t expect the Hilltop to be rebuilt overnight, and with both the Whisperers still out there and the time it would take to remake this community, even without interruption, I’m very curious to see what comes next for the Hilltop.


And it looks like Lydia is here to stay, despite how disturbed she is by what’s happened. As a Whisperer, she and her group would ravage a community and leave.  She never had to deal with the aftermath, but now she’s seeing firsthand what her people did and that bothers her.  She knows that she’s done terrible things to strangers who didn’t deserve it, and she feels that would make Carl hate her.

But this is Carl Grimes we’re talking about.  We can’t count the number of terrible things Rick’s merry band of survivors have done to get to where they are, whether their actions were warranted or unprovoked.  Carl knows what it’s like to commit atrocities, even if it’s just to survive, but the point of getting to where they are is to not live like that anymore. You remember where you came from and that makes you a better person.

It’s a nice way for the two to bond in the wake of what they’ve endured and shows that, despite where Lydia came from, she has more in common with Carl and his group than she knew.


This conversation is in stark contrast to what Rick and Andrea discuss, as they acknowledge that killing other human beings is their world now if they’re to survive.  While Carl talks of moving past those dark moments to be a better person, you’ve got these two accepting that this is their life and there may be no coming back from this.

By the way, the shooting system used to indicate who is arriving at Alexandria…I get why it’s useful, but it’s brought up here, used when Dwight and company arrive, but when Eugene arrives with the ammunition, someone just yells out that he’s there.  My question is do you need both?  The gunshots could just alert roamers much more than someone’s voice.  Just something on my mind while reading this.


Anyway, Dwight and company return and it is a good feeling when the groups reunite, but the moment is short lived.  There’s this false sense of security with Dwight telling Rick what happened.  Beta nearly beaten to death, the plan to mix among the Whisperers…it all sounds like Dwight’s group took care of business no problem.


Therein lies the problem: Rick knows better because he’s seen it.  I’ve gotta wonder who else knows about the massive roamer herd that Alpha showed Rick.  I would assume that Lydia knows of it, but aside from her, does anyone else know that the Whisperers have a trump card with that herd?  Not that he would intentionally withhold it, but it would help to keep people aware of what the Whisperers may unleash down the road.

So even if the communities get comfortable after managing to thin out a hundred or so Whisperers and their roamer hordes, they’re always aware in the back of their mind that there’s an even bigger threat on the horizon that would take days to clear.


And that’s just what’s heading their way.  Sweet merciful crap, that is a terrifying sight. Rick called the herd “a sea of the dead that roared like an ocean” and it’s an apt description.  The scope of this enormous herd, I feel, eclipses what Alexandria endured during No Way Out and it spells impending danger for the survivors.


What’s more, the Whisperers don’t have to lift a finger right now.  Their war is over, as Beta says, so now they can just leave the dead to finish what they’ve started.  The Whisperers can recuperate and heal while the roamers lay waste to Alexandria.  Plus, remember that the Saviors are still out there and waiting to make their comeback, so this conflict will no doubt continue well after this arc.

The Whisperer War is over, but the survivors are nowhere near done with fighting just yet.

A Look at The Walking Dead- Season 7, Episode 8: “Hearts Still Beating”

From bottle episodes to multiple plots, it’s time for The Walking Dead to end the first half of its seventh season, and if anything, it solidifies in Rick’s mind by episode’s end that things need to change and fast.  This is “Hearts Still Beating.”


The episode begins at the Hilltop with Maggie sitting at Abraham and Glenn’s graves.  She later climbs the walls when Gregory tells her that people are saying nice things about her, Sasha, and how they saved the community.

Gregory doesn’t want it going to her head, but Maggie wonders if this bothers Gregory, who is about to eat an apple.  Then another Hilltop member, Eduardo, mentions that Maggie is pregnant, so goodbye Gregory’s apple and hello Maggie’s apple.


We then cut to Alexandria, where Negan puts the finishing touches on a clean shave while Carl and Judith watch.  He then gets to work cooking up a storm.


Outside, Tara gives Olivia some lemonade that’s intended for Negan.  Tara offers to take over, but Olivia refuses since she promised Rick that she would watch Judith.  She tells Tara to leave.


Over at the Sanctuary, Daryl makes his escape from his cell.


Meanwhile, Aaron and Rick find a boat riddled with bullet holes.  Rick wants Aaron to stay back, but Aaron refuses, saying that he’s seeing this through. Instead, he gets some wood to use as paddles and the two then set out on the water.


As Carl sets the dinner table, Negan tells him to get another setting, but he soon gets tired of waiting for Rick.  Lucille, though, is hungry, so Negan orders Carl to pass the rolls.  At least he said please.  Lucille doesn’t have a pussy, but she apparently has a mouth.


As Eugene enters the Safe Zone, the Saviors make good of Spencer’s supplies and are glad that he got messy for them.  One of the Saviors, Laura, played by Lindsley Register, tells Spencer that if he plays his cards right, they may show him where she lives.  Laura then tells an eavesdropping Eugene to fuck off and mind his own business.


Back by the Kingdom, Carol reads from a book when she spots a package from Morgan on her doorstep.  Carol calls out to Morgan and tells him that the package of fresh food is unnecessary because Ezekiel is keeping her well-stocked.  Morgan promises to leave Carol alone, but she did call him over in the first place to ask how he’s doing.

Morgan is good, so now he can go.  He tells Carol that she may be going soft.  Morgan won’t be going anywhere, as he and Carol receive an unexpected visit from Richard, who wants to talk to the two about something important.


On the water, Rick and Aaron continue their trek and take out as many walkers that are drawing close to their boat, which is taking on water.  They manage to reach another boat, but a walker has already made it her territory.  And then another walker grabs Aaron and drags him into the water.  After a bit of time passes, he resurfaces unharmed.  Sorry, Bob.


However, Aaron and Rick come up short, as they find food and tons of guns, but no ammunition. Just a less-than-pleasant note from the owner.


Back at the Sanctuary, Daryl sneaks into another room where he feasts on peanut butter and changes into a new set of clothes.


As the two pack, Rick tells Aaron that he didn’t mean to imply that Aaron couldn’t help out.  It’s just that people don’t agree with Rick scavenging for the Saviors, so Rick wouldn’t blame Aaron if he backed out.  Aaron reminds Rick that he was with him on the road.  What they’re doing is going to keep people alive.  It doesn’t matter what happens to them, even if Michonne doesn’t see this as living.

After Alexandria lived free, it’s hard to give up what you have, but either your heart’s beating or it isn’t.  Same for your loved ones.  You take what’s given to you so you can live.


Michonne is still on the road with Isabelle, who is continuing her drive presumably towards the Sanctuary.  Michonne asks how long she’s been with Negan and why she was out there alone, but gets no response.  Whether Isabelle believes that talking won’t change how this ends for her remains to be seen, but for now, Michonne won’t kill Negan today. She just wants to find a way to win and change how this ends for her.


Back at the Hilltop, Sasha and Maggie get an apple pie as a gift for their work in saving the Hilltop.  Enid asks if Maggie is President yet, but she isn’t.  Also, Jesus hasn’t returned yet.  Enid knows that Sasha is lying to Maggie about Jesus, given that he left yesterday, not today, as Sasha said.  Sasha says this is for Maggie’s own good.  Enid knows that Sasha wants to kill Negan.

If Sasha had help, she wouldn’t have to keep this from Maggie.  But Sasha doesn’t want Enid helping or talking, even though this effort to take down Negan goes well beyond Sasha.


Richard speaks with Carol and Morgan about communities that once banded together, but are now gone.  He lost hope in people until he found the Kingdom and met Ezekiel.  But now the Kingdom is under threat by the Saviors.  A few months back, some Saviors met Ezekiel and, recognizing his capabilities, cut a deal.  In exchange for food and supplies, , the Saviors wouldn’t hurt anyone or enter the Kingdom.

And since Ezekiel both trusts Morgan and likes Carol, Richard needs them to help convince Ezekiel to fight the Saviors.  There’s peace with the Saviors now, but Richard fears that something will go wrong or the Saviors will just stop honoring the deal.  Once that happens, the Kingdom will fall.  Richard lost his family to this world and he’s afraid that if nothing happens now, more will die.

He knows what the Saviors can do and does not trust them.  In essence, Richard wants Morgan and Carol to convince Ezekiel to launch a preemptive strike against the Saviors.


Over at Alexandria’s church, Rosita admires her handcrafted bullet when Gabriel asks if it’s for her or Negan.  She’s not worried about dying so long as Negan is killed in the process.  Gabriel agrees, but he doesn’t see why does Rosita has to die.  And there’s no need to lie if this is their last conversation.

Rosita believes that Abraham was still alive, they could fight.  If Glenn lived, Maggie’s child would have a father.  Michonne and Carl have Rick, Aaron has Eric, Eugene knows things, and Daryl is strong.  Gabriel mentions Sasha as well and tells Rosita that it shouldn’t have been her or anyone else.

He is convinced that they will win, but they need to wait for or create the right moment together.  Rosita is a part of that, so she shouldn’t do this because everyone needs her.


Richard knows that the Saviors outnumber the Kingdom, so they need to attack first while they have the advantage and, hopefully, the element of surprise.  Though a capable fighter, Carol wants no part of this and would still prefer to be left alone.

Morgan knows people will die, and he only killed to save Carol.  In Richard’s mind, there’s no difference between that and killing other Saviors to protect everyone else.  Richard tells While Morgan would rather build on the peace that exists now, Richard tells him that he’ll have to choose to kill one day because things aren’t going to get easier. He should choose now before losing someone close to him.

But Richard knows that there’s no reasoning with the Saviors.  He believes that the Saviors will turn on the Kingdom, and when blood is shed, it will be on Morgan and Carol’s hands.  With that, he leaves.  Carol tells Morgan that she doesn’t want anyone else knowing where she is, but he never meant for anyone to see her.


Spencer enters his home and finds it turned upside down, but it’s soon cleaned up as he gets himself nice and ready for a confrontation.


Back in the woods, Richard enters a hidden home and collapses to the floor as he eyes his supplies.


Rosita then asks Spencer if he’s on for a date, but he just wants to get close to Negan, as he figures that he’s got good momentum with the Saviors.  Spencer asks why Rosita ended or even started what the two of them had, given that he felt they had something good.

Truth is that Rosita was trying not to think about shit. finds Spencer sweet, sure, but she admits that she just used him.  At the very least, she does agree to dinner with Spencer, no strings attached.


Daryl again manages to find a motorcycle when he’s confronted by Fat Joseph, who surrenders and offers to let Daryl leave right now.  He tells Daryl that he’s just trying to get by, but Daryl just beats him to death just as Jesus finds him.  Daryl retorts that it’s not about getting by, but getting it all.  Before the two leave, Jesus pockets one of the walkie-talkies.


After being refused entry by Arat, Spencer is eventually allowed to pass and officially introduces himself to Negan.


Michonne and Isabelle companion are still on the road when they come to a stop. Isabelle tells Michonne that Negan is up ahead.   You know, because they’re all Negan. She says that whatever Michonne is planning won’t work, but she still has some choices. As her final move, Isabelle informs Michonne that there’s a silencer in the glove compartment…


Meanwhile, Rick and Aaron return to Alexandria, when they learn that Negan is waiting for Rick.  The Saviors then check the truck for supplies, among them the note that Rick and Aaron found on the boat.  Why the hell do they still have that?  Anyway, the Saviors think that the disparaging note is meant for them, so they start beating the shit out of Aaron and stop Rick from interfering.


Negan is overjoyed about Spencer’s housewarming gift, but the only thing missing is a pool table.  Luckily, the house across the street has one, but Negan has a better idea.

With the pool table set, Spencer tells Negan that he understands what Negan is trying to build with this network.  It makes sense, but Rick has a history of not working well with others.  More than that, Rick wasn’t the original leader and wasn’t as good as Deanna.  Negan finds that a sad story, but lucky for him, Rick isn’t in charge.  Even still, Spencer knows that Rick’s out-of-control ego will lead to him trying to screw things up.

With the Alexandria residents now gathered at the pool table, Negan asks what Spencer is proposing, and Spencer offers to be the leader that Negan needs.

But Negan has been thinking about how Rick, despite hating him, is out gathering things to make sure no one else is hurt.  He’s swallowing his hate to get shit done, and that takes guts.  Then there’s Spencer, who waited for Rick to leave so he could get Negan to do his dirty work.  After all, if Spencer really wants to be in charge, why doesn’t he just kill Rick himself?


Negan says it’s because Spencer has no guts.  And with that, he plunges a knife straight into Spencer’s stomach and guts spill out everywhere.  Negan is beyond embarrassed, as Spencer did have guts after all- they were inside him all along.  The residents are left shocked, but Negan orders someone to get this mess cleaned.  He asks if anyone wants to finish the pool game, but no takers.  Rosita pulls out her gun and fires.


The other Saviors finally let up on beating Aaron and Rick is allowed to help him.  They hear a gunshot ring out and it turns out that Lucille ended up taking a hit from Rosita’s bullet.  Negan demands to know about the bullet that he correctly guesses is homemade.

Since Lucille’s beautiful surface won’t look the same, Negan figures that Rosita’s shouldn’t either…unless she tells him who made the bullet.  Arat then places a blade to Rosita’s face.


Rosita says that she made it, but Negan figures that she’s lying.  Negan orders Arat to kill someone, so with fucking perfect aim, she turns around and kills Olivia.  And this is where Rick and Aaron arrive just in time for Negan to ask for a thank you.  Even though this relationship started off tense, he just showed how reasonable how he was.  After all, Carl gunned down two Saviors, but Negan brought him home and fed him.


Not to mention Spencer plotting behind Rick’s back, but now he’s dead.  Again, thanks to Negan.  And Rosita shot Lucille, so now there’s one less mouth to feed in Olivia’s death.  Negan wouldn’t have killed her- that’s all Arat’s doing.  Rick tells Negan that his shit is waiting for him at the gate, so he can leave.  However, Negan still wants to know who made the bullet.


Eugene admits that he was the one who made the bullet, and Negan believes him.  Negan orders Lucille to give him strength and Negan will now relieve Rick of Eugene.  Whatever Rick scavenged is no good because after today, he’s in deep shit. Also, Negan loves Rick’s kitchen.  With that, the Saviors depart.  Spencer soon reanimates just as Rick puts him down.


He later sits in the cell that Morgan built as he looks over a note when Michonne joins him.  The two embrace because, let’s face it, they’ve had one hell of a day.  Michonne confirms that she found what she was looking for, as she had to go her way instead of joining Rick and Aaron.  But when she found it, she realized that she didn’t want it to be her way, but theirs.

There are more Saviors than anticipated, but that doesn’t change how Michonne how feels or how things are.  There’s so much that they’ve lived through when they should have died and they will keep standing, so now they’re left wondering how they make that mean something.  After all, Rick once said that they’re the ones who live.  That’s why they have to fight: not for themselves, but for everyone.  They can find a way to beat the Saviors.

And Rick now knows that.


Back at the Hilltop, Maggie again climbs the walls when she calls out to Sasha and Enid.  Turns out that Rick, Michonne, Tara, Carl, and Rosita have arrived at the Hilltop.  Rick tells Maggie that she was right from the beginning, as they need to get ready to fight.  Rick couldn’t have listened back then, but now he can.

Oh, also, Daryl and Jesus are at the Hilltop and he returns Rick’s colt.  Now reunited, the group heads towards the mansion as the first half of The Walking Dead’s seventh season comes to a close.

But wait, there’s more!  In a stinger at the end, Gabriel takes his post atop the Alexandria walls while the same individual who spied on Rick and Aaron watches him from a distance.

Well, that’s it for the first half of Season Seven and the wheels are in motion with the communities heading towards taking on Negan and the Saviors.  “Hearts Still Beating” is a very good episode and finisher for the first half that balances different storylines and communities very well.  It was all well-paced.  We’re at Alexandria, the Hilltop, the Sanctuary, or the Kingdom long enough to get the gist of what’s going happening.


While I haven’t had a big issue with the episodes dealing with one community, it makes sense, given the situation, that things are ramping up, so of course we’d head back to multiple plots and catch up not just on how the communities are doing, but how they’re planning on dealing with Negan.


And a big part of that has to do with being unified, as Michonne concludes when on the road and as she tells Rick in a very good speech about working together.  Making the most of this situation with the Saviors doesn’t work if everyone isn’t banded together.  Hell, even Gabriel tells Rosita that creating the right moment comes from working as one as opposed to going at it alone.  Hopefully Sasha and Jesus have let Maggie in on their plan.


But a team won’t function as well without its leader, and it looks as if Rick has finally come around to fighting back as opposed to biding his time.  And that’s through a combination of the people who have either suffered or been killed up through this point, watching Aaron be beaten, Michonne’s speech to him, and how his own son went right to Negan’s stronghold, killed a few Saviors, and could’ve gotten himself killed.  Again.


Rick had been brought down, but he’s not out.  And while Maggie instantly wanted to fight, it took him more time to come around.  Now that he’s ready for war and has reunited with the others at the Hilltop, now it’s just a matter of formulating a successful attack that won’t lead to more deaths, impossible as that sounds.  Instead of just taking the fight to Negan ahead of time, he needs a better strategy.


He also needs to be more trusting of his new allies, as it was unnecessary for him to suggest that Aaron sit out the boat mission, even though he didn’t mean it.  Despite the tense, first encounter, Aaron has proven himself loyal and willing to help when necessary.  He was there when Glenn and Abraham died, so he knows the cost, but damn the consequences, he’s proving to Rick why he’s a vital member of this coalition.


Over at the Kingdom, Richard is falling into the same trap that Rick did with his plan of a preemptive strike against the Saviors.  He knows that the Saviors can’t be trusted and he wants to take the fight to them ahead of time, but if he was aware of what happened with Rick, chances are he would be more cautious about wanting to get a potential early advantage against the Saviors.


By the way, what’s going on with Carol?  Seems like she’s still in her funk about not wanting to kill or be involved with this conflict at all.  That’s fine, but for her to say that she doesn’t want anyone to know where she is and that she’d rather be left alone isn’t helpful at this point.  I doubt this is long term.  Maybe once she learns what happened to the others, she’ll go back to killer Mama Bear Carol.

At the very least, the seed has been planted in Morgan and Carol’s minds about the Kingdom playing a part in an offensive against Negan.  And as Richard said, Morgan will have to kill again eventually to protect the people in his life.  Once Rick arrives at the Kingdom, I wager he’ll do a better job of persuading the community to fight than either Carol or Morgan.


Now let’s get to Spencer’s death, another comic moment come to life in a beautiful, bloody way.  The moment played out, note-for-note, like you remember it from the comics and it really showed what Negan sees in Rick.  For all his hatred for Negan, Rick, as far as Negan knows, isn’t a schemer.  He’s swallowing his pride and working for Negan in order to protect Alexandria.


By contrast, Spencer would take the coward’s way out and, like Gregory, suck up to the opposition in order to get in their good graces.  Problem is that Negan gets off on and likes when people fight against him.  What Spencer’s doing requires very little thought because there’s no guarantee that Negan would accept him with open arms.  As broken as Rick has been this season, Negan at least knows that he has a spine.


Oh, but Spencer’s not the only one making stupid decisions.  Rosita took a prime opportunity to kill Negan and had a perfect shot, and not only did she almost get herself killed- and she seemed ready to die- but she got Olivia killed in the process.  Why now?

Daryl punched Negan in the face, which led to Glenn getting killed. Rosita took a shot and missed, but despite that, her actions got someone killed.  Clearly Rosita never watched The Wire or she would have remembered Omar’s words: you come at the king, you best not miss.


Perhaps it was impulsive thinking, but what made her believe she could pull off what amounts to a suicide mission?  She didn’t even land her target, and now not only is Olivia dead, but Eugene has been taken captive.


That’s another thing: why does Negan decide to take Eugene?  Aside from the knowledge of how to make bullets, what could Negan get from him?  Wouldn’t it make more sense to take Rosita?  He took Daryl hostage and said that he had guts.  Take the woman who almost killed you instead of the guy whose skill is making bullets.  Or, hell, just take them both.  Rick wasn’t about to stop Negan.


Credit where it’s due, that was a fantastic shot on Arat’s part.  The woman didn’t even give it much of a thought- she just spun around and killed Olivia on the first try.  It’s more impressive given how far away Olivia was when Arat could have just killed anyone in the crowd around her.  By the way, I love Arat.  Or rather, the intensity of Elizabeth Ludlow’s performance.  Like Daryl, she’s not a comic character, but is enjoyable all the same.


The reunion at the end felt very earned, especially seeing Rick and Daryl reunite after Negan refused to let the two so much as talk or look at each other.  I would assume that Daryl and Maggie are on good terms as well.  Our group is down, but they’re not out.

And with most of our survivors back together, the time has come for the communities to combine their resources and slowly build a strong coalition capable of taking on their common enemy in Negan and the Saviors.  Will everyone answer the call? Will there be any holdouts?  And who the hell is spying on Alexandria?

“Hearts Still Beating” was a very strong outing for the first half of the season.  It balanced multiple communities very well and was both fun- mostly through Negan’s actions- and suspenseful to watch at the same time.  As we head towards war, I am very excited to see how things go in the second half of Season Seven.  See you then.

A Look at The Walking Dead #161- “The Whisperer War: Part 5 of 6”


It’s funny if you think about it: we’re at part five of the Whisperer War, yet by issue’s end, the war seems all but over…for at least one community.  The bulk of this issue dealt with the battle between the Whisperer and their roamer herd versus the Hilltop community, and damn it was an amazing sight to read.

This issue showcased just how much of a fight the Hilltop can put up when they band together, helped cement why Maggie is the true leader of this group, and left the community in a precarious position by issue’s end.


Speaking of cementing, this issue set in stone that Lydia has rejected the Whisperers for good.  She’s switched sides and now sees herself as one of the survivors that we’ve followed.  I mean, she blew one of the Whisperers straight to hell at the end of issue #160, so there’s no question about her allegiance, but it’s so satisfying that she’s ended up here, given what she’s endured.

We know that Alpha let random Whisperers rape Lydia, in addition to any other sort of trauma or abuse she endured while a Whisperer, and that alone was an incentive to get out.  If I had to guess, I think that there could be potential friction from neighboring communities if they learn that Lydia has chosen to stay with the Hilltop folks.

Hell, part of the reason Rick and Andrea had Lydia leave Alexandria was for her own safety, so hopefully feelings have cooled and people outside of the Hilltop are more receptive to Lydia.


Something else I liked about the Hilltop attack was Carl, against Maggie’s wishes, going to alert other residents during the fire instead of escaping while Maggie, as leader, informed the others.  Carl tells Maggie not to argue with him and that she’s more important.  Even though Carl is still a kid and can be pretty ruthless at times, when the time calls for it, he’ll rise to the occasion and help during a crisis.

And this shows just how much he respects not merely as a friend, but as a leader.  And he’s right, in this moment, Maggie is more important.  What good is saving everyone else and protecting the Hilltop if the leader ends up dying in the process when they could have avoided that fate?  It’d be like if Rick died during “All Out War” for some careless error.

But here, Carl acknowledges that getting Maggie outside and to safety is the priority. Even though she’s more than capable of saving the residents, she needs to be outside and on the front lines in battle.  But Carl has also endured his fair share of trials during this and past conflicts, so he’s more than willing to risk his life as well if it means saving or informing other Hilltop residents.


For a second there, I thought Carl was going to…maybe not die, but come close to it. That fire got pretty damn close to him and were it not for Aaron also putting himself at risk to save Carl, things might have gone down different for him.

Outside of that, this was a damn impressive battle with some great artwork from Charlie Adlard that shows the scope of this clash and felt very similar to “No Way Out.”  Here, have a look.



And this.  This, just wow.  Now this is a badass moment not just for Maggie, but for any character period.  It’s the kind of image that feels good enough to be blown up as a poster. Just the visual of this worn out, exhausted Maggie standing triumphant, Hershel at her side, the Hilltop residents standing tired, but triumphant, while their home burns in the background is a strong image.

They’re victorious, but they’ve now lost their home.  And not only are there still both roamers and Whisperers still out there roaming, as seen when Beta indicates that this is far from over, but they have to find a new location.  Given how many people are at the Hilltop, coupled with long-distance travel, moving from the Hilltop to a new residency will be challenging, more so if the group travels at night.

But then, what choice do they have right now?  They can’t just stay at the Hilltop not just because it’s burned, but they would leave themselves open to another assault if the remaining Whisperers try to launch another attack.  Either way, it’s great to see the Hilltop residents band together and force the Whisperers into retreat.  Their home is now lost as a result, but this is still a major win for the survivors.  For now.


Moving along to the other survivors, it looks like Connie was bitten off-panel.  Sucks, but hopefully Magna was able to sever the hand in time.  Like the Hilltop, it’s another case of a group having what looks like a success against the Whisperers, but not without a loss.

You’ve also got Dwight chastising Negan for losing Lucille, but can you really blame Negan for mourning his loss?  We’re talking about a fucking baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire, but she has a special place in all of our hearts and some of our skulls.  It was a bit meta, I think, for Negan to tell Dwight that he didn’t understand how he felt, but us readers do, given the ongoing “Here’s Negan” backstory we’ve been getting.


We’ve got Eugene making his way in the middle of the night with his ammunition, saying that this is the good he can do.  It’s an interesting contrast to where Eugene is in the television series right now, where you’ve got Rosita saying that he’s a coward.  Here, he’s willingly putting himself in harm’s way by traveling at night instead of waiting until day because these bullets are what he contributes to the battle.

So here’s hoping Eugene doesn’t run into any trouble on the road.  I mean, if that happens, he does have a bunch of bullets he could use, but given how much can go wrong when traveling at night, he better watch his ass.


Same with Rick and Andrea, who are all but ready for some normalcy in their lives.  I hope that Kirkman isn’t setting one of them up to be axed off because their conversations have been very warm, and there’s always the calm before the storm when it comes to Kirkman. We’ve had a fair share of big deaths and I hope that these two make it through, so maybe I’m just looking too deep into this.


But at least they’re alert of the looming situation because we’re seeing that the war is not only far from over as far as the Whisperers are concerned, but Sherry is plotting a comeback for the Saviors.  Rick and company are fighting for their lives against the Whisperers.  Their resources are divided in several places and the Hilltop is now lost.

Soon, as Sherry points out, battling the Whisperers will leave the other communities tired and exhausted.  Never mind that there may be other Whisperers out there, but the Saviors would be in a prime position to attack once the Whisperers have drained the survivors of their fight.  Not that they’d be unable to fight against another attack, but they wouldn’t be at full strength.

And that’s the advantage in Sherry’s plan: why attack Rick now when his people are ready for anything?  Even though they already know about the Saviors’ plans, their priority is dealing with the Whisperers.  Sherry knows that Rick will triumph in the end.  Hell, that’s what she wants.  But if she’s leading the Saviors to a resurrection or to pick up where Negan left off, she’s in a prime position to do so.

And so that is the fifth part of the Whisperer War.  The Hilltop has won the battle, but not the war as their community is now in flames, so now they must seek new shelter. Meanwhile, the Kingdom is set to enter the battle, so keep an eye on them as well.  Hell, maybe they can provide support for the Hilltop folks now that they’re without a home.

The Whisperers have faced a setback, but with Beta still lurking and the Saviors planning a comeback, this battle is far from over.

A Look at The Walking Dead- Season 7, Episode 7: “Sing Me a Song”

So after that slight detour to check in on Heath and Tara, it’s time to return to some multiple plots and see just what happens when Carl pays Negan a surprise visit at the Sanctuary. The comic fan in me cannot wait for this one.  Welcome to “Sing Me a Song.”


The episode begins with Michonne on the road as she again comes across the burned mattresses.  Doing her best impression of Omar from The Wire, she whistles “The Farmer and the Dell,” and soon puts down two approaching walkers.  Setting down the radio and her katana, she begins dragging one of the walkers away.


Elsewhere, Rick and Aaron awaken just past 5:30.  Rick contemplates radioing into Michonne, but doesn’t.  As the two prepare to head out, they make a new discovery.


On another part of the road, some Saviors talk of how something is still going, but it might be the end of them.  At least Negan is smart enough to not let that mess anywhere near them.  Fat Joey also apparently rigged the herdway.


When the Saviors finally depart, they are unaware that Carl and Jesus are also on this truck.  While the drive continues, Jesus pours syrup onto the road in order to leave a trail, thinking that they’re close.  Jesus wants to bail and follow the rest of the way.  The trucks are slow enough, so he and Carl will be in the blind spot and can race behind the other cars.

However, only Jesus jumps out and is left on the road as Carl continues towards the Sanctuary.  As the truck approaches, Carl loads up one of the machine guns and overhears Negan’s voice.  One of the Saviors tells Negan that the redirect has been screwed up.  They’re on it now, but there’s still a mess.


As the Saviors check the truck, Carl opens fire and manages to gun down a few of the Saviors.  He demands that the rest lower their weapons, saying that he only wants Negan. Negan indeed presents himself, calling Carl adorable, even though he scares the shit out of him.

Dwight tackles Carl and confiscates his knife, but Negan orders him to back off.  After all, it’s no way to treat a guest.  Negan is all ready to give Carl a tour of the place, and Carl eventually relents and takes Carl’s hand.  Negan tells Carl that, like Daryl, he’s lucky, as both of their lives and jobs would be tougher with just one hand or arm.

As Dwight takes Daryl instead, Negan laments that he’ll maybe have time to screw just one of his wives today.  As for what’s in store for Carl, two things: Carl can’t shatter the badass image that Negan has of him, so Carl can’t show any fear.  Second, Negan sure as shit isn’t about to ruin the surprise..


Negan brings Carl inside the Sanctuary, where he greets a waiting crowd of Saviors.  He tells his followers that they have gone out into the world, fought the dead, and come back with some good shit.  That shit can be theirs if they work hard and play by the rules.  As such, everyone, regardless of points, gets fresh vegetables at dinner.  Negan tells Carl that this is a sign of respect, as the people are still kneeling.


Back in Alexandria, Rosita and Eugene have the first of many arguments this episode, this one over whether to gather supplies for the Saviors or ways to fight back.  Spencer, though, believes the three should travel together, but Rosita says that she’s fine with Eugene.

Spencer can grovel to the Saviors all he wants, but he still believes this is all Rick’s fault. Even if Spencer can do better, Rosita isn’t so confident that he’s capable.  If Spencer wants to provide for the Saviors, he can, but he’ll do so alone.

You know, Spencer certainly has a way with women.  Those that don’t end up in harm’s way can’t get far enough away from him.


Negan pops by his harem and tells Carl that the women won’t mind if he stares at their tits.  He shares a drink with Sherry and wants to know what happened with Amber and Mark, but Sherry says that’s none of Negan’s business.  Fair enough, but Negan wants to know if it’s true that Mark skipped out on redirect duty to be with Amber.  After all, there are rules for a reason and nothing matters if you’re dead.


Sherry is with Negan because she gets that.  She admits that Amber made a mistake and wants Negan to go easy on her, but Negan reminds Sherry that he’s never hit any of the women.  True, but Sherry knows that there’s worse to Negan.  This tale is to be continued.


Negan then goes to Amber, played by Autumn Dial, and tells her that he doesn’t want anyone in his harem that doesn’t want to be there.  If Amber wants to go back to Mark, she can, but what she can’t do is cheat on Negan.  There are other women who would love to take Amber’s place.  If Amber wants to return to Mark and her mother, Negan can put all three of them on the same job.

Though Negan accepts Amber’s apology, but Negan reminds Amber that she knows what’s coming next.  It’s all going to work out fine for Amber, though.  Negan then tells Sherry to go fetch Carson.  Negan knows that he’s an asshole, but Sherry still likes him anyway.


Then Dwight and Daryl just as Negan is kissing Sherry.  Daryl, as the help, brings in a plate of food, which is sad to see, I will admit.  He demands to know why Carl is here, but that’s none of his business.  If Daryl isn’t careful, a toothpick will go through Carl’s good eye.  Negan then tells Dwight to fire up the furnace.  It’s time for a little déjà vu.


Back on the road, Rick and Aaron approach a gate with only a day to find supplies.  They climb the gate, which warns approaching people that the only thing beyond the gate is trouble, and head off to find supplies.  You’d think that, based on Terminus, Rick would be more wary of areas with signs.


Elsewhere, Spencer asks Gabriel if hating someone is a sin, and it’s not since it’s a thought.  Actions matter more in the end.  Spencer admits that he hates Rick.  He was a cop, but shouldn’t be in charge.  Deanna, though, served in Congress and brought out the good in people.  However, Rick did the same for Gabriel through his inspiration.  More than that, Rick, despite not being perfect, kept people together and alive.

And neither Deanna nor Reg’s deaths were Rick’s fault.  Before Spencer contemplates what would have happened if things went differently, Gabriel only looks towards the future. No point in speculating on ‘What ifs.’  But Spencer sees no future as long as Rick is in charge.  The only good thing that could happen is if Rick doesn’t make it back to Alexandria.  Gabriel then orders Spencer to stop the car.

He tells Spencer that what he’s saying doesn’t make him a sinner, but a tremendous shit.  For now.  It doesn’t have to be terminal, though.  Fuck yeah, Father Gabriel.  Anyway, Gabriel then gets out of the car and decides to walk back.  Spencer soon also exits the car and heads into the woods.  He soon finds a walker up in a tree with a compound bow nearby.


Back at the Sanctuary, Negan brings Carl to his quarters and confirms that yes, all of those women are his wives.  After all, why settle for just one?  Negan wants to get to know Carl better, as he’s fascinated by this kid.  He figured a kid like Carl would mope around and cry about missing things like prom, but Carl instead went on a mission and killed two Saviors.  And Carl is smart enough to know that Negan won’t let this slide.

Negan then orders Carl to take off his bandage.  Carl refuses, but Negan reminds Carl that two of his men are dead.  This is punishment, and Carl probably doesn’t want to piss off Negan right now.


Carl soon relents and removes his bandage, revealing the socket where his eye used to be.  It is indeed disgusting as shit, but Negan finds it glamorous, even if won’t get Carl a girlfriend anytime soon.  An impressed Negan wants to touch it, but Carl soon gets very upset by this.


Negan pulls back and apologizes for hurting Carl’s feelings.  He was just fucking around.  Soon, there’s a knock at the door.  Fat Joseph returns Lucille to Negan, as he left her by the truck, which never happens.  Negan reclaims Lucille from Fat Joseph and asks if he treated Lucille kindly like a proper lady.

And that includes if he patted Lucille’s pussy like a lady, but Negan is just fucking with Fat Joseph.  After all, a baseball bat doesn’t have a pussy.  That’s just Anatomy 101.  This is what Rick should be teaching Carl.  Negan then asks Carl to sing him a song.  Carl can’t think of any, so Negan asks Carl what his parents used to sing or play for him.


Eventually, Carl begins singing “You Are My Sunshine” while Negan takes random swings.  Negan loves it, as does Lucille- the one thing she loves more than bashing in brains.  When asked about his mother, Carl doesn’t answer, so Negan puts two and two together.  More than that, Carl admits that he was the one to put her down.  Negan then orders Carl to get up because the iron should be ready.


Negan tells his Saviors that what’s about to happen is hard to watch.  He can’t ignore the rules and let it slide because, as the Saviors say, the rules keep us alive.  The Saviors provide security and bring civilization to the world, but they can’t do that without rules because the rules make it all work.  Negan knows that it’s not easy, but there’s always a cost.  Here, if you try to cut corners, then it’s the iron for you.


Negan heads down and receives the red-hot iron from Dwight.  He apologizes in advance for what’s about to happen to Mark, played by Griffin Freeman, but it is what it is.  With that, he presses the iron to Mark’s face as Mark lets out a horrible scream.  When Negan removes the iron, Mark passes out from the extreme heat.  With the ritual done, Negan orders Daryl to clean up the mess and tells Dr. Carson to get to work.

But everything is cool.  Mark’s face should be a daily reminder to everyone that the rules matter.  Plus, Negan doesn’t want to do this again.  He then leaves with Carl in order to figure out what to do with him.


In the woods, Spencer manages to secure a rope to the platform the walker is situated on and gets it loose enough for the compound bow to drop.  He retrieves it just as the walker drops, losing its arms in the process.  Spencer pick-pockets the walker and, among the items he finds, comes across a note.


Eugene and Rosita arrive at the munitions factory, though Eugene has no desire to be here.  He refuses to help, even though he did initially agree to do so.  Since then, Eugene has considered other options and is wondering whether this option even makes sense.  He’s not trying to stop Rosita so much as slow her roll.  And Eugene is seeing clearly.  As Abraham said, the Saviors have numbers and a single bullet won’t do it.

Someone has to pay the price, and even if Rosita is willing, it’s still an uphill battle.  Rosita reminds Eugene that she owes both him and Abraham.  If there’s a price, she’ll pay it. She lashes out at Eugene, calling him a weak coward and saying that he’s only alive because people feel sorry for him.  So for once, he needs to do something useful and make her a goddamn bullet.

Rosita, you’re being a real cunt right now.


We return to the Sanctuary where Dwight and Sherry again have a smoke.  Dwight tells Sherry not to beat herself up, as he figures that she sold out Mark and Amber.  Sherry says that isn’t what happened, but Dwight sees through her lie.

Sherry says that this deal with Negan was only meant to affect them, but Dwight believes that Sherry is just standing on someone else’s back.  The two could be spotted, but Dwight isn’t worried since they’re not doing anything.  Sherry agrees with that much.


Negan still won’t let Carl wrap up his face because Negan isn’t done with him.  Carl demands to know why Negan hasn’t killed him, Rick, or Daryl yet.  Negan has plays for Daryl, saying that he’ll make a good soldier.  Rick is already gathering for Negan, but as for Carl, that remains to be seen.  It’s better and more fun for Negan to break him.  So Negan asks Carl what he should do with him, since he can’t release him.

He could do a number of terrible things, but Carl suggests that Negan jump out the window to save him the trouble of killing him.  If Negan was going to do anything, he would have done it.  Carl doesn’t even believe that Negan would kill him, and maybe Carl is right.  As Negan gathers Lucille, he tells Carl that they’re going for a ride.


As the trucks leave the Sanctuary, Negan is unaware that Jesus is atop his truck.  Negan tells Daryl that he’s taking Carl home and orders Dwight to take Daryl back to his box.  Back to Easy Street it is.


So while Daryl stews in his cell, he gets a key under his door and a note that tells him it’s time to go.


On the road, a lone Savior happens upon a roadblock of corpses when she’s soon approached by Michonne, who orders her to lower her gun and knife.  She orders the woman to take her to Negan.


And just where is Negan?  Well, he’s back in Alexandria with Carl as he pays Olivia a surprise visit.  He wants to speak with Rick, but he’s out scavenging and might not be back today, so Negan will wait.  Olivia tells Negan that Alexandria is low on supplies, particularly with food, but Negan takes one look at Olivia and figures can’t be the case for everyone.  This makes Olivia cry.  A dick comment, but it’s Negan, so I’ll allow it.

Negan apologizes for being rude and offers instead to fuck Olivia’s brains out if she agrees, and that gets Negan a slap in the face instead.  That just gets Negan 50 percent more into Olivia.  He orders Olivia to make him a drink.


So Carl gives Negan the grand tour of the house as we get a montage.  He even gets to meet and picks up Judith.


Rick and Aaron- you remember them, right?- happen upon a sign telling them about an armed person who has supplies and ammunition.  The only way for someone to have reached this point is that the person who wrote the sign must apparently be dead.  Indeed, Rick and Aaron find what looks a houseboat.


Rosita thanks Eugene for her bullet and apologizes for what she said, though Eugene rejects it because he knows Rosita meant what she said.  As the two make their way back, they happen upon Spencer, who found a list of caches from a dead man with a plan.  However, Rick is going to do more than just hand this over to the Saviors..

Well, Spencer won’t have to wait long to deliver the goods, as he, Eugene, and Rosita find that Negan is already at Alexandria.


In fact, Negan, Carl, and Judith sit on one of the porches and unwind.  Negan likes it so much that he’d like to stay, and knows that it’s probably stupid to leave Carl and Rick alive.  Maybe he should just bury kill and later bury them in the flower beds.  He says this while holding Judith, which is creepy as fuck.

Now I’m no professional or a doctor, Jim, but I’ll just come right out and say it: I fucking loved this episode.  The Walking Dead has been going through a tough period right now with the ratings.  Perhaps people are tired, maybe the bottle episodes have gotten on their nerves, maybe the entertainment factor has dried up for some.  I don’t know.

I’ll admit that the bottle episodes have been somewhat slower, but at the same time, they’ve allowed for some very good world building and character development.  Plus, when done well, like the excellent “Clear.”  I wouldn’t personally say any of the bottle episodes we’ve gotten have been as good as that, but I’ve enjoyed them nonetheless.  But I can understand some criticisms when people say they’d prefer multiple storylines.


We sort of get that here, to a point, but I dug this episode not just for its fun factor, but as a fan of the comic book, this felt like a treat as we got to see a lot of comic moments come to life.  And we didn’t even spend the entire episode at the Sanctuary, so those wanting several plots to play out at once hopefully got what they wanted.


As for me, having comic moments on screen was the real joy of this episode to me.  We got the iron ritual, we saw Negan’s harem, and Negan bonding with Carl.


Actually, let’s start there, because some of the stuff with Carl was a bit weak.  I don’t blame the acting because I do think Chandler Riggs did a good job, but I have to wonder how these scenes would have played out if this Carl was as young as his comic counterpart was at this moment.

I sympathize with Carl because of the position he’s put himself into, but it didn’t feel as uncomfortable as it was originally because Carl, though a badass in both interpretations, was just a kid.  Here, he’s already been hardened through things like putting down his own mother.  If anything, I just wish that we had more scenes that allowed Carl to show his vulnerable side.


Having said that, I’m not really complaining.  I like how Carl, despite crying in front of Negan, maintained his composure, not to maintain a front, but because he’s not intimidated by Negan.  Hell, he went as far as telling Negan to jump out of a window and questioned whether Negan would even follow through on killing him.  Carl is tempting fate, but I think he knows that Negan wouldn’t kill him at this moment if he hadn’t already.


But as Negan indicated, it’s more fun to try and break him.  And given the shit that Carl saw this episode, I would agree.  Even though this is the second tour us viewers have had of the Sanctuary, there’s something different about seeing it with Carl as opposed to spending most of the time in Daryl’s cell.  Here, we saw more of the Saviors and their devotion to Negan.


As he tells his followers, there are rules.  Break them and you get the iron, which was a pretty disturbing scene.  I had hoped that the show wouldn’t cut away when the iron made impact, but we did eventually see it, so I’m not angry.  It showed how strict a stickler is for the rules, but also the lengths he’ll go to make sure his disciples stay in line because, as he told them, he didn’t want to have to do this again.


The strange thing is, as evil of a man that he is, we see that Negan has standards.  He reminds Sherry that he’s never hit any of his women.  He previously offered Dwight a chance to bed any woman as long as she said yes.  And he’s not forcing any of the women to stay with him, even though their lives are far better living with him than scavenging for points.

And we see his softer side not just with Carl, but in Alexandria.  He tried to apologize to Olivia after making fun of her weight, and though he got slapped for his troubles, we’ve seen how much Negan gets off on people fighting against him.


Though I maintain that seeing him hold Judith while talking about how he would kill Rick and Carl is one of Negan’s creepier moments.  Hell, just seeing Negan hold Judith was still creepy as shit.  He’s like the demented dad who loves fucking with you, but there’s some small part of him that still cares about your feelings.


Negan’s a guy you should hate, but Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s performance makes him as eccentric and likable as he is in the comic, even though you’re also rooting for his death at the same time as laughing with him.


But enough about Negan, because I could talk about him all day.  There were plenty of other great character moments this episode.  I loved Gabriel calling out Spencer on his shit.  Not only was he right, but this shows how far Gabriel has come since his introduction and some of his time in Alexandria.  This is the same man who warned Deanna that Rick and his group are dangerous people.

Now, even though he’s maintaining his faith, he’s not afraid to call someone a tremendous shit.  He’s witnessed Rick’s ability as a leader and even though Rick has made some bad decisions, he’s also shown why he deserves to lead Alexandria.  Deanna was a good leader, sure, but she saw something in Rick, and Spencer should realize that.

But he still doesn’t acknowledge Rick’s leadership, so chances are he’s going to do or say something that could lead to disaster.  I say that not just as a fan of the comic book, but the fact that he thinks things would be better if Rick didn’t return to Alexandria shows that he’s plotting.


Not sure what to make of what Michonne’s doing.  Like Sasha and Rosita, she wants her revenge against Negan and perhaps she’s heading right to him, but I assume this will play out more in the mid-season finale.  And at the same time, she’s being proactive in her mission, and she’s better at this than trying to be Alexandria’s resident sniper.


As for Rick and Aaron, I wager they may come across some weapons and the two may grapple on whether to keep them for themselves or, as Spencer is doing, hand over their items to Negan.  It would be nice for them to have an extra stockpile of weapons on standby in case needed.  The area they found looked pretty isolated, so chances are they could even leave the arms there, take down the sign, and keep quiet about the spot.

There’s a lot I liked about this episode and I’m very anxious to see how this will all play out in the mid-season finale, especially with Negan back in Alexandria, but before wrapping up, I’ll just go through one negative I have.


The one part of this episode that I wasn’t a fan of was Rosita, or rather, her attitude towards Eugene.  I get her rationale.  She wants her revenge not just for herself, but for Abraham as well, and she’s not going to let anything stop her, especially if it’s possible for Eugene to manufacture a bullet.  What I didn’t like was her calling Eugene a coward and saying that his survival is due to other people’s actions.


Rosita is way out of line here.  Yes, Eugene isn’t as gung-ho as her, but ever since “No Way Out,” Eugene has stepped up and done a lot to help the survivors.  He bit Dwight right in the dick, giving Abraham the opening he needed to attack the Saviors, and in “Last Day on Earth,” he was the one who ended up taking the camper, even though he ended up getting his ass kicked by the Saviors.

My point is that this even though Eugene is no Abraham, he has made significant development and has proven that he’s a changed man.  And for Rosita to call him weak felt like a step backwards.  He’s just hesitant to taking on the Saviors, and that’s understandable.  He was there in the lineup right along with Rosita.  Who could blame him for not wanting to just jump into this bullet plan?

Otherwise, “Sing Me a Song” was a great episode that allowed us to spend significant time at the Sanctuary as Negan bonded and became great buddies with Carl.  As we head into the mid-season finale, there are a lot of pieces in place to make for hopefully a great episode: Jesus may be of help to Daryl at the Sanctuary, Michonne is on the warpath, and Negan has made another surprise visit to Alexandria.  No one is on Easy Street right now.

A Look at Gotham- Season 3, Episode 11: “Mad City: Beware the Green-Eyed Monster”

If there’s one positive thing you can say about Jim Gordon, at times, it’s that he’s obsessed with his job.  That’s it.  I never said he was obsessed with doing the right thing or always playing by the rules, but he did just rejoin the force, so maybe he’s back to normal.  Maybe Mario and Leslie’s upcoming marriage won’t cause any more complications than it already has.  Maybe Jim won’t rush to judgment.

I like a good joke every now and then.  We’re now at the halfway point of Gotham’s third season, and by episode’s end, our hero has indeed become the green-eyed monster. Let’s dive right in.


The episode begins at Gotham Bio Lab, where hematologist Ryan Pfeffer, played by Jonathan Fielding, examines Alice Tetch’s blood.  After leaving, he heads to a bar, where he’s joined by Mario, who tells Pfeffer that he’s getting married tomorrow.  Mario didn’t believe in love at first sight until he met Leslie.  Pfeffer confirms that he is indeed working on Alice Tetch’s blood.

As Mario’s fiance is the medical examiner on the case, Mario brings up the fact that the lab has a test for the virus- a fact that Pfeffer can neither confirm nor deny.  Mario then brings up how Leslie almost married someone else who hopes that Leslie will come running back to him.  With voices blaring in his head again, Mario soon pins Pfeffer to a wall and crushes his skull.


Over at Wayne Manor, Bruce and Alfred learn from Jacob that Dmitry and Luka have been killed by the Court’s assassin, Talon.  And if Talon saw Bruce with Volk, then the Court may already know Bruce has broken the deal.  Despite still not knowing what’s in the safe, whether it’s okay to trust the Whisper Gang, and the cost of taking on the Court of Owls, Bruce is still willing to fight the Court.


As GCPD examines the crime scene, Bullock is prepared to hand the case over to Alvarez and wants Jim to take the day off.  Jim, though, refuses, even though it’s the day of Leslie’s wedding.  As the two examine Pfeffer’s head, they realize that it would take an immense amount of strength to crush his skull, and Barnes is ruled out since he’s locked away at Arkham.

Pfeffer’s wallet is still on his person, but whoever killed him took his work badge.  Bullock sees this as a classic case of wrong place, wrong time, but then Jim finds a receipt from the cafeteria of the Gotham Bio-Lab, where Alice Tetch’s blood is being tested.  Jim heads off and has Harvey, acting captain, finish up at the crime scene because he can do that.


Barbara makes yet another stop by Penguin Manor and is surprised to find Nygma still working instead of looking for Isabella’s killer.  But Nygma isn’t worried, as he has spies all over the city in the event that Isabella’s killer reveals themselves.  Barbara fake coughs out Penguin’s name, but Nygma finds that notion both amusing and absurd.

But Barbara presents a good point: a crime just needs means, motive, and an opportunity. And Oswald had the oldest motive- rich men want it, wise men know it, and the poor all need it.  The answer?  Love.  Nygma finally begins to piece it together, but he still finds it unbelievable that Oswald would be in love with him.  Not Barbara, since she saw Oswald’s jealousy towards Isabella, which led to her unfortunate accident.

With all the evidence in front of him, Nygma asks what Barbara’s motive is, and she’s only interested in seeing justice.  But Ed is still in denial about both Oswald being in love with him or the possibility of him killing Isabella.  Poor, dumb Ed.  With the seed planted, Barbara leaves.


Bruce, Alfred, Selina, and Jacob do surveillance at one of the Court’s buildings.  Jacob explains the security layout of the building, including one room in particular that has a safe, but also is littered with infrared sensors, so whoever enters the room must cross on a rope.  Jacob offers to do it himself, even though he still doesn’t know what this mystery object is.  Some help you are, Jacob.


At the lab, a guard tells Jim that Pfeffer’s card key was last used 20 minutes ago and he hasn’t logged out since.  As Jim goes down to check, he finds another dead doctor and is soon attacked from behind from Mario, who he doesn’t see.  With great strength, Mario throws Jim through a window, but won’t kill him since that would make him a martyr and have Leslie love him forever.

For Mario’s plan to work, Leslie has to hate Jim.  Mario leaves a message on Jim’s hand and beckons Jim to find him.


Later, GCPD arrive, with Bullock and Lucius Fox agreeing that Jim’s attacker was looking for research on Alice Tetch’s blood and, as many of Pfeffer’s files are missing.  In addition, the writing on Jim’s hand spells Arkham, but Jim realizes that this isn’t about Barnes.


Realizing that Alice might have accidentally infected someone, Jim goes straight to Arkham and confronts Jervis Tetch, who had his suspicion about the accidental infection, but kept quiet until the symptoms started to show.  Jervis sees no reason to give Jim a name, and he’s locked in Arkham, so his life is already hell.  Rather, Jervis speculates what the blood would do to Jim since he already has anger in him.

So Jim plays along with Jervis’ game by rhyming to learn the name of the infected individual, but Jervis doesn’t like Jim’s attempts of playing the game.  Instead, he reveals that Jim will know his name when it is too late, when the one he loves will be murdered by hate.  And one part of the rhyme specifically mentions “from healer to killer is no easy to trick.”  Jim realizes that the victim is a doctor.  He soon leaves Arkham.


Back at Wayne Manor, while Bruce practices his wire work, Selina prepares to leave, as she has a bad feeling that they’re all being watched.  She’s concerned about Bruce taking on the Court, but Alfred stands by Bruce since it’s ultimately his decision.  Not to mention that even though he made a deal with the people who killed his parents, Bruce did it to protect the people he cares about, including Selina.  And that cost him dearly.


So Jim has brought Mario to the police department to be tested.  It’s a stretch, but Jim figures that Tetch infected Mario that night at the hospital, which would hopefully explain some of Mario’s behavior, such as the rage he showed when attacked at the shop. Harvey maintains that Jim should have waited until he had enough proof, plus if Mario was infected, there’s no telling why he would want Jim to find him.

As it turns out, after three tests, Mario does not have the virus.  Though Bullock apologizes on Jim’s behalf, Mario sees no issue.  Jim still believes that Mario has the virus and vows that he won’t marry Leslie, but Mario just heads off for his big day.


As Alfred and Bruce prepare for the break-in, Bruce tells Alfred that once they find this item, the Whisper Gang may try to take it from them.  But it’s not the Whisper Gang that worries Alfred.  Not long after this, Jacob is murdered by the Talon.


So Oswald is glad that Ed is back to his old self, but he’s stunned when Ed hands over his resignation, as Isabella’s death has changed things.  Oswald won’t allow this, as it’s not in Ed’s best interest to leave- he keep himself busy instead.  Ed asks Oswald if the two of them are friends, and they are, but since the accident, Ed has had the desire to become more than a friend or employee.

Oswald admits that he’s been feeling the same and was too worried to say so due to Isabella, but there’s a problem: Ed meant becoming a business partner.  Easy mistake, I’m sure.


Jim finds Mario and demands to know how he passed the test, but Mario maintains that he’s not infected.  If the virus stoked Barnes’ anger, it also awakened Mario’s jealousy at the thought of losing Lee.  What keeps Mario up at night is the thought that part of Lee still loves Jim.  In that case, Jim figures that Lee should decide if she’ll go through with the marriage, but Mario isn’t on board with that idea.


And since, as Falcone’s son, Mario has connections, he has Zsasz hold Jim hostage. For a moment.  Zsasz waits until a certain time to let Jim go, and he’s knocked out for his trouble.  Come on, Victor, you’re smarter than that.


At a library, after Oswald presents an award, he tells Nygma that he wants things to go back to the way they were before.  He admits that Ed is his best friend and doesn’t want to lose him.  Nygma puts the knife away and hugs Oswald, saying that Oswald is his best friend as well.


Jim arrives at the chapel just in time to tell Leslie that she can’t marry Mario.  But Leslie expected this, as she knows that Jim arrested Mario and had Fox test him for the virus. Leslie figures that Jervis is planting ideas in Jim’s head and that Jim is obsessed with this marriage.

In another wild theory, Jim thinks that this is what Mario wanted: he wanted to get arrested so Jim would look like a jealous ex, he figured out how to beat the test, and Zsasz let him go so he’d race to the chapel to stop the marriage.  To be fair, Jim, no one made you go to the chapel as fast as you did.

Leslie tells Jim to get help, but Jim admits that he never stopped loving Leslie.  He should have seen her after he got out of prison, but he had to set things right.  But then he saw her happy and he’s regretted not making his move ever since.  Touching, but Leslie says that after the wedding, she and Mario are leaving Gotham.  And damn Gordon for admitting this on today of all days.  She slaps Jim in a rage.

While Leslie and Mario are joined in holy matrimony, Jim fights some of Carmine’s men and gets the hell kicked out of him.


Bruce and Alfred do more surveillance of the Court building, but Jacob is nowhere to be seen.  No kidding.  Selina joins the two to help out, prompting Bruce to ask if this means that Selina is his girlfriend.  Bruce, shut up.  As the three get to work, they are unaware that they’re being watched…


Meanwhile, Lucius discusses a theory of how Mario could have beaten the test- it turns out that the test looks for a particular marker in the blood, and this marker can be masked by other drugs.  Turns out that Mario’s blood came off the charts for Cloracinamine.  It’s not proof that Mario killed those men, but it’s enough for a search warrant.


While is tossed from a speeding car, Alfred, Bruce, and Selina infiltrate the Court’s building and soon find the infrared room.  As Alfred goes to check the rest of the building, Bruce holds a tightrope so Selina can make her way across the room.  Too bad Bruce doesn’t have a grappling hook yet.  Selina reaches the other side and unlocks the safe to find an owl sculpture.  Not the most prized possession, but Selina pockets it anyway.


Then the Talon enters and attacks the two.  Bruce tosses down a flash bang that gives the two a chance to escape while Alfred soon attacks the Talon.  The Talon is soon knocked out by the mysterious watcher from before, who turns out to be Selina’s mother, Maria, played by Ivana Milicevic.  That came out of nowhere.


Lucius finds the chemical that Mario used, only for him, Jim, and Bullock to learn that Mario and Leslie snuck out of the reception, so Alvarez was unable to catch them.


Nygma stops by Barbara’s bar to tell Barbara that he doesn’t want to kill Penguin. Rather, he tells Barbara, Tabitha, and Butch that he wants to destroy him and take away everything that he loves.  With Penguin gone, the underworld would need a new leader, and Barbara volunteers herself.

Nygma knows the crime families would never follow her lead, but Barbara is aware that Ed knows the ins and outs of the families and is great at strategy.  It’s a great combination: the family’s brawn, Ed’s brains, and Barbara’s…screen presence, I guess.  Before Ed can destroy Penguin, he apologizes to Tabitha, who managed to get her hand reattached. Like any person, Tabitha doesn’t buy the apology, but we can work on that.


At a cabin by the lake, Mario and Leslie talk of Jim’s obsession and how Leslie vowed she would never see Jim again.  What Mario wants to know, though, is if any part of Leslie that still loves Gordon, and he will never ask her again.  Part of her will always care for Jim, yes, but she married Mario and loves him.  And that’s all Mario needed to know.  With that, the two kiss.


Jim confronts Carmine to tell him that Mario is indeed infected, and while Carmine didn’t know that, he knew his son was in danger.  Carmine will have his men bring in Mario, as he knows Jim would kill Mario if given the chance.  If Mario does have the sickness, he could harm Leslie and do more damage, even if he’s cured.  To speed things up, Jim shoots Carmine’s henchmen and then swears to bring Mario in alive.


Back at the cabin, Mario continues to hear voices in his head as he approaches Leslie with a knife.  Before Mario can stab her, Jim fires and kills Mario on the spot.  The knife falls into the water and Leslie is left as her husband has now been killed by her ex.  Nice going, Jim.

It’s funny.  Jim rejoined the GCPD in order to make things right and get his life back in order.  And for a minute, it looked like he was on the right track, but his love for Leslie blinded him from being rational.


However, in a bit of delicious irony, I do like how Jim’s shoddy work and cutting corners have now bitten him in the ass in one of the worst ways possible.  One of my complaints about Jim in the past has been his random hunches and ability to piece a case together on nothing more than a guess.  And now, Jim is trying to solve the matter with Mario without getting all of the facts.  He’s the very green-eyed monster the episode title sees him as.


If Jim wanted to try and win Leslie back on his side, close the case, and keep Mario from doing any harm, all he had to do was stay away.  If he’d gotten hard evidence to support his claims, Mario might have been arrested and Leslie wouldn’t have ended up with a dead husband.  Instead, Jim’s jealousy and irrational got the better of him, he’s harmed his relationship with both Leslie and Carmine, and it will be hard to prove himself now.


In addition, he’s now incurred the wrath of Falcone after promising that he would bring Mario in alive.  Yes, he was right about Mario being infected, but why make a decision as rash as shooting and killing Mario?  Put aside how fast Jim seems to get from one location to the next between scenes- teleportation, perhaps?- he also didn’t even, as far as I can tell, call for backup or tell Bullock or Fox, who did have the information that Jim needed.

Let GCPD take care of the situation.  Jim already looks bad for being suspicious and arresting Mario just to have him tested.  There was no need for him to head out to confront Mario on his own except for easy drama.


Some of the drama is earned, though.  I’ve enjoyed the slow growth of Jim and Leslie’s bond, so for him to admit his feelings for her and how he missed his chance to make things up felt genuine, as did Leslie’s anger that Jim would pick today as the opportunity to come clean to her.  But she’s got every right to be angry because Jim did come off looking like a jealous lover.  Somewhere in Arkham, the Mad Hatter is laughing.


It will be interesting to see if and how Jim can even get himself out of this mess.  Mario’s knife fell into the water and the only thing Lucius can prove is how Mario beat the test. Not the kind of news that will change Leslie’s mind or make her any less livid at Jim.  While I have some issues with how this all ended, I am looking forward to hopefully seeing what kind of ripple effect Jim’s actions have caused.


Same can be said for Edward teaming up with Barbara, even if I still find it ludicrous that he couldn’t figure out that Oswald had been playing him.  But he knows now and has every reason to take down Penguin.

What I don’t get is why Ed needs to partner with Barbara.  He said he has spies all over the city, so he must have some network of allies.  I imagine Barbara just wants in for the hell of it and just to see some fireworks.  She did tell Butch last time that she only wanted to start a war, not be involved.


And it’s a huge leap to go from bar owner to leading Gotham’s underworld, but stranger things have happened.  Look at Penguin.  He went from being Fish Mooney’s umbrella to declaring himself the king of Gotham and he’s still got a great deal of power as mayor, so it might not be too strange for Barbara to have a similar rise.


Side-note, I was hoping that Tabitha would get some sort of replacement for her hand, like Butch did, but no.  Her hand has been reattached.  Well, you can’t have everything.


The Court of Owls stuff with Bruce, Selina, and Alfred was fun to watch at times, and they were put in a precarious position as they didn’t have a member of the Whisper Gang to help them.


Plus, having the Talon after them put them in a dangerous scenario, but they got help from the most unlikely of places in Maria Kyle, who has not committed suicide in this interpretation of the Batman world, unless Maria has nine lives.  Either way, given how little Selina has spoken of her parents compared to Bruce, I hope we get to learn more about their relationship in the rest of the season.

While “Beware the Green-Eyed Monster” sort of crumbles towards the end due to Jim’s actions, it leaves everyone in a challenging position.

Jim has now further damaged his relationship with both Leslie and Falcone and has little to go off of for presenting his defense, Barbara and Ed have teamed up to raise hell on Penguin, and Maria Kyle’s debut should provide an interesting diversion as Bruce, Selina, and Alfred continue their battle against the Court of Owls.  Here’s looking to the second half of Season Three.