I WILL NOT KILL
Spoilers below – don’t say I didn’t tell you!
Gotham is a true enigma of a show. At times, it feels as if it’s on the verge of being cancelled due to its paltry numbers and its unfocused story telling. Other times, the show is polarizing, capable of hitting the highest of highs in superhero TV.
Tonight was one of those times.
I received goose bumps on more than one occasion tonight, the winter finale of Gotham’s Mad City story arch. Of course, knowing Cameron Monaghan would be back to reprise his role as Jerome Valeska (but definitely NOT “The Joker”……uh huh) had me extremely excited to watch his now-concluded 3 episode mini arch. Well, I should say “concluded for now.” Lets be real – Jerome is going back to Arkham? He’ll be back again.
I have long appreciated David Mazouz’ performance as Bruce Wayne, despite the vast majority of fans and critics that I personally know to not feel the same. Baby Bats took another step down the path of his ultimate destiny tonight. Tonight’s episode felt like a true origin story done right. I wonder if the series could have debuted with tonight’s episode and shot right out of the gate with momentum. There are a number of moments that come to mind when I look back on the series. Cobblepot’s first kill. Jerome’s confession at the GCPD. The incredibly shocking death of Jerome. Galavan’s death(s).
Tonight is right up there.
Monaghan’s performance as Jerome is legendary. He deserves a permanent spot on the show, if not an entire half season arch surrounding his character. The show reaches its perfect balance between darkness and intensity whenever Monaghan is involved. His take on The Joker persona is such a beautiful blend of past iterations of the character, yet it is one that finds its own unique place among Batman history. Monaghan was a huge comic book fan growing up, though he cited Mark Hamill’s take on the Clown Prince of Crime in a recent interview as a major influence.
The relationship between Bruce and Jerome came into full effect and was on display. If you recall in season two, Jerome was trying to kill Bruce in front of an entire banquet of people, at the sinister request of Theo Galavan himself. Jerome was murdered that night and after now being reanimated, finds himself compulsively wanting to complete his pre-death task. I thoroughly enjoyed his exchange with Lee last episode that explains this a bit further.
Upon Jerome’s entrance to Wayne Manor, it is immediately evident that Monaghan and Mazouz have chemistry. Bruce is already playing with Jerome’s emotions, cleverly buying himself more time by preying on his ego and lust for attention, which is a core attribute of The Joker. Jerome’s intensity is mixed in with a little humor from time to time, such as his comment on the awkward intimacy between Bruce and Alfred Pennyworth.
After getting to the carnival, Bruce has several more exchanges with Jerome that show how far he has come with his training. Once the duo get to the room of mirrors, things get intense. This is truly the first showdown between Batman and Joker. It was thrilling to witness and Fox and its production crew would be serving up a major injustice if we don’t get Jerome back as a recurring character. Watching the ensuing fist fight was fantastic. Of course, Jerome can’t fight cleanly, but Bruce’s ability to quickly overpower him teases a bright future for the show. Perhaps we are getting Batman sooner than anticipated. As Bruce has Jerome pinned and is beating him to a pulp, he grabs a shard of glass and is about to take the final plunge in killing Jerome. A brief moment occurs where Bruce sees himself in the mirror. Painted with clown makeup from Jerome’s earlier events, Bruce gets a glimpse of the horrors of what could happen if he continues down the path of taking Jerome’s life. He could end up the villain. Despite the fact that “it felt right” to kill Jerome, Bruce resisted and ultimately passed a huge test in becoming the eventual Dark Knight. I openly applauded when this happened. Despite shortcomings in writing in many episodes over the course of Gotham’s brief history, tonight’s episode was simply phenomenal. The conversation that Bruce and Alfred had back at Wayne Manor was inspiring. Sean Pertwee’s Alfred is quickly becoming my favorite version of the character. He is the glue that holds the show together in many ways, predominately as Bruce’s pillar of strength and morality, a true father figure.
Another way that Bruce and Jerome’s relationship flourished is that Bruce proved to Jerome that Gotham wasn’t all bad. Jerome claimed that there were no heroes in Gotham, and that could have been true when he said it. However, a hero was truly born that night when Bruce defeated Jerome without killing him. In addition, another long time famous Batman staple was introduced tonight – Bruce’s rule of not killing. Witnessing the origin of this rule was fascinating to see play out. Alfred’s influence was evident again.
The other happenings in the episode felt largely insignificant to me. The only other real plot was Nygma’s revenge on Penguin, which was cleverly constructed yet cliche as ever. Of course, Penguin is shot at the end, but clearly the show isn’t going on without Robin Lord Taylor. What this does is it allows Nygma to truly take the next step and shine in the spotlight as The Riddler, as was teased for Gotham’s return on April 24.
Another half season of Gotham has come and gone, with a truly epic mid-season finale thanks to the ingenious efforts of Cameron Monaghan. He is a game changer for Gotham and I hope we see him again before season’s end.
+ Bruce Wayne is going to become Batman sooner rather than later.
+ Alfred’s guiding influence.
– Not buying Cobblepot & Nygma’s subplot. It feels rather shallow and forced.
What did you think of tonight’s episode? Tell us below in the comments!
Josiah LeRoy is a Gotham enthusiast here at The Geekiverse. You can catch him on Twitter to chat all things Geek.
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