I’m not sure how to start this review. It’s difficult because…well, because I think I actually liked this episode.
I. LIKED. IT. Not “loved to hate it!” or whatever other obnoxious hipster crap I usually pull, I UNIRONICALLY LIKED THIS EPISODE.
What am I going to say? What am I going to do? DO I EXIST IF I AM NOT ACTIVELY BITCHING ABOUT TELEVISION? Am I fading away like Marty in Back to the Future before his nerdy dad kisses his mom at the Under the Sea dance????
Gordo & the Maniax!
We open the episode with the guy that everyone thinks is supposed to be Ra’s Al Ghul torturing the mayor…who currently has an iron box stuck on his head. This is fucking HILARIOUS because I can’t think of anything more camp. The mayor “decides” to “take a vacation” and let the guy in the smoking jacket run shit for awhile.
With the mayor gone, the escaped convicts from Arkham are free to kidnap dock workers and use them to play the most morbid game of life-sized Scrabble ever conceived. Jerome and his buddies drop guys from the roof of the Gotham Gazette building to spell their new gang name – Maniax! It’s extreme because it’s spelled with an X! The only thing that would make this more extreme are extraneous belts and pouches that do nothing.
As Jimmy G is briefing the cops about the Arkham breakout, we learn that Jerome has magically become 18 this season when he was only 15ish last season. Throwing dudes off buildings really does accelerate the aging process. Jerome is one of the reasons that this episode is so great. I was against the idea of having any sort of origin for the Joker because one of the best things about that character is that there is no definitive origin. Was he a low-level thug who fell into a vat of acid, bleaching his skin and driving him mad? Was he a member of the original Red Hood gang? Was he just a guy who had a really bad day? No one knows. So the idea of throwing this character into a universe filled with BabyVillains seems like a shit idea. Enter Cameron Monaghan, who isn’t afraid to take his performance to the level of comic book WTF that this show so desperately needs. When he gives his version of “Good evening ladies & gentlemen!” to the Big Bad, it’s a mix of every Joker who’s come before – with no shortage of what I consider the quintessential version of the character, Mark Hamill’s Joker from Batman: The Animated Series. (I realize a lot of places are saying his performance echos Heath Ledger’s in The Dark Knight, but I don’t feel Ledger would have done what he did without Hamill leading the way.)
Jim goes to talk to Harvey about rejoining the force. Harvey introduces his girlfriend by saying “You remember my girlfriend Skittles” (or whatever her name is) and I go, “Uh, no? I don’t?” As we know, women in entertainment are either fucktoys or Captain Bringdowns, and Skittles is just here to yell at Jim. She’s one of those shrill harpy ladies that makes everything unfun with the power of happiness-destroying double x chromosomes and her joy-sucking uterus. If this were an Apatow movie, she’d be played by Leslie Mann. Bullock points out that Jim is a shit detective because he hasn’t looked at the shipyard yet, and Jim fucks off into the day to learn that the Maniax stole a fuel truck along with their hostages.
Sitting in that very same fuel truck are The Maniax. They’re bored. They’re looking for shit to burn. And they find it in form of a school bus full of cheerleaders (who are both standing while the bus is moving AND cheering when we cut to the inside shot. Never change, Gotham. Never change.)
So, the Maniax, dressed in identical straight jackets, douses the bus with gasoline and tries to burn all the cheerleaders to death. It’s so ludicrously violent (and AMAZINGLY comic book villain) that I don’t even know what to say about it. It’s insane and dark and darkly hilarious all at the same fucking time? It is all of those things.
Luckily Jim and his hair show up in time to drive the bus away from the flames. Somehow the fire does not follow the gasoline leaking out of the bus. I’m guessing this is because the gasoline never took physics in high school and spent all the “This is How You Burn Shit” class periods out behind the school getting high with dud bombs and batteries that are dead right out of the package.
Jim catches one of the Maniax but he’s killed before Jim can question him, which Jim should be used to by now.
Back at the station, Jim gets a call from inside the precinct. Gotham cops – good job noticing the fugitive you were all briefed about at the beginning of the episode! It’s Barbara. She’s the other great part of this episode – she’s down to be evil as fuck because she finally feels like she doesn’t have to pretend. She’s always been fucked up but she was hiding it under a pretty face. Barbara is fucking thrilled that she doesn’t have to play dumb games in the name of hiding who and what she really is.
She lures Jim outside to get his ass kicked in the World’s Narrowest Alleyway. While all that is happening, Jerome and the rest of the Maniax waltz into the station dressed as cops and mow down every cop in Gotham? I mean, there can’t be any cops left alive save Jim and Harvey after this, right? Even Essen gets killed, but that was a given considering she was talking about how she was going to do right by the city. She should have just put on a red shirt and called it a day.
When Jim staggers back to the precinct he’s all, “thank god I’m a main character! It’s the only reason I’m not dead! Leslie, too!” Bruce and Alfred run into an active crime scene to make sure Jim is ok. They could have stepped over dead bodies to get there for all the care they show for cops that aren’t Jim. (When I watched this scene last night I literally yelled, “WHY ARE YOU IN THIS SCENE, BRUCE???” at the TV. I stand by it.)
Harvey shows up in defiance of
Leslie Mann his girlfriend. He’s a detective, and he’ll always be a detective. YAY! Now someone get him a danish.
We also get to see what Jerome filmed after killing all the cops. The AV Club call it a Dark Knight send-up. I’d say it’s more a homage to the Animated Series, where the Joker(and others!) often took over the airwaves to broadcast his latest scheme. Note the blood on Jerome’s face – it forms a very faint Joker mouth. Usually that would be a little much. For Gotham, the show that literally had a character carrying around a coffee cup with a question mark on it, this is marked improvement.
Christmas With The Riddler
Riddler Nice Guy is still in full effect with his pining for Miss Kringle. His “split personality” is still there, which is dumb because the Riddler is not Two-Face. This plot line should die. It is also very creepy to see the Riddler without his glasses telling his bespectacled self that ladies love confidence. I always thought Ladies Love Cool Jay?
He gets to save Miss Kringle during the police shootout, so by the official TV Rules of Male/Female Interaction, Section 6 titled “Male Sexual Rewards For Saving Female Lives”, she owes him at least a handy in the locker room.
Bruce, Alfred, & The Fox
Bruce is finally inside the Thomas Wayne’s Sex Dungeon after the “I’M MAKING A BOMB BECAUSE I READ IT IN A BOOK!!!!” bullshit of last episode. Alfred, after looking around and seeing guns and what looks like fetish wear, is all, “:SMASH: OOPS. DID I JUST BREAK THAT COMPUTER THAT HAS EVERYTHING YOUR FATHER EVER CARED ABOUT ON IT, WHICH MAY ALSO CONTAIN SOME PORN I DON’T THINK YOU SHOULD SEE UNTIL YOU ARE OLDER? SORRY NOT SORRY!” And Bruce is all:
Then he fires Alfred (LOL, ok.) It lasts about 20 minutes. Bruce can’t drive so I’m guessing he called an Uber to take him to the train station to find Alfred. Then, realizing that his reading books about bombs and fighting thing isn’t passing as an education, he tells Alfred he’ll go back to school if Alfred will continue to teach him things like “use your father’s watch as brass knuckles when you hit other children.” Alfred agrees (he also has to fix the computer he smashed so Bruce can check out his dad’s bitchin’ porn collection.)
Alfred then goes to a bar when Lucius Fox is having a drink. Instead of coming off as a “HELP ME!” scene, it comes off as a “…so…you wanna go upstairs?” scene. Alfred calling Lucius his “young sausage” doesn’t help.
Later, while fixing Thomas’s computer, Lucius tells Bruce that “I loved your father. I regret that I never told him so.” It’s tinged with a lot of romantic overtones. Let me tell you – I am here for a bisexual Thomas Wayne dating Lucius while in an open relationship with Martha. Bring that shit. It’s unexpected – unlike the THOMAS WAYNE BATMAN route this show is taking. I’ve seen it, I don’t need it. Now, if this show was going to go Flashpoint and make Thomas Batman and make Martha the Joker, I would be ALL OVER IT. (That’s the only part of Flashpoint I liked. Well, that and Wonder Woman and Aquaman fucking, but I’m kind of a sucker for superheroes fucking. I think I have a problem?)