The Last Laugh

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Photo Courtesy Of FOX

Photo Courtesy Of FOX

Warning: Spoiler Alert

The FOX series “Gotham,” suddenly changed direction in the latest episode making a move that likely will have many fans of the show upset and perhaps irate. Other fans will look at this as a gutsy move by the show-runners, proving that the second-year series will keep viewers on their toes and let them take nothing for granted.

I’m going to break format this go-round and immediately address the elephant in the room. During the show’s first season Robin Lord Taylor’s Oswald Cobblepot, aka the Penguin evolved into a breakout character of the campaign. Taylor’s Penguin broke away from the way Burgess Meredith and Danny DeVito played the role, in appearance and mannerisms. Both actors portrayed the character as he appeared in the comic-books of the Golden and Silver Ages of comics. Short and round with pointed noses, their speech filled with assorted grunts and quacks.

Taylor’s Cobblepot’s a mama’s boy and outsider who dreams of greatness and overcomes his cowardice to end up as the Criminal King of Gotham City. Penguin stabbed each of his benefactors in the back, yet he ended up the first season as last man standing. We watched him transform from Fish Mooney’s umbrella boy to controlling the entire underworld operation in Gotham City.

This year’s breakout character was Cameron Monaghan’s Jerome Valeska, a young man we met last season when Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock arrested him for killing his mother. When Valeska realized that Gordon nailed him for the murder of his mother many fans including this one, believed that Jerome would become perhaps the Caped Crusader’s greatest nemesis The Joker. Jerome starts to break down and cry for a second only to look up at Gordon and flash that unmistakable grin, Cesar Romero, Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger and the Joker from the comic-books, all wrapped up in one magnificently evil smile.

Although those connected with Gotham never confirmed that Jerome would eventually evolve into The Joker, the first two episodes in this short season was enough proof that the ginger would become the deadly criminal. Valeska and four other inmates of the Arkham Asylum received their freedom when they got broken out by Theo and Tabitha Galavan. Valeska quickly became first among equals, becoming the leader of The MANIAX, stressing showmanship along with his brutal slayings.

Jerome terrorized Gotham City’s elite for most of the third episode until the show-runners hit the audience that likely knocked them out of their seats. Theo Galavan called an audible at the line and decided that Valeska could get sacrificed in order to further Galavan’s master plan, to take control of Gotham City.

The first image we see on the screen’s a perp’s getting thrown through a second-story window, his fall softened by trash bags in the alley. We pan up to see Jim Gordon standing in the window and he turns around to talk to his next victim. He tells the guy he’s looking for Jerome Valeska for killing a friend of his and asks the guy what he knows. The dude responds he’s never heard of Valeska and Jim throws a right to his jaw. The guy says he can help the detectives by spreading the word and Gordon tells him that anybody who hides or protects Valeska’s going down. To make sure the guy understood the message, Bullock then threw him through another window to the trash bags below.

After a little playtime for Barbara and Tabitha, Theo walks in with a tray of toast and coffee for Barbara and himself as Tabitha takes off. Galavan then tells Kean that his family built Gotham City, yet their name’s not known. He says he’s out to avenge his ancestors and tells Barbara she’s going to be his star. He then tells her when the time’s right he’ll help her destroy Jim Gordon, not kill him but destroy him body and soul.

Back at the precinct, Harvey suggests to Jim that they pay Penguin a visit, but Gordon brusquely dismisses the idea. Bullock heads to another part of the station, when Gordon sees a female uniform about to take the crime-scene tape off of Captain Sarah Essen’s office door. Jim barks at her to stop then puts the tape back in place. He then shouts to all in the precinct that they lost Essen and nine of their brothers in their house and the killer laughed. He told them to never forget that.

Lee Thompkins puts her hand on his shoulder from behind and he wheels around screams what, before he realizes it’s her. They go off to a corner and talk and Lee mentions the Gotham Children’s Hospital Charity Event’s that evening and she’s involved in the presentation. Jim says he can’t go, he needs to find Jerome.

Just at that moment Valeska and Tabitha arrive at Paul Cicero’s apartment, Cicero’s the blind psychic who admitted to Jerome last season he’s his father. Quickly Cicero’s bound and gagged as Jerome recounts the days of his abusive childhood and blame’s Cicero for never stepping in. He then tells the old man that he’s going to leave manufactured letters between father and son, so that Cicero gets blamed for breaking Jerome out of Arkham.

Back at the precinct Harvey tells Jim that he’s tracked down Paul Cicero and maybe he knows where Jerome’s hiding out. The two quickly drive over to the old man’s apartment.

Valeska stand’s over the old man with a knife and asks him if he has any last words. Cicero says

“You will be a curse upon Gotham. Children will wake from their sleep, screaming from the thought of you. Your legacy will be death and madness.”

Jerome laughs and starts to raise the knife, when there’s a knock at the door as Gordon and Bullock arrived. Gordon calls for Cicero, saying he wants to talk to him about his son but gets met with silence. Suddenly the old man groans and they bust down the door, an instant too late. Cicero’s dead as Valeska stabbed him in the eye and Jim realizes they left through the open window. Harvey examines the body and notices the corpse’s hand’s placed on-top of a tin can, when he moves Cicero’s hand he passes out from the gas coming out of the can. Gordon pulls him out into the hall but he’s barely standing. Then Jerome and Tabitha show up, Jim tries to choke Jerome but he’s easily subdued and Tabitha kicks him in the forehead.

The charity event for Gotham Children’s Hospital kicks off and amongst the guests, Bruce Wayne and Alfred Pennyworth. Bruce questions why they’re at the event and Alfred says that Bruce needs to be seen at certain functions, this being one on that list. Lee Thompkins comes over to introduce herself to Bruce, she tells him Gordon talks about him all the time and she wanted to meet him.

Alfred’s smitten and unaware that she’s Gordon’s girlfriend he starts to turn on the charm and make a play for her. Lee tells him she loves his stories and he suggests they have dinner at Wayne Manor. She starts to tell Pennyworth she’s got a boyfriend, but he mentions he’s good friends with the head-chef at an exclusive restaurant. Lee says she’s been trying to get a table there for months.

Bruce sees Selina at the event and tries to talk to her, but she tells him she’s working. She’s robbing Gotham’s elite of some of their “extra-cash.” Wayne mentions the entertainment’s a magician and Kyle tells him she hates magicians and says she’ll see him later.

There’s a last-minute substitution for the magician scheduled to perform. Taking the stage The Great Rudolfo and his lovely assistant, actually Jerome and Barbara in disguise, after they tied up the real magician and locked him in a trunk. Lee’s the hostess of the event and introduces the magician and his assistant.

Rudolfo performs a few tricks and then asks for a volunteer from the audience and asks for Bruce Wayne to come up. Wayne doesn’t want to do it but Alfred tells him to be a good sport. He comes up on stage and Rudolfo places him lying down in a box, Wayne’s head and arms sticking out one end and his feet out the other. Alfred starts to protest when Rudolfo takes two honed steel sheets and sticks them in a slot in the box. He separates the boxes and Bruce’s fine with his feet appearing to stick out one end while he waves to the crowd.

Lee asks Alfred if the performers look familiar and suddenly Kean’s mask slips off and she winks at Thompkins. Lee backs into the hallway and calls Jim telling him Barbara’s there and she thinks Jerome as well when she’s grabbed from behind and a hand goes over her mouth. Gordon rushes to the event.

Rudolfo’s asked for Deputy Mayor Harrison Kane to be his next volunteer and the official takes the stage smiling broadly. Rudolfo then says to the audience nobody’s getting out of her alive tonight and there’s nervous laughter, which turns into screams when he throws a knife into Kane’s chest killing the Deputy Mayor.

Gordon arrives outside the hall where the event’s taking place and a uniform tells him he’s not sending in his men. Jim stomps off and says he’ll go by himself when his cellphone rings and Lee’s number appears. He says thank goodness you’re okay only to hear Jerome at the other end. Valeska says to the detective he wishes he could see what’s going on then says actually it’s on TV so he can. Gordon gets to a monitor and sees Lee tied to a spinning wheel, with Barbara and Jerome on either side of her.

The waiters are part of the gang and start shooting automatic weapons at the ceiling, Alfred takes on one of the guys and almost has the weapon when he sees Bruce chasing Selina. Pennyworth’s caught off-guard and a blow to the head knocks him out.

Theo Galavan takes the stage and says to Valeska that he can’t let this go on and when Jerome asks him his name he turns to the cameras and announces Theo Galavan. He says to Jerome that there must be one cell of compassion within him and he says he appeals to the good in him. Kean knocks on top of his head with a hammer and Galavan falls to the stage.

Selina grabs Bruce and almost has them outside when he says he has to go back for Alfred. She says she’s not going back and he tells her he understands, then says he misses her and heads back to the dining room. Selina shakes her head and heads for safety.

Wayne’s just outside the dining room when he hears Jerome saying he wants Bruce back on the stage. Bruce stands and looks from behind a curtain until Kean says shoot the butler and Alfred’s brought out. Valeska says if Bruce wants to save his friend he best come out, he’s about to enter the dining room when he feels a hand on his shoulder. It’s Gordon and he tells him not to go.

Bruce says he can’t let anything happen to Alfred and he runs in shouting I’m here. Alfred stops him and asks what he’s doing, he gives Alfred a pistol that Gordon gave him and tells him the Detective’s in the hall. He goes to Jerome and he puts a knife against his neck and starts slicing slowly. Gordon and Alfred lack a clear shot at Valeska, suddenly Galavan rises from the floor and severs Jerome’s jugular with a knife. Valeska slumps to the floor still with a huge grin plastered on his face and his eyes wide-open.

Theo talks to Valeska as the life ebbs out of his body. He tells him he’s sorry he deviated from the script but he found it necessary. Valeska dies on the stage with his face frozen in the grin and Galavan’s looked at as the city’s new hero.

Jerome Valeska didn’t become The Joker, but he inspired a following. We watch a guy in his thirties laughing hysterically watching Valeska killing people. Then we watch a kid with braces laughing like a lunatic as he watches. We finally see two homeless stragglers stab a bag-lady to death and then one guy kills his partner.

The final image’s Jerome’s corpse with that grin frozen on his face, as we hear Cicero’s words ringing in the background.

The Story Continues Next Monday Night at 8:00 pm on FOX.