Gotham Season 2 Episode 3 “The Last Laugh” Recap
Just when I thought I knew where this season of Gotham was going, last night’s episode threw me for a loop. For the first time all season and maybe throughout the entire series, I am truly shocked. I don’t want to give too much away so I’ll address that part when I get to it.
Gordon and Bullock are on the warpath. They are determined to find anyone with any information about the whereabouts of Gotham’s most wanted serial killer, Jerome Valeska. The murder of Commissioner Essen at the hands of Valeska has sent Gordon back down the dark path we saw during the premiere of this season. It’s actual pretty terrifying seeing the once fair and earnest Jim Gordon, carelessly tossing people out of second story windows when they aren’t able to provide the information he is looking for. He wouldn’t make a bad Batman himself.
At Theo Galavan’s lair (apartment), we get to see exactly how close his sister Tabitha and Barbara have become. Theo interrupts the intimate moment between the two ladies to have an important conversation with Barbara. Tabitha leaves the room to meet Valeska at the car, but not before sharing a passionate kiss with Barbara directly in front of Theo. It looks as though Tabitha is marking her territory. Once she leaves Theo, acknowledges that the two women have been getting very close and that Tabitha has been in need of a friend. He tells Barbara that Tabitha is a fragile girl even though she seems very strong. Theo says that his ultimate goal is to punish the city of Gotham for betraying the legacy of his forefathers. Part one of his plan was to unleash the Arkham inmates on the city of Gotham. In the end, he wants Barbara to be the one to destroy Jim Gordon; body and soul.
It’s all hands on deck at the Gotham City Police Department, as everyone works frantically to locate Jerome Valeska. Gordon oversees the task, barking orders left and right. He reminds the officers that Valeska laughed in all their faces as he murdered their colleagues in that very building. Jim is fueled by nothing but rage. Luckily, he is dating Dr. Leslie Thompkins. Her experience in working with crazy people is coming in handy when trying to get Jim to calm down. She suggests that Jim should take a break to accompany her to the Gotham Children’s Hospital Gala later that evening. Jim is hesitant at first but eventually gives in.
Valeska takes Tabitha to the home of his blind father, Paul Cicero. After capturing and gagging his dad, Valeska forces him to listen to the horror stories of his troubled childhood. He resents the circus performer for not believing in him the way his new father figure, Theo Galavan believes in him. Jerome wants to frame his dad as the person who helped him escape from the Arkham Asylum. Paul says that Jerome will be a curse upon Gotham. Children will wake from their sleep screaming at the thought of him and his legacy will be of death and madness. Jerome gives Paul one sinister laugh before ultimately stabbing his father through the eye, leaving him dead in his seat. Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock burst into the apartment to save the day, but they find the old man dead and bound to a chair. When Bullock moves the dead man’s hand, knockout gas emits from the trap Jerome has set for the two detectives. Gordon manages to pull Bullock to safety, but the gas is just too much for him. He is about to pass out when he is confronted by Valeska himself. In theory, Gordon should be an easy target for the crazed criminal, but Gordon’s rage should not be underestimated. He musters up enough strength to strangle Valeska within an inch of his life before Tabitha intervenes and knocks the detective out with a swift kick to the face.
Despite his protests, Alfred drags Bruce Wayne to the hospital gala. Alfred thinks it’s important for Bruce to represent his family as a patron to the hospital. As if things could not get worse for the young billionaire, the night’s entertainment includes a magician (oh boy!). Amongst the other guests are Leslie Thompkins and Selina Kyle. Bruce spots Selina working the room and putting her pickpocket skills to good use. Bruce looks as though he wants to rekindle their friendship, but Selina does not show any interest. Meanwhile, Alfred has his eyes on Doctor Thompkins. He introduces himself to the doctor and immediately tries to charm her. He’s actually doing a pretty good job winning her over, especially considering her relationship status. How could Alfred possibly know this woman is dating his good friend, the emotionally unstable, Jim Gordon? Alfred’s flirting is interrupted by a very disgruntled Bruce. He is ready to go. Alfred definitely needs a better wingman.
It’s time for the night’s entertainment. The magician is announced as The Great Rudolpho!! Jerome and Barbara disguised as the magician and his assistant make their grand entrance to much applause from the audience. The first magic trick of the night is a classic. Rudolpho is going to use a large blade to separate a member of the audience in half. He needs a volunteer and who better than Bruce Wayne. Bruce doesn’t feel good about being cut in half, but Alfred urges him to be a good sport. The trick goes on without a hitch a Bruce’s life is spared. The next illusion includes Deputy Mayor Harrison Kane. As Valeska summons him onto the stage as a volunteer, Leslie realizes that the mayor could be in danger. She quickly grabs her cell phone and calls Jim to alert him that Barbara and Jerome are at the gala. It’s too little too late. The room breaks into chaos after Jerome kills the Deputy Mayor. During the madness, Selina and Bruce make a beeline for the exit. The pair is almost home free when Bruce tells her he must go back for Alfred. He only chased after Selina to let her know that he misses her.
Television cameras roll in the main ballroom where Jerome and Barbara are wreaking havoc. Valeska is busy putting on a show for the TV audience with his own form of wacky mayhem. At this point in the episode, it’s very clear that Jerome will ultimately grow up to be Batman’s arch-nemesis, The Joker. Who else could get so much pleasure out of causing pain to innocent people? When it seems like Jerome can’t be stopped, Theo Galavan emerges from the audience at the gala. The camera man zooms in on Theo as he offers himself as leverage for the hostages trapped in the ballroom. Theo’s performance is very over the top as he pretends to try to put a stop to Jerome’s reign of terror. He is trying to present himself as the savior Gotham needs amongst all this anarchy. Barbara pretends to knock Theo out, allowing Jerome to continue his antics. Valeska then decides to lure Bruce Wayne to the stage once again.
Outside the gala, Jim Gordon has stepped into the role of Police Captain. He has been attempting to get the officers to follow his orders, but they really aren’t too keen on dying at the hands of Jerome Valeska. He has to do this one on his own. Jim sneaks into the gala to find Bruce hiding behind a curtain. Valeska is holding Alfred at gunpoint in order to get Bruce to reveal himself. Bruce and Jim devise a plan. When Bruce turns himself over to Valeska, Alfred and Jim have the opportunity to aim their guns directly at Valeska. Neither of them can get a clear shot at him as he is now using Bruce as a shield with a knife to his neck. Theo Galavan has now regained consciousness with just enough time to be the hero. Seemingly out of the blue, he stabs Jerome Valeska directly in the neck. The crowd gasps as Jerome Valeska, the most notorious villain in the history of Gotham, crumples to the floor and dies. This was the first WTF Moment of the season for me. I was POSITIVE Jerome Valeska was destined to be The Joker. Theo really did it. He killed Jerome and saved the day. It takes a moment for Barbara to process what just happened but eventually she escapes from the scene.
Mark Your Territory
Oswald Cobblepot is at home watching the recap of Jerome’s antics on TV with disapproving admiration. Bullock enters the room to have a chat with Cobblepot about the crime boss’s working relationship with Jim Gordon. Cobblepot smugly assures Bullock that he doesn’t need to worry, but the detective is not buying it. Harvey leaves, but not before threatening Cobblepot on behalf of his old boss, Fish Mooney.
At the gala Jim, Alfred and Bruce are all expressing their admiration for the heroics of Theo Galavan. His plan has worked. Nobody suspects that he was the mastermind behind all the events that happened that night.
Alfred takes one last moment to say goodbye to Leslie Thompkins. Gordon watches curiously as Alfred looks longingly into Leslie’s eyes before turning to leave. Jim takes this moment to mark his territory. Alfred looks back to steal one more glance at the beautiful Doctor Thompkins, only to see her planting a wet one on the lips of his friend, Jim… awkward.
Gordon isn’t the only person whose territory is being threatened. Back at his lair, Theo tells Barbara that his plan is officially in effect. Barbara takes this moment to celebrate their successful evening with a kiss. Tabitha lurks unnoticed in the background, watching her brother and her lover, have an intimate moment just feet away from her.
The Valeska Effect
It pained me to say goodbye to Jerome Valeska. His death ruined my whole vision of how this show would ultimately play out. However, his legacy will live on. Jerome’s mayhem seems to have traumatized some of the citizens of Gotham. Around the city, different people are taking on the characteristics of the cartoonish villain, from his laugh to his random acts of gleeful violence. His father’s prophecy has come true. Jerome Valeska may have died, but he will serve as the blueprint for the villain who will one day come to be known as The Joker and I cannot wait.