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Gotham - One Bad Day - Review

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The name of this week’s “Gotham” comes from one of the most celebrated if controversial Batman graphic novels of all time, “The Killing Joke.” “One Bad Day” does pay tribute to that story, but is mostly concerned with putting the season’s endgame into motion.

I’ll focus on the homage first because it kinda stands separate from the rest of the episode. It turns out it was acolytes of Jerome’s/Jeremiah’s who abducted Alfred from Wayne Manor last week, as we learn when Jeremiah calls Bruce from Alfred’s phone and invites his “best friend” to step right into a trap. When Bruce gets to the address Jeremiah gave him, he’s greeted – in a scene that mirrors the psychological torment Commissioner Gordon is subjected to in “The Killing Joke” – with video images of Alfred being beaten, tortured, screaming in pain. And when he finally finds Alfred, he’s apparently been infected with the laughing gas, as he gleefully (in a creepy turn by Sean Pertwee) cuts a Glasgow smile into his mouth before attacking Bruce.

But thankfully, in a plot turn I really loved, Bruce had recruited Selina to watch his back. She manages to sneak into the building another way and discovers Scarecrow overseeing things, which leads to a fun sequence where Selina takes out two goons before tangling with the Master of Fear himself. I mean, a Catwoman/Scarecrow fight scene, how cool is that! Anyway, Scarecrow gets away, but Selina still saves the day, rescuing the real Alfred and revealing to Bruce that most of what he saw had been a hallucination prompted by Crane’s fear gas.

While this is going on, Jeremiah is barreling forward with his scheme to create a blank canvas for his crazy out of Gotham. Having won over Jerome’s followers by “killing” Gordon, he arrives at the GCPD decked out like the Jack Nicholson Joker to lay out his master plan. Similar to the Heath Ledger Joker, he’s planted the bombs all over the city and instructs Bullock (and sidebar – it irked me that the other cops are reluctant to follow his command in Gordon’s absence because of the Professor Pyg debacle, given we know that whole thing was mostly Gordon’s fault) that he has six hours to evacuate its citizens. And given the focus on a clock tower CGI-ed into the skyline, it’s no surprise that Jeremiah demonstrates he’s not kidding by blowing it up.

While Bullock and Lucius try to figure out how to foil Jeremiah, various factions of the city’s villains attempt to capitalize on his scheme. Having tortured relevant information out of the henchman they captured last week (that I highly doubt Jeremiah would have told this guy, but whatever. Also – where did Echo/proto-Harley Quinn disappear to?), Penguin and Butch partner up with Barbara and Tabitha to play both sides. They seize the core relay to Jeremiah’s bombs and demand a ransom of $50 million to return it. But they also plan to double-cross him once they get their hands on the cash and be hailed as heroes by the city. Unfortunately, Jeremiah has a backup plan in place that allows him to turn the tables, albeit by accelerating his timeline (to Babs’ particular horror, I noticed). Later, when they’re all licking their wounds, Penguin and Butch get into another argument about Oswald not having come through on his promises and Penguin accidentally reveals that he knows where Dr. Strange is, with Tabitha vowing to “persuade” him to reverse Butch’s Grundy-itis. Ooooh, I hope this means we’re gonna see my boy Strange in the finale!

Leslie and Riddler, meanwhile, have an ace up their sleeve because they have Gordon. Despite the bombs being capable of leveling a city block, Gordon somehow got clear enough of the bunker last week to survive the explosion with relatively minor injuries, and was scooped up by the people Ed had following him. Leslie – practicing medicine in a sparkly cocktail dress, I couldn’t help noticing – believes that if Riddler can crack the schematics Gordon took from the bunker, they can use the information as leverage to get out from under their legal troubles. There’s some tiresome dick measuring between the two men as they go over the blueprint, but Ed figures out that Jeremiah wants to turn the city into a literal labyrinth, and thus, the locations of the bombs. Unfortunately for him, Gordon knocks him out before he can use that knowledge to his and Leslie’s advantage.

The interference of the bad guys, though, does let the good guys save the day. Penguin and company forcing Jeremiah to go with Plan B gives Lucius an opening and Gordon arriving with the locations gives Bullock the opportunity to get to one of the bombs and disarm it, shutting down the whole network. I like that the show let Bullock save the day this time, and in a nice moment, Lucius leads the precinct in a round of applause for good ol’ Harv.

But the day’s not over yet. Recuperating at Wayne Manor, and even sharing a sweet kiss that also foreshadowed doom, Selina asks Bruce why Jeremiah is so obsessed with him. By way of explanation, Bruce reflects on something Jeremiah said to him, a direct quote from “The Killing Joke” – “All it takes is one bad day to reduce the sanest man alive to lunacy.” And that’s when Jeremiah – who has aligned himself with Ra’s al Ghul for a second attempt at his plan – shows up at Wayne Manor and shoots Selina in the stomach. David Mazouz and Camren Bicondova really sell the horror of the moment, but a) nobody really dies on this show, b) with Ra’s in the mix, so is the Lazarus Pit, and c) it’s not like the show hasn’t fake killed Selina before. But that’s where we leave it.

What did you think was good and/or bad about “One Bad Day?” Please share your feelings about this week’s “Gotham” in the comments section.

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