Cameron Monaghan deserves a standing ovation.
His performance as Jerome in Gotham Season 2 Episode 2 is chilling, mesmerizing, and outstanding in every way. He is so much fun to watch. Sure, we got a little taste of him before, but nothing like this. He is the star of the hour, and I can't wait to see more.
And anyone who thinks the "boyishly charming" Jerome is not destined to become the Joker is out of their mind. If not, then why so many nods to The Dark Knight? Clearly, the Gotham writers are trying to tell us something.
The hour begins with Theo Galavan quasi-torturing the mayor who folds to Galavan's demands rather quickly. Like R'as al Ghul before him, Galavan wants to cleanse the city. He doesn't specify why exactly, but I'm sure we'll find out soon enough.
Across the street, Jerome and friends are having way too much fun throwing people off the roof of the Gotham Gazette. How they manage to make the victims land so perfectly to spell out Maniax! is beyond me, but they do.
Gordon doesn't look like he's having any fun as he takes the lead on the case, especially when Barbara's picture comes up on the big screen. I don't care what anyone says, he still has a thing for her, and Leslie knows it, too. Jim is really going to have to delve into his darkness in order to have half a chance at defeating the Maniax, even with Bullock's help.
On the flip side, darkness doesn't exist with Jerome. His is a maniacal lightness which makes him even more terrifying. It becomes evident when Galavan starts prepping the boys for the television spotlight. While Greenwood does a fair job, Jerome knocks it out of the park. His panache is captivating. The circus was obviously good for him.
Up until this point, Barbara was MIA. She finally shows up with Tabitha, the mayor in tow, both taking great pleasure in using their whips on him. I imagine if I was a fanboy, I'd find this sexy and exciting, but since I'm not, I don't. It's not their fault they're relegated to the Bond girl role. But if Tabitha is supposed to be Tigress and Barbara is supposed to be Harley Quinn, I guess their time will come.
It is quite amusing when Bruce fires Alfred. What kid doesn't want to "fire" their parents at some point in their lives? The problem was that Bruce is serious and Alfred packs his bags and leaves. It is all completely tongue in cheek on Alfred's part, though. Bruce eventually comes around and the two make amends.
After all the silliness, Alfred needs a stiff drink (I would too if I had to deal with that petulant little brat) and runs into Lucius Fox at an upscale bar. The conversation between them is brilliant. The look on Fox's face as Alfred talked about kippers is priceless.
As I mentioned before, Monaghan gives an incredible performance as Jerome throughout. But, his best portrayal of the hour comes during the Russian roulette scene with Greenwood. The understated escalation of Jerome's insanity is brilliant.
Galavan's expressions as he crouches down to avoid the brain splatter he thought was sure to come are also something to behold. And Greenwood's face after he realizes the extent of Jerome's insanity? Another priceless moment.
Jim goes to Bullock's bar to try to convince him to return to GCPD. No luck, though he does get a nice lead from Bullock.
I hate to say it, but the whole thing feels cheap. We know Bullock is going to come back. And why does it take Bullock to finally get a break in the case? Doesn't Jim have a team of cops working on it? It is a bit hard to swallow.
The philosophical conversation between the Commissioner and Gordon also doesn't go over well. It is trite and useless. I understand it might've been her last hurrah, but still.
With a score eerily familiar to The Dark Knight, the Maniax are sitting in a stolen fuel truck waiting on their next victims: a school bus full of cheerleaders. There are so many more nods to The Dark Knight from this scene forward that I'm not going to detail every single one that I actually caught. You know what they are.
I love the background music after the Maniax overtook the bus. From the dousing with gasoline to Jim getting the bus out of harms way, it certainly is a circus. I also think it is fitting that Jerome chooses a bus full of cheerleaders to terrorize. After all, they're always smiling. Just like him.
Barbara finally gets her turn when she lures Jim out of the station. That laugh of hers probably sent shivers down the spines of everyone who thinks she's going to be a gender swapped Joker. Not me. My vote is still for Harley Quinn (did you notice her red gloves?)
I'm not sure if the point of getting Gordon out of the station was to protect him from random shooting (because we know Galavan has a plan for him) or if it was a method of trying to break him. Maybe it was both. After his beating from Aaron and during his struggle to rise, I really felt some undertones of The Dark Knight Rises. Yeah, I know it's Batman's gig, but still. Isn't Jim GCPD's savior right now?
While Jim's getting his beatdown, the cops at GCPD are getting theirs. Greenwood is shooting everyone is sight. When Greenwood goes to the autopsy room, I want to reach into the television and knock him on the head for missing Leslie. How did he not see her? Am I the only one in the world who can't stand her? I really wish she would go away.
At the same time, Jerome seeks out the Commissioner. She doesn't react fast enough, and I didn't expect her to. "It's a new day," she's been telling Jim. It's sad to see her go, and she stood up for herself admirably, but things need to get moving in Gotham. We all know who's going to be riding in the driver's seat now, don't we?
It is also sad to see Greenwood go. He's great. But that's Jerome for you. How many Maniax are we down to now?
I'm certainly not surprised that Bullock showed up. We knew that was coming. There's no way, after all this mayhem, that he wouldn't come back, pitbull girlfriend or not.
And that final scene? I'm torn about it. It was too similar to Heath Ledger's scene, and I think it is unfair for the writers to put Monaghan in that situation. His performance is outstanding on its own before that.
On the other hand, maybe this is just a test run. After all, Jerome did say earlier that, "Everyone has to start somewhere."
The thing I love most about Gotham is that it doesn't take itself seriously. If it did, it wouldn't be nearly as entertaining as it is. This hour is phenomenal. It is one of those episodes I will watch over and over again and not get bored. I seriously can't wait until next week, can you?
- Nygma has a very short scene this hour. He is going to ask Kristin out, but instead asks her a trivia question. Surprise, surprise. His alter ego shows up too, mocking him, of course. How long will it be before Nygma has had enough and lets the alter ego take over?
- What I'd really like to know is what does Penguin think about this? He has to know what's going on. Isn't he a little upset that these Maniax are trying to take over his city? Has Galavan already reached out to him? Does Penguin have something planned?
What do you think about Jerome? Is he the Joker? Were you surprised by the ending? Share your thoughts below and relive the excitement of this episode when you watch Gotham online at TV Fanatic!
Lisa Babick is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.