This week on Fox’s Gotham, Theo Galavan, Barbara and that joker Jerome put on quite a show. But by the time the curtain closed, who had had the last laugh?
In the wake of newly christened Commissioner Essen’s brutal murder at the hands of Jerome Valeska, Jim and Harvey start banging down doors and thumping on thugs, hot to find a lead on the red-haired menace. They eventually learn that Jerome’s father, the blind fortune-teller Cicero, has bailed on the circus and is holed up somewhere in Gotham.
Alas, Jerome and an apparently hungry Tabitha get to the old man first. Jerome relates tales of how his father would look the other way when his mom and her latest boy toy would abuse him as a lad. Now, Jerome aims to have the last laugh, by framing Cicero for breaking out the Maniax — and then killing him, with a knife through his skull. When Jim and Harvey come up the super-fresh murder scene, the latter gets KO’d by a canister of the blue gas that was used during the breakout. Even a whiff makes Jim woozy as well, unable to successfully apprehend a gloating Jerome.
The action then turns to the episode’s grand set piece, a charity gala hosted by Lee and attended by (among others) Bruce, Alfred (who is quite taken with Dr. Thompkins) and a pocket-picking Selena. The entertainment for the evening is a magician — “Rodolfo” aka a disguised Jerome, assisted by a masked Barbara.
Already a reluctant attendee, Bruce is even more anxious to leave after a sad run-in with Selena. Alfred however is enjoying Lee’s event/company far too much, so he urges his ward to stay. Bruce is first to be called on stage, to be “sawed in half” by Rodolfo. Deputy Mayor Kane is then summoned, and just as Lee realizes and notifies Jim that Barbara is the masked assistant, the politician takes a dagger to the chest. As gunmen swarm in to control the room, Alfred does his best to whale on some but ultimately is subdued, while Bruce chases after Selena.
Here is where Theo puts on his show, “bravely” standing up to the maniacal magician as news cameras catch every moment. His bravado is cut short by a bop to the head, as Jerome and Barbara move on to the main attraction — Lee strapped to a knife-thrower’s wheel. With Selena’s help, Jim sneaks onto the premises and opens a gunfight, with Alfred chipping in. When Jerome holds Bruce at gunpoint, Theo emerges from the background and declares, “Enough!” — and then drives a blade into Jerome’s neck.
As Jerome bleeds out on stage, Theo quietly apologizes for deviating from what they rehearsed, explaining, “The plot thickens. Enter the hero.” Barbara meanwhile eludes Jim via a trap door.
In the aftermath, Jim commends Bruce on his bravery, Alfred’s crush is snuffed (“Ah, bugger!”), Theo fields many thank yous, Tabitha takes notice of the “closeness” between her bro and her lover, and Harvey warns Penguin about collecting any favors from his partner (“I still owe you for Fish,” he reminds). A closing montage then hints at Cicero’s prophecy coming true, as news footage of Jerome affects all manner of Gothamites, young and old — perhaps the true Joker somewhere among them?
“You will be a curse upon Gotham…. Your legacy will be death and madness.”
What did you think of “The Last Laugh”? And check back at Midnight/11c for a goodbye Q&A with Jerome’s portrayer, Cameron Monaghan.