Previously on Gotham ... Mario is dead, Ed wants Oswald's head, and that kid who isn't the Joker is still an open plot thread.
Now on Gotham ... Pee-wee's a ghost, Lee says Jim is toast, and Alfred likes Selina's mom the most.
It's been seven weeks since Gotham went on holiday hiatus. Did you miss it? Did you miss ... me? It's okay -- you don't have to admit it. I know what's in your heart.
But we're back, baby! And we left off with Jim killing Mario Falcone, which had been set up in the finale as having A LOT of consequences. So let's find out just how many consequences there are for ol' Jim Gordon with ...
- There are basically zero consequences for Jim Gordon. Mario gets buried, Jim goes back to work and, for a little bit, Don Falcone and Lee sic Victor Zsasz on Gordon. But then Lee visits with Barnes, realizes how crazy Mario might've maybe been (she didn't witness any of that, remember) and has a change of heart ... because Lee *still* loves Jim WHYWHYWHY. So, anyway. Yeah. Jim lives to fight another day. Also, I guess no one gets arrested twice for murder in Gotham if their name is James Gordon. We jailed him the one time, folks! Can't do it again! That would just seem silly!
- But Jim *is* back to work, and the work he's dealing with is a twice-dead woman who seems to have died, been electrocuted, walked around a bunch, and then died again. You know -- Gotham stuff. So Jim and Harvey follow the shady coroner, Tarquin (with the Tobey Maguire in Spider-Man 3 haircut), who it turns out is part of a group that's obsessed with Jerome Valeska, aka maybe the Joker. This little Joker gang sees Jerome as the only person who speaks "the truth." Sounds like a believable subreddit to me. Tarquin, as it happens, is the one trying to bring people back to life with electricity and who knows what else because, survery says, he has Jerome's body in a tank! I wondered where I left that.
- Meanwhile, in "That worked? Really?" news: Ed's plan to undermine Oswald is in full effect. Remember when Ed said "I will destroy him?" Here's what that means so far: Ed hires Clayface to pretend to be the ghost of Oswald's recently departed dad, played by Paul Reubens, while also hiring Cole Clemens to take over temporarily as Oswald's deputy. As Clemens sets up an interview with national reporter Margaret Hearst at Ed's behest, Ed sets Clayface to visit Oswald and terrify him into thinking that Ozzie's poppa can't rest because his corpse has been exhumed and stolen. Oswald is tricked into believing Clemens is the thief, and so Oswald kills Clemens in cold blood moments before having to film a live interview, which he then botches because he sees his dead dad again. Ed steals dead Clemens and all other evidence because Oswald hasn't suffered enough yet. And all I can think is ... that worked? Really? We'll ... we'll talk about it more later. But first!
- Selina's mom, Maria, is still in town. She wants to patch things up with her daughter, whom she abandoned over a decade ago. It doesn't go so well. But Bruce convinces Selina that her mom isn't all bad. She had to run! She was being chased! For being a ... thief. But, look, man -- Alfred is really hot for Momma Catwoman, so she can't be all that bad. Oh, and by the way, the glass owl Bruce and Selina stole before the break reveals a map of some kind when it's held to the light. The audience knows this, but none of the characters do. Cliffhanger?
Anyway, that's your plot. Did any of it work? Well ... I mean, sorta?
- Honestly, it's for the best that the "Jim is in big trouble" plot was dropped. This is sort of Gotham's thing -- they realize they've painted themselves into a corner, point and say "Look, a distraction!" and then move on to something better. And the Jerome plotline is better by virtue of being something more interesting.
- For one brief and shining moment, Lee busted into the GCPD and demanded that Gordon be placed in jail. That might very well be the best moment Lee has ever had on this show. There's also a point where Lee goes to Carmine Falcone and basically says she's gonna be the one to kill Jim. So those few minutes were very enjoyable.
- I like this weird incarnation of Clayface. He's got an off-putting sense of humor. There ought to be more of this guy because, if nothing else, that also provides a chance for some of the other actors to play something a little different from time to time.
- Joker gang, eh? Good idea. A group of dispossessed malcontents all worshipping a psychopath sounds positively like the most realistic story on Gotham these days.
- Must Lee and Jim still be a thing? How many times must Gordon destroy Lee's life before she hates him forever? Even if you choose to believe that any human being would operate this way, Lee keeps finding ways to seem weaker and weaker with each passing episode.
- Ed's plot against Oswald: a thoughtful response. Ahem. REALLY?! THAT WORKED?! GET RIGHT THE $%#@ OUTTA HERE. Deep breath. Okay. First of all, Clayface is not actually a ghost, so it makes no sense whatsoever that no one but Oswald would notice the vaguely ghostly dude walking around who just so happens to look like Cobblepot's Cobblepop! Second, how does Clayface keep disappearing without anyone seeing him? Thirdly, how could Ed have possibly known that ghost dad + missing remains + birthday clue = MURDER? It's a very convenient set of events, gang. I accept a lot from Gotham in the name of a fun plot, but ... really? Really? I'm sorry. I just can't get there this time.
- Gotham needs to think about how it advertises. The previews for "Ghosts" both talk about and show the return of Jerome. Hi. Jerome does not return. He is still in sleep mode. There is something to be said about mitigating an audience's expectation. One way to do that is by not showing them a thing that is not actually going to happen. That's just not great marketing.
THE STATE OF THE GOTHAM
We are, I hope, about to march into a new plot and away from some of the mess that has been the first half of the season. We know Jerome's return is imminent, we know he has a gang of lunatics at his command. That's perfect Gotham fodder. We also know that Barbara's probably going to control the gangs of Gotham soon, which makes for a great counterpoint for Jerome's return. Then there's the parents storylines with Maria Kyle and Gordon's dad which I suspect will also dovetail. None of which is to speak of Hugo Strange and Fish Mooney still being out there somewhere. There's a lot of insanity on the horizon. We just ... aren't there yet. "Ghosts" feels like it spends time either tying loose ends or distracting us from the plots that didn't work so well this season. "Ghosts" is necessary, I just wouldn't call it good. It's fertilizer for what I desperately hope is the better Gotham stories to come.