So, this week’s Gotham put together an all-star team of Batman villains and included indications that they may be adding a couple more in the near future. So obviously, I want this episode to win every Emmy. Also, holy smokes, does some stuff ever happen. It’s a good one! Time for “Mandatory Brunch Meeting”!
Bruce strides through the halls of St. Ignatius and goes to see the headmaster. Dude’s acting weird and it’s because he talked to Jervis Tetch. He says they wanted the name of a student who graduated ten years ago – it turns out the name is “Xander Wilde” and there’s no spelling of that name that doesn’t have a Google search leading straight to gay porn, so I’m just going to go with my first guess. The headmaster doesn’t know anything else, but he’s wearing a bomb and he’s hypnotized, so this isn’t good. Gordon and Bullock get there and realize that Tetch probably used the clock in his hypnosis, so Gordon shoots the clock and nobody notices the pocketwatch until it’s too late and the man blows himself up with our heroes barely getting to cover.
OPENING CREDITS! A MAN JUST EXPLODED!
In what I believe is Penguin’s mansion, a bunch of villains gather around a table while regular Arkham escapees attempt to serve them food. We’ve got Mr. Freeze, Scarecrow, Firefly, Penguin and Jerome. Jerome calls them a Legion of Horribles and checks in with everybody. Scarecrow is working on… something and Mr. Freeze is tasked with getting them a lab. They’re waiting for Tetch to return so they can go after their one last ingredient. Jervis returns at that point and Penguin looks nervous.
Gordon ask Bruce if he knows anything about Xander and then yells at him for being reckless. Alfred defends Bruce and brings him home. Bullock learns that Xander is a structural engineer. Jerome, shotgun in hand, shows up at Xander’s architectural firm and crashes a board meeting. One board member says Xander’s never come to the office and that seems to be true but Jerome still shoots somebody anyway. The guy hands over the contact information that he has just as Gordon and Bullock arrive. Firefly helps Jerome get away and I am so into this villain team.
Later, the cops learn that Jerome killed the only person who knew how to contact Xander, and they can’t figure out why Jerome is interested in an engineer. A framed concept drawing indicates that Xander designed Wayne Plaza, so now they have to talk to Bruce.
In the Narrows, Riddler hosts a game show called “The Riddle Factory”. I call it a game show, but it doesn’t appear to be televised. It’s a live performance and a survivor of the Street Demonz (who I don’t think have been on the show, but were a recurring gang in Nineties comics. So much so that I immediately know “Demonz” is spelled with a “z”.) Basically, Ed asks a riddle and then they get to ask him one. If the contestant wins both riddles, they win money. Street Demon Lars gets his riddle wrong, which means he has to spin a wheel to determine his torture. He lands on “Rabid Sack of Rats” and I’m pretty much ready to punch out. Luckily, Lee shows up to shut things down and ends up volunteering to be the next contestant. Boy, I hope she has a plan.
An attractive blonde woman brings home groceries but Jerome is waiting in her apartment. She doesn’t even bother to look at him as he threatens her. He puts a knife to her face and after showing him the cage she’s going to use to transport him, she knocks him out. This lady is awesome!
Penguin finds Butch in a bar. I love that nobody is questioning Solomon Grundy stopping in for a drink, and presumably it’s because he’s wearing a hat. Butch isn’t excited to see Penguin, but he doesn’t punch his head off either. Penguin tells him about Jerome and how he’s assembled a team, but he believes that Jerome is going to flame out and in the aftermath, he can reclaim the underworld. With Butch’s help. Also, Penguin has little hair horns on either side of his head that make him look like Klarion the Witch Boy. Butch does not accept this offer and tosses Penguin out of there.
Gordon and Bullock show up at stately Wayne Manor, and Bruce is kind of a jerk about helping them after they sent him away. But Alfred is a good man who happily shows them the files on Wayne Plaza, which includes a street where they can find Xander. Gordon suspects he’s not a recluse but he’s actively hiding from Jerome.
Jerome wakes up in a concrete room with no visible exit. There’s a camera, though, so he sets to work taunting and threatening Xander. In Xander’s control room, an alarm goes off and he tracks Gordon and Bullock on a security camera. They find what looks like a small shed and buzz in. Xander opens the door and then attractive blond lady is leading them through underground catacombs. She identifies herself as Echo, which apparently they’re spelling “Ecco”. Like the dolphin.
So, there are two Echoes in Batman’s past. (No Ecco, so we’ll stick to the standard spelling.) One was a henchwoman who worked with Riddler in the Nineties – Query and Echo. The other, and this is the one they seem to be invoking, was an assassin during No Man’s Land. That Echo could read minds, though. So it’s not a one for one match, but close enough to get credit for another obscure villain!
Ecco takes them to Xander, who is Jerome’s identical twin. But, you know, seemingly normal. Cameron Monaghan plays both of them, and he does a great job. He explains that his real name is Jeremiah. Yes, he’s Jerome’s brother and his mother hid him to protect him from Jerome. They smuggled him out of the circus so he could survive and then he never saw his family again. He grew up at St. Ignatius but spent every day worrying Jerome would come after him. The cops offer to get him to safety, but Jeremiah explains that there’s nothing to worry about, but he doesn’t explain why. Gordon starts turning on monitors until he finds the feed of Jerome.
Riddle Factory. Lee is the contestant and as the time runs out, she says she knows Ed will give her the answer because, deep down, he wants to. They both talk about Ed as a separate person, by the way. Riddler mentions a promise and Lee realizes that’s the answer to the riddle. So now she gets to hit him with a riddle.
Gordon demands that Jeremiah take them to Jerome, since he’s not allowed to imprison people. Then another alarm, and we see Tetch and Scarecrow are in the building. The place goes into lockdown as the alarm blares and Jeremiah offers to lead the cops to safety. They run into Ecco, but she’s been hypnotized and beats up Gordon and Bullock in a very well done fight scene. She tries to get away with Jeremiah, but Gordon finally manages to knock her out while she beats the hell out of Bullock. Jeremiah reaches the exit, but Jerome, Tetch, and Scarecrow are all waiting for him. Jerome sends the others to find the cops so he can torture his brother a bit. We learn that Jeremiah made up the stories about his brother trying to kill him, but he still turned out to be a monster so maybe just let that go. Jerome quotes The Killing Joke and mentions that we’re all just one bad day away from our worst selves and then promises to drive Jeremiah crazy.
And they have now created the idea that Jerome isn’t the Joker, but he’ll turn his brother into the Joker, and I am into that.
The cops run into the villains and as soon as Tetch opens his mouth, Bullock just runs at them screaming, and they run away. Hee! They all catch up to Jerome and the villains escape, leaving Jeremiah behind.
Riddle Factory. Lee gives her riddle and the answer is “I love you”. But getting it right means Riddler has to say those words and he can’t do it because that’s a victory for Ed. Time runs out, which means Lee wins the game. The crowd cheers for Doc once again.
Penguin goes to see Butch again and just before Butch strangles him, Penguin explains that Hugo Strange could cure him and he promises to help find him if Butch joins him. Oh man, they are bringing everybody back for this run. Back at the Riddle Factory, Riddler sulks over his loss. Lee finds him and asks why he opened this place in the Narrows – she figures he was trying to get her attention. She knows that he loves her, and Riddler, with a knife, insists that Ed loves her. Not him. But he can’t kill her. Instead, they kiss, and I’m very uncomfortable with that.
Gordon and Bullock bring Jeremiah to the GCPD and people are a little freaked out with him looking like the guy who keeps killing them. They turn him over to Harper for protective custody. Back at Penguin’s mansion, Jerome is in a bad mood and shooting the help. Penguin introduces Grundy to the rest of the team and now I really need Ed to join. This is basically the Batman Legion of Doom, and the only Batman villains who were members of the actual Legion were Scarecrow, Riddler, and Grundy (who wasn’t a Batman villain at the time). Poor Joker has been left out of the Legion of Doom twice – when Challenge of the Super Friends aired, there was another Batman cartoon from a different studio. (This one was famous for including Bat-mite.) So Super Friends only got Riddler and Scarecrow, who couldn’t appear on the other show. Then in the mid 2000s when Luthor formed a new Legion of Doom on Justice League Unlimited, they were barred from using any Batman villains because, yep, a different Batman cartoon. So they had to sneak by with scraps like KGBeast. Sorry for the digression.
And then Freeze brings in a test subject. Scarecrow gasses him and he turns pale, his face contorting into a forced smile as he laughs uncontrollably. Oh, snap. They created Joker Venom.
That’s a thing with most versions of the Joker, but here it opens up the possibility that Jerome is going to expose Jeremiah, and that’s what makes him the Joker. As a guy who once insisted that Joker never appear on this show, I’m so into what’s happening right now.