Let’s get right to the recap because there’s a big Gotham announcement that you’ve probably already heard, but I’d still like you to pretend to be surprised. And with that, it’s time for the season’s penultimate episode (big clue there), “One Bad Day”.
We pick right up after the explosion. Gordon is believed dead by everybody except Bullock. He takes charge and while one cop points out that last time they listened to him, Professor Pyg killed a bunch of them. But Harper steps up to defend him and that’s good enough for the haters. And then Jeremiah shows up at their door with a bunch of his followers, now clad in paramilitary gear. Jeremiah is very calm, which is deeply unsettling. He explains that he has bombs all over the city and a detonator with a dead man’s switch. He wants the city evacuated because he’s blowing all the bombs in six hours. To prove he’s serious, he blows up that clock tower that we see in every episode. Holy smokes, that was a big move!
Barbara and Tabitha talk about the clock tower and then Penguin shows up along with Butch and the knife-thrower. That dude is in bad shape. Barbara and company aren’t happy to see Oswald, but he thinks they can work together and take advantage of the chaos. Barbara isn’t into it, but then Penguin points out that they could get enough money to cure Butch and that’s enough to sway Tabitha.
Bullock yells at the Mayor, who’s reluctant to issue the evacuation order. And then Bruce makes his way to the station and wants to know if Gordon is OK. There’s not a good answer for that one. They pool their information and Bruce suggests they might be able to disarm the bombs if they can just get the schematics. Bullock demands he go home, though. And then Bruce gets a call. It’s Jeremiah on Alfred’s phone. He gives Bruce an address and tells him to be there in one hour, alone.
Gordon wakes up in a makeshift doctor’s office and sees Lee. They kind of gloss over how he survived, but let’s just say he Indiana Jones-ed it and hid in a fridge or something. I’m not going to fight them on this point. He’s in the Narrows – Ed had him followed and some of his people found Gordon after the explosion. She fills him in on stuff and he shows her the papers he took from Jeremiah’s office. She thinks he’s ridiculous for thinking he can save the city and locks him in to rest.
Selina and Bruce approach the address – she’s helping him case the joint. Inside, Bruce sees an image of a captive Alfred on a projector. He’s taking a beating from Jeremiah’s thugs and I don’t like that. Lee shows Riddler the plans from Jeremiah’s office – she thinks they can trade it to the GCPD for clemency but Ed still thinks she has feelings for Gordon. Boy, he’s really letting that stand in the way of saving the city and walking away clean. Ed Nygma is a petty, petty man.
Lucius shows Bullock the schematics and says they can help disable the bombs but not necessarily find them. But. There’s a system that connects them and if they can find the core relay, they can shut the whole thing down. Jeremiah, in his hideout, casually gives the order to kill Alfred and then notices Penguin. He’s there with Barbara’s crew and Grundy. They’ve tied the core relay to the knife thrower and put a grenade in his mouth. They have some demands. This will definitely work.
They want fifty million dollars – Jeremiah doesn’t have that money so Penguin suggests he charge the city for a couple of extra hours to evacuate. Jeremiah has a better idea, which is to fire a bazooka at them. It hits the knife-thrower dead on and Penguin lets out the most hilarious squeal. He has an underling start to rewire the bombs to work in direct sequence and then announces he’s going to set them off as soon as he’s out of the blast radius. I really like that Barbara and her crew are actually interested in saving Gotham – there’s a nice division between the people who are happy to watch the city burn and those who aren’t. Oh, Jeremiah also has his guys open fire on Penguin and company.
Jeremiah appears on a screen to torment Bruce and explain that it just takes one bad day to break anybody. Then Scarecrow appears on the screen, mixing a special toxin just for Alfred. They spray the poor butler with high intensity Joker Venom.
Riddler goes to see Gordon and says he’s helping because “I’m with Lee, now”. Gordon is not interested in this right now, so of course Riddler wants to impress Gordon with his relationship before they can work out a plan to save the city. Eventually, Riddler starts talking about Jeremiah’s maze. Somehow he gets from Jeremiah’s maze to a rough map of Gotham – basically, he’s blowing up the buildings that will, when they collapse, turn the city into a larger version of his maze. Riddler is ready to ransom off this information but Gordon can’t let that happen, so be punches Riddler in the side of his head. And it’s a really good punch!
Penguin and the rest manage to take out Jeremiah’s gunmen and Penguin calls Bullock to let him know that Jeremiah is changing the plan. Lucius can do something with this – if they’re wired in direct sequence, all they have to do is disarm the first one. And then Gordon turns up alive.
Bruce and Selina search for Alfred and Selina ends up finding Scarecrow. He tries to take her prisoner. At GCPD, they use Gordon’s information to find the first bomb. Bullock heads out there himself without waiting for the bomb squad. Selina kicks Scarecrow’s ass enough that he runs away.
Bruce is surrounded by images of Alfred and from the open gas lines, it’s safe to say that his perceptions are altered. When he finally finds Alfred, the man starts carving the Heath Ledger Joker scars into his own face, cackling all the while. It is… upsetting. Then he attacks Bruce and the fact that they teleport into a different room means that something is up. Selina sees Bruce thrashing around on the monitor, yelling about Alfred, and shuts off the gas. She then finds non-imaginary Alfred and releases him. Somebody shoots dream Alfred and Bruce almost loses it until he sees the real thing – it was all fear gas and I think we feel better for it.
Bullock makes his way to the bomb and he figures they have to deactivate it immediately. Lucius talks him through the process over the phone. As soon as they start, it begins to glow red which means it’s getting ready to blow. Jeremiah addresses his followers and prepares the detonator. Bullock opens up the bomb to see there are two breakers. One is the one he needs to deactivate, the other is the failsafe that’ll blow the bomb. He and Lucius can’t figure it out.
Gordon goes on TV to show the city that he’s alive, which rattles Jeremiah (who Gordon calls “a pale imitation of Jerome”) and then his followers turn on him. Bullock randomly picks a breaker and pulls it right before Jerome sets it off and… nothing happens. Harvey Bullock just saved Gotham City. Jeremiah runs and seals his followers in a room. Then he turns on the flame jets and burns them all to death.
Penguin and the Sirens crew share a drink. (Tabitha: “If you asked me this morning how many people I was going to kill today, I would’ve been way off.” HA!) Barbara tells Oswald to leave but Butch doesn’t want to go with him. So Penguin says he knows where Hugo Strange is, which sets Butch off again. Oh, we are getting some Hugo Strange in the finale.
Jeremiah reflects on where he went wrong and resolves to start again. And then he’s visited by one Ra’s al Ghul, who also wants to see Gotham in flames. Jeremiah keeps trying to shoot him, but Ra’s is too fast. He insists he doesn’t need help, but Ra’s says it isn’t just about Gotham – it’s about Bruce Wayne. Yeah, that did it.
Gordon goes to see Lee. He just wants to make things right and suggests that she leave Gotham and start a new life away from all the craziness. He promises he’ll always love her and though even that doesn’t get much response from Lee, an eavesdropping Riddler is furious.
Bullock gets a standing ovation at the GCPD for saving the city and it’s something he’s needed for a while. It’s a really good moment for him.
Back at stately Wayne Manor, Selina agrees to stick around for dinner. Bruce and Selina kiss. And then freaking Jeremiah walks right in and shoots Selina in the stomach. We see Alfred beat the hell out of him while she bleeds out and that takes us right to the….
–So, you’ve probably heard by now, but Gotham has been renewed for a fifth and final season. Yes! I mean, five years is a great run and I really appreciate that they can go into their final season knowing it’s the end and plan accordingly. It’s a courtesy many network shows don’t get. Last I checked they hadn’t announced the number of episodes in Season Five, but FOX is holding it for midseason. To me that means a shorter run, but it also might be that they’re not going off the air for four months halfway through the season. And depending on how next week plays out, it could be a season devoted to “No Man’s Land”. Which is not the best Batman story, but it’s my favorite Batman story. We’ll talk more about that in the next week or two.
Just a couple of notes in reference to Jeremiah. First off, it kind of made the rounds this week that Warner Bros. won’t let Gotham use the name “Joker” because he’s reserved for movies. Though, let’s be honest. Put Cameron Monaghan up against Jared Leto and that does not end well for Movie Joker.
Besides that, the “One Bad Day” Jeremiah references comes from Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s Batman: The Killing Joke which offers a possible origin of the Joker and has him talking about how One Bad Day can make a man snap, but as noted here, One Bad Day also turns Bruce Wayne into Batman.
Also, the weird calm version of Jeremiah has some precedent. We know Heath Ledger’s Joker was a master planner and he had those moments of quiet lucidity, but I think it’s more rooted in a very recent story in the main Batman book. “The War of Jokes and Riddles” by Tom King and Mikel Janin has the Joker in his first outing after becoming the Joker, waging war on the Riddler and getting every other villain involved. But the Joker here never laughs or even smiles. He doesn’t know what the joke is. It’s not until Batman risks his own life to save him from Riddler that he starts laughing and never stops. It’s a big choice, but I like it. Especially if we’ve got a long term Jeremiah / Ra’s al Ghul storyline for next season.
See you next time for the SEASON finale!