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REVIEW: Gotham 2×02: “Rise of the Villains: Knock Knock”

In my review of last week’s episode, I began to hint at my not-so-secret love for Jerome Valeska a.k.a. the Proto-Joker. This week, I’m gonna let my freak flag fly and begin this review with the fact that Jerome is AMAZE-BALLS! But actually, I think I love him. Not in a Harley Quinn way (well, maybe just a dash), but I truly believe that Jerome is Gotham’s strongest and most deranged character. To my delight, this week’s episode, “Knock Knock”, was Jerome-centric. However, before I gush any farther, let’s start from the beginning, shall we?

DISCLAIMER: There will be SPOILERS. Beware!

The episode started off with the mysterious yet powerful Theo Galavan blackmailing the Mayor into leaving Gotham. While that sounds cool in theory, it was kind of lame. Theo was easily able to get the Mayor to acquiesce to his demands by basically threatening to put a spider near the Mayor’s face. Anyways, the core of the scene was not to show how cowardly the Mayor is, but to hint at Theo’s goals for Gotham: to cleanse Gotham through “fire and blood”. Anybody else getting kind of a Ra’s al Ghul vibe from him?

We then see Jerome and the other (forgettable) inmates tossing workers off of a high-rise building. Conveniently, the dead workers, who each have a spray-painted letter on each of their chests, all land perfectly on their backs and neatly lined up to spell “Maniax!”. Evidently, during a meeting at Theo’s manner, Suicide Squad I mean Maniax is the name of Theo’s band of merry murderers. While I was bummed to see Jerome working as part of a team, my disappointment was quickly appeased as Jerome and Greenwood (the inmate with the crazy hair and eyebrows) battled for the “Boss” position through a game of Russian Roulette. While Greenwood confidently pulled the trigger once, Jerome owned the game, consecutively pulling the trigger three times, smiling all the while.

Meanwhile, in the “Bat-cave”, we are forced to endure Bruce Wayne’s boring storyline. After finally getting inside the cave, Bruce marvels at the prospect of finding all of his father’s work inside the computers. Unfortunately for him and for our ears, Alfred destroys them, leading Bruce to have the most voice-cracking puberty fit ever. While Alfred argues he was just trying to protect Bruce, Bruce fires him. While this is setup to be a shocking moment, I don’t care. I know Alfred’s unemployment isn’t going to last.

Back at the GCPD, Essen and Gordon lead a briefing on the six missing inmates. While, the police have yet to catch the convicts that have been roaming free and terrorizing Gotham, Essen appears more confident and competent as the new police commissioner. She even gives a speech about how she wants to do a good job unlike the corrupt men before her. Well, good! Besides the fact that she’s supposed to do a good job, I’m glad she isn’t the spineless captain that let corrupt men walk all over her anymore.

knockknock

Eventually, after Harvey gives Gordon a lead because Gordon is forever-incompetent, Gordon and the GCPD catch up to Jerome and the Maniax. Side note: Jerome and the Maniax–potential band name? Anyways, after hilariously rousing cheers, Jerome prepares to blow up a school bus full of cheerleaders. Conveniently, Jerome’s lighter doesn’t start, forcing the Maniax to get into a shoot out with the police. Can you imagine if the lighter worked? That would be too depressing for Gotham to show the massacre of at least twenty people.  Fortunately, Jim finally gets a bright (ha-ha) idea and drives the bus away from the trail of gasoline. By the end of the chaos, the Maniax have escaped except the one inmate I really don’t know the name of…meh. He dies anyways.

Unfortunately, this exciting scene is interrupted by more Bruce and Alfred scenes. After Alfred leaves Wayne Manor, Bruce visits him at the train station. And no surprise there, Alfred gets his job back. Told you it wouldn’t last. However, as part of the agreed upon terms for re-employment, Alfred must teach Bruce how to really fight…and eventually become BATMAN! I mean, it’s cool and all that Bruce will become Batman, but I honestly think Gotham would be so much better with less Bruce. We’ve seen Batman’s origin story so many times, that Gotham should spend less time on Bruce and more time on Gordon and the villains (*cough* like Jerome *cough*).

Alfred then randomly goes to a bar, and starts a conversation with Lucius Fox…in the strangest way possible. I know the scene is supposed to be tense since Alfred isn’t sure if Lucius can be trusted, but the scene reads as the most sexually tense pickup at a bar ever. For example, after Alfred creepily states, “I’ve been thinking about you”, a seemingly long intense stare down between the men occurs. Anyhow, by the end of the scene, Fox joins team Batman and agrees to fix the broken computers.

We are then brought back to the GCPD, which is exciting as Gordon continues his hunt for Jerome. Yay more Jerome!…Oh, wait. My least favorite character, Barbara, has to ruin the moment with a phone call. While she calls Gordon to taunt him, it kind of feels like a “Hey audience! Don’t forget I exist!” phone call. Honestly, why does Jim entertain her? Hang up! Just as my eyes were mid-roll, things got a bit more interesting. It turns out Barbara was making the call from within the GCPD, in plain sight of at least thirty officers. Seriously, does no notice her?… One of the escaped inmates that every officer is hunting…the GCPD’s top priority case…INCOMPETENCE! Anyways, Jim (stupidly) follows her to a sketchy alleyway…again, smart move…and Barbara unleashes her “manservant” Aaron on him.

Now, this is where things get really interesting. As Jim receives a serious pummeling to the face, Jerome and the surviving Maniax invade the GCPD. Ironically dressed as officers, they murder almost everyone present. I guess I was partially wrong. A massacre isn’t too distressing for Gotham, as long as it doesn’t involve cheerleaders. Jerome, however, decides to save Essen from the killings. As she is bound to a chair, Essen and Jerome throw insults and hits at each other, and I honestly think this was one of the best scenes of the episode. Not only does Essen finally have the cajones to literally spit at a mass murderer, but Jerome’s deranged sense of fun is fully exposed as well.

Unfortunately, by the time Gordon is able to make his way back to the GCPD, Essen is fatally injured. Damn, just when she was starting to appear on my radar. Oh well. The only surviving victims of the massacre are conveniently Lee, Nygma, and Ms. Kringle. However, if Kringle wasn’t relevant to Nygma’s origin story, she’d probably be part of the body count. She better like Nygma now!

Essen’s death deeply affects Gordon. Not only was she a friend, but she was also the one ally that would have made Gordon’s job easier. Without her, Gordon is probably going to get sucked into some dark places out of desperation to do his job. Essen’s death did  bring back Harvey to the police force. But wait, why did he quit in the first place? I still don’t remember. Also, quick tangent, since when does Harvey have a fiancee?

While the massacre at the GCPD was enough to imbue Gotham with fear, my boy Jerome comes through again and adds the finishing touch. A video released to the public via the press of him not only killing a police officer, but also warning Gotham, “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!”

 

Final Grade: B+

Now, while this week’s episode was not worthy of an A, it was a MAJOR step up from last week. I honestly was being way too lenient last week, giving it a B…psht…. Even if I didn’t fangirl over Jerome, this week’s episode was one of Gotham’s strongest episodes yet. It focused on one villain, Jerome– one of Gotham’s truly twisted and well-acted characters. The Penguin and Catwoman didn’t even appear, while Nygma and the Galavan siblings appeared briefly to keep them relevant.

Extra Goodies:

+ Greenwood: “There is nothing more contagious than laughter.”  Jerome shoots Greenwood dead.  Jerome: “That’s my line…There is nothing more contagious than laughter.”

+Nygma’s brief chat, concerning Ms. Kringle, with his alter ego. Anyone else feel like she might become a potential victim?

+Tigress’s sniper skills–She should look into getting a Twitch account. I’d watch that.

 

What did you think of this week’s episode? Sound off in the comments or send us your thoughts on Twitter!

About the author

Elizabeth Banalagay