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GOTHAM Recap: ‘Mad City: The Gentle Art of Making Enemies’ Goes in On Joker vs. Gordon

GOTHAM Recap: ‘Mad City: The Gentle Art of Making Enemies’ Goes in On Joker vs. Gordon

Warning: this recap contains major spoilers from Gotham‘s winter finale, “Mad City: The Gentle Art of Making Enemies.” This is a recap, after all! Don’t say we didn’t warn you …

The Joker came, he saw, and he very nearly almost conquered on Gotham. But thanks to the combined efforts of Jim Gordon and a young Bruce Wayne, he was stopped before he could do any permanent damage to the city—no surprise there. But his actions eventually inspired Bruce to come up with a hard list of rules he will follow for the rest of his life as the caped crusader. Big things are happening on Gotham, y’all! Let’s get to recapping “Mad City: The Gentle Art of Making Enemies,” shall we?

Jerome Valeska began his Purge-like revolution by knocking out the city’s power grid, and the night had only just began before the GCPD was already overrun with criminals and crazy, laughing Joker followers wreaking all kinds of havoc and destruction. The Court of Owls—and a mysterious man linked to Gordon in some way—watched the chaos from afar, ready to step in before the city broke itself completely, but the man wanted to give Gordon and the GCPD more time to handle it on their own. Hmmm, interesting. Why does this man have so much faith in Gordon? We’ll get to that later.

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At the GCPD, Gordon and Lee—still spewing some nasty words to him whenever she gets a chance—figured out that Jerome was planning to finish what he started when he was alive the first time and finally kill Bruce. Jerome arrived at Wayne Manor with a whole army of his followers and smashed the Court of Owls glass statue in his wake of destruction, not truly understanding the importance of what he was doing. Oops! Guess we’ll never figure out what that hidden map led to, huh? At least Bruce was able to stall Jerome into making his death a big show for all of Gotham to see, so they led Bruce out after his “strangely intimate” goodbyes with Alfred (seriously, Jerome says what I think all the time, is that weird? That might be weird …) and Gordon arrived just in time to save Alfred. Has this guy got the best timing when it comes to big saves, or what?

But the Joker had already brought Bruce to his carnival of death and explained the point of his night of “awakening”: he wanted to show the true face of Gotham and that there were no heroes. As soon as the lights went out, all the regular, normal people went crazy and killed, acting on their darkest impulses. He wasn’t wrong about that, but he was wrong about there being no heroes. He had no idea he was dealing with the future savior of Gotham! When the GCPD arrived, the place turned into a total madhouse and Bruce managed to slip his cuffs and led Jerome into a hall of mirrors. The two fought, Bruce got the upper hand and almost killed Jerome in a flash of anger before catching a glimpse of himself in a mirror. He didn’t like what he saw, smeared Joker face paint and all, so he stopped before he could do anything he’d regret. He ran out out of the house of mirrors, straight into Alfred’s arms. Aw! Jerome tried to follow but Gordon punched him so hard that his stapled-on face flew right off. The moment was awesome, gruesome, horrifying and exhilarating. Gordon really packs a punch!

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Once word spread about Jerome’s arrest and lock-up in Arkham, things in the city started to calm down as people begand to see reason again. Alfred was proud of Bruce for knowing where the line was and for not crossing it, and that inspired him to help Bruce come up with rules that he cannot and will not break, the first being the most important: “I will not kill.” Batman’s most iconic rule is born! Raise your hand if you did not think Gotham was going to tread into that territory so soon? My hand is most definitely up. This is so exciting: could we see an early version of Batman as soon as this season?!

Meanwhile, while all of Jerome’s anarchy was raging all around them, Penguin found Nygma alive and well and …not being held captive by anyone. Of course we knew that from the start, but Penguin was absolutely shocked and confused, especially when Nygma immediately shot Penguin’s two goons that he arrived with before holding Penguin at gunpoint. Looks like his revenge plan was complete? Huh, I thought there would be more takedowns coming considering how angry Nygma was, but the only thing left for Nygma to do was kill Penguin. While Nygma prepared to kill him, Penguin finally confessed that he did kill Isabella, and he did it because he loved Nygma. It’s hard to feel complete and total empathy for a serial murderer, but Robin Lord Taylor did his best, and I can’t deny that my heart was breaking for Penguin during this scene.

However, I have to say that Nygma’s murder plan was a little convoluted. He strapped Penguin to a car with a vat of acid over his head being held up by a chain that was frozen together. He lit a flame under the candle to slowly melt the ice, freeing the chain so the vat would drop on Penguin, but then Nygma just walked away. This is a classic villain mistake! You always stay to make sure your plan works. Something is clearly going to go wrong.

And wrong it went! Someone heard Penguin’s screams, found him and cut him loose just in time before the vat of acid tipped. Penguin escaped and immediately found Butch and Tabitha already making themselves comfortable in his home and learned that they were in cahoots with Nygma and even Babs, but Babs told him that they were planning on killing Nygma, too—they just had to find him first. There really is no honor among thieves and murderers.

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But wait! I was right the first time! Nygma’s plan wasn’t over just yet: he was working with Babs the whole time, getting Penguin to realize he didn’t truly love Nygma because he couldn’t share Nygma with Isabella, meaning he couldn’t sacrifice his own happiness for Nygma’s. He wanted Penguin to die realizing that he was incapable of loving another person, not simly taking everything that Penguin had but also everything he believed. (Truly cold.) I’m impressed with just how far Nygma took his revenge plan. But since Penguin wouldn’t give up Nygma’s location back when he thought Babs was working alone, sacrificing his life for what he thought was saving Nygma’s, Nygma was confused as what to do now.

The final scene where Nygma had Penguin at gunpoint down at the docks, deciding whether or not to kill him, was truly gut-wrenching for both men. Penguin tried to make Nygma realize that they needed each other because no one else would ever understand them aside from each other, and that he helped make Nygma into all that he is today. But Nygma loved Isabella and couldn’t forget that – so he shot Penguin and threw him into the water. The look of horror and heartbreak and pain – both physical and emotional – was so clear on Penguin’s face as he sunk towards the bottom of the river, blood pouring out of his chest. Is Penguin really dead? There’s no way, right? Gotham can’t exist without him!

One final twist before Gotham goes on yet another mini-hiatus: the Court of Owls had been working on erasing Indian Hill Bruce-clone Five’s scars this whole time so he is now indistinguishable from the real Bruce. They’ve prepared him to be called on when the time is right. But what time is that, and for what is he being prepared? This can’t be good. And we finally learned who the mysterious man is: Gordon’s “Uncle Frank!” He showed up at Gordon’s doorstep at the very end of the hour to somehow put the Court’s plan into motion. With the Court infiltrating both Gordon’s and Bruce’s lives, there’s no telling what they have planned except that it’s going to have long-lasting and deep consequences for everyone.

What did you think of the Joker’s final showdown with Bruce and Gordon? Is Penguin really dead? What is the Court of Owls planning? Send me your theories at @SydneyBucksbaum!

Images: Fox

Gotham airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on Fox.

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