Gotham: Winter Finale – Face Off (Review)


Gotham‘s Bruno Heller pulled out all the stops for the second season’s winter finale.  Bruce Wayne comes up against Jerome, aka The Joker, and there is a face off between Penguin and Ed Nygma that ends pretty much as we expected it to. Judging by the teaser at the end of this episode, Nygma’s killing of Oswald has pushed him toward becoming that green question mark known as The Riddler.

This was a real tour de force effort. Not only do we have a crowning moment in the genesis of Bruce Wayne’s journey to become the future Batman but we have yet another rug pulling act with the death of Oswald Cobblepot.

“The Gentle Art of Making Enemies” brings the Jerome Valeska storyline to a temporary close.  It not only allows Wayne to come within a grinning rictus of killing the future Joker but between Bruce’s pummeling of Jerome’s stapled visage and Gordon’s final assault on the mauled remains of Valeska’s face, the soon-to-be super villain has his face knocked off.

It is a crowning moment in this series and counts as one of the more grisly scenes in any of the three seasons on offer. Harvey makes a joke out of the whole thing but that split second shot of Jerome’s mangled face, with what appears to be hamburger leaking at the edges, was darned impressive.

(The face looked creepier and more realistic this week even before being smacked out of shape by Wayne’s furious attack in the hall of mirrors.)

Alongside the storyline of Jerome planning on finishing what he started in season two, the end of the Ed Nygma/Oswald Cobblepot affair came to a close.  Barbara and Ed underestimated Penguin’s love and despite proving that he really was able to sacrifice himself for Ed, the limping mayor of Gotham ends up being shot on the dock like so many others before him.

The acid vat over Isabella’s car and the melting block of ice was brilliantly funny as was the bumbling cop who stumbles over the scenario in time to save Cobblepot. Behind the two major storylines we saw the owl lady setting things in motion to have the Bruce Wayne clone take over.

Gotham also set up a teaser moment where we learn that Jim Gordon’s uncle is working for the secret organization.

This episode was full of chaos from its open. The GCPD fighting all those followers of Jerome and the station catching fire soon led to a series of riots in the city, not seen, and culminated at the Boardwalk Circus.

Great humor and the entire enterprise at the circus was  weird and wonderful allowing Jerome and Wayne to face off and indulge some character development.  (Another gruesome, yet amusing moment occurred with the poor guy fed to the tank full of piranhas.)

It was interesting to see Oswald justify killing Ed’s dream woman. Telling his former right-hand man and love interest that he would have killed Isabella just as he killed Miss Kringle may have infuriated Nygma but it may well have been true. Although that was not the real reason that Penguin killed the new woman in Ed’s life.

The bottom line was, that by the end of the episode, Ed did not care why Oswald killed his true love.  Penguin was going to die in the same manner as Fish Mooney and Theo Galavan. It seems certain that he will come back, though as did Fish, Theo, Jerome and many others.

One thing is certain. Bruce Wayne’s vow to “never kill” will become a major plot point when the series returns in April. The fake Wayne will most definitely mess up by killing someone and Alfred will naturally realize that Master Bruce is a fraud.

Gotham will be back later in the spring on FOX.


Guest starring  Cameron Monaghan as Jerome Valeska.

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