“You don’t have to do this,” begs Jerome’s blind father. “No, pretty sure I do,” replies Jerome (Cameron Monaghan) as he prepares to torture and murder his dad while framing him to look like the mastermind who broke Jerome, Barbara (Erin Richards), and the other inmates out of Arkham in season two’s third episode of FOX’s Gotham.
Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) are using very aggressive interrogation skills to try to find Jerome who’s become public enemy number one after leading the attack on the GCPD and murdering Commissioner Essen. Harvey suggests they visit Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor) who might know something now that he’s the crime boss of Gotham, but Gordon isn’t anxious to ask for any additional favors after the last time. Finally the two partners get a lead: Jerome’s father, Cicero, left the circus he used to work for and is somewhere in the city.
Unfortunately, Jerome and Tabitha (Jessica Lucas) have gotten to the old man first. Tying him to a chair, Jerome goes off on a tangent about how terrible a father he was and how he didn’t protect him from his mother’s abuse. Just as he is about to kill the old man there’s a knock on the door, it’s Jim and Harvey to ask the old man a few questions about his son. The two detectives hear the old man cry out and break down the door to discover Cicero tied to the chair with a knife in his eye, dead. Harvey goes to investigate the dead body and gets exposed to the knock-out gas used in the jailbreak Jerome was planting to frame Cicero. Gordon pulls his now unconscious partner out to the hallway and gets somewhat exposed to the gas as well. There, he’s attacked by Jerome and Tabitha and knocked out.
Meanwhile, it’s the big night of the children’s hospital gala where all of Gotham’s elite and anyone who is anyone is there to help a needy cause and have a good time. Of course Bruce (David Mazouz) and Alfred (Sean Pertwee) attend in honor of Bruce’s parents who went every year. They’re greeted by Dr. Leslie ‘Lee’ Thompkins (Morena Baccarin) who is also emceeing the event. Alfred takes a real shine to Lee, unaware she’s dating Jim Gordon while Bruce spots Selina (Camren Bicondova) pick-pocketing and goes to talk to her. Poor Bruce is given an icy reception from Selina who almost seems upset with Bruce for some reason. Could it be it’s been almost three months and he never once tried to contact or call her…maybe. Selina quickly brushes Bruce off and goes back to pick-pocketing. Theo (James Frain) and his sister Tabitha are hobnobbing with Deputy Major Harrison Kane when the lights go down and the entertainment for the night is about to begin. Lee introduces a Magician named “The Great Rudolfo” who is really Jerome in disguise, assisted by Barbara who’s also in disguise. During his first trick Jerome says he’ll need a volunteer and picks Bruce, who doesn’t seem to be too anxious to be part of the magic but goes ahead and participates in the famous splitting in two act which, thankfully, goes off without Bruce actually being cut in two.
Back at the police precinct Gordon tells a recovering Harvey to go home and sleep off the effects of the gas and that they’ll both go see Penguin tomorrow and find out what he’s heard on the street. Not long after Harvey leaves, Jim gets a call from Lee who has realized the true identity of the magician and his assistant. Off Jim goes to the gala which has turned into a bloody hostage situation with Jerome killing the deputy mayor and using a couple of armed goons to keep Gotham’s elite trapped at their tables.
During the chaos and first attack at the gala, Alfred goes into military mode. He takes out one of the armed thugs before getting knocked down, and Bruce takes off after a fleeing Selina who shows him a secret way out that she used to crash the party. Realizing Alfred is still back in danger, Bruce tells Selina he can’t leave him behind and he has to go back. Selina tells Bruce she’s not going back to which he replies, “I don’t expect you to. Selina, I’ve missed you. I wanted you to know.” Bruce goes back after Alfred, leaving behind a shocked and upset Miss Kyle.
Jerome calls Gordon to taunt him with a few ridiculous demands like $47 million and a pony or he’ll kill everyone in 10 minutes. Gordon prepares to breach the building with the other officers who have arrived when he sees Selina and confronts her about how she made it out. Jim then uses the same secret entrance to get in and take on Jerome. Theo stands up and confronts Jerome, telling him the good people of Gotham have had enough of him and for him to stop. Barbara pretends to knock Theo out. Jerome decides his first victim will be Bruce Wayne, the Prince of Gotham, but he can’t find him and instead threatens to kill Alfred. Bruce won’t let it happen and calls out, “I’m here!” Before being taken to Jerome but his goons, he secretly hands Alfred a gun and whispers to him that Jim is waiting behind the curtain to take out Jerome.
Bruce goes up to the stage and is held prisoner with a knife to his throat when the shoot-out begins and Gordon and Alfred take out the gun-carrying goons. Jim says he doesn’t have a clear shot and Alfred tells Bruce to stay calm when Theo comes up behind Jerome and says again, “I said enough,” and stabs Jerome in the neck. As a shocked Jerome begins to fall and Theo guides him down to the ground whispering to him that he knows that this isn’t how they had rehearsed it but it’s necessary and that he really did have great potential. Jerome dies on the stage.
Barbara uses a secret trap door to escape before Jim can get to her. Alfred, Gordon, and Bruce thank Theo for his assistance but Bruce seems a little wary of Theo. As Alfred and Bruce leave to go home, neither of them see Selina who snuck back in to check to make sure Bruce was safe. Awww, young love.
Penguin gets an unexpected visit from Harvey at his headquarters. Harvey just wants to let Penguin know that if he ever decides to go after Jim, who Harvey heard on the street did a favor for Penguin that went bad, he’ll have to go after Harvey too. Bullock also reminds Penguin that he still owes him for what Oswald did to Fish Mooney.
The episode ends with news footage of Jerome’s wild and deadly antics and some of Gotham’s darker, more evil residents adopting his eerie laugh as tribute.
Dark, action-packed, and shocking, Gotham season two episode three titled “The Last Laugh” removes all too early one of the best villains of the series. Gone too soon is Jerome who it appeared was going to eventually become the Joker but instead is the inspiration who gives birth to the clown prince of crime. The performances are all solid, with the exception of James Frain being just a little melodramatic as Theo the true criminal mastermind who set all this in motion to appear to be Gotham’s new savior. Perhaps the best scene in the entire episode is the quiet but stern threat Harvey delivers to Penguin. When he calls Oswald the little umbrella-holding punk of Fish’s, it’s obvious it cuts through Penguin like a blade.
Another great scene that stands out from the episode was between Bruce and Selina as she’s trying to save him from all the gunfire. It’s so obvious these two teens are crazy about each other but, just like adults, they have a hard time admitting it. The fact Selina comes back after all the chaos to make sure Bruce is okay is sweet and touching.
With the best villain now in the Gotham morgue and Theo about to make a run for the vacated Mayor’s office, here’s looking forward to episode four.