Gotham, you crafty bastard, you. While I will recap the episode as best as I can, I have a lovely little rant waiting for you at the end.
The people behind the gothic drama have been saying for months that this season's stakes are higher than ever, and they weren't lying. They just didn't happen to hint at just how high those stakes would go, and then fall.
Bullock is back in gear, helping Gordon throw baddies out of windows if they don't help them locate Jerome. At the GCPD Gordon is still mourning the loss of Essen (as are we all), lashing out at every officer within earshot. He barks accidentally at Lee, so they go off into a 'dark' part of the office to kiss and make up, literally. Bullock catches them in their oddly timed snogfest, as they've got a lead on what Jerome is up to.
Meanwhile, the proto-Joker is hanging out with Tabitha, questioning and mentally torturing his father. He basically tells him that he was a horrible father and that his circus life sucked because of him. Planting some evidence to try and fake out the GCPD, Jerome then kindly sticks a butter knife into daddy's blind eye, moments before Jim and Bullock break in. Jerome and Tab escape out a window and as Bullock investigates the dead body of the daddio, a gas is released from a canister into the room. Bullock passes out and Gordon gets his heroic on, pulling both men out of the room. The gas is too much though and toys with Gordon's mind; Jerome returns to the building to then toy with Gordon some more, causing the cop to snap out of his semi-coma to beat Jerome. They ultimately fail to kill each other, and another escape takes place.
Babs and Tabs make out a bit, because why not. Theo stands idly by and watches, which is weird as hell since one of those ladies is his sister, but hey, it's Gotham.
There is a benefit for the children's hospital and a magician is set to perform. Alfred tells Bruce to stop being a brat about being there, as he is now a benefactor since his parents are dead. Mini Batman sees Mini Catwoman slinking around the ballroom, stealing wallets from the rich people of the city. They have a moment together that's awkward as hell, which is great since they're both that that age where nothing goes well and you're embarrassed 120% of the time. Backstage, Jerome and Babs hide the real magician, about to make the magic show their own.
Gordon and Bullock are at the GCPD still trying to recover from the effects of the gas that they were ambushed with, and Bullock heads home while Gordon lingers a bit, as he's that kind of guy.
The biggest part of this show is spent at the magic show. Jerome is the magician, and Babs is the assistant, so expect mayhem. They find Bruce Wayne and call him to the stage to be put in a box and cut in half. Since we all know Batman can't die, or be cut in half at the age of 15, it's easy to say the spectacle goes well. Jerome jokes that for the next trick, nobody is going to make out alive (HA. HA. HA.) Next up, he pulls the temporary Mayor of Gotham to the stage and after taking a few moments to put on some showmanship, he throws a knife into the poor man's heart, making good on his "y'all are gonna die" promise. People panic and Theo Galavan shows up as planned, to save the poor (er, rich) citizens at the benefit. It's all fake, planned out in advance. Bruce and Cat try to escape through the basement as the police arrive, but Bruce stays to save Alfred, but not before confessing that his misses his kitten. D'aww! Hiding behind a curtain, Bruce watches Jerome terrorize Alfred, threatening to kill him if Mini Bat doesn't come out to play. Gordon has snuck in by this point, thanks to direction from Cat. Gordon puts a gun on Bruce, who then hands it off to Alfred on his way to the stage. A shootout takes place, with Galavan coming in to quell the chaos that Jerome is dying to unfold.
And here's the kicker guys.
To stop Jerome from going “TOO FAR” (really, because he hasn't killed enough), Theo fucking Galavan stabs Jerome in the neck. Blood gushes out as the NOT Joker dies, the trademark grin across his face as the lights fade from his evil eyes.
Jerome is dead and my vocal chords are on fire from screaming at the TV.
Theo is the new hero of Gotham and Babs escapes without being able to harm Lee. Babs hits on Theo back at the mansion, causing Tabs to be jealous. So which Galavan will win Babs' heart?
Also, the Peng makes a brief appearance and smashes a glass against the wall. I'm sure we'll see more of him next week, since the best damn villain on the show was just prematurely killed off.
So to recap: Nygma is nowhere in sight, Jerome is dead and the Maniax is down to like, 2 members (I honestly don't even know anymore). The relationship between Lee and Gordon is disintegrating rapidly; not because they're fighting, but because the writing for their character interactions is laughable. “Kiss me” is an eye-roller and doesn't make me feel any more connected to these two than I have been for their entire storyline. If it wasn't for the stellar acting of Erin Richards (Babs) and the Bat/Al bromance, I think I'd light my television on fire this evening.
The first two episodes of this season had me in such high hopes, but with "The Last Laugh", I'm back to square one with Gotham. I don't care if they find some cheesy Arrow-inspired way to bring Jerome back from the dead (hello, Thea Queen), I just want it to happen. And while this will probably please many comics fans, who don't want the Joker to have an origin story, for people like myself who haven't read into the comics (yet) and are looking for a damn good Batman show, tonight's death was beyond disappointing. I'm going to go hate-eat a batch of cookies now.