Gotham: Mandatory Brunch Meeting

Gotham

You know those awkward elevator rides?

Gotham’s weird string of titles for its “A Dark Knight” season continues in “Mandatory Brunch Meeting.” Then again, with Jerome running around I guess more weirdness is to be expected. The band of Arkham escapees are going to cause chaos all over that poor city. Once again, I think if I lived there, I’d move someplace safe, like Syria.

Since he had a big head start, Bruce gets to St. Ignatius before Gordon. He walks through the mostly empty building until he finds the headmaster, behind his desk. After enough chat to realize something’s off, we learn the man is under Tetch’s sway and has a surprise for Bruce. Gordon and Bullock arrive as Bruce tries to talk the man down, which seems to be at least partially working. The villain was after information about a student from ten years ago, Xander Wilde. Gordon and Bullock get to the office, they try something desperate, and then everyone who can dives for cover.

While this goes on, we get the episode title at a fancy table setting. In attendance are Jerome, Firefly, Scarecrow, Penguin, and Mr. Freeze. That’s a nasty group all at once even for the top of his game Batman, let alone his much younger self and a few cops, no matter how good they are. Jerome dubs them all his Legion of Horribles, and is thrilled when Tetch shows up with the information he wants.

Gordon and Bruce share what little information they have so far, before Gordon gives Bruce the disapproving speech every kid in an action show or movie gets from the “responsible” grown up hero. Gordon sends Bruce home, warns him off the case, and he and Bullock learn some puzzling things.

Jerome pays a call at the offices where Xander works, and it’s a really ugly scene. His demand for information is thwarted, as Xander is apparently a very careful man. Jerome gets a clue that could point him in the right direction. Gordon and Bullock get there, running just slightly too late as usual, and trade words and shots with Jerome before the annoying lunatic slips away. Bullock finds another clue that will take them somewhere they really don’t want to go at the moment.

In the Narrows, Riddler is running a twisted game show. His competitor is a man left over from a gang that the Sirens mostly eliminated a while back. Riddler, of course, wins. Not happy with the brutality on display, Lee saunters in and offers the Riddler a challenge that surprises the villain.

Jerome pays a call on his next victim, but his creepy insanity comes up against smooth competency and he gets a big surprise. Penguin meets up with Solomon Butch in a bar, but Penguin’s plans don’t work out like he hoped. That ends on a bad note for the would-be king of the underworld, while Gordon and Bullock go see Bruce and Alfred. Bruce isn’t exactly gracious at this turn of events, but they help the police and give them another clue courtesy of Thomas Wayne’s journals.

Jerome finds himself in new accommodations, and goes on another bizarre monologue, hinting at the connection between himself and the mysterious Xander. The person monitoring Jerome sees our two favorite cops show up and they’re greeted by someone we saw earlier. They are brought to Xander and find a plot twist that’s right out of a soap opera. Gordon and Bullock are stunned, but listen to the man’s explanation. I might have spent a lot of my life in hiding too, given his story. Xander tries to bluff, but Gordon and Bullock figure out he’s lying and find the monitors showing them where Jerome is.

Riddler and Lee have their face-off, and she does better than expected. Then again, Riddler is overconfident and Lee is far from stupid. The impasse at Xander’s place is broken when more of the Horribles show up. How they allegedly followed Jerome but got there after Gordon, I don’t know. Xander reveals a few secrets about his home/fortress, and they make a break for safety. They find Xander’s assistant, who has been controlled by Tetch, but is no less effective at beating people down, much to Gordon and Bullock’s dismay. Xander makes a break for it, but gets his own surprise from Jerome. Jerome reveals more about their past, and makes a passing reference to this basis for the much later Killing Joke story as he sends “Hat Head” to deal with the police.

Bullock, remembering being recently under Tetch’s control, comes up with a novel way of preventing in. It reminded me a lot of a scene from Star Wars involving Han and a bunch of Stormtroopers. A bemused Gordon follows. It ends in a draw of sorts, as Jerome and his loonies get away, but Xander is rescued. Lee pulls off a brilliant maneuver that plays right into Riddler’s huge ego and slips in a nasty trick on him.

Penguin decides on a bold move to try and gain some advantage from Jerome’s upcoming rein of chaos. He does something risky to gain an ally, and invokes the name of a character we haven’t seen in a while. That should be interesting. Lee and Riddler come to a very unexpected understanding of sorts in the wake of her victory.

Gordon brings Xander to the GCPD and surprises a lot of people who he really should have warned first. He and Bullock try and figure out Jerome’s plan. The madman himself is playing a twisted game to kill some time, and other things. He ends up with something that makes it even more likely that, in this world, Jerome eventually becomes the Joker.

What I liked: Lee was brilliant, although I’m not sure what she’s up to. Penguin’s move was interesting, and I’m looking forward to seeing how that spins out. It’s good to see Gordon and Bullock working together again without Bullock sticking barbs in Gordon every few minutes, and I loved how Bullock countered Tetch. The reveal about Jerome and Xander’s childhood near the end was interesting. The Legion of Horribles is a formidable force to fight.

What I didn’t: Who Xander proved to be was kind of cliche. I’m surprised Bruce was willing to get brushed aside and not stick his nose in more.

It was a good episode, my issues with Jerome to one side. I’ll give it a high 3.5 out of 5.

Taking the Week Off: Selina must be out stealing something. Tabitha and Barbara are likely figuring out what to do with the latter’s new band of followers. Perhaps Lucius is taking well-deserved vacation.

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