With one quick stab, the hopes, theories, and dreams of millions of Americans have been dashed. It’s a smart and stupid move for the show to kill off one of its most fascinating villains — no one has played a character quite like Cameron Monaghan captured the essence of Jerome — but it does open the show up to the big question many of us have wondered since a series about Gotham City pre-Batman was announced: Will we ever see the Joker? But before we can delve into Jerome’s “last laugh” (aptly named title that should have tipped us all off), some setup must be given.
After Essen’s death, Gordon and Harvey are on a rampage to find Jerome. A random street thug flying out the window is the first shot we see as the episode begins, and Gordon tells another to spread the word that they’re looking for Jerome, Barbara, and anyone helping them. As Essen reiterated right before she died, it’s a new day, and Gordon and Harvey are taking that statement very seriously.
Of course Jerome is tucked away in the safety and luxury of Theo’s home with Barbara, who has been enjoying some quality time with Tabitha (whose penchant for leather seems rather uncomfortable to move around in, but hey, what do I know? I’m writing this while in my sweats). Theo congratulates Barb for her work in keeping Jim out of harm and out of the way during the GCPD massacre. He monologues a bit about how his family built this city (probably not on rock & roll) and that he’s here to punish the people who betrayed them and “reclaim” what he believes is rightfully his.
Barbara speaks the voice of the viewers: She can’t quite understand or appreciate Theo’s plan to claim what is his by unleashing a bunch of “loonies” on the city, but Theo reassures her that this is just part one of the plan. What he has coming up next will let Barbara achieve her goals of fully destroying Gordon, “body and soul.”
Speaking of Gordon, he’s clearly not getting anywhere by taking to the streets to find Jerome, so Harvey suggests they visit Penguin. Of course Gordon’s not going to be too keen on visiting Penguin again after what he had to do for the new self-proclaimed “King of Gotham” in order to get his job back. Gordon is focused on getting the remaining Maniax if it’s the last thing he does — and he makes sure the rest of the GCPD stays just as focused as well. He’s barking orders, lecturing, yelling, and clearly not allowing himself to grieve. Lee succeeds in amusing him for a quick second while trying to convince him to attend the Gotham Children’s Hospital gala that she planned, but it’s no use. Gordon’s got a one-track mind, and he’s not slowing down for anything or anyone.
Harvey gets a tip about Jerome’s father’s new Gotham address, but of course Tabitha and Jerome beat him to the punch. They tie the poor old man up for some good old-fashioned Jerome-style torture with a whole lot of evil laughter. (Sidenote: Is anyone worried about Monaghan’s voice? Let’s hope he drinks some hot tea and lemon after every shoot.) Jerome reminds his father of something he told him in the past: “This world doesn’t care about you or anyone else, better to realize that now.” His father attempts to save himself and appeal to Jerome, but Jerome’s mind is made up. He’s following Theo’s plans to incriminate Jerome’s father in the Arkham escape. Hopefully Gordon and the GCPD won’t believe he’s the culprit just because some letters, blueprints, and knock-out gas are sitting around the apartment in an extremely conspicuous fashion. The cops aren’t that dumb, Jerome. Jerome’s father realizes he’s done for and attempts to insult Jerome by saying he’ll be a curse on Gotham and that his legacy is “death and madness.” Does he not realize that’s precisely what Jerome enjoys?
Gordon and Harvey show up right as Jerome is about to do the deed, but are too late once again. Before they can pursue Tabitha and Jerome, Harvey opens up the canister of knock-out gas and passes out, which leaves Gordon to pull him out of the apartment and inhale a little himself. Before he goes down, he gets to choke Jerome a little, but he’s lost this battle for now. A masked Tabitha knocks him out.
NEXT: A new, totally fake hero emerges
We arrive at the children’s hospital gala where Bruce and Alfred have arrived. Bruce runs off when he notices Selina and attempts to have a little chat. Unfortunately for him, she’s not having it. The mention of a magician is really not working for anyone as a pickup line tonight, but saying there is one over and over again makes it pretty obvious to guess that Jerome and co. will be taking over the gala festivities in that arena.
Theo mingles at the gala with Harrison Kane, the deputy mayor and after Tabitha shares some way too personal information about her brother’s sexual prowess, she lets him know the plans are in motion. Meanwhile, Alfred is making a fool of himself by hitting on Lee, but she doesn’t find a second to let the guy know she’s taken. Lee is then roped into emceeing for the evening and introduces the magician… Jerome. “The Great Rodolpho” asks for Bruce’s assistance in a trick (the real magician is tied and hidden away in his trunk). Bruce makes it out alive, but when Jerome asks for Harrison to join him onstage for a knife trick, it’s obvious the deputy mayor won’t make it past the episode.
Meanwhile Gordon is still at the precinct; he sent Harvey home for some rest when he gets a call from Lee, who has finally placed “Rodolpho” and his assistant, Barbara. She gets taken and strapped to the knife trick wheel for her troubles. Alfred kicks into military mode to protect Bruce as soon as Jerome reveals himself by killing Harrison, but of course Bruce runs after the girl.
Jerome calls Gordon and taunts him with some idiotic requests like $47 million and a pony (secretly I’ve always wanted a pony, so I understand this one); he says that if Gordon doesn’t come through in 10 minutes, he’ll start killing people. Theo stands up for the citizens of Gotham and tells Jerome they’ve had enough in a rather ridiculously cliché and over-the-top performance of “heroism,” before Barbara pretends to knock him unconscious, all according to plan.
Selina tries to help Bruce escape through a secret entrance where she snuck in earlier, but Bruce heads back to save Alfred. Thankfully Gordon sees Selina and confronts her, all while Jerome is having way too much fun torturing Gotham’s elite. Jerome decides that his first victim will be Bruce, of course, right as the kid gallantly came back to rescue his guardian. Thankfully Gordon has made it into the venue as well and starts a shootout after Bruce steps up to save Alfred from being killed. Gordon and Alfred take out the armed lackeys, but they can’t get a clear shot on Jerome, who’s fixated the knife to Bruce’s throat. Theo then suddenly wakes up and gets in his epic stab to Jerome’s neck.
As Jerome starts falling to the floor, Theo apologizes about the change in plan and tells him he really did have potential to be great. Barbara escapes before Gordon can get to her while Harvey visits Penguin for some major threatening to help keep Gordon safe. Apparently everyone has fallen for Theo’s ruse as Alfred, Gordon, and Bruce all offer their thanks for his brave actions. Even Barbara’s onboard with Theo’s real master plan —she clearly wants in as she tries to romance the evil billionaire. Too bad, Tabitha catches them getting a little friendly — do I smell the beginning of an epic sibling rivalry?
Theo might be quickly becoming a hero in Gotham’s eyes, but Jerome’s father was right all along: Jerome will be a curse upon Gotham as showed by the amount of people adopting his sinister laugh (learned through online videos of the villain’s most violent and public antics). The final image of Jerome lying in the morgue with his iconic, creepy smile still plastered across his face (in an almost Joker-like way with blood almost extending both ends of his lips) is one that will be remembered on the show without a doubt. It seems “The Last Laugh” is actually just the beginning.
Check out our postmortem with Cameron Monaghan to see what he thought of tonight’s ending.