Gotham: (S03E12) “Ghosts”


Crossroads is where we find all of our beloved characters in “Gotham’s” pseudo winter première. The territory explored in this episode surprisingly fitted the denizens of Gotham more than any past plot. Penguin is the one who benefits the most, with Edward Nygma psychologically torturing him. The mother of future Catwoman, Selina Kyle, throws an entertaining wrench into the lives of Bruce and Alfred. Murder weighs heavily on James Gordon’s conscience, especially when it comes to his relationship with Lee Thompkins as she orders a hit out on him and then doesn’t. The DNA is clearly defined by these three storylines, with the show being a drama but never allowing the dramatics to drown out its campy heart.
The past, both literally and figuratively comes back to bite the characters in their asses just as the show is starting new plot points and new year. It matters that this is 2017’s first episode because each character is looking to the future even as past “Ghosts”, the episode’s title, nip at their heels. The lifespan of “Gotham”‘s most enduring quality is its ability to play with the mythos of Batman, both on the four colored page and screen, which this episode does spectacularly.
Oswald Cobblepot’s story arc takes the episode’s title most literally. His success in politics made him confident, but is also his enemy. His legacy as a scoundrel and vicious killer manifests as one person whose death is not actually Penguin’s fault, his father (played by national treasure, Paul Reuben), to keep him from enjoying his approval rating. Dad is, of course, a ghost because they haven’t done that! Robbed of any semblance of reality, Paul Reubens gets to have all sorts of fun acting as a ghost straight out of Dickens. Legit enough looking ghost, Poppa Cobblepot drops all sorts of ominous warnings pointing towards Oswald’s new, “birthday boy” assistant. It’s not him, right? To date, nothing about the show contradicts ghosts. It’s better than mere ghosts, though, as the show reintroduced Clayface.
The hour is thoroughly rounded out by the Jerome storyline, especially when it comes to the man who played the Joker henchmen, and the actor who portrays him David Dastmalchian, hell-bent on reviving the fan favorite interpretation of Batman’s most immortal enemy. The proceedings get enriched because of Dastmalchian’s, and Paul Reuben as well, history with DC Films. “The Dark Knight” is the most talked about iteration of the Joker, let alone Batman film, so the show was very clever to cast Dastmalchian in essentially the same role he played in Christopher Nolan’s film to get the fan base instantly talking with this Easter-Egg. Jerome is a big enough fan favorite, that he would be a great lightning rod to gather all sorts of obscure oddities from Batman and Joker’s film history, ranging from the recent (maybe a quick Harley Quinn cameo) to the distant past (ie ’66 Batman and Caesar Romero’s Joker). A galore of cameos and storyline adaptations from the comics and past film/TV Shows are coming to “Gotham” soon, especially with all the changing tides which occurred. Moments like this in the show’s own history have been very exciting because you never quite what might happen or who will show up next, like the show’s own version of the Suicide Squad.
The voice of “Gotham” is what distinguishes it from the growing superhero TV landscape, and its current story the clearest it has been. Grim but knowingly campy. Horror with over-the-top action. It delivered a pretty stand out episode to start this three episode mini-arc, and I have the utmost confidence that it will only get better each next installment.