Gordon uncovers a murder at the circus while on his date with Leslie. At first the two likeliest suspects appear to be one of two men who lead feuding families: the Graysons (trapeze) and the Llyods (clowns). Each of the two men have feelings for the murdered woman – a snake dancer – and each blame the other for killing her. Gordon thinks it’s unlikely that either are the culprit. Gordon gets a mystic clue from a blind fortune teller about steel sisters in a garden and a satanic element. Leslie solves the riddle first, remembering that Arkham Bridge is sometimes called the steel sisters and that there’s a park underneath it. Gordon and Leslie go searching under Arkham Bridge late at night and find a bloody axe engraved with the initials for the Hellfire Club. Rather than send Gordon on a satanic goose chase, he comes to realize that the blind fortune teller is protecting someone by arranging evidence and giving mystic clues. It turns out that the old man is secretly the father of the snake dancer’s only son, Jerome, and that he was protecting him after he learned that Jerome had killed his mother. Jerome at first gave off the impression that he was a gentle, slightly strange boy. The truth is that he’s a violent psychopath and that he killed his mother for nagging him too much.
The Joker (Jerome)
I don’t know about you, but I’m a little disappointed. So the Joker is a crazy, evil circus kid who murders his promiscuous mother – is the implication here that Jerome was born a sociopath? Or was he made into one, and if so, how so? While I’m not one who needs or even particularly likes to have my villains’ evilness explained, I think the quality of our introduction to the Joker will greatly depend on what they do with him next, and not what they fill in about his past. Does he perhaps go to Arkham now? And considering the quality of Arkham’s facilities and staff, what might that institutionalization do to him?
When it comes to the Joker’s backstory, I have a hard time not thinking about The Killing Joke, a one shot graphic novel written by Alan Moore and spectacularly illustrated by Brian Bolland. Moore gave the Joker a beautifully tragic and complex backstory, compounded infinitely by his chemical accident – which was inadvertently caused by an inexperienced Batman. I don’t demand they use the same story, but I want that same kind of psychological detail and human element that made The Killing Joke such an emotional and affecting read.
That being said, the actor they got for Jerome was pretty creepy and weird, so good job on casting once again.
While Leslie and Gordon have a wonderfully dynamic and interesting relationship – that seems to be filled with passion and chemistry – Gordon still has a hard time accepting Leslie’s involvement in his work. He has an instinct to protect her, even though he wants someone who can share in all aspect of his life and Leslie demands to be treated as an equal. Gordon obviously has many uncertainties left over from Barbara’s insistence to be let into his life, only to be frightened away once he finally let her in.
Meanwhile, Barbara returns home to find that Gordon has dropped off his keys and that Selina and Ivy are squatting at the apartment. Barbara has decided to return to Gordon’s life and win him back. She prepares to visit him at the GCPD after some wardrobe advice from Selina and Ivy. She arrives just in time to catch Leslie and Gordon kissing passionately, and retreats unnoticed.
Fish Mooney is indeed in some kind of organ harvesting facility. She takes care of her people and gains their trust before proposing a strategy to save themselves. She puts forth the idea that they are each other’s family now, because they are all they have. While it seems unlikely that Mooney actually cares at all about the people she is leading, she has their loyalty and protection. By controlling their organ supply, she is able to make a deal with her keepers to meet with the boss. The idea, at least publically, is to bargain with the boss for better accommodations. My guess is that her leadership position is a front, a way to manipulate those around her for her own benefit. She asked for blankets, food, and water for her fellow inmates, but will that be what she asks for when she meets with the boss?
Cobblepot basically has no idea how to run a club. He lets his mother sing on stage, drawing puzzled but indulgent reactions from most of the patrons, and then attacks a man who heckles her. He draws fewer and fewer guests until Zsasz arrives, saying that Falcone is concerned that Cobblepot is failing as a club owner. Enter Butch, who Zsasz has been “working on” for the last few weeks. Butch knows everything there is to know about running a club. While Cobblepot is initially frightened, fearing that Butch is still loyal to Fish Mooney and will kill him, Butch seems dazed and blank. Zsasz promises that Butch will do anything he’s told to do, even dancing when Cobblepot tells him to dance. Who knows what Zsasz did to Butch, but for the time being he’s slightly brainwashed or traumatized. I don’t think Butch will be kept placid, though. His dedication to Fish Mooney has proven unbreakable in the past and I think we’ll see him rally to save her yet.