TELEVISION EPISODE REVIEW: Gotham S04 EP20 – ‘That Old Corpse’

Jeremiah Valeska starts acting paranoid and erratic, placing Bruce’s life in danger. Meanwhile, chaos greets James Gordon and the GCPD in the form of an impromptu, violent wake for Jerome Valeska. Seeing his chance, Riddler decides to try and break Lee Thompkins free from the clutches of the GCPD.

Gotham S04 EP20 – That Old Corpse
Written By: Charlie Huston
Directed By: Louis Shaw Milito

What You Should Know: 
Jerome Valeska, after failing to kill his twin brother Jeremiah, chose to fall to his death so that he could live on as an idea in the minds of many. What no one else knows, though, is that he had a special batch of toxic laughing gas made up just for Jeremiah, which he was gassed with after Jerome’s death. Lee Thompkins and Edward Nygma teamed up to rob some of Gotham’s banks for cash to hand out to those living in the Narrows. Cornered by the GCPD during what would have been their biggest score, Lee told Nygma to run and took the fall for the robberies herself.

What You Will Find Out:
Jerome’s old followers are mourning him at his grave when a woman dressed up like a classic harlequin appears, bearing a message for them. That message? To dig up his corpse right away.

Meanwhile, a very disappointed James Gordon is trying to convince ex-girlfriend Lee Thompkins to give up Edward Nygma, who he knows is in cahoots with Lee regarding the bank robberies in the last episode. Lee, though, wants Gordon to give up the law instead, firmly believing that more good can be done when the restrictions of the law don’t have a chokehold on you. What a far way she’s come from being the good doctor, but marrying the son of a mob boss and then coming under the influence of the Tetch virus can definitely change a person. Before he can convince her to turn in her new stripes for her old ones, he’s interrupted by the delivery of a video message from – yep, you guessed it – the late Jerome Valeska. Jerome wants Jim to throw a wake in his honor at the GCPD – but no need to worry about pesky things like the guest list, because Jerome’s already gone ahead and made arrangements for that. All Jim needs to do is host the thing – and he doesn’t have a choice because as soon as that edict is given, Jerome’s followers appear on the scene, trying to break into the GCPD.

While Gordon tries to figure out how he can get out of hosting the wake that no one sane wanted to throw, Bruce Wayne is meeting with his new friend Jeremiah Valeska, not at all weirded out by the fact that he shares a face with the man Bruce regrets not killing. It’s a small thing to overlook, really. Jeremiah is sharing a secret project he had been working on – a powerful, perpetual generator – but as he shares it with Bruce, Bruce notices that Jeremiah is acting a little off. At the same time, back at stately Wayne Manor, Alfred has gotten a call from Gordon, warning him about Jerome’s videotape and how Jeremiah and Bruce are likely targets. Alfred is on his way but is waylaid by a surprise attack, because there can’t be any interrupting what happens to Jeremiah and Bruce.

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Gordon realizes that the best way to get out of hosting the wake for Jerome would be to let the guests in while the cops sneak out, and then attack them from the outside so that Jerome’s followers have nowhere to go. Unfortunately, in their zeal to follow their late leader’s orders, Jerome’s followers break into the GCPD before Gordon can enact his plan. Gordon and Harvey Bullock manage to capture one of the followers and manage to get him to tell them what the plan is. Surprise, surprise, it involves killing Jeremiah and Bruce. Gordon, being Gordon, rushes off to save Bruce and Jeremiah, though in doing so, he leaves Lee behind at the precinct.

Unfortunately for Gordon, by the time he reaches Jeremiah’s bunker, Jeremiah and Bruce have left to go to Jerome’s grave. But no matter, because Jerome has left another video for Gordon – this one telling him that he meant to bring Gordon there – just as the Harlequin sticks a gun to Gordon’s head. Gordon gets into a fight with the Harlequin while paying attention to the video, only to uncover the fact that the person under the mask is Ecco and the instructions were left not by Jerome but by Jeremiah.

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At the graveyard, Bruce tries to convince Jeremiah that he’s not secretly Jerome in disguise, and then tries to stop Jeremiah from letting Jerome win. They’re pulled apart by Jerome’s followers…one of whom Jeremiah promptly kills, splattering blood on his face. When he goes to wipe some of the blood off, he reveals a ghost-white visage underneath his regular skin tone, revealing himself to Bruce as Gotham’s latest clown prince of crazy. Or not, because Jeremiah – armed with Jerome’s compendium of goals, and ready to outdo all of them – tells them that he is the true face of sanity. Granted, in this version of sanity, Jeremiah wants to use the generators he’s created as bombs…and the first one to go off is at his bunker, where Gordon is. Or was.

Meanwhile, Riddler wants to save Lee from the GCPD, which he does by getting a clown costume and using the chaos to his advantage. It’s an easy escape, and Riddler only has one request at the end of it – that Lee not have him simply wrapped around her finger. In the other subplot of the night, Penguin and Grundy try to get one of Jerome’s followers – the same one who gave up information to Gordon and Bullock – to turn to his side, though it’s no easy task. All they want is the answer to how they can cure Grundy.

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Believing that Gordon is dead, and having left Bruce knocked out in Jerome’s grave, Jeremiah and Ecco come to Wayne Enterprises, where they knock out a couple of guards and walk into a room filled with the generators that Jeremiah has created, which he’s going to use to give Gotham a new face.

What Just Happened?:
It’s an interesting curveball that Gotham threw, by having Jeremiah become a pale-faced, cold, antithesis to his twin brother. The speculation had been that this would be the birth of the Joker himself, but instead of a grinning, crazy clown – which has already literally been done to death by Jerome Valeska – we have an absolutely cold-blooded, humorless killer on our hands. On the bright side, it gives Cameron Monaghan something new and interesting to do, and while the monotone is a little creepy, what really gets creepy are whatever contacts they’re using for his eyes – glassy and bronze in tone, they seem almost unearthly.

It looks like we have confirmation on what will be causing Gotham’s version of Cataclysm and, ultimately, No Man’s Land, and instead of a random earthquake, it’s the generator bombs that Jeremiah has cooked up. While it’s worrisome that at the time of this writing, Gotham hasn’t yet been renewed for a fifth season, one wonders what Gotham as a true No Man’s Land would look like, and how all of the players would be affected by it. Four seasons in, a literal shake-up like that good to the series a world of good, even as it does the characters themselves a world of bad.

Both the Lee/Riddler plot and the Penguin/Grundy plot were slow burn c-plots in this week’s episode, and while the Lee/Riddler one seems the most enigmatic of the two, one wonders if Grundy’s ever going to get his cure…or if the upcoming cataclysm is going to mean that he’s done all of this hard work for nothing.

Rating: 7/10

Final Thoughts: Gotham’s thrown in some fun, unexpected twists regarding their handling of Jeremiah, and it’s a breath of fresh air watching Monaghan play a colder, cooler character. With the series – and the city – careening towards a cataclysm in its last two episodes, it remains to be seen how and where all of these pieces will fall on the board, and the mystery of it all is exciting.

Gotham airs Thursday nights on Fox. Check your local listings for times.


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