TELEVISION EPISODE REVIEW: Gotham – S4 EP21 ‘One Bad Day’

Determined to test his psychological limits, Bruce’s enemies put those closest to him in danger. Meanwhile, a team of unlikely heroes band together to save Gotham City from falling into a state of anarchy.

Gotham S4 EP21
Written By: Tze Chun
Directed By: Rob Bailey 

What You Need To Know:
Jeremiah Valeska has revealed himself to be Gotham’s latest villain, with a plan to remake Gotham City in his image. To that end, he’s decided to blow Gotham City up, starting with Jim Gordon, who survived Jeremiah’s attack. Alfred has been kidnapped by Jeremiah, and Ra’s al Ghul has returned to the land of the living, with a vision of Gotham in flames.

What You Will Find Out:
The episode picks up right on the heels of last week’s episode. Jim Gordon is thought to be dead at the hands of Jeremiah Valeska, though Bullock absolutely believes that he’s still alive. Unfortunately, no one is listening to Bullock because the last time he had been in charge, things had gone down badly. As soon as the GCPD gets to work, though, Jeremiah appears with his brother’s former followers remade into his image. He tells them that he’s going to blow up Gotham City in six hours, and to prove it, he blows up the Gotham clocktower to prove how serious he is.

Meanwhile, Barbara Kean and Tabitha Galavan watch the clocktower explode from the Sirens nightclub when they’re interrupted by Oswald Cobblepot and Butch “Solomon Grundy” Gilzean. Cobblepot fills them in on Valeska’s plan, and while Barbara passes at a team-up with Team Penguin, Cobblepot lures them in with the promise of curing Butch. Tabitha convinces Barbara by reminding her that she nearly died at Ra’s al Ghul’s hand at her, and a fresh team-up is born.

Bruce Wayne, stunned at the news about Gordon, arrives at the GCPD precinct, and he trades information with Bullocks about what’s been going on. Bruce confesses that Wayne Enterprises had a hand in building Jeremiah’s bombs, and Bullock sends Bruce home to be safe. On his way out, he gets a call from Jeremiah, using Alfred’s phone. He tells Bruce to follow his instructions, or else Alfred will die and gives him an address to be in an hour, without telling the police.

Gordon comes to, hooked up to an IV drip, and finds himself in the clutches of ex-girlfriend Lee Thompkins. The Riddler’s people had brought her to him to save him. Lee fills him in on the Clocktower having been blown up, and when he can’t get up because of the painkillers, he tells her that he has blueprints from Jeremiah’s office in his jacket. Lee takes the blueprints away, determined to figure out what they mean.

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Bruce, unable to call the cops, calls Selina Kyle for help, who tells him that she’s going to be there for him whenever he needs her. They scope out the building that Jeremiah directed them to come to. Selina sneaks up high while Bruce takes the front door. As soon as he enters, he’s treated to a projected video of Alfred being tortured.

Meanwhile, Riddler is mortified by the fact that Lee wants to help Gordon, but she points out that they can solve the blueprints and use them for clemency with the police. While Riddler thinks something more is going on with Lee and Gordon, she tells him that she’s over Jim, and what matters most is saving the Narrows from even more trouble. Riddler agrees to do it for Lee if that’s what she wants, but Lee tells him to do it for the both of them.

Lucius Fox figures out that the bombs are connected, and all they need to do is find the “brain” of the bomb to stop them all from exploding.

Jeremiah is met by Penguin, Barbara, Tabitha, and Grundy, who have one of Jeremiah’s guys tied up with the core relay of the bombs. The fearsome foursome wants fifty million dollars in exchange for the core relay. Jeremiah pretends to call the mayor about the money, but instead pulls a rocket launcher on the group, blowing up their hostage. Because they interfered with Jeremiah, he’s going to try to get the bombs to explode in an hour instead of the promised six. Making his getaway, he tells his goons to kill Penguin and the others.

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Meanwhile, Bruce is trying to find Alfred while being shown images of Alfred being tortured, overlaid with a recording Jeremiah telling him that he’s going to lose everything and everyone he’s ever cared about and valued.

After some grandstanding about who Lee is really with, and who she really cares about, Gordon and Nygma talk about the blueprints, which are laid out to show which buildings Jeremiah is going to blow up to create a very large labyrinth. Gordon wants to take the information to the GCPD, but Riddler and Lee want to show the plans to the mayor to be pardoned for their crimes. Jim knocks Riddler out and gets away with the plans.

Back at the shootout, Penguin calls Harvey and fills him in on Valeska’s plans to move up the time of the bombs blowing up. Fox realizes they have to disrupt the first bomb in the sequence and they can stop Valeska’s plan. This is when Gordon enters the precinct, with the location of all the bombs that Valeska has planted.

In another part of the warehouse, Selina comes across a couple of goons and the Scarecrow. Selina takes down the goons and fights the Scarecrow, who backs off from trying to kill her. He does tell her that the experiment is almost over and that Bruce will soon be driven mad. He might not be wrong either – Bruce is running through a corridor, with gas being pumped in from all sides, and being shown video of Alfred being tortured. He stumbles into a room where he seemingly runs into Alfred, who is cackling madly and cutting his mouth open into a vicious, bloody grin before he tries to attack Bruce. The two grapple as Selina watches on a tv screen in another part of the warehouse. Realizing what’s at play, she shuts the gas off and soon discovers a hooded figure. Bruce and Alfred continue to fight until Alfred is shot in the head. Selina tells Bruce to breathe, and tells him that he’d been hit by the fear toxin and that the man wasn’t Alfred – the person that Selina found was the real Alfred. This shakes Bruce to his senses some.

Bullocks arrives at the bomb site and enters unable to wait for the bomb squad. Fox starts to walk him through the process of disarming the bomb, but it whirs to life before he can do anything, the blue light turning to red.

Valeska goes to meet his goons, when Gordon appears on the news, broadcasting that he’s alive and that Valeska’s just a pale imitation of his twin. He goes to hit the switch and blow up Gotham, but Harvey has managed to find the kill switch to stop the bombs from exploding. As Jeremiah’s followers start to turn against him, he does the only thing he can do with his fickle underlings. He locks them in the room – a furnace – and sets them all aflame, killing them.

Back at Sirens, Butch stands up to Penguin, telling him he’s done with Oswald. Penguin lets drop that he knows where Strange is, and Tabitha says that she can be very persuasive when it comes to getting Butch fixed.

Valeska decides to start again with his plans when he’s visited by Ra’s al Ghul, who suggests a partnership to bring Gotham to flames. Jeremiah’s not buying it, but Ra’s tells him it’s about more than Gotham – it’s about Bruce Wayne.

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Gordon visits Lee and tells her to get out of town and to start a new life somewhere else – alone. He tells her that he will always care about her, despite the past and the terrible things they’ve done to each other. Little does he know that Riddler was listening in on the conversation, clearly disliking what he heard.

Bullock returns to the precinct and gets applause for his brave work from everyone, having redeemed himself after the Professor Pyg fiasco from earlier in the season.

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Bruce, Selina, and Alfred return to stately Wayne Manor, where Alfred says he’s going to shower before fixing them something to eat. Bruce thanks Selina for her help, and the two finally share a kiss. Selina asks why Jeremiah is so obsessed with him, and Bruce says that Jeremiah said it takes one bad day to make a person insane. Bruce surmises that maybe his parents’ deaths drove him a bit insane and that Jeremiah was trying to draw that insanity out. Selina points out that he proved him wrong only Jeremiah enters the room and tells Bruce that the day isn’t over yet…and then he shoots Selina in the spine. Alfred, having heard the gunshot, runs in and tackles Jeremiah, savagely punching him repeatedly while Bruce tries to stop Selina from bleeding out.

What Just Happened?
Just as the show has pulled from many different classic Batman storylines, this one is a take on the Killing Joke, with Jeremiah going after Bruce and his sanity in any which way he can. While the parts with Alfred were extremely well done – Sean Pertwee and David Mazouz were both called on to do a lot here, and boy did they deliver – the part with Selina getting shot in the gut was truly unnecessary. Yes, it’s a take on the Killing Joke, but there were other ways the story could have gone – and did go. Having Alfred seemingly tortured as badly as he was bad enough, as was the moment where Bruce felt he had lost Gordon. Shooting Selina in the spine was over the top enough to take one out of the story because the last thing any comics adaptation needs is any woman being victimized to bring on man-pain for the lead male protagonist. Any other direction here would have been great.

Bullock’s redemption storyline was fantastic, and it was great to see him get a moment where he wins again, after having struggled for so long. Sometimes it really feels as though Donal Logue is one of the unsung heroes of Gotham for all that he brings to the table in terms of performance and gravitas, and it’s great to see his character get not only a win but be put back on good footing with Gordon. In many ways, that friendship is the heart of the show.

I’m still not certain where the whole storyline with Barbara, Tabitha, Butch, and Penguin is going to go – while they all seemed to have a clear direction, this search for Hugo Strange story just seems nebulous enough to not be as compelling as the writers may like it to be. How it’s going to dovetail into the upcoming No Man’s Land storyline is also difficult to foretell, but it will hopefully lead the characters to an interesting place. It’d be a pity to see Barbara’s story with the sisters of the League be thrown by the wayside, especially since it seemed to be taking her to an interesting, potentially empowering place.

Rating: 6/10

Final Thoughts: A solid outing that would have played better without that unnecessary last-minute twist, Gotham has set up all of its chess pieces for what seems to be a very destructive season ending.

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

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