A Venture into Ace Chemicals was the theme of tonight’s Gotham season 5 episode 7, and we have been preparing for a groundbreaking episode.
Without even dipping your toes into this episode, recall the source material. Ace Chemicals is vital to the Joker mythology in the Batman universe, though Gotham avoids the word Joker like Harry Potter avoids saying Voldemort. It just doesn’t happen. Therefore, the challenge then becomes staging a Jeremiah vs. Bruce Wayne stand-off that has the same high stakes as a trademark Batman – Joker battle, just without either one of the characters within their full regalia.
Luckily, Gotham found its way to deliver just that with as intense and violent a showdown as you could hope for. That’s without going into the horrific trauma of it all. During “Ace Chemicals,” we saw Bruce Wayne dragged to the corners of his personal despair, as Jeremiah revived his parents Thomas and Martha (or, at the very least, created dummy-versions of the duo) in order to partake in some horrific dinner theater. It was all a means to unsettle Bruce by forcing him to effectively re-live the most traumatic day of his life. He even brainwashed Alfred and made him into the world’s most oblivious butler, incapable of doing or saying anything to slow down his plan.
What made this episode so destructive towards Bruce is him, metaphorically, having to watch the world around him crumble. The most viable person to help him was Jim Gordon, and it was clear that Jeremiah already had plans for him. He and Ecco captured him and Lee Thompkins and then used them as stand-ins for his fake version of the Wayne Parents. If he was going to recreate their murder, it had to be with people that mattered — that’s why Jim and Lee were the stand-ins, and why Bruce needed the help of another hero (or antihero if you will) in Selina Kyle. She was able to temporarily derail the plan, which led to Jeremiah scrambling and the battle to end all battles.
Enter the vat of chemicals, and the fight that Bruce and Jeremiah had above the green goop. It went back and forth while Jeremiah acted maniacal and crazy in every way you would want. Then, right before he slipped into the mystery substance, he uttered this line — a true statement of his obsession and desire to be needed, even as a force for evil:
“Without me, you’re just a joke without a punchline.”
That is the line of the season, and quite possibly the series, from Cameron Monaghan. So violent, so appropriate, and so well-suited for what we know this show to be.
The good news
Bruce is still alive. The same goes for Jim and Lee Thompkins. While Gotham still is not unified, the remnants of it are still breathing. This is a surviving city full of people still clinging to a breath.
The bad news
When the chaos was over, the residents did still have to live with aftermath. Jim broke Lee’s heart and he still needed to contend with that. (The two, nonetheless, did kiss at the episode’s end.) Jim is also going to have to contend with Barbara’s pregnancy at some point, if not tonight.
For Selina, she looked at this as a means to repair what she didn’t do so many nights ago with Bruce’s parents.
Could Oswald actually leave Gotham?
He’s still focused on that and trying/failing to make that happen. He couldn’t make it work with Selina early on in the episode but by the end, he and Ed seemed to have a solution to leave the city: A submarine, one that Nygma apparently needed to build in order for it to happen. Ed announcing to Barbara, at gunpoint, that his plan to escape required a submarine that wasn’t build was one of the night’s funniest moments.
Technically, Jeremiah is still alive … but he seems to be useless. He’s comatose, but his toxins have spread through the river. Maybe that’s your tease for next week — as excellent as many of the individual threads were tonight, the one binding them all together was Jeremiah and Bruce’s battle … coupled with Monaghan’s stellar performance.
What did you think about Gotham and its rendition of “Ace Chemicals”? Share right now in the comments!