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Ace Chemicals is the birthplace of The Joker and for us the true birth of Batman. These two engage in a dance of death and destruction and it all started here. Penguin is looking for a way to escape with the help of Selina and Riddler. Jim is caught in an awkward triangle with Lee and Barbara.
Ace Chemicals – Birth of the Bat and Joker:
Jeremiah has done all in his considerable power to recreate the most pivotal day in Bruce Wayne’s life. He has had two people given plastic surgery to look like dear old mom and pop Wayne. With the hypnotic help of the Mad Hatter, Jervis Tetch, both the Wayne stand in’s and Alfred are under control. Jeremiah plasters the newspapers of the Wayne death around the city and has the stand in’s lure Bruce through the tunnel to Wayne Manor. Bruce is blown away to see two people who look like his parents and Alfred all acting like the murder never happened. But Jeremiah is the guest of honor at the party. Bruce must play the game or the Manor goes boom with all of them in it. After an awkward dinner in the kitchen, it is time to head back to the city. Bruce barely gets Alfred out in time. Wayne Manor is blown up and the tunnel is sealed, but the blast broke Alfred out of the Hatter’s trance.
Bruce tracks Jeremiah to a movie theater where and updated version of “The Mark of Zorro” is playing. Jeremiah has re-created the movie that frightened young Bruce and forced the Waynes to leave. Out in Crime Alley, Jeremiah is waiting. On one side of the alley is Ecco with a truck full of toxin filled fireworks and on the other Jeremiah and the Waynes. But surprise, it is a hypnotized Jim and Lee. They were tracking down things and fell in to the trap Ecco and the Hatter had for them. Now Jeremiah reveals that he wants to be a part of Bruce’s life and killing Bruce’s father figure of Jim and friend Lee will do that. Jeremiah is about to shoot Lee, when Selina whips the gun out of his hand. She wakes Jim and Lee and Ecco starts the timer on the fireworks. Jim sends Bruce after Jeremiah and drives the truck into Gotham Harbor.
Bruce chases Jeremiah into Ace Chemicals. Bruce says it ends tonight, but Jeremiah says it begins. They struggle and fight along the catwalk. Jeremiah echos speeches made by several other versions of the Joker. He says that Bruce, without Jeremiah, is like a joke without a punchline. Bruce gets the upper hand and over the railing goes Jeremiah. Later we find that Jeremiah survived. He is badly scarred and is braindead. But this is Gotham and we know the true Joker has not risen, yet!
Penguin Is No Ace Escape Artist:
Penguin has all the wealth he needs to succeed on the mainland, but he and Selina cannot find a way out of Gotham. The government has mined Gotham Harbor and they cannot get out by air. Selina is playing along with Penguin’s game for the wealth, but she is smart. She goes to Barbara to fill her in on the plan. Once a way out is found they will off Penguin, for killing Tabitha, and take all the wealth for themselves. Selina takes Penguin to the tunnel Jeremiah and his crew were digging, but their hopes are dashed when a battered Alfred emerges. The tunnel is closed off by the rubble of Wayne Manor. Selina is about to off Oswald, but Alfred’s appeal to help Bruce spares his life.
Penguin turns to his frenemy, Edward. The two agree to set their differences aside to escape the city. When they arrive back at City Hall, Barbara is there waiting. She has checked out Selina’s story and found the treasure. Since Selina didn’t end Oswald, she will. The every observant Riddler detects that Barbara is glowing. His announcement about her pregnancy throws her off. She cannot kill Oswald. Our Penguin, ever the opportunist, steps up and draws her in to their plan to escape. In a nod to the 60’s movie, it will be via submarine. It can navigate the harbor and avoid the mines. There is one minor issue, they have to build it. Babs says to call her when it is done.
Becoming an Ace at Navigating Relationships:
Jim is renewing his love with Lee while trying to do right by Babs, his baby mamma. Jim is a man driven by purpose and his love for Lee has never stopped. Yet he is a man of justice and responsibility and knows he has to do right by his child with Barbara. She clearly saw this child as a way to find stability and peace with Jim. But her hopes have been dashed and her hormones are taking sway. She says she doesn’t want Jim involved, but that is a front. How will this triangle work out by the end of the season? I’m saying that Barbara will sacrifice herself for the safety of the child and Jim. Jim and Lee will raise the child and name it Barbara in her memory. But we could also argue that it would be better suited to be James Jr. who has a spark of his mother’s craziness.
Selina has saved Bruce’s life by stepping in where she once did nothing. The two bond over the seeming win over Jeremiah. It is a tender moment and all to fleeting in this dark city. The Bat and Cat have a long road in front of them, but it is moments like this that bond them and keep them coming back to each other.
Ace Chemicals was written by Tze Chun, executive story editor of Gotham, and it shows. We have a twisted retelling of Bruce’s origin story by a twisted character. Jeremiah is obsessed with being a part of Bruce’s journey and if he cannot do it by brotherhood, he will do it by becoming an arch nemesis. The way that Jeremiah digs at Bruce’s emotions and the people he cares about is masterful. Yet he does not count on Selina, the one who was there from the beginning. Here in this episode we see how far our characters have come since the beginning and also how far they have to go. I am so happy we have great writers like Tze on the series to craft it. Props to John Stephens who took the script and set it to motion. The visuals in Gotham are always striking but two scenes stuck out to me. The first being the final battle in Ace Chemicals. The green of the vats being a visual representation of Jeremiah’s envy of wanting to be a part of Bruce’s life. The second being the GCPD at the end of the episode. The set has been church like from the beginning with the lights, windows and pulpit like balconies. We have Jim in the Church of Law and Justice struggling on how to deal with this love triangle and we end with he and Lee kissing as the light streams around them. It is masterful.
Bullock’s past comes back to haunt him when he and Gordon investigate two murders at Sirens. Meanwhile, Bruce and Alfred explore the tunnels beneath the city, and Penguin and Nygma’s plans to escape are thwarted by the least likely of suspects in the all-new “Nothing’s Shocking” episode of GOTHAM airing Thursday, Feb. 28 (8:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (GTH-511) (TV-14 L, V)
What did you think of “Ace Chemicals” What was your favorite moment from this episode?
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