Season 5, Episode 7: “Ace Chemicals”
Directed by John Stephens
Written by Tze Chun
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “13 Stitches” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Nothing’s Shocking” – click here
Things are getting wild in the streets of Gotham. A bunch of men run from a building with Zs carved into their chests. Several fireworks-like rockets are set off into the night’s sky, letting bright green gas go into the air as they explode, and the frightened men are stricken with welts all over their skin, falling over in the street.
Speaking of, Jeremiah’s (Cameron Monaghan) still got Alfred (Sean Pertwee) hostage, and poor Bruce (David Mazouz) is concerned. He’s alerted the GCPD, but the cops have more to worry about, too. Captain Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and Detective Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) are called to the crime scene where the dead, gassed men are found. The deceased are members of a Narrows gang called the Chessmen (pulled from one of the Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight stories). Bullock and Gordon wonder if Zsasz might be the culprit. Doubtful.
Bruce has stumbled onto a bunch of newspapers with his mother and father Thomas and Martha Wayne across the front page. Suddenly the young billionaire sees two people who look suspiciously like his parents. He chases them into a nearby building where he finds one of the tunnels Jeremiah was having dug.
Super awkward— Barbara Kean (Erin Richards) is looking to get treated by the best doctor during her pregnancy, leading her to Dr. Lee Thompkins (Morena Baccarin). Quite the uncomfortable triangle between the two ladies and Jim. On top of that, can Barb and Jim ever truly move past what’s gone on between them? Probably not.
Bruce heads through the tunnel right up into Wayne Manor, where Martha and Thomas are having a drink, as if they’ve literally gone back in time prior to their murders. Worst is Jeremiah’s got Alfred acting the part to make the scenario seem even more real. Mr. Valeska is present, too. He wouldn’t dare miss the party! If anything goes wrong he’ll “blow up Wayne Manor.” He’s got the two impostor Waynes and Alfred hypnotised. Wonder if the Mad Hatter, Jervis Tetch (Benedict Samuel) has anything to do with that?
For now, Jeremiah has recreated parts of Bruce’s life. He wants to get closer to him, in a twisted way. He sits them down for food in the kitchen, like young Mr. Wayne would do as a boy. He has Alfred put pearls around Martha’s neck. When Bruce refuses a bond with Jeremiah, again, it makes the latter angry. This is all reminiscent of the psychological manipulation of Jim Gordon in The Killing Joke by the Joker to try and drive him insane, albeit vastly different in terms of execution. But the mansion’s set to explode and Jeremiah leaves Bruce, forgoing any more mental torture. Luckily the young man and his butler escape in time.
Another familiar image from the comics and Tim Burton’s Batman comes up when Jim and Lee arrive at Ace Chemicals attempting to figure out the latest plot afoot in Gotham. They discover the Mad Hatter with many hypnotised men doing his bidding, putting Gordon and Lee up against a gang, including the weird and wild Ecco (Francesca Root-Dodson). Our two friends get hypnotised after a while.
“This is all for you, Bruce.”
When Bruce heads off to find Jeremiah, he leaves Alfred in the tunnel. The butler comes across Selena Kyle (Camren Bicondova) and Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor), giving the Cat news about the man she thought she killed. This separates Cat and Penguin for good. She’s determined to track down Jeremiah. At the same time, Bruce wanders to a theatre where his fake parents sit in the otherwise empty building watching The Mark of Zorro— well, an edited version featuring Jeremiah dressed as Zorro, questioning the young Dark Knight about why the character intrigued him so much as a child. This is where those Zs came from earlier. Jeremiah used the Chessmen as his canvas, taunting Bruce from the big screen. Not the end of his wretched plan. Outside in the alley, Jeremiah’s playing “random gunman” to try and force a deeper connection between himself and Bruce, hoping they’ll be “bonded by hatred.”
The big gag? Thomas and Martha have been replaced by Lee and Jim. When the pearls hit the ground, as they die, they’ll be undone from hypnotism. Fortunately for Bruce he has the Cat to help. She manages to get the pearls from Lee’s neck, but Jeremiah and Ecco make a run for it. They also set off the timer to send those other rockets full of toxic gas into the air, triggering a final cut-off of Gotham from the mainland.
“Without me you’re just a joke without a punchline”
And so we finally head to that fateful battleground, Ace Chemicals. While Bruce chases Jeremiah we see Jim run a truck full of rockets into the harbour, hopefully preventing them from raining toxic mess over Gotham. Inside the factory, Bruce and Jeremiah fight above vats of bubbly green chemicals. After a few punches, Jeremiah tumbles into one.
Penguin has nobody to turn to anymore, so he returns to Ed Nygma (Cory Michael Smith). Neither of them particularly trust one another. Oswald sees it as fate bringing them back together. He feels Gotham’s become “a prison” from which they have to flee, or else become just another one of the inmates. Barb’s along for the ride, as well.
The government found out about the toxic chemicals. They want to make sure Gotham is safe before reunification. That leaves Cpt. Gordon to try keeping the city safe for longer than anticipated. Somehow Jeremiah survived. He’s barely hanging on, disfigured completely. Still wouldn’t count him out. Elsewhere, all over the city, things have changed. Old alliances have crumbled, new ones are forming.
So close to the end. “Nothing’s Shocking” is next time.