Gotham season 5, episode 4 review: Ruin


Selina got her revenge on Jeremiah Valeska in this week’s episode of Gotham but just how far did she go?

The term “swan song” has an air of finality attached to it: like a beautiful, elegant, final performance that brings about the end of an era, bidding a fond farewell to the way that things were. However, with crazed lunatics, relentless revenge plots and a broken city, Gotham‘s swan song has been anything but elegant, and quite frankly, we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Following on from last week’s explosive ending, “Ruin” saw Jim Gordon attempt to salvage what was left of his Haven, as he tried his utmost to rescue the few survivors that remained. But how exactly did he fare?

Dark Days

The unexpected explosion at Haven left even the worst of Gotham’s criminals feeling broken and, as a result Barbara abandoned her mission to kill Oswald while the Penguin himself offered his services (and extensive armory) to the GCPD, vowing to bring the perpetrator to justice. However, nobody was more broken by the attack than Captain Jim Gordon, who had lost countless souls that he had promised to protect, including his new friend, Will. So, it should come as no surprise to hear that his alliance with frenemy Oswald was, problematic, to say the least.

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After figuring out that Victor Zsasz was in the area at the time, Penguin allowed his personal feelings to cloud his judgment and automatically assumed his former bodyguard was responsible. Thus, he wrestled the people’s belief in Gordon away from him in an attempt to hold a public trial. However, when the people found Zsasz guilty, despite the fact that Gordon had already proven he wasn’t responsible, the GCPD Captain took a stand and rescued Zsasz.

However, the lack of hope began to have a negative impact on the beloved hero as he almost allowed the “jury” to wrongly find Zsasz guilty and even challenged the deranged marksman to a shootout before letting him go. But he would find unexpected comfort in the woman who was there before Gotham became the sideshow that it currently is – Barbara Kean.

The hardened leader of the Sirens offered her services to him and, although she was told to leave, she soon found herself in a passionate embrace with her former fiancee.  Perhaps, in the remnants of Gotham, these two can find each other all over again.

Overall, the characters were once again at the heart of this story and, although a Penguin betrayal is a tired and recycled trope at this point, it was a necessary evil to assist Jim on his darker path. But is this the Jim Gordon that can save Gotham?

Here Lies Jeremiah Valeska

Another one of the episode’s standout aspects was, without a doubt, the return of Jeremiah Valeska. Dressed in all-white, the clown-like mad-man ordered Sykes and his Soothsayers to continue digging into a tunnel – the same tunnel, actually, that they once had orphaned children digging into for them.

From slaying Sykes within seconds of making his on-screen return to his whimsical dance with Ecco, the quick contrasts in Jeremiah’s behavior reinforced just how unhinged the character truly was. Cameron Monaghan did a phenomenal job here, making full use of the few minutes that Jeremiah appeared on screen to successfully make us all feel rather uncomfortable in a very short space of time.

However, things escalated incredibly quickly when Selina showed up, dressed as Ecco, and violently stabbed her attacker multiple times, apparently killing him. Though Bruce and Alfred would rescue her from an all-out attack from Jeremiah’s followers, we were all left in a state of shock by just how sudden the whole ordeal was and it left us wondering if the would-be Joker is really dead.

Riddle Me This, Riddle Me That? Why Would Ed Do Something Like That?

This week’s episode also saw the mystery surrounding Ed Nygma’s late-night escapades progress rather significantly. So far this season, the character has been struggling with the fact that he was apparently sleep-walking and, in doing so, committing some unspeakable deeds. However, other than providing us with some great comic relief, the story didn’t seem to have a purpose. Well, it finally earned that purpose this week.

Waking up to discover a faded message on his hand, Ed followed his instincts to the GCPD precinct, thinking that the answers lay in the police file on a certain Blackgate prisoner. However, before he could open it, he was ambushed by Lucius Fox, who confiscated the folder and only agreed to return it if Ed (who has a vast knowledge on explosives) would assist him in figuring out how Haven was destroyed. Ed reluctantly agreed and, as a result, the pair worked together, concluding that it wasn’t a bomb that destroyed Haven, but an RPG fired from the opposite rooftop – clearing Zsasz of the charges. In return, Lucius gave Ed the folder, allowing him to find… absolutely nothing.

I have to admit that it was nice seeing Ed helping the GCPD once more. He and Lucius worked incredibly well together and it reminded us all that The Riddler wasn’t all bad. Well, at least it did… before we learned that he was actually the person responsible for destroying Haven.

Upon discovering an old lady in the opposite building, Ed decided to pay her a visit and, in doing so, recognized her apartment number from the message on his hand. As everything became clear, the woman recounted that it was actually him who destroyed Haven with an RPG and, in an attempt to defend herself, hit him over the head with a statue multiple times. This, however, freed his mental block and allowed him to remember everything. In return, he threw the old lady out of her own window – putting her and everyone on notice: The Riddler had returned.

Gothic Getaways

  • Perhaps the best episode of the season so far, “Ruin” was a thrill-ride from beginning to end that didn’t stop.
  • From the whimsical roboticness of his voice to the all-white attire he sported, Jeremiah Valeska was quite reminiscent of The Dark Knight Returns‘ Joker here. Another example of why Cameron Monaghan is capable of bringing just about any iteration of the Clown Prince of Crime to life.
  • Whether or not this is the end of Jeremiah, it won’t mark the end of Cameron Monaghan’s tenure on the show. Rumor has it that he’ll be playing a third character at some point, so you can rest assured that Mr. J will rise before the show comes to an end.
  • The way that Ed killed the old lady (by pushing her wheelchair out the window) was identical to the way that Jim Carrey’s version of Edward Nygma killed his boss in 1995’s Batman Forever. A nice little tribute to one of the most iconic Riddler portrayals to date.
  • The chemistry between Barbara and Jim has been sizzling this season. They see a part of themselves in each other that nobody else can and, their romantic reunion was quite groundbreaking because, despite some of crazy things they endured over the years, there was a way back for them after all, which means at some point in this Gotham’s future, their daughter Barbara/Batgirl can still exist.

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Gotham returns to Fox, next Thursday, Jan. 31, at 8:00 p.m. ET. Has Gordon gone to the dark side? Is Jeremiah really dead? Has Ed found his inner Riddler all over again? Let us know in the comments below!