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Gotham: Jerome Returns to Bring Total Anarchy

Maybe it's the whole "absence makes the heart grow fonder" thing or maybe I'm still bursting with holiday spirit (haha, no) or maybe, just maybe, Gotham got it's act together during the winter hiatus and the fact that "Ghosts" wasn't completely unbearable television wasn't just a happy accident.

I mean, I will say this: if you're going to sell us the return of the delightfully psychotic Jerome (Cameron Monaghan), waiting until the very end of the episode just to get a glimpse of his grinning bod in a deep freeze is beyond annoying, but the roadmap is there. A brainy groupie with a plan to resurrect his chaotic hero experimented with a corpse from his day job at the city morgue, and a cultish following of emo kids in Joker make-up and some spare costumes from My Chemical Romance's Black Parade days primed the rudderless Gotham underground for the return of the city's current answer to the Clown Prince of Crime.

I can't wait. I need Jerome. Now that Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) and Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor) are on the outs and Victor Zsasz (Anthony Carrigan) was recalled from his mob-endorsed war on Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie), Gotham needs to thrust someone with sadistic magnetism into the spotlight to suck us in and never let go.

Jerome is currently the best candidate for the job, and the swiftness with which the fallout from Jim murdering the sh-- out of Leslie Thompkins' (Morena Baccarin) mob-fiance, and Nygma's quest to destroy his former bestie in every possible way clears the airways for Jerome's message of fun-loving anarchy. Sure, Lee and Jim still have a way to go before shacking up again -- but it WILL happen, you KNOW it's going to happen -- but did anyone really want to watch the previously intelligent and thoughtful Lee drag Jim (and, more importantly, us) through weeks and weeks of melodramatic murder-angsting? The answer is no.

That Carmine Falcone (John Doman), in the midst of his own terrible grief and following a lifetime of meeting wrongs with swift and merciless punishment, ultimately left the decision of what to do about Jim to a woman who was only officially a part of his powerful family for maybe an hour -- and respected her decision when she ultimately wussed out of hating Gordon forever and ever -- is fascinating in that classic "mob morality" way. That's no coincidence, given the mob stuff has always been Gotham's best stuff. Where Falcone fits in this half of the season remains to be seen and that's great.

With Jerome's return and the promise of lawlessness that he represents, the sort of "honor among thieves" that Gotham's mafia tradition embraces presents a natural adversary. This is just the sort of war that Jim Gordon was warned about in Gotham's first season, when he blew into the city with a heavy hand for justice and a rigid idea of what "law and order" should look like. Jim Gordon wasn't personally responsible for every single major crisis to besiege Gotham City since his arrival, but he certainly cracked the foundation of the city severely enough that when it was faced with the likes of the Maniax and the Indian Hill escapees, and even Theo Galavan's (James Frain) brief mayoral stint, the resources to withstand and ultimately surpass these threats just weren't there any longer.

Gotham can be a deliciously complex series when it allows the flaws of its heroes and the strengths of its villains to tango their way into Hell's coziest hand basket. Jerome isn't the villain Gotham deserves, but he is the one that Gotham needs right now. So let's defrost him already and get to work.

Gotham airs Mondays at 8/7c on Fox.

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