Disco Vampire | Gotham “Smile Like You Mean It” Review
Gotham’s latest episode, “Smile Like You Mean it,” brings back one of the shows favorite characters, Jerome aka Joker. While Jerome is the main draw for the episode, it also does a great job of juggling the other storylines that are coursing through Gotham’s veins.
Dwight set the storyline in motion to “Frankenstein” Jerome back to life, and did he ever. Unlike Theo Galvan who pretty much came back himself, more or less anyway, the Jerome that comes back is inching closer and closer to the Joker we know and love. The quirky Dwight is trying to resurrect the Joker to appease his cult of clowns that spawned after Galavan killed him a season prior. But when Dwight couldn’t resurrect him, he thought of a very “Gotham” thing to do; he proceeded to cut off Jerome’s face and attempt to rally the cult and capitalize on Jerome’s big return. This goes as you would expect at first, but it does lead to something that is brought up time and time again in DC comics lore; the fact that Joker isn’t just one person, it’s more a state of mind.I absolutely loved the fact that they went this route with Dwight/Jerome. It was a perfect transition into the true Jerome we get later on in the episode.
Cameron Monaghan is absolutely killing it as the Joker. The inspiration from Ledger’s Joker is apparent, especially in his mannerisms and voice, but he adds his own pizazz that gives this presumed to be future-Joker a harrowing sense of humor. His killer laugh easily stacks up with all the Jokers that have come before him, and Monaghan has such fantastic chemistry with everyone with which he has a scene. The way he films the murder of Dwight to all of Gotham to get his face back was very Dark Knight Joker-esque. Whether he does or doesn’t actually turn out to be the “real” Joker, Monaghan has clearly cemented himself within the lore as such.
The other big plotlines were also given a decent amount of care to further them along, while allowing Jerome to be the star of the episode.
The Maria Kyle situation received a fraction of the time that was given to Jerome, but it provided a definite fracture point moving forward. We find that she was actually working with Cole to embezzle as much cash from the Bruce Wayne as possible. The scene where Selina discovers the treachery was tear-jerking, but when she confronts Bruce, it’s just absolutely heartbreaking. He had the inkling that this was going on, but lied to Selina in hopes that he could bring her and her mother closer. It’s a tough situation that Bruce was in, and it will definitely change their relationship going forward. I loved that it gave us a peek into the slow transformation of Bruce’s altruistic nature peering through.
The downward spiral of Penguin also continued. Nygma spun up his plan to include all the big bosses of Gotham, with the help of Barbara and Tabitha. The showrunners have been doing a great job of creating Penguin into a character that is driven on emotion, but one that still is aware of the mechanisms working around him. At one point, he calls out Barbara for her attempt at manipulating him, but then still falters after Nygma says that he has been captured. It would have been easy to take Penguin to one extreme or the other, but he is perfectly supplanted within that grey area.
Finally, we have Jim and his attempt to smooth things over with Lee keeps getting worse. After she convinced Falcone to call off Zsasz, I assumed that she would again warm up to Jim, but it appears that isn’t going to happen any time soon. The disdain that Morena Baccarin is able to portray is like taking a punch straight to the gut. It’s just so mean and perfectly suits the situation for which she is in. I do believe that, eventually, they will smooth it over, but their interactions at this moment are like a guilty pleasure, like watching a trainwreck with front row seats.