TV Review: Gotham S3E13 Mad City: Smile Like You Mean It
On the run from Gordon and Bullock, Dwight tries to revive Jerome and, in turn, activates his acolytes around Gotham City. Meanwhile, Selina’s mom’s intentions in Gotham are revealed, and the power play between Penguin and Nygma escalates as Barbara’s plans are set in place.
Gotham is interesting as the return of Jerome is the focus of the episode. The episode has definitely taken its inspiration from Batman comics with individuals being inspired by the Joker, in this case the proto-Joker in Jerome. The laughing is there. The clown-ish make-up is there. It follows some of the comics and it’s a mixed bag as far as how much it works.
There’s something fun about David Dastmalchian’s Dwight who was a Joker acolyte in The Dark Knight. We learn how he’s reviving people, but things are still a bit muddled as to why folks have fallen for Jerome. There’s some explanation by other characters, but it really just falls into “he opened our eyes.” It’s as generic as generic can be.
Cameron Monaghan as Jerome, the proto-Joker, is at times great and at times boring. Monaghan feels like he’s channeling Ledger, Nicholson, and even Hamill in some ways never quite making the character his own.
The “not making it his own” comes to this Joker’s design too which feels like a mix between comic artist Greg Capullo’s take on the Joker mixed with the Joker’s Daughter. It’s interesting, but doesn’t quite work for me.
The situation itself involving Jerome is again all over the place in tone mixing in Schumacher and Nolan evoking Batman movies of the past. The series needs to choose a style and tone and just go with it.
There’s another story too as Penguin’s world is twisted and a gang war heats up. This is the strongest part of the series and episode and if the show just focused on this, it’d be all the more stronger.
The episode also deals with Gordon and Thompkins’ relationship which at this point feels utterly silly and boring as it also resolves Selina mother’s story. That final story seems to end and does so in a way that makes me question the inclusion of it other than to give something for Selina and Bruce to do.
The episode packs in a lot and continues to be all over the place in tone and look and content. A more focused series would boost it overall because right now it’s trying to do too much and does it all not well enough.
Overall Rating: 6.55