Ladies and gentlemen, gather around. It’s time for everyone’s favorite not-Joker to make his grand return to Gotham. After ending on his body last time, Dwight is set to revive Jerome and put his plan into motion. And even though I had some issues with this episode, it was a fun one all the same. Let’s jump into “Smile Like You Mean It.”
The episode begins with Dwight and his clown-faced entourage entering a facility. One of the guards is killed by his laughing cop cohort, so he picked the wrong day to work the night shift. The mob makes their way further down until they find Jerome’s chamber.
As per usual, GCPD are quick to follow up on the scene. Turns out that after Indian Hill was shut down, everyone was shipped to this facility, which happens to be a subsidiary of Wayne Enterprises. Of course. And given that Hugo Strange worked on psychopaths, it’s no surprise that Jerome wound up here.
Lucius Fox tells Jim that to revive someone requires warming the body. If GCPD is lucky, they have three hours. The three hear a noise and soon find one of the cult members hiding. Rather than take him to a hospital, Jim elects to bring him to the precinct instead.
Over at Wayne Manor, Cole speaks with Bruce and Alfred about Maria Kyle owing him $200,000, even though it was originally $100,000. Now Cole would never hurt Maria, but he’d feel justified in giving GCPD enough evidence to put her away. As long as Cole gets his money, he’ll vaporize. Sounds simple.
Next day at GCPD, Jim tells Leslie that he needs to talk with the cult member, though Leslie insists that the member should be sent to a hospital. On the relationship front, Jim is grateful for Leslie asking Falcone to call off the hit, but Leslie would prefer if Dwight could revive Mario. There’s always a condition.
Jim asks the cult member why the group stole Jerome, but the member replies that it’s far too late to stop Jerome’s awakening. It gets worse. While the cult may appear small, they are, in fact, everywhere. Jim immediately puts out a citywide call to the rest of the officers.
At the same time, just as the vans are packed and ready to go, Dwight gets to work reanimating Jerome.
Barbara speaks with Oswald about his on-air gaffe, which has now made the headlines. Oswald is more concerned with Ed than the city, but Barbara tells him to focus on his real job: being the king of Gotham. Some of the Gotham families, and Tommy Bones in particular, apparently have been talking about Oswald losing his spark.
To mitigate this, Barbara will call the families together so Oswald can squash the rumors. As for why Barbara is helping, people think that Oswald is scared of her. As long as that’s true, she gets to keep living.
Bruce gets the money since it’s the least he can do for Selina and Maria, though Selina wants Cole arrested to prevent him from returning. Maria offers to leave, even though she’d rather not, but Selina isn’t a fan of any of this. She leaves in a huff.
Jim and Harvey go over some pictures, with Jim thinking that there’s some truth to the possibility of Jerome having a cult. Then Lucius enters with a map. See, the amount of electricity that Melanie Blake received when she was revived would have caused a power surge. There were several from a specific location, and a similar surge just came 15 minutes ago. As Jim and Harvey organize Strike Force, one officer makes a call…
Dwight continues the reanimation, but Jerome still hasn’t awakened. Gus has a few suggestions, but Dwight kills him and advances his plan. People just want to see Jerome’s face, so Dwight grabs a scalpel and gets to work.
Jim, Harvey, and Strike Force converge on the location, but don’t find Dwight…just Gus’ body and Jerome with his face carved off.
Dwight, now wearing Jerome’s face, addresses the cult and tells them that Jerome has arrived. The crowd isn’t convinced that he’s the prophet. They want the real Jerome. But Dwight convinces the group that they all kept Jerome alive. As such, they are all Jerome. Soon enough, the crowd buys into it and begins to chant “We are Jerome.”
Back at GCPD, Leslie gets to work on Jerome, who isn’t altogether dead. Meanwhile, Lucius, Jim, and Harvey examine a phone that last received a call from the GCPD, indicating that a mole at the precinct tipped off Dwight.
With that in mind, Jim addresses the officers about a possible mole in their ranks. To weed out the traitor, Jim begins to call the last number. This throws the mole, Officer Dove, played by James Mount, into a run, but he’s subdued in no time. Nice bluff, Jim.
Penguin pops by Barbara’s club, but no sign of the families, so he figures that they are rebelling against him. Barbara suggests that Tommy Bones be killed in order to clean house, but then Penguin reveals that he knows Barbara had a plan: get him to do the dirty work of attacking subordinates so Barbara could pick up what’s left.
Barbara insists that she wants to help, but then she gets a call from Tommy Bones, who tells Oswald that he doesn’t work for him anymore. This, of course, gets under Oswald’s skin and he issues a threat, but Bones says that if anything happens, Nygma will die. With that, Oswald vows vengeance. Oh Oswald, you almost figured it out.
Once Oswald leaves, Barbara calls Bones and speaks with Tabitha, telling him that Oswald bought it. With that, Tabitha kills Bones.
In interrogation, Dove tells Bullock and Gordon that he stopped being the cop on the night that the Maniax attacked the precinct. He’s not afraid of being sent to Blackgate and despite both officers pulling a bad cop and beating the hell out of him, Dove just laughs. I guess the two have nothing to threaten him with- nothing to do with all their strength. You know the line.
Leslie enters and sedates Dove with a solution that will get him talking. Jim is grateful, but he didn’t want her to do that, even though he didn’t fare much better with the bad cop routine. Leslie reams him out for bending the rules, which she did as well, but it got results. Jim is fine with Leslie blaming him for Mario’s death, but he doesn’t want her hatred to turn her into something that she’s not.
Why the hell is Leslie even here?
Anyway, Dwight is about to make an announcement on a local news network this evening, and he gets right to work when he and his entourage enter and take over the station and prevent it from closing.
Leslie returns to the medical examiner’s lab and finds an officer knocked out. Before she can do anything, a bandaged Jerome surprises her from behind. He’s feeling a bit fuzzy and is surprised to be alive, as last year was nothing but darkness to him. He then asks Leslie about the cult.
He then wants to know if Leslie and Jim are still an item, but of course that’s not the case. Tragic news for Jerome, as he liked the two of them. Leslie tells Jerome what Jim did to Mario, which Jerome finds hilarious. He finally remembers how he was about to kill Bruce Wayne, but then Theo Galavan killed him.
But of course, Theo Galavan died, then also came back to life, and was blown to hell. After this round of questioning, Jerome finally asks where his face is. You’d think that would be the first question.
GCPD arrive at the channel 9 news station, where they find the cult holding the employees hostage.
Because nothing else is on the air, Cole is watching this hostage situation just as Maria arrives with the money. He tells her that the two won, but then Selina enters and figures that Maria took advantage of her being with Bruce Wayne just to pull this scam. Maria doesn’t deny that.
Even if Bruce and Selina don’t care about the money, Selina is still upset that her mother came back just for money. Selina tells Maria to never come back to Gotham. Well, that was petty drama.
Dwight goes over his prepared speech when one of the members alerts him that GCPD has arrived. Jim calls and tells Dwight to release the hostages since he knows the cult won’t follow Dwight. He doesn’t have what it takes to lead. Dwight, though, insists that he is Jerome. However, Jim tells Dwight that at least Jerome never bored him. Bullock, meanwhile, finds a way in through the ventilation system.
Over at the club, while the families bicker, Tabitha and Barbara marvel at Nygma’s plan. However, Tabitha reminds Barbara that Nygma must still die once this is all over. As for the families? Well, Tabitha guns them down. Barbara then calls Nygma and tells him that Oswald is his for the taking.
Dwight finally begins his address while Leslie and Jerome watch. He’s unimpressed by Dwight’s lack of charisma. After donning a cop uniform, Jerome leaves. He just waltzes right out of the precinct without any officer putting up a fight.
And then he manages to get his hands on a police cruiser that he uses to speed down Gotham’s streets. He even hit a man who, to be fair, is busy yapping away on his cell phone and not paying attention while crossing the street.
At the same time, GCPD enters the station and manages to subdue Dwight and the rest of the cult.
Because this was a plot point, Bruce gets back to training when Selina storms in and asks if he knew that Maria only wanted the money. He did, yes, but in his defense, hehad hoped that Maria sticking around for a bit would let her get to know Selina a bit more instead of skipping town.
He just didn’t tell her the truth. Selina’s anger rises and she slugs Bruce, but he manages to dodge each subsequent attack. Before leaving, Selina tells Bruce that he is the reason that Maria returned. Hell, Selina, that’s not Bruce’s fault.
As GCPD cleans up, Leslie calls Jim and tells him that Jerome is alive and coming for Dwight. And the officer who was taking Dwight away? Oh, he’s dead. Pity how that happens.
Dwight, meanwhile, is being whisked away in a news van with Jerome, who soon staples his face back together. Dwight likes the look, but you wouldn’t lie to a guy you just brought back to life. Jerome isn’t angry about Dwight cutting off his face. He’s just happy to be alive again and is prepared to make a statement to Gotham.
Gabe tells Oswald that Nygma wasn’t at any location belonging to Tommy Bones’ or The Duke. Oswald insists that Nygma is in danger when he suddenly gets a call from a frightened Nygma who can’t talk for long. Before Penguin can learn where Nygma is being held, the line disconnects.
Jerome interrupts the Channel 9’s feed and addresses the city. He tells the city that death itself is dull, but coming back is something else, as dying gives you a new perspective on life. He tells the citizens that tonight, there are no rules. Do and kill who you want. When morning comes, everyone shall be reborn.
He then tells Dwight, who is strapped to a number of explosives, that he doesn’t forgive him for his face after all. As the fuse gets closer, Jim heads to the precinct rooftop just in time to see the explosion near the power plant. As such, all power goes out and Gotham slips into darkness.
So Jerome is back and in a big way. They’ve been teasing it for some time, but Gotham has brought Jerome back from the dead to bring mayhem to the city once again. And as much as I’ve enjoyed the Mad Hatter, Jerome brings a certain level of energy that you come to expect from the Joker or a Joker-like character since Gotham hasn’t flat out said this is that proto-character, despite the telltale signs.
While I was iffy on him before just because I wasn’t sure where the show would take him, I do like the intensity that Cameron Monaghan brings to his performance.
Gotham pays homage to actors who have played the Joker prior to this, but as has been the case before, it weaves in elements from The New 52. In this case, instead of the Dollmaker cutting the skin from Joker’s face, it’s Dwight taking the face for his own purposes: inciting the cult to believe that they are all Jerome.
And a brief aside, I did like that they didn’t immediately buy into Dwight wearing Jerome’s face and accepting his proclamation. They were, as most people would be, confused as hell, which I find appropriate.
It was foretold that Jerome would be a curse upon Gotham and that’s evident here not just in the dressed-up members, but those like Officer Dove, who was inspired by the attack on the GCPD that left many officers and Sarah Essen dead. And there’s something twisted about that, but hey, if he’s the only convert, maybe there’s hope for some sanity and rigidity at the GCPD.
I don’t have an issue with Monaghan’s performance, per-se, but my issue is that it’s too similar to Heath Ledger’s take from The Dark Knight. And understandably so. If you’re gonna borrow, borrow from what I would wager is the most memorable live-action Joker.
It helps to take inspiration from what came before, and there have been shades of both Ledger and Jack Nicholson in this performance, but here, all I can think of is Ledger specifically, more so from the mannerisms and inflection in Jerome’s voice. It’s like watching an imitation rather than using that to establish your own take, even if I did like the performance.
Say what you will about Suicide Squad, but Jared Leto’s performance and that entire design are, without a doubt, his particular Joker. When I watch Leto, I don’t find myself thinking about how I hear other Joker actors in his voice or actions. Even if you disagree with the aesthetics, and I have my own issues with the design as well, it is very much a different Joker than what we got with The Dark Knight.
By comparison, Jerome, as fun as he is to watch, feels like taking what Heath Ledger did and just porting it to the small screen. Again, a lot of that is in the voice, but if I wanted to stretch, perhaps Jerome sounds this way a. because he stapled his face back together, and b. he’s still delirious from being brought back to life.
With all that said, I’m still interested to see what he has in store. Plunging the city into darkness and telling the citizens to kill who they want and they will be reborn is a good way to spread mass hysteria throughout the city just for the hell of it. And the sight of Jerome with his face stapled back on- which can’t be safe, but whatever- is a gruesome sight that I find appropriate for Gotham.
So even though I find Jerome all-too-similar to Ledger this time around, he’s still fun to watch and all of his antics, from taking over a broadcast to having a civil, yet tense chat with Leslie, did all felt very Joker-like and kept me entertained.
That said, I still have to question how the hell Jerome, who is a known psychopath and killer, just brought back to life, could walk right out of the police department without anyone stopping him and he manages to get his hands on a police cruiser. Look, I’m all for the ridiculous on this show, but that’s just absurd and makes the officers look even more incompetent.
With Jerome taking center stage, the other plots weren’t as engaging. Jim and Leslie are still having their spat, but I’m left wondering why Leslie would even return to the GCPD. Yeah, it’s her job, but she and Jim are going to have tension, more so after she wanted Harvey to arrest him.
She helps out with Officer Dove and rightly rakes Jim over the coals for abusing his authority, but just one episode ago, she wanted him killed…and then changed her mind. She’s not in any position to get on a high horse.
Then there’s the Bruce and Selina stuff, and I’m wondering if Maria is going to play a greater role in the Court of Owls stuff or this storyline going forward. Otherwise, bringing her back felt like a waste of time. It just made some easy pathos for Selina, who now has issues with Bruce as well for not being honest with her.
We didn’t even need Maria if she was going to turn out to still be a deadbeat mother. That’s not even worth our time. And the relationship didn’t progress. In fact, Selina is in a worse place with both Maria and Bruce. Again, if there are bigger plans for this and Maria manages to redeem herself, then fine. Otherwise, this felt like a pointless detour.
And Oswald should be smart enough to see through this ruse. Maybe not that Nygma masterminded it, but he was so close to exposing Barbara. For a guy who crawled all the way up to become the king of Gotham, he’s not showing his smarts right here. And with Jerome throwing the city into darkness, this subplot could turn just as upside down as the city soon will.
“Smile Like You Mean It” was a good, energetic episode despite my reservations, as there was far more good than bad here. It was a welcome return for Jerome as he incites the city to do as they please in order to be reborn. With power now out in Gotham and Jerome on the loose, we’re about to experience a real mad city.