Gotham Mad City: 'Smile Like You Mean It' recap

Contributed by
Jan 23, 2017

A little bit of inside baseball before we begin ... 

Gotham episode screeners usually become available digitally somewhere between three and five days before airing. Tonight's episode of Gotham didn't show up until mere hours before it aired. Now, it could have been as simple as someone forgetting to flip the proverbial switch, but my gut told me that Gotham was about to do that thing where everything explodes and Fox didn't want people to know too soon.

And that's what happened. So, for the record, if you have not seen this week's episode of Gotham, DO NOT READ THIS RECAP. Even if you stopped watching Gotham and are one of those super-nice people that only reads my recaps because you like them (and me), stop what you are doing and watch this episode anyway.

I realized last season that Gotham is at its best not when it's setting things up but when it's tearing things down. "Smile Like You Mean It" is one of the most "burn it all to the $#@ing ground" episodes Gotham has ever had. And, yes, that is very a good thing.

So! Without further ado, let's talk about ...

THE PLOT

- Dwight Pollard and the Joker gang (unofficial title, just came up with it, super original of me) break into where Jerome's frozen body is being kept, kill some security guards and abscond with their Jeromesicle so Dwight can electrocute him back to life. It doesn't work. Oops! So Dwight's hot plan is to (kudos to our commenter, Michael Whittaker, for calling this-ish) cut off Jerome's face and wear it. That doesn't work, either. Well, it works well enough that Dwight convinces Jerome's acolytes that they *are* Jerome. Kind of a Spartacus thing, if Spartacus was a genocidal maniac.

Anyway, Dwight and all the other Jeromes storm a TV station so they can reveal their plan to Gotham and convince others to join their cause. Jim Jim Jam James Gordon shows up with the GCPD, though, and cuts off the transmission partway through. And speaking of the GCPD, here's what was happening on their side of events.

- Gordon and Bullock are just so very extra growly about Jerome. They capture one heavily injured member of the Jerome gang and just let him slowly rot in interrogation until he gives up info about where Jerome might be. Surprise, they don't catch Dwight and Co. in time because someone within the GCPD has turned full Jerome and been leaking info. Maybe he realized that the GCPD is the actual worst at keeping order, so why bother?

Anyway, Jim and Bullock then amp up the growls even more, start punching the turncoat officer in the face until Lee storms into the interrogation room and fills the guy up with sodium pentothal so he'll talk. Cool. But then Gordon shifts growls to Lee because it's not okay for Lee to become morally gray and Harvey shouldn't have let her come back to work so soon. Yes. Only men can grimdark growly growl. I mean ... we'll talk about it later.

The rest you know: Gordon shows up to the TV station, stops Dwight mid-speech, yada yada yada, but while that was happening, Jerome actually does come back from the dead, sans face. Hold that thought.

- Selina's mom gets Bruce to give $200k to the guy who's after her but it turns out that the whole thing was a scam. Mama Kyle only came back to see Selina because Selina is dating Bruce and there was an opportunity to make some money. Selina figures it out after the fact, but Bruce knew all along. Bruce was trying to keep Selina's mom around with money (uhhhh), it didn't work (duhhhhh) and now Selina is mad at everyone (bluhhhh).

- Barbara Kean pretends to help Oswald by telling him that, after his disastrous interview last episode, he needs to circle the wagons and remind all the crime bosses that he's in charge. But when Oswald shows up at Kean's club, none of the crime bosses have arrived. Oswald thinks Barbara never called them and is trying to manipulate him (she is), but then one of the leaders, Tommy Bones, calls to say that he doesn't work for Penguin anymore. Also, Bones says that he has kidnapped Nygma.

Surprising no one, this is a lie and Bones was forced at gunpoint by Tabitha to say all those things. Tabitha kills Bones anyway and, naturally, after calling the rest of the crime bosses together, guns all the rest of them down, too. Also, Tabitha and Barbara kiss (more on that later). While that's happening, Penguin gets a call from a faux panicked Ed, telling Penguin where he's being held. What happens next? Dunno. Cliffhanger!

- So. Jerome. Alive. Faceless. Good times. Here's how that plays out: Jerome chats it up with Lee, finds out what he missed, then dresses up like a police officer to escape the GCPD, take a squad car and kidnap Dwight. As Jerome staples his face back on (because, hey, why not) Dwight worries that Jerome might be mad about the whole face thing. Jerome says he isn't. He is. Cool, cool.

Jerome stole a news camera and, for some reason, the network allows him to go live. Jerome talks about how boring being dead is and how coming back from the dead has given him a new perspective. And, as he lights a fuse to ignite a whole lot of explosives (which Dwight is tied to lol), Jerome tells the citizens of Gotham that tonight is their chance at a rebirth of their own. Destroy what you want. Kill what you want. Brand new day. And, by the way, the explosives aren't just attached to Dwight -- they're attached to a power plant. Gordon runs to the GCPD roof just in time to watch a huge explosion, quickly followed by the entire city's power grid shutting down. Welcome to The Purge: Gotham edition, Jimmy boy!

So, yeah. That was a helluva thing. Let's talk about it.

THE GOOD

- Everything Jerome is good. Whether it was Cameron Monaghan's performance (which apes Heath Ledger's just the right amount this time), the way Jerome laughed at Gordon and Lee's relationship (right there with you, buddy) or just the way Jerome is second kin to chaos -- this is the most exciting, madcap and fun Gotham has been all season by a long shot.

- Give it up to our commenter, Michael Whittaker, for guessing that someone else would wind up wearing Jerome's face tonight! And give it up to Gotham for subverting that guess and bringing Jerome back anyway. That kind of double-down crazy is exactly the kind of way I want Gotham to keep us all guessing.

- It was great seeing Lee take the reigns from Jim and Harvey a little this week. And it was extra great hearing her say "Never touch me again" to Gordon. Lee is a real roller coaster ride this season, but if she could stay like this? I, for one, would be very happpy. She's done enough hand-wringing for every female stereotype in Gotham. Let her be hard for a while.

- Barbara and Tabitha kissed! And Penguin's gay, gay love is being manipulated in a way that doesn't negate his identity! Hooray! I mean, it would be nice if sane gay people could make out some time on Gotham but, hey, at least these weird, crazy complex characters are giving us something. Barbara and Tabitha could actually be a couple still. In fact, it's just possible that, after everything, Oswald and Ed could still happen. After all, this entire vengeance plot is because they each love each other to death. So that's fun.

THE BAD

- Selina and her mom's plot was predictable and boring. Bruce as the boyfriend who thinks he knows what's best for Selina better than she does is boring, too. The sooner we can get their Court of Owls plot back on track, the better.

- Am I destined to hate James Gordon forever? I shook my magic eight ball and now it's all bubbles so I can't see what it says, but PROBABLY. The fact that Jim has the audacity to tell Lee that she shouldn't do anything morally gray while he and Harvey punch suspects in the face is the very height of "Let the men do the men's work" misogyny. He can act like he's protecting her all he wants, but that oldy-timey sexist trash ain't gonna fly with me. #LetLeeLive

THE STATE OF THE GOTHAM

Dwight going full Frankenstein, a hostage covered in grenades set to go off if a door is opened and the sum entirety of Gotham City about to go full Purge? The state of Gotham is bad. And by bad, I mean @$#ing GREAT. The more chaotic Gotham is, the better Gotham is. And as the lights went out across the city, it became clear that all hell is about to break loose. People killed in Jerome's name once before, so there is zero reason it won't happen again. For the first time all season, it feels like the gloves are off and almost anything is possible.

We heard through the rumor mill that Harley Quinn might show up before the end of the season. Here's my prediction -- she's already here. You thought it was Barbara, but not quite. We're looking for someone tied to the medical profession, who works with criminals, and who might be a little tired of the way the GCPD does things. Huh. Hmm. Let's think. WHO COULD THAT BE.

I'm calling it -- by the end of Gotham Season 3, Lee will be revealed as Harley Quinn. Call her HarLee!

That's my big prediction after this bombastic return to form. What's yours?