HomeTelevisionGotham's 'The Gentle Art of Making Enemies' Provides Classic Joker

Gotham’s ‘The Gentle Art of Making Enemies’ Provides Classic Joker

The Gentle Art of Making Enemies Plot Summary:

With the power out, the citizens of Gotham follow Jerome’s (Cameron Monaghan) inspiration and turn the city completely upside down, while Jerome has his sights set on Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz). Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) enacts his final revenge against Oswald (Robin Lord Taylor).

If you’re a Batman fan who couldn’t get on board with this episode, I can’t help you. This week’s Gotham was pure and utter Batman. It took influences from plenty of great Batman mediums, and smashed them together to create one great original story from beginning to end. While its inspiration may have been too on the nose at times, it didn’t matter. I’m never going to complain about a well written Batman/Joker storyline, which is exactly what we got.

From the very beginning of the show, the creators have always said the Joker is around, but he could be one of many. We’ll see if they stick to that philosophy, or just make Jerome the damn Joker. Regardless, this is the Joker. You’re watching him right now. He may not be wearing purple or have green hair, but it’s him.

It’s easy to watch the preview for this episode and bemoan, “Seriously, a carnival? Yeah, like we haven’t seen that a hundred times.” While that’s true, I commend the writers for doing something completely original with this idea. What they did with the victims and the carnival games was brilliant. Sick, but brilliant. I can’t believe the twisted and depraved shenanigans they got away with here. Not to mention what they do with Jerome’s face. Holy hand buzzers. Not only do you get Jerome’s sick carnival games, but everyone throughout the city running amok hit on all cylinders. I’ve mentioned Suicide Squad a lot in the last few reviews, but it bears repeating. THIS SHOULD HAVE BEEN SUICIDE SQUAD! The Joker and his gang of villains causing mischief and mayhem throughout the city! FOR CRYING OUT LOUD! As great as all the Joker-isms are, what makes the character truly special is his adversary – Batman.

This is the closest Bruce got to actually being Batman. It was awesome. He escaped in Batman ways. He got inside the heads of his enemies in a way only Batman could. Oh, and he fought like Batman. I don’t care that he’s only fourteen or fifteen years old. Whatever. He’s Batman. What made him Batman most of all in this episode was his relationship with Jerome. It’s the vintage Batman/Joker debate that has raged for 75+ years in comic books, movies and television. Bruce believes in Gotham. Joker does not. The dialogue here was beautiful. My only complaint is the same one I had from last week – let’s calm down with the Dark Knight-isms. Again, they are honoring this material well, but they essentially lift lines of dialogue right from that film. Ease off.

While Bruce/Jerome stole the show, the under card bouts were just as compelling. The writers never cease to amaze me when concocting Nygma’s master plans. His final stroke of breaking Oswald was genius, even if it does backfire. This episode cemented how charged their relationship is. Even though Oswald was at Nygma’s mercy most of the time, he still managed to get a dig into Nygma that rings very true. To see Nygma’s reaction to that line was priceless. Great acting by Cory Michael Smith. Their back and forth was stellar. This even takes you back to the early days, where Oswald constantly had to argue out of death. The difference is Oswald may have actually earned the right to live. It’s quite the character arc. While the Bruce/Jerome scenes borrowed heavily from Nolan’s Batman, we get a throwback to Batman Returns in the last shot of the episode, which looked gorgeous.

There was a lot of thought and care that went into this winter finale. I didn’t even get to Gordon (Ben McKenzie), who was great as always steering the ship, but he was like the ninth storyline here. Butch (Drew Powell), Tabitha (Jessica Lucas) and Barbara (Erin Richards) also played great supporting roles in the Oswald/Nygma conflict. The Court of Owls makes a brief appearance, but I can’t say I’m too excited about the return character they tease. We’ll see on that. Aside from that, and a few on the nose lines between Bruce and Alfred (Sean Pertwee) at the end, this is easily one of the all-time great episodes of Gotham. The acting all around was fantastic, in particular Mazouz and Monaghan. It will be interesting to see when they next pull the Jerome card.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10 (Really Great)

Daniel Cohen
Daniel Cohen
Daniel Cohen likes movies and bagels, and that’s pretty much it. Aside from writing Box Office predictions, Daniel hosts the monthly Batman by the Numbers Podcast on the Breakcast feed. Speaking of Batman, If Daniel was sprayed by Scarecrow's fear toxin, it would be watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on a non-stop loop.

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