Gotham: (S03E13) “Smile Like You Mean It”

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Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz)

Quote of the night:

People have made sacrifices for you, Dwight. I left a REALLY GOOD job at the post office!

SPOILERS GALORE!

Between this season and last, Bruce Wayne has evolved. The boy is no longer a boy. Of course, it’s been three years since the series first aired. But perhaps because he started a misguided flirtation with a blonde schemer last season — which occasioned very amusing side-eye from Selina Kyle — I have begun to see him in a new light. His first scene in this is episode is very Godfather-ish.  If you aren’t sure, you will be when he says: “You want money.” Oh Bruce. Must you be so direct? What happened to subtle condescencion?

When Bruce is in Wayne Manor, it follows that he will interact with Alfred the Butler. In past episodes, Alfred has shown a clear romantic side (Fun!). In last week’s episode, “Ghosts”, he had a flirtatious scene with Selina Kyle’s mother (Jury’s still out on whether she adds something to the series) He also has the killer moves of, well, a killer. In this episode, he is very mild. In other words, he’s back to being just a butler.

The first sign of Jerome is very blatant foreshadowing: he’s lying unconscious on a bed in Dwight’s lab, and his face is frozen in a Joker grin.

Pivotal scene: Dwight wears Jerome’s face to a Goth rave gathering in a building. The crowd is not fooled (of course it looks like Dwight wearing Jerome’s face, you’d have to be pretty stupid to accept that in place of the actual Jerome). I’m not really into face-wearing but I share in Dwight’s disappointment at this crowd response.

Most Kick-Ass Scene: Selina Kyle aims several sharp punches and one tremendous kick at Bruce Wayne! All the while challenging him: Fight me! Fight me! Would that he had complied! In this scene, Bruce shows that he has pretty fast reflexes, as he is able to deflect each and every blow. Not bad for such a slender fellow.

Barbara Kean: love this woman’s character arc, it is so dramatic. She has some of this episode’s best lines: Listen to me! You will do your disco vampire thing. She also hits Oswald Cobblepot in the face with a rolled up newspaper! Cool! Moments later, she says: Don’t say I didn’t warn ya. But. I did warn ya. Barbara Kean is such a brittle villain. Love her.

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Barbara Kean (Erin Richards)

As for Oswald Cobblepot, I fangirl without shame over this particular iteration of the Penguin. Oswald is so fantastic a character in this series that I can’t wait to see what the series has in store for him. In this episode, he still seems to be suffering aftershocks from seeing his father come back from the dead. He seems terribly shaken. Which is what makes his scenes with Barbara Kean (referenced above) so great.

Brief scenes with James Gordon’s detective sidekick, Harvey Bullock. Donal Logue has the kind of face that is made to play a gumshoe. Which makes him perfect for a series like Gotham, which lives and dies on the close-up.

As James Gordon, Ben McKenzie gets to be both pretty and indomitable. Which means he, too, is fan-TA-ma-tastic in his role as the young Commissioner Gordon. Whatever he does, he does with conviction. In this episode, he does the usual bang-bang in a suit, but he also makes sincere conversation with Leslie Thompkins. Those three drops of blood on the side of his face — what are they supposed to represent?  Because part of the fun of Gotham is figuring out the visual clues. Alas, I still have no idea.

As Leslie Thompkins, Morena Baccarin brings such a believable nobility to her role. In this episode she gets to say: “He killed my husband on our wedding night.” Which, I think viewers will agree, is a fabulous line. The kind of line that makes noir like Gotham so operatic. In a comic way, of course.

In closing, I would like to address the category of “noir” TV. There’s been too little of it in the last decade. Gotham brings on some seriously creepy noir: the half-lit corridors, the artfully billowing curtains, the constant sense of menace, the rooms crammed with plush sofas and antiques, a passel of beautiful, confused women and handsome and inattentive heroes, and twisted villains who are completely understandable in their thwarted desires.