‘Gotham’ Post-Show Analysis, Season 3, Episode 14: ‘Mad City: The Gentle Art of Making Enemies’
Welcome to Wayne’s World, the ComicsAlliance TV recap series jumping right into the middle of the third season of Fox’s Gotham, the show about the childhood of Bruce Wayne and the world of Batman before Batman. Your Gotham guides are veteran recappper Dylan Todd, and hardcore Gotham fan Tara Marie.
This week, the city of Gotham plunges into chaos as Jerome takes Bruce Wayne out to the carnival in the Gotham winter finale. "The Gentle Art of Making Enemies" was written by Seth Boston, and directed by Louis Shaw Milito.
Dylan: Well, I can now officially say that I’ve seen a television program where Young Joker paints teenaged Bruce Wayne’s face with a clown’s blood, so maybe 2017 isn’t going to be all bad, huh? Tara Marie, how’d you like this episode?
Tara Marie: It was, uh, something. Honestly? This is the closest this show has ever come to feeling like an actual Batman show, to me. I’m a big fan of Jerome’s Joker (Jeromker?) and his interactions with Bruce were… really, really good! I mean, normally I’m the first to talk about how wacky this show is, but this time it felt very Batman-y.
Dylan: Oh yeah, it was definitely leaning hard into the comic bookyness that’s bubbled up under the surface. It’s weird that this is that midseason finale. I can’t believe we’ve been recapping for a whole half of a season! Oh wait… it’s only been two episodes, huh?
Tara Marie: Yeah, Fox’s shows are doing this weird thing where they take a winter break, come back for a couple episodes, and then disappear for months. I’m not a big fan of it? But, hey, this episode was good, so I can’t really complain.
Dylan: I know you wanna talk a little about the Jeromker/Bruce plot of this episode, but first, let’s talk about the Penguin/Riddler/Barbara stuff.
I’ve been cautiously optimistic about this show, but I gotta say, when Nygma tied Penguin to the hood of his dead girlfriend's’ car and threatened him with a tub full of acid held up only by a slowly-melting block of ice, I think I fell in love. It was… perfect, right?
Tara Marie: Oh, god yes! I know this is jumping ahead a bit, but apparently the next show’s arc is going to revolve entirely around the Riddler and I could not be happier. Although, I have to say, was it as obvious to you that the entire thing --- being rescued by the cop, Barbara and co. trying to get him to turn on Nygma --- was Nygma’s ruse?
Dylan: Maybe? But also he tied him to the hood of a car and threatened to drop acid on him, so I’m willing to forgive some lunkheadedness in favor of some good old fashioned comic book villainy.
Tara Marie: Understandable.
I gotta say, this has been maybe my favorite Nygma/Cobblepot episode? When Nygma realized that Cobblepot was in love with him, and was willing to sacrifice anything for him, and he was just dumbfounded about what to do? *chef kiss* Perfect.
Dylan: Also, *chef kiss*-worthy was Nygma yelling that there’s no such thing as ghosts as he tightened the ropes and also lets slip that he abandoned Cobblepot’s dad’s skellington in a Chinese restaurant dumpster. Whoever wrote that scene deserves roughly one million Emmys.
Tara Marie: Also, our intrepid Gotham fans will note, but you won’t since you’re a Gotham newbie, that dock where Oswald "died" is, uh, important. In the first season of Gotham, I think it was maybe the first episode, Gordon takes Oswald to the end of that dock to kill him. But instead of doing it, he throws him off and lets him live. So having that be where Oswald dies is pretty impactful. It’s also a neat reversal; Gordon, a cop, his enemy, lets him live, while his best friend in the world, a criminal, who he’s in love with, shoots him “dead.” Ugh, so good.
I also love that Penguin, even after almost dying, still cannot remember the name of the woman he killed.
Dylan: (George Lucas voice): “It’s like poetry. It rhymes.”
Tara Marie: So, the title is "The Gentle Art of Making Enemies," and I honestly have no idea who or what that is referring to. The Riddler? Jerome? Bruce?
Dylan: All of the above, probably. Let’s unpack the Jerome/Bruce stuff, shall we? I gotta say that this is probably one of the more agreeable quasi-adaptations of The Killing Joke we’re likely to see. All of the Joker/Batman dichotomy with none of the implied sexual assault. It’s a win-win.
Tara Marie: As someone who absolutely hates The Killing Joke, but loves the idea of the Joker at a carnival, this episode was pretty much perfect. I loved the Carnival games that killed. Like the man dropped into the piranhas? Mad Love much?
Dylan: It was super-gross to see a dude get his head gomped by a Joker Juggalo in a human Whack-A-Mole game, but being super-gross is also sort of this whole show’s entire deal, so yeah.
Tara Marie: Jerome is honestly my favorite live action Joker, and he’s not even actually the Joker yet! Where do you stand on that? Do you think that Gotham should stop playing coy and just embrace it? I honestly can’t imagine the idea of another Joker being introduced in this show, Cameron is so good and so Joker-y.
Dylan: Oh, he’s fun. A really good mix of Hamill Joker, Nicholson Joker, and Keith Legend’s (RIP) Joker. And I’d be fine if they dropped the pretense and have everybody in crazy supervillain costumes, but I’ll settle for them just calling him Joker. I am 100% on board with this kid. Just, you know, no more faces falling off, please?
Tara Marie: Apparently it’s been confirmed that Gotham’s Harley Quinn is coming later this season. Any guesses for who she’ll be? I’m thinking either Barbara --- and they could build a pseudo Gotham City Sirens, since her girlfriend is obviously a proto-Catwoman --- orrrrr maybe Leslie Thompkins. After all, Jerome's interactions with her have been somewhat akin to Quinzel/Joker interactions. This show’s wild, I wouldn’t put it past them!
Dylan: This is only the third episode I’ve seen, and I can honestly say that at this point, nothing would surprise me.
Tara Marie: This is the first episode I looked at David Mazouz and didn’t see just Bruce Wayne, but Batman. Was that just me?
Dylan: Maybe? He certainly has the whole “stare into the middle distance dramatically and then suddenly stand up and turn around quickly” thing down. His “I will not kill.” mantra was pretty dope.
Tara Marie: The music building after Jeromker said, “Face it, kid, Gotham has no heroes,” was just so great. And then Bruce just straight up attacks the Joker!? God, this show might --- at some point --- stop being wacky good and actually become… good?
Dylan: Also, they have a fight in a hall of mirrors! Which is maybe the most comic book thing ever. I don’t know if it’s “good,” but it is certainly interesting. (And gross. Joker getting his face literally punched off was so dang gross, TM.)
Tara Marie: I loved it. I’m hoping that they introduced a Joker’s Daughter character, who steals his face and wears it as a mask.
Tara Marie: So, this season ends with Bruce getting ready to train to fully become Batman, The Riddler about to embrace his more … theatrical side… and Gordon visited by his uncle who is --- dun dun dun --- working for the Court of Owls. Because, of course.
Oh, and who else is with the Court of Owls? None other than the Bruce Wayne clone! I’m sure they’re going to use him as Thomas Wayne, Jr. Or Hush. Or both, because why not?
Dylan: Okay, so yeah, I sort of gathered he was some sort of a Bruce clone, but one quick question: what the heck is up with that?
Tara Marie: Listen, if you figure it out, let me know. It all has to do with the secret underground WayneTech lab run by the Court of Owls and Hugo Strange underneath Arkham Asylum and wow, how is fan fic not more respected? This show is much much worse than even My Immortal.
Dylan: I love it. I want more of it immediately.
Tara Marie: So what do you think? You’ve gotten through your first mini-arc of Gotham and lucky you, it was all about the Joker (sorta). You excited for or dreading the show’s return?
Dylan: I’m stoked. It’s like Arrow if Arrow was written by insane lunatics who love being gross. Give me more evil clones, cryogenically frozen Jokersicles, star-crossed criminals and Jim Gordon, too, I guess.
Tara Marie: Yeah, he’s… definitely a part of it. I guess. All I want from the next arc is Jerome coming back and a Nygma/Cobblepot kiss.
Dylan: All I want is Jim Gordon to maybe learn Miranda rights instead of just rolling into a room and shooting everybody in sight? And for Clayface to really be False Face. Seriously, why is that dude not False Face?!
Tara Marie: Forget it, Dylan, it’s Gotham.
Dylan: So I guess this is goodbye until... April? I’m gonna miss this already!
Tara Marie: To be continued...