It was a big night for Batman fans. The Joker, the chaos to Batman's calm, made his debut. But did it live up to the hype?
There are no bigger shoes for an actor to fill in the "Batman" mythos than the Joker. None. Not even Batman compares. Bold words, I know, but hear me out.
There have been so many disappointing actors to wear the cowl (cough, George Clooney, cough Val Kilmer) that disappointment from a new Dark Knight is to be expected before they even hit the screen (cough, Ben Affleck).
But the Joker? When was the last time the Joker flopped on the screen? Heath Ledger's performance in "The Dark Knight" earned him an Oscar, and Jack Nicholson's set the standard for that role in Tim Burton's "Batman." Try competing with that flawless track record.
In fact, Nicholson's Joker was so iconic that no one initially thought Ledger could hold a Roman candle to his portrayal, myself included. But what made Ledger's performance so phenomenal is that he shied away from Nicholson's brand of criminal-turned-crazy prankster and embraced a darker, more demented version previously only seen in comic books.
Cameron Monaghan, on the other hand, plays Jerome safe, giving a calculated take on Nicholson's performance. You can see it in the sinister scowl on his face to the snarl in his voice as he confesses murdering his mother. He's sublimely psychotic.
But whether or not he'll be the same caliber as Ledger or Nicholson is yet to be determined, and that isn't necessarily his fault. "The Blind Fortune Teller" doesn't give him enough screen time to unleash his full-fledged insanity.
Thanks to the limited and weak dialogue, he seems more like a bratty kid with a severe anger management problem and an obsession with bad jokes (see: the "bad-tum-tss" bit) than a sadistic psychopath fixated on unleashing anarchy.
(Side note: How twisted is it that he complains about his mom screwing around with a clown next door, when he later dresses up like one as the Joker? Blegh. I have a feeling he and Penguin would be fast friends.)
I get that the mother complex is crucial to establish his backstory — I get it. It's a tired trope for bloodthirsty killers, but I get it. My issue is that the murder seems too premeditated. Jerome was too sane, relatively speaking.
When he returns (he's the Joker, of course he'll return), he needs to amplify the craziness and set havoc onto the city. Batman's arch nemesis and the greatest comic book villain of all time deserves more than what the writers gave him last night.
As for the duo who cracked the case, it isn't who you'd expect. Harvey was MIA most of the episode. Instead, Leslie insists on joining Jim to investigate the crime scene they were both there on their date at the circus when a fight breaks out. Jim resists.
"This is no place for a lady," he says as they investigate a sketchy park at night. I'd say it's no place for an untrained, unarmed civilian to hunt for clues like Scooby Doo and gang. But this is TV world, not real life, so she calls him out for his chauvinist remarks and tags along anyway.
Leslie's the perfect woman for Jim. She's smart, makes a great dinner, likes going the circus (even better when there are brawls!) and, best of all, puts that arrogant Jim in his place when he's out of line.
"You are an unusual woman," Jim says. "You just don't know many women," Leigh replies. Should we really be surprised that she's unusual? She is a medical examiner. No one normal takes that job. Case in point: Ed Nygma.
But she's unusual in a good way. Sure, she's a little clingy, but she's feisty and sweet and Jim's smitten. And if that means we get a break from his tough cop persona for a minute or two, then I'm officially #TeamLeslie.
Then, as everything seems right in Jim's world and they're making out in the locker room (Again? They should call it their spot.), Barbara walks in on them. She turns away heartbroken.
Barb would come back into his life when he's just starting to find happiness. Toxic people do that. And just like a toxin, she'll find a way to seep back into his heart and mind.
But will Jim take her back or will he resist and stay with Leslie, who's clearly the better choice? Depends on how toxic he is.
Best Harvey One-Liner: "You got laid, didn't you? … You slept somewhere without razors and you smell like lady soap." Where was Harvey last night? The snake got more airtime than he did.
Best Jim One-Liner: "I sense you must not think Owen or Alphonse killed her." –Paul Cicero. "You must be psychic." – Jim shoots back sarcastically. Jim's zingers were on point last night!
Creepiest Line: "Sex is a healthy human activity." – Jarome on his mother's reputation for sleeping around. Can we lay off villains with Oedipal issues for a while? Penguin certainly has that covered. Speaking of …
Best Scene: "Hey, Butch — dance for me!" Penguin shouts. Butch dances. "I do good work," Victor Zsasz says smugly. Please, put Butch on stage. Anything's better than Penguin's current lineup. I was really hoping Zsasz showed up to "take care of" Gertrude Kapelput. I can only take so much warbling from that woman, and she doesn't need a spotlight to encourage her.
Most Intense Line: "That's right. I said 'some' of us [will get out of here alive], because the truth of the matter is, some will die." No sense in lying to the prisoners who are treated like "spare parts" for organ harvesting. Watching Fish Mooney rally the troops rise against their captors is mesmerizing, especially when they know what they're getting themselves into. But as much as Fish says they're family, there's only one person she ever looks out for, and that's herself.
Most Gimmicky Moment: Using a snake as a bloodhound to sniff out Laila's body.
Most Disturbing Doodle: The demonic eyes peering through the city skyline at the top of Bruce Wayne's notebook. No happy trees? He needs some Bob Ross in his life.
Saddest Easter Egg (Part 2): Robin's ill-fated acrobatic family made a cameo at the circus, when he's just a twinkle in his dad's eye. How cute are his future parents (John Grayson and Mary Lloyd) when they were quarreling with each other over their silly family feud? They're like Romeo and Juliet with clown cars instead of horses.
Gal Pals: I adore that scene where Cat and Ivy gave Barb advice on how to win back Jim. It didn't work this time, but I'm sure Cat has more tricks up her sleeve for round two. If she can't get him back (unlikely, since they get married in the comic books), Barb should open a mini orphanage in her apartment, and permanently house Cat, Ivy and other street kids. That's the only way you'd get me to watch a spinoff with Barb.