Gotham doesn’t have to be like the movie The Dark Knight. It really doesn’t.
It doesn’t even have to be the lead up series to something like Batman Begins. I’m OK with getting a bit more fantastical with the characters and story, but the more the show progresses, the more I can’t help but think of Joel Schumacher’s Batman films: Batman Forever and Batman & Robin.
And that’s not a good thing.
Gotham Season 1 Episode 16 continued to drop references to the future Batman world by introducing The Flying Graysons, including the parents of the future Robin.
I get that the circus is relatively exaggerated in the first place, but it just felt silly from the feud to the outlandish costumes (something that characters in Gotham seem to enjoy; just look at the patrons in Oswald’s new club) and my mind immediately went to the introduction of Robin and The Flying Graysons in Batman Forever.
Instead of Bruce Wayne and Dr. Chase Meridian taking in the circus like in the movie, Jim Gordon and Dr. Leslie Thompkins were catching the show.
I didn’t really care for the circus connection to the murder of the hour, but I did appreciate that the series is trying to build up the relationship between Jim and Leslie; far better than it did with Jim and Barbara.
There were certainly some tiffs over how to get things done or believing in a psychic, but the two do work relatively well together. Even if the dialogue isn’t always the sharpest, I can still feel the chemistry between Jim and Leslie.
That meant Harvey got to sit back during the hour, but he still made the short time he had work. He does have solid rapport with Jim.
But the real highlight of the hour came from Cameron Monaghan’s performance as Jerome. It was a drastically different character from the one he plays on Shameless, but he was scary and mesmerizing when he transformed from the quiet-speaking timid character to the grinning and maniacally laughing menace who killed his own mother.
And wow was that a great laugh.
So was Jerome a young version of the future Joker? Or was Gotham just trolling viewers?
I really don’t think we should be seeing the Joker as a main villain on this series without Batman, and he’s still just young teenager Bruce Wayne trying to get a hold of business meetings. He’s nowhere near putting on the cape and cowl and battling the Joker.
But if we just get this glimpse that Jim did cross paths with the famous villain at one point, that’s far more acceptable than seeing kid versions of Poison Ivy and Catwoman hanging out with Barbara.
If anything, I could definitely see Monaghan’s Jerome turning into the clown prince of crime, and he did deliver an entertaining performance.
It’s just unfortunate that the rest of the hour wasn’t as engaging, especially when the main case was cut into by ridiculous Barbara scenes (why is she hanging out with Selina and Ivy?) or Fish cartoonishly taking over the prisoners and then working her way into meeting whatever boss is serving that part of the story. Even Oswald, who has been a real standout for the show, was relegated to watching his mother sing to an empty club.
Though, at least his last moments involved a curious and surprising return for Victor Zsaz’s new pet, the very much alive Butch.
I really fear that Gotham will continue to echo the campy and over-the-top Schumacher films but, with a performance like Monaghan’s, I like to think there’s still that glimmer of hope for the series. And that’s no joke.
What did you think of the episode? Do you think Jerome is the future Joker? Sound off below, and catch other early versions of Batman's foes when you watch Gotham online.
NOTE: Gotham Season 1 Episode 17 will be titled "Red Hood" and air on Monday, February 23.
Sean McKenna was a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. He retired in May of 2017. Follow him on Twitter.