Episode 16: “The Blind Fortune Teller”
A night out turns into a murder at the circus.
Much has been said and written about Robin(s), but very little about his parents. Seeing them in their prime before Robin was even a possibility adds a purity to the characters. There’s so little to know about them that it opens untold doors for developing their storyline. That’s the kind of thing Gotham is best for, exploring the things that have never been explored or even thought about. It allows for almost complete creative freedom while adding to established canon.
As for the Joker, one of the staples of his backstory is its ambiguity and vagueness. Before Batman, there was no Joker. In some stories there was a low-level crook, in others a struggling comedian. But the characteristics that define the Clown Prince of Crime come about exclusively as a result of his encounter with Batman. The version that deviated the most from this was Tim Burton’s Batman, which featured Jack Nicholson as a crime lord driven mad by a botched attempt at plastic surgery, as well as the murderer of Bruce Wayne’s parents. As iconic as it is, fans generally prefer the mysterious Joker, the one whose backstories are so varied and widespread that even he doesn’t know which are true.
A quiet, understated thriller of an episode. Lot of bonding this week. Gordon with Dr. Thompkins, Fish with her fellow prisoners, Penguin with his mother, even Barbara with Ivy and Selena.
It’s an undeniably quiet episode for Penguin. For someone characterized by treachery, seeing him exhibit genuine care for another human being is rare. He takes such undeniable joy in watching his mother (the marvelous Carol Kane) perform, she may be his greatest weakness. As for Barbara, who returns after much time spent away and being uninteresting, her scenes shine like a diamond. It’s so simple, picking out outfits with Ivy and Selena, but the actresses immediately establish a warm sisterhood. Barbara has definitely needed time away from all the drama between her and Gordon, especially with Dr. Thompkins stealing scenes as his new girlfriend. Speaking of whom, Gordon and Dr. Thompkins had their first fight this week. She wants to go investigate a murder, he wants to stay home and…see where the night leads. But even during the drama, they work well together on screen. Still, for the first time it appears Gordon’s relationship drama is going to be a real draw for the series.
The beginning of the Joker story arc has made it quite clear that Gotham is backing circus performer Jerome (Cameron Monaghan) for the young Joker. Also clear is that he will not be a weak or helpless young man, but an individual already showing the signs of madness and depravity that will come to define him. The Joker is the ultimate villainous wild card, pursuing no greater plan than to cause chaos and toy with Gotham’s heart, soul, and mind. He’s a madman with no mercy, a dangerous sense of humor, and a killer laugh. Perhaps he isn’t the version of the character we love, but young Monaghan has already proven himself a worthy successor to the crown.
As the final episodes begin for Gotham’s first season, followers of the series are sure to be rewarded for their patience and devotion. This episode is certain to stoke the fires of excitement for the big push. We’ve come this far, through ups and downs, good and bad. Gotham has found itself, refunded itself, and become a sharpened instrument of dark entertainment. Hurry up, Monday!
Episode Score: 9.0