Beginning with the promo at the end of last week’s episode, it seemed inevitable that we would be meeting the joker in this week’s Gotham. However, once the week went on and showrunner Bruno Heller put the thought in viewer’s minds that the psychotic, giggling, red-headed teenager that was shown in the promo might not actually be The Joker, it seemed a little less of a sure thing. Well, “The Blind Fortune Teller” finally aired and we have our answer. Sort of? Maybe. Either way, we take a look at a potential Joker sighting and some other things that happened in this week’s Gotham review.
Joker watch starts from the first procedural segment of the episode (complete with a mini interview montage!) where Gordon and Leslie witness a clown fight at a circus. More specifically, the group fighting is the Grayson family, aka the Flying Graysons, aka Robin’s parents. Gotham promised long ago that they would be showing Robin “in utero” and they make good on that promise in this episode. Unless you actually know that Robin is also Dick Grayson, son of John and Mary Grayson
first of his name then you may not even realize you just witnessed the future sidekick to Batman. But, like so many of the iconic Batman characters stuffed into Gotham‘s first season, you wouldn’t miss a lot even if you didn’t catch it – the whole exchange between Gordon, Mary, and John would just end up being a really awkward ending to the self-contained story-line. Even knowing that their final appearance in the episode is a way to say “hey look it’s Robin’s parents,” it still feels extremely out of place.
Carmeon Monaghan as Jerome (or maybe The Joker?) does a great job at being a creepy teenage kid regardless if he is the villain or not. Even as the quality of Joker’s on-screen interpretations has changed widely between actors, they all retain a key set of attributes that clue you in on the fact that they are indeed the Joker – and Monaghan has them all. The twisted, wide mouth complete with bizarre lip movements, the cackling laugh, and the jarring manner in which they switch between emotions in a split second. Joker/Jerome/Jingleheimer Smith goes from crying in disbelief that his father may not be who he thought he was, to pounding on the table and calling his mom a whore while cackling his head off. All of it is played brilliantly by Monaghan. If he’s not The Joker, Gotham will be blowing a great portrayal on a lame bait and switch.
It’s left pretty wide open on if we’ll ever see Jerome again, but I really hope he does make an appearance down the road. Even if it’s not in this season, Gotham is already renewed for a second and seeing him come back when Bruce Wayne gets a little older would be a welcome addition and start to that rivalry.
Outside of the intrigue surrounding a potential Joker sighting, some really odd things happen in the city of Gotham. Some of them are a good comic book sense of weirdness, and some were the result of lackluster writing and what feels like missing scenes.
Scenes with Penguin in his newly-acquired lounge are great. Starting with his awkward mother singing terribly, to Penguin waddling over and stabbing a patron with a broken bottle for insulting said singing. The way that Gotham is letting Penguin settle into his own, yet never be quite on top of everything is really satisfying to watch and will make it all the better when he begins to truly ascend the ladder and become the mob boss that he is destined to be. As good as Robin Lord Taylor has been playing the greasy-haired Oswald Cobblepot, Carol Kane has done an equally impressive job playing his mother, Gertrude Kapelput. She’s a character ripped straight out of a knock-off Tim Burton DVD, with an attire that could be full of spiders at any given moment, and a personality both caring and as deeply disturbed as her son’s.
On the other end of the weirdness spectrum is Fish Mooney and Barbara Gordon. Fish’s current situation gets a tiny bit of clarity, but it really feels like some scenes were missing somewhere within her storyline. She’s trapped in some mysterious underground prison of sorts, then out of nowhere, she blurts out about how everyone is being used as “spare parts.” There is little to no setup for this big reveal, and its lack of clarity makes for some dull scenes later on. What Mooney actually does, I have to say, is pretty interesting. Being that the guards coming down and taking people away clearly need these prisoners alive, Fish leverages this by demanding supplies. In exchange for these supplies she promises not to have whatever prisoner they require get beaten to death. How she gets the entire group of inmates on board with this plan that will get several of them killed is pretty weak, but the end result is a genuinely intriguing bit of negotiating. It’s just a shame that we had to slog through such a bizarre and poorly executed side-story to get to this payoff.
As for Barbara Gordon, just who the hell knows anymore? She shows up at Gordon’s house, where Ivy and Selina Kyle are having a month-long slumber party. Being the clear-thinking and rational adult that Barbara is, she joins in and takes the time to trash talk Gordon while putting on a fashion show to decide what dress to wear to impress him. The whole thing is completely out of place, and serves as lukewarm filler between other much more interesting events. The only payoff in this episode is her walking in on Gordon and Thompkins awkwardly making out in a GCPD lockerroom.
The relationship between Gordon and Thompkins continues to feel contrived and artificial with no hint of chemistry between the two actors on screen. Individually, they are interesting characters – even some of the dynamics of their relationships work, such as Thompkins constantly pulling Gordon out of his by-the-book comfort zone and making him do some wild and crazy things (like listen to a psychic and follow his fake clues). It’s a bit of a shame that Thompkins gets turned into a bumbling trophy girlfriend however. While she is supposed to be a high-thinking doctor and scientist, she doesn’t do much outside of following Gordon to places she probably shouldn’t be, like an interrogation room with a known murderer.
Joker and unborn Robin aside, the most interesting thing about this episode – and the thing that will have the longest-lasting consequences – is little Bruce Wayne striking fear into the boardroom of Wayne Enterprises. Not only is it interesting story wise, with how he continues to assert himself as the crime-fighting crusader, but the way it is filmed is also fantastic. The notebook that Wayne has is filled with childlike doodles alongside the very adult questions asking why his company is researching chemical weapons and potentially funding money to the warring gangs within Gotham. It’s a simplistic, and most importantly subtle, way of showing just how grown-up Bruce is acting but how much of a child he still is inside. Of all the plotlines bound to pop up in Gotham’s last five episodes, seeing what Bruce plans to do with the company he is about to inherit will be the one I’m looking forward to the most.
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