Gotham "S1E16 The Blind Fortune Teller" - Review

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Gotham "S1E16 The Blind Fortune Teller" - Review

Since Gotham’s first episode many have been on a Where’s Waldo level hunt for any signs of who could become Batman’s most iconic nemesis that it’s actually become a running joke. That guy’s a comedian, maybe him? No wait this guy has make up on, that must be him! Speculation has been wild, frequent and as it turns out completely misplaced.  This week Gotham finally plays its trump card and with a big sadistic grin and a maniacal laugh confirms beyond any shadow of a doubt who will become the city’s clown prince of crime. More importantly, he does a dam good job of it in what feels like Gotham’s best episode to date.

The Blind Fortune Teller – This week the circus comes to town along with a bitter blood feud between clowns and acrobats that escalates when a mutually accommodating lady snake charmer is found dead and their resident blind psychic offers some cryptic insights (only in Gotham). Elsewhere Fish Mooney starts an innovative escape plan from the prison and Penguin struggles to get cash flowing at his new club.

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The idea of bringing the Circus into the story was always going to suit Gotham perfectly as, in the same way American Horror Story as shown; it’s a setting that perfectly propagates both the dark and the bizarre. The episode has some fantastic fun with this as the ring master speaks of their in house traditions and having their own way of settling things in harking to gypsy origins. Yet when it’s revealed that the clown and acrobat families 3 generation long blood feud is just over a stolen horse you just can’t take it seriously and the fun comes marching in. Said feud even has a nice little Romeo and Juliet undertone as its revealed that acrobat John Grayson and clown Mary Lloyd are star crossed lovers forbidden to be together while rifts lie between their circus houses. These are of course the later parents of Dick “Robin” Grayson and it’s great to see the show having a little fun as it puts that very long term storyline in motion. As the pair end the episode ring baring with their families consent it’s fun to imagine that this development is consummated (no, we’re not going 50 Shades here) or at least suitably celebrated to put a Boy Wonder in Mary’s oven; you to love that in the same week as one the biggest villains is born so too is one of its heroes.  The performing trapeze routine of The Flying Graysons also makes for a good visual spectacle as Jim & Leslie watch from the audience in almost a TV equivalent to the similar circus scene in Batman Forever. Then the resulting mass in ring brawl is just hilarious. The look on Jim’s face is a picture as even he’s struggling to believe this is actually happening; beaten only by Harvey’s confusion when the circus comes to GCPD.

Although Bullock takes a surprising back seat this episode as Leslie steps up into full investigation capacity to form a virtual Moulder and Scully like relationship over the cryptic psychic message. Yet again Morena Baccarin is on such good form as she gets over excited about the supernatural possibilities of the case even if it’s a bit more than Jim would like; “We were having a perfectly lovely evening, I was not the one who wanted to go out searching for Satanists hatchets.... you know what I wanted to do”. Yet it’s the doc that lands the clinical blow in their relationship this week as Leslie makes some poignant observations about Jim’s hypocritical perspective on women. How he wants a strong woman but when they try to act upon that strength he pushes them back fearing for their safety. It’s a great reflection relationships being an all or nothing arrangement and yet again it’s great to see Jim and Leslie becoming stronger through conflict. In fact the pair appears closer than ever Barbara catches them in the locker room (you’d think they’d have learnt last time). Her return to the fray goes largely as we would expect. Leslie is still our clear favourite for Jim’s affections but Babs comes over better than some of her previous episodes as she embraces the unexpected girly company of Selina and Ivy crashing in her apartment. These scenes are surprisingly fun and particular when Kyle’s giving advice about dressing like you don’t care if feels like referring to how she approached breaking it off with Bruce.

The young master himself has quite a surprising episode. His build scenes to the climax feel rather dead weight but are more than worth it to get him in front of Wayne board and lay down the killer accusations about their activities. “My youth is not relevant, accept that if I were a man I would be chairing this company and I would ensure that Wayne Enterprises is run honestly” he may have just painted the biggest possible target on his chest but if this is to imply Bruce will start taking a more direct and controlling involvement in the company that will be incredible. It also feels like a good conduit for congregating several smaller plot threads together i.e. discovering certain Wayne members are behind Arkham, The Wayne parents murder and many other wrong doings covered in the series including possibly Fish Mooney’s current 1 star accommodation (which could very well be in Gotham’s underground). On the back of last week’s eye extraction revelation the episode self confirms that Fish’s strange prison centres around organ harvesting leading to her innovative if rather brutal self massacring escape plan “it’s simple economics, our lives our worth something”. Yet you have to genuinely admire the way she’s leading and inspiring her fellow inmates now apparently with care and compassion as opposed to violence and intimidation. We see her minions rationing out the water fairly and referring to them all as family. She gets her demands to speak to the mysterious “Manager” figure upstairs. For which the most obvious identity feels Hugo Strange (who’s still believed to be featuring this season) though she does mention a Dr Don Marker in the episode 17 promo so maybe not; in which it looks like she may also be returning to regular Gotham. She may not be happy with what Penguin’s done to here club while she was gone and neither is anyone else really as the place appears to be bombing not helped by mommy Cobblepot taking the stage (though Penguin’s reaction to the heckler is outstanding). Enter the apparently brainwashed Butch as Penguin’s new right hand man in a lovely little crazy moment and begging for all manner of Theon Greyjoy jokes. How that plays out is incredibly tantalising as to how Butch will react when reunited with Fish (dream scenario is he reveals he’s been faking and betrays Penguin).

Now finally we have to address the big J-man himself and could we all please join in giving young Cameron Monaghan standing ovation as this Gallagher smashes it like a hammer to watermelon. From the moment we meet young Jerome something feels off about him as dead snake charmer’s son (you had to love the pun use of snake charmer when it turned out she sampled many different little wrigglers around the circus). Then when it all finally comes out in the police station and the loose hinges snap like twigs it may just be the greatest the moment the show has produced yet, all powered by an outstanding performance. Monaghan shifts through the emotions incorporating both the camper fun side of the character and the sadistically sinister as he confesses his true feelings towards his parentage; “my mother was a cold hearted whore who never loved anyone and she’d never touch a pathetic old creep like you”. A couple of his lines even have a Heath Ledger style delivery to them and even though it probably had some audio assistance that laugh smashed it out of the park. The episode didn’t specify where the young murderer was heading next but hopefully its over to Arkham giving us chances to visit him again.

This week Gotham took on its most daunting character to incorporate and turned him into a talisman for the show. These last couple of episodes have really built up some momentum for a series that finally feels like blossoming into its own identity. Some people laughed after its first few weeks.... but look who’s laughing now.