Gotham: The Blind Fortune Teller
February 17, 2015 6:01 AM - Season 1, Episode 16 - Subscribe

Clowns and acrobats duke it out. Snakes make great bloodhounds. Barbara get some fashion advice. Fish finds a family. Bruce talks to the board. Oh, and, we meet this odd kid named Jerome.
posted by Thorzdad (13 comments total)
Chock-full of fun. Jerome *nailed* it. But geez...can they just drop Barbara permanently?
posted by davidmsc at 8:30 AM on February 17, 2015

Of course this universe isn't going to be one where Jim doesn't marry Barbara. Instead, we have to faff about with Bab's inadequacies, waiting to see how Jim comes back around to her and realizes his life is so much better with her instead of the healthy, interesting doc who is his equal in work and love.
posted by at 10:31 AM on February 17, 2015 [2 favorites]

Oh, but Jim wishes he was her equal. Even when the writing goes to lengths to drag Leslie down as an irrational new-age moonbat (for taking the psychic's thinly-disguised clue at face value), it still does so in ways that paradoxically make her seem 1000% more logical than Gordon. Let's face it, Barbara and Jim deserve each other.

Also, I strongly suspect that Jerome isn't going to be our only potential future Joker, since we're also getting a Red Hood episode next week, and you know how that goes. I recall from interviews that the producers said something early on about having several pseudo-Jokers pop up over the course of the season. I just wish they'd elected to go a bit more subtle with this one. The kid's gurning transformation into a weird Nicholson/Ledger/Hamill amalgam was passable, I suppose. But if they're really asking us to believe that the Joker became the way he is because his mom fucked circus clowns, well...
posted by Strange Interlude at 11:49 AM on February 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

Also, the random (not to mention historically inaccurate) reference to the Hellfire Club had me rolling my eyes. Are the Gotham writers actively cribbing from Sleepy Hollow now?
posted by Strange Interlude at 12:29 PM on February 17, 2015

Gotham works best when it gets its pulpy/comic booky stuff to gel with its "realism" (not, like, real realism, but the kind of realism that pulpy cop shows have passed off as real realism since the dawn of TV) in a pleasing, semi-gothy froth, and works even better when it concentrates on just one or two main storylines in an episode. So no complaints from me.

Welllllll, mostly no complaints: The Hellfire Club hatchet was either a clunky reference to some comics thing I'm unfamiliar with or a clunky seed-sowing for some future episode. Either way, it felt random and unnecessary, when really all that had to happen for the story's sake was for Jim and Leslie to find a murder weapon that could be plausibly tied to someone who wasn't Jerome. Also, if Cicero's riddle was so obscure Jim couldn't have solved it...uh...did Cicero have a plan b? I dunno, the weird riddle thing is so Silver Age I'm willing to run with it, I guess. (ETA: I presume this was originally supposed to be something Nygma worked out, but I'm glad they gave the scene to Jim and Leslie.)

I also am finding Fish's story meandering and a sad waste of time and Jada Pinkett Smith. I get that she had to be away from the city, and that they didn't want to write her out for half the season, but was there nothing else they could have done with her? This is a cinematic universe that has Ra's Al Ghul in it. Nanda Parbat. That village full of tiny aliens the Atom hung with back in the '80s. Whatever! They could have sent her anyplace in the world and done something cooler than this. Maybe it will pay off in some amazing way, but at present it seems like just giving Fish something to do.

THAT SAID, the circus was a cool change of scenery that felt of a piece with the world of the show, Barbara wasn't even that bad when they matched her up with Cat and Ivy, and oh my God how great were Mark Margolis and the kid who played Jerome. I was very, very happy with the main story, and while I groaned hearing last week that a Joker plot was coming up, I didn't expect it to be anything I dug this much.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:02 PM on February 17, 2015

Isn't the Hellfire Club a Marvel thing?
posted by leotrotsky at 3:21 PM on February 17, 2015

I thought Barbara just unquestioningly hanging with the random waifs in her apartment was the best Barbara's ever been, tbh. I really liked the circus, though creepy circuses always make me miss The Cape and Carnivale, and this one so heavily borrowed from both of those that it was totally unavoidable. By *this* show's standards, the writers were even relatively pleasantly restrained about not beating viewers over the head with THESE PEOPLE WILL BE ROBIN'S PARENTS. And Cameron Monaghan totally killed it as the proto-Joker, which was a pleasant surprise - the only other thing I'd seen him in was Shameless, where he is a very different character, and so I had some doubts when he first showed up. All in all a good ep.
posted by mstokes650 at 3:23 PM on February 17, 2015 [2 favorites]

Isn't the Hellfire Club a Marvel thing?

The Hellfire Club was actually a real thing once upon a time, making it fair game for either comics universe (and Sleepy Hollow and anybody else), but yeah, traditionally it's been Marvel that's done a lot with it.
posted by mstokes650 at 3:25 PM on February 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yeah, Marvel and the Hellfire Club go way back. The reason I brought up Sleepy Hollow is because 1) they're making use of the HFC as their go-to conspiracy group a lot this season, and 2) it's the show that immediately follows Gotham on the same network every Monday night. You'd think that there would be some kind of coordination (at least on the network level) between two shows that are in this sort of close proximity to each other.

Kittens, I can't agree with you more about the Fish storyline. It's a lot of big moments and grand gestures that don't add up to much. I feel like there's huge chunks of connective tissue missing from the story, which the show just sort of haphazardly drops in when it remembers to. For instance, it seemed like the prisoners were able to hear the Penguin's lame nightclub music coming from above. So are they in the Gotham sewer system? Nobody there seems interested in talking about where they are, so we're left to wonder if that was intentional, or just the way it was edited.

Also, Fish states in dialogue that their captors are harvesting them for organs, which is a pretty big logical leap considering that the only evidence of this we've been shown was the woman missing her eyes. (FWIW, whole-eye transplants are medically impossible.) It's like the only way this show knows how to do exposition is by having the characters blurt it out in the most on-the-nose way imaginable.

And the less said about Fish's ridiculous "fight for your family" speech, immediately followed by the "family" fatally curb-stomping one of their own as a negotiation tactic; obviously Fish arranged this all with the group ahead of time, but what the hell was that conversation like? Surely not everybody there would have been on board with that idea. Say what you will about the psychological realism of comic books, but usually there's some relatable core motivation behind why characters act the way they do, and I'm just not picking it up here.

Since there's only six episodes left, I'm sticking it out through the end of S01, but it's going to have to be one hell of a finale to get me to come back next season.
posted by Strange Interlude at 4:31 PM on February 17, 2015

And the less said about Fish's ridiculous "fight for your family" speech, immediately followed by the "family" fatally curb-stomping one of their own as a negotiation tactic

I was envisioning a different way that scene might have gone: after Fish states that, if their demands aren't met, she'll give 572-A (not sure I have that number right) to them dead, and Schmitt calls her bluff...Fish hands her knife to 572-A, who slits his own throat.

I'm not quite sure whether that would have worked or not. On the one hand, it would fit Fish's "family" thing better, and other members of the "family" don't have to kill one of their own. On the other, I'm not sure I would have bought that Fish has managed to inspire people to suicidal levels of devotion in her short time.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:21 PM on February 17, 2015

I also am finding Fish's story meandering and a sad waste of time and Jada Pinkett Smith. I get that she had to be away from the city, and that they didn't want to write her out for half the season, but was there nothing else they could have done with her?

Yeah, I'm inclined to agree. Smith is talented, but at a certain point I want to see her story done with (at least temporarily). But she's also a major marquee star, so you can't really fire her or have her sit out. Therefore: more Fish storyline than we really need. The show scratches a pulp itch for me, but I have a hard time seeing how it gets past that problem.
posted by codacorolla at 7:23 PM on February 17, 2015

It seems like this show picks up with the show runner helms an episode. It's like he pops in saying, "No really guys, we can do anything here!" like he's schooling the other writers.

I loved seeing all the circus folks at the station, great bit of color that the show really needs. They should have teased Killer Croc being billed as Aligator Boy though.

Of course I didn't quite like the non-Joker kid, but once I realized that they were just giving the fans a fake-out, well, I thought that was great. I was even able to accept and forgive Jazzhandsgirl and Troubled Ivy this episode.

There'd better be a good payoff with the Fish Mooney stuff, because I just don't care. Penguin, he's been worth caring about, but Mooney is one crime boss (out of what I imagine are many) that's stuck around way too long.
posted by Catblack at 8:43 PM on February 17, 2015

I haven't watched this episode yet, but I think the greatest weakness of this show is that they cram way too many storylines into each episode. I'd be a lot happier with a solid A/B structure instead of trying to jam in plotlines C, D, E and F at the same time. Especially when many of those plotlines (e.g. Barbara's) are so weak.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 7:33 AM on February 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

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