I would be happy to be in a place where I can write freely about episodes of television, keeping clear of hype, buzz, and rumors surrounding them. That is not where I am, especially when it comes to shows with the kind of mainstream appeal that Gotham has. As a result, “The Blind Fortune Teller” not only suffers from being a pretty mediocre episode, but one that seems to understand that notion enough to have to spoil what could have been a fun twist. Last week I got into the way this show is pretty hell-bent on explaining so many origin stories of Batman’s rogue’s gallery. This week we get a potential reveal of the Joker. I will get to my two biggest issues with that later, but what I really need is for this show to dial down its focus on expansion and focus more on what they already have, as things are currently pretty messy.
There are about 75 different plot lines going on this week, so let me just list them all:
Jim needs to solve a murder at a circus. Jim and Leslie work on gender politics. Oswald is having a tough time with his new managerial position. Lil’ Bruce plans to take on the board at Wayne Enterprises. Fish deals with her new role as leader of the underground prison of organ donors. We learn about an old family feud between circus folk. And Barbara returns for no good reason.
Okay, it may not be 75, but that is a lot going on in an episode that also introduces The Flying Graysons and a potential Joker candidate. Fortunately, we did not have to deal with Falcone or Maroni in addition to all that went on this week, but Breaking Bad’s Tio Salamanca (Mark Margolis) does show up as the titular blind fortune teller, who pulls the old Eli Wallach trick of overacting to a point where whistling is the best way to end a scene.
Some of these plotlines matter for just this week, some are setup for upcoming episodes, and some are a mixture of one of these with being bizarre for the sake of a level of atmosphere that Gotham is striving so hard for. All of the stuff with Jim this week is a little bizarre. Yes, it could be fun to say, “Hey, what if Jim went on a date to the circus, only for a fight to break out.” The murder that arises from this is not unexpected, but the show does not have enough to go on, if we need snakes, fortune tellers, and family feuds to straddle the line, when it comes to the tone of the series. It is disappointing, given the serious nature of the crime that took place and even more so, when you consider that the victim involved is really just a ploy to get to a closeout scene of maniacal laughter. A villain does not have to be reasonable, but Gotham sure needs to have us care about the crimes that Jim is trying so hard to solve or even prevent.
Getting to this Joker business, though…while it has not been made completely clear that this Jerome kid will become the Clown Prince of Gotham, it does no favors by heavily hinting at it either. Why does Gotham refuse to want to take time? Does it have to do with ratings? I am not sure, especially with a second season already confirmed, but I am not big on this rush to check things off of an unnecessary list. Regardless, if the Joker has been revealed to us, I am both not a fan of getting an origin story for him and not a fan of having it stem from the trite idea of mommy issues being the reason he went bad. Cameron Monaghan does decent work in creating his (possible) own form of the character, but I don’t need it right now and it is really kind of bizarre seeing it come out when it does.
Speaking of bizarre, everything in this underground prison is bonkers. I am glad, to a point, that we didn’t get a whole lot of time devoted to explaining what this place is, as we have just been thrown into understanding that it is a place where organs are harvested, but there is almost no logic that I can really justify in regards to this scenario that does not extend to “cinematic effect”. The idea that Fish could organize all these people and get to a point where savagely beating one of their own is a solution (did she not just get a weapon last week to use?) is laughable. Becoming a huge problem for a greater power that does not just result in an immediate execution and instead negotiations is laughable. Fish using a person as a foot stand, while communicating her ‘powerful’ message is beyond laughable. Yes, this is a show based on comic books and Jada Pinkett Smith is surely selling the over-the-topness of it all, but it is really just laughable.
Fittingly enough, everything is stacked on the shoulders of Batman to save the day. Lil’ Bruce is once again given the most promising storyline. This week, after his weeks of research, Bruce goes to a board meeting to bring up the various issues, discrepancies, and possible corruption to the various board members. It does not help that all of the board members have been directed to act completely guilty of everything, but at least David Mazouz brings the right level of commitment to the scene. I was mostly intrigued by the end of this plotline, as far as which part of this episode had me wanting more in a good way.
Unfortunately, Penguin was merely put on hold this week. Sure, we get to see some fun with Robin Lord Taylor, as he is always fun on this show, but not much comes his way this week. The episode opens with someone being predictably beaten (or killed), after badmouthing his mother. We have a brief check-in later, just to acknowledge he can play the piano. Then the episode brings in a new twist, where Victor Zsasz arrives to inform Penguin that the club has suffered and help is needed. This help comes in the form of RoboButch, newly designed to be free of Fish loyalty and all about helping Penguin. We’ll see where this goes.
I clearly was not big on this episode. There was too much going on, but not enough for me to take it seriously. This episode may feature a circus, but actually feeling like one, in terms of content, was not the best approach, as it stepped on its own toes constantly, in an effort to make each storyline resonate. Ideally, things get back on track, as this show heads into its last batch of episodes (6 left for the season), but it needs more than just flashy teasing to get me excited about the outcome.
From Det. Jim Gordon’s Police Files:
- Barbara came back this episode, worse than when she left, only to take advice from children about how to deal with the man she left.
- Speaking of weird female character decisions, we get a runner about Jim and Leslie dealing with what the best place for a woman is, while the man does his job. Sometimes I do wish this show was set decidedly in a specific time period, in an effort to have some sort of consistency, even if it sends out a certain outdated level of logic. A self-aware sense of humor in that regard could be beneficial, just look at Agent Carter.
- In a perfect world, Jimmy & The Bulls would bring on that snake as a part of their crime-solving team.
- Jim Gordon does not enjoy folk dancing.
- RoboButch can dance!
- There is a commercial break between Zsasz arriving and laughing and then laughing and explaining things to Penguin. I hope he spent the whole time laughing.
- Next week we get the Red Hood, another possible Joker story. Joy…
- This week’s Classic Gordon Clip