Review: Gotham Episode 16 The Blind Fortune Teller”

Content Guide

Sex & Nudity – There is passionate kissing between two adults. Talk of sex between two adults.

Violence & Gore – Standard gun and fist fights common to the series. A man beats another man offscreen with blood splatter shown. A prisoner is beat to death by other prisoners.

Profanity – Moderate language for prime time TV

Drinking and drug use – Drugs are shown but not used, a character gets drunk in a video sequence

 

So screw him anyway, right - Barbara Kean
“So screw him anyway, right?” – Barbara Kean

Summary

“The Blind Fortune Teller” starts with a brief glimpse of the young Bruce Wayne sleeping with a book of notes he’d like to ask the board at Wayne Enterprises about. The scene cuts to Oswald Cobblepot’s club where his mother sings languidly to a very small crowd. Again the scene cuts quickly, this time to Fish Mooney in her bleak prison.

Barbara Kean returns to her penthouse in search of Jim Gordon, but only finds the delinquents Selina Kyle and Ivy Pepper. Kean seems less upset at the juvenile squatters and more concerned that her fiancé has left. In the most appreciable gesture Barbara Kean has shown yet, she sits with the two future villains as if they are longtime girlfriends, sharing the junk food Kyle and Pepper have littered around the fancy apartment and gossips.

At the circus, Detective Jim Gordon and Dr. Leslie Thompkins enjoy an aerial act by The Flying Graysons’ that is quickly interrupted by inebriated clowns. The drunken clowns decide to start a rather humorous fight with the current performers and Jim Gordon intervenes.

Back at Oswald Cobbleplot’s club, Gertrude Cobblepot finishes a less than stellar performance to little applause. When a patron of the club heckles the Penguin’s mother, he beats the man with a champagne bottle.

At the circus precinct, Jim Gordon questions numerous circus performers about the fight that interrupted the show. Dr. Leslie Thompkins bandages a young aerialist, John Grayson while he argues with another performer, Mary Lloyd. Thompkins sees past the family feud the two young performers have and sees their feelings for each other. Mary Lloyd mentions that all of the recent fighting is because of another performer, Lila. Dr. Thompkins shares what she has learned about Lila, a snake dancer in the circus, to Jim Gordon. Gordon tries to send the Doctor off so he can investigate further but she insists on staying. The Emcee of the circus takes Gordon and Thompkins to Lila’s trailer where her son, Jerome, is distraught about his mother’s absence. Jerome points out that one of Lila’s favorite snakes is upset as well; the snake knows something is wrong. Gordon asks Jerome to free the snake, and the he, the doctor, the emcee and the snake dancer’s son follow it. The snake leads them all to the deceased Lila’s corpse, where Jerome breaks down in sobs and Gordon points out to the emcee that he knew about her demise.

No kidding. I mean you're kidding, right This isn't an elaborate prank or... - Harvey Bullock
“No kidding. I mean you’re kidding, right? This isn’t an elaborate prank or…?” – Harvey Bullock

At the prison Fish Mooney gives a monologue trying to convince the other prisoners to follow her lead in trying to escape. Mooney promises that some of the prisoners will die in the process, but that she will do all she can to get as many prisoners out as possible. The charismatic former Mafia Caporegime is undeterred by her current situation and easily garners the loyalty of the prison population.

Back at the circus, the emcee shows Jim Gordon where they discovered the body of Lila Valeska. He promises Detective Gordon that he planned to find the guilty party if they were in the circus and bring them to justice. Gordon arrests the emcee and has all of the circus brought to GCPD for questioning. Harvey Bullock arrives for work early the next morning to find the GCPD precinct full of circus performers and Jim Gordon already questioning people. Jerome explains how much he loved his mother, despite her promiscuous sex life. The quiet snake dancer’s son, still very upset at loosing his mother, tries to help the detective as much as he can. While interviewing the Grayson and Llyod—men that slept with Lila— Gordon and Bullock find little help. Mary Lloyd and John Grayson fight while another GCPD detective tries to take their statement, expressing the family feud and their silliness in having feelings for each other before.

At the prison, Fish hears the guards coming for an inmate and prepares her loyal prisoner family. When the guards demand the prisoner, Fish attempts to bargain with the guard. The guard refuses and Fish points out that the guard needs the prisoner alive, and that she will trade the guards that inmate for food, water and blankets. When the guard continues to refuse, threatening to beat her, Fish has her prisoner followers surround the inmate the guards asked for and beat him to death. While the guards are in shock over the inmates banding together, Fish Mooney repeats her request to the head guard. He demands that Fish come with him but the leader of prisoners hides behind the entire population, telling the guards that the boss can come down to her. When the lead guard explains that the boss doesn’t come down, Fish says she will only leave to visit the boss if the lead guard stays with the inmates. The guards leave in confusion and the inmates rejoice. Fish quietly approaches the dead inmate and grieves his death.

I'm the new shot caller here. My name is Fish Mooney - Fish Mooney
“I’m the new shot caller here. My name is Fish Mooney” – Fish Mooney

At the GCPD precinct, Detective Jim Gordon explains what has happened so far to Captain Sarah Essen. Forensics technician Edward Nygma enters the Captain’s office and reveals to Essen, Gordon, and Bullock that Lila Valeska was murdered by a large knife or hatchet. The time of the death barely gives the Grayson or Lloyd suspects enough time to murder Valeska so Essen asks the detectives to keep searching for the killer. Gordon dismisses the rest of the circus but keeps the to main suspects. Leslie Thompkins asks Gordon to guess who he thinks the guilty party is and Gordon skirts answering by saying he doesn’t guess. The two are visited by a blind fortune teller, lead around by a boy. The Fortune Teller, Cicero, gives them both a cryptic message from the late Lila Valeska, from beyond the grave. The message, “the servant of the devil lies in the garden of the iron sisters,”  gives neither Gordon or Thompkins much to go on. Gordon’s skepticism discourages the Fortune Teller who leaves with the young boy’s aid. Thompkins chastises Gordon for being so skeptical, asking if anyone knows how fortune telling works..

At Wayne manor, Bruce Wayne prepares the notes for his meeting with the board at Wayne Enterprises, despite Alfred Pennyworth’s hesitation. Oswald Cobblepot is shown at his club, playing the piano for another small crowd. Barbars Kean models an outfit for her two young friends, the three talk about Kean’s desire to win Jim Gordon back.

Detective Jim Gordon and Dr. Leslie Thompkins enjoy a meal at her apartment. Leslie seems as impressed that her cooking is edible, and suddenly realizes  what Cicero’s cryptic message meant and set off for the Doctor. Thompkins explains that Arkham bridge has two towers called Mary and Betty—the iron sisters—and the park below the bridge could be the garden below the iron sisters. Jim is still skeptical but the Doctor is adamant that some things science can’t explain. Jim Gordon relents, and the two head to the park. At the park, they discover a hatchet with the acronym “THFC” carved in it. Gordon recognizes the acronym as an old satanist cult, The Hellfire Club. While Thompkins wonders if the cult might be back, Gordon is positive they are not. The detective calls GCPD and asks to have two additional suspects picked up.

Now you wanna go now - Jim Gordon

“Now? you wanna go now?” – Jim Gordon

At the GCPD, Gordon and Thompkins argue over the Doctor’s over-enthusiasm in the case. Jim again relents and lets Thompkins stay for the interviews. The first interviewee, Cicero the Blind Fortune Teller, restates that he received a message from Lila from the other side. Gordon is sure that there was no message and that Cicero was trying to throw the GCPD off of the trail of the real killer. Gordon has Jerome Valeska brought in and accuses Jerome of murdering his mother. At first Jerome is offended by the accusation but when Gordon explains that Cicero helped Jerome because he is Jerome’s father. and the Blind Fortune Teller confesses. Jerome’s personality instantly transforms from melancholy to a sick and twisted laughing sociopath. Valeska’s quickly reverts back from laughter as he explains why he killed his mother is unsettling to Gordon, Thompkins, and Cicero. After the interview, Gordon checks up on Doctor Thompkins. Leslie invites Gordon back to her apartment. The two share a passionate kiss and are oblivious to Barbara Kean’s arrival and quick departure after she witnesses the kiss.

At Oswald’s, the club formerly known as fish Mooney’s, Cobblepot is visited by Victor Zsasz, sent by Don Carmine Falcone. As Zsasz explains that Don Falcone is unhappy with the Penguin’s performance, Oswald is clearly afraid. Victor whistles and when the Pengiun turns around to see Don Gilzean, Fish Mooney’s right hand man, Cobblpot falls over in terror. Victor Zsasz laughs diabolically, enjoying the Penguin’s fear but assures him that Gilzean is harmless. Don Carmine Falcone didn’t want Butch wasted, with his knowledge of clubs and so Victor Zsasz brainwashed the former right hand man for Fish Mooney. Now Butch is a marionette awaiting orders. When the Penguin tells him to dance, Gilzean obliges, dancing like a monkey

Alfred Pennyworth prepares Bruce Wayne for his meeting with the board members of Wayne Enterprises. There, Bruce questions the business affairs of Wayne Enterprises. Bruce Wayne accuses high level individuals inside Wayne Enterprises have colluded with criminals. The young Wayne promises that he will look into the company further, having even more info on the board.

My youth is not relevant, except that if i were a man I would be chairing this board. And I would be sure that Wayne enterprises was run honestly.

“My youth is not relevant, except that if I were a man I would be chairing this board. And I would be sure that Wayne enterprises was run honestly.” – Bruce Wayne

John Grayson and Mary Lloyd return to the GCPD precinct to thank Gordon for ending the feud between their families. Mary Lloyd shows off her engagement ring, revealing that John Grayson proposed. Grayson promises to name their first son Gordon, but Mary protests in a friendly manner. After the two leave, Harvey Bullock accuses Jim Gordon of having slept with Doctor Leslie Thompkins.

At the prison the guards return and offer to leave the lead guard with the inmates so that Fish Mooney can visit the boss. Fish demands the guard’s name and leads him to the inmates before leaving the prison ward the gate closes as “The Blind Fortune Teller” ends.

 

cameron-monaghan-as-joker

“Ah it’s very funny!…ba dum tss”Jerome Valeska (The Joker)

Review

The Joker is the most infamous Batman villain of all time, and avid fans were genuinely concerned that whoever was tasked to depict the arch nemesis would fail to live up to the greats. Cesar Romero, Jack Nicholson, and Heath Ledger have all brought a wonderful perspective of the Joker to live action, and had Bruno Heller et. al. used the wrong actor, the live action winning streak could have been broken. Fortunately, Cameron Monaghan is absolutely brilliant in “The Blind Fortune Teller.” Personally, I wasn’t all that impressed with the writing in Jerome’s deceased mother and blind father. I prefer the Joker to be a tour de force of pure chaos that has no discernible direction. I really wasn’t all that exited to see that in the Gotham story line, Jerome Valeska and Dick Grayson will come from the same place, Haly’s Circus. Honestly, I’ve never been a fan of the Boy Wonder at all. The only Robin story l really appreciated was the Carrie Kelley version. That said, Cameron Monaghan is perfection in depicting the Clown Prince of Crime, I hope to see more of Monaghan in the future!

Babs and the girls

Even though I am not a fan of Dick Grayson, or Robin in general, I know many Batman fans are. There was no way not to give the Boy Wonder a nod, and showing his parents unite at the end of a family feud in Haly’s Circus was the best way to give that nod. I’ve seen and heard people complain about the ages of some of the future villains and the idea of showing a young Dick Grayson when Bruce Wayne is still so young, is unthinkable. Showing his parents in the origin of their relationship was a great way to give the sidekick a nod without showing him. John Grayson promising to name his son Gordon, and Mary protesting, was a nice touch too!

Fish Mooney redeemed herself in “The Blind Fortune Teller,” showing just how capable of a Mafia Capo she once was by coalescing the inmates of the unknown prison she is in (my guess is the Dollmaker and Fish Mooney will meet in the next episode). Jada Pinkett Smith’s charisma really shines in this episode, justifying Fish Mooney’s former position underneath Don Carmine Falcone. Not only is Fish Mooney charismatic, but her actions in “The Blind Fortune Teller” are completely opposite of how careless she has been in the past. Perhaps she has learned from former mistakes? I hope so, as I’ve said I’d like to see her stick around and become a Batman staple.

Another woman has been redeemed in the few quick scenes not focusing on Jerome Valeska and Fish Mooney, I really enjoyed Barbara Kean in “The Blind Fortune Teller.” While many have written the character off as the next Skyler White (Walter White’s wife in Breaking Bad) or Lori Grimes (Rick Grimes’ wife in The Walking Dead), my only disappointment in Jim Gordon’s fiancé was how poorly she had been written up to this point. When Barbara Kean was in an episode it seemed as though the writers wanted the audience to hate her and she’s never had any depth. Seeing her shrug off losing James Gordon and cozy up to Selina Kyle and Ivy Pepper was appreciable. If Barbara Kean is going to stay on Gotham, I hope the writers give Erin Richards more to work with, especially if Gordon eventually returns to Kean as I suspect he will and becomes nothing more than a friend of Doctor Leslie Thompkins.

Overall “The Blind Fortune Teller” is a successful episode. It isn’t perfect, but it is entertaining. Introducing the Joker is surely a tall task, and the creators of Gotham stepped up to the challenge. Here’s to more of the Joker, and the rest of Gotham’s worst in the future!

The Bottom Line

 

9.1

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Cody Hahn

Lover of Jesus. Husband. Daddy. Geek.

2 Comments

  1. silasgreen on February 23, 2015 at 10:24 am

    Loved Cameron Monaghan. I never cared to see a Joker origin story, and I still feel like the showrunners are not committed to him actually being the future Clown Prince of Crime, but he was fantastic in his scenes. I just wish the actual scenes were written a bit better in this case. I think too many things were going on in the episode to fully give Jerome’s story the time it deserved. Barbara’s scenes were cute. TV shows need to stop writing their romantic female leads as nothing but foils to what is going on in their male leads lives. (I’m looking at you, The Flash!) It’s no accident that Barbara’s first nearly-likeable scene does not have Gordon in it. If they want us to like her, they need to give her stuff to do and motivations of her own, not just have her around to give Gordon grief. Ah well, I liked it. Jerome won me over this week. 🙂 Great review, as always.

    • Cody Hahn on February 23, 2015 at 9:04 pm

      Yea Silas, I did not expect to be quoting Anita Sarkeesian so much, but the only reason Barbara has existed up until this episode was for Jim and it was annoying.

      Part of me wants more Jerome because Cameron Monaghan nailed it and part wants them not to over use the character, only time will tell.

      Thanks for the thoughts!

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