This review contains spoilers.
1.16 The Blind Fortune Teller
Holy flying douchebags, Batman! This week we were treated to a deep delve into the lore of the caped crusader with new villains teased, iconic locations visited and a neat fan service nod to the son of John Grayson.
Also pleasing this week were some hints of upcoming plot advancements. Seeing as Gotham is a show that has an ongoing obsession with mysteries and unresolved questions, it was refreshing to take these baby steps towards the truth after a long stint of inactivity. ‘Who killed Bruce Wayne’s parents?’, ‘will we ever find out about the shady Arkham project?’ and ‘was that comedian in episode one really the Joker?’ are three unresolved questions which fans have been pondering for some time, and two out of three were approached in The Blind Fortune Teller.
Of course, the Wayne murder investigation has pretty much closed down at this point, and part of us wonders if it will be left that way until the endgame of either this season, or the show as a whole. Perhaps Joe Chill (or whichever new contender has been drafted in) will only be caught in the final season of Gotham, as the final nudge that turns Bruce into Batman. It worked for Batman Begins, after all.
However, we did get to see Bruce strut into a boardroom this week and ask some big questions of his grown-up employees. Why the heck are they involved in Arkham and chemical weapons, he asked, by essentially warning them to clean up their act unless they fancy a sacking sharpish after his coming of age.
We enjoyed seeing his attempts at cleaning up the company, and young Mr Mazouz is really growing into the role of Bruce, even if all he really achieved was effectively warning the board to cover their tracks and hide all evidence of their dodgy dealings before he comes back. Ah well. The inability to fix the world through snazzy meeting room discussions is an important lesson that Bruce needs to learn before becoming Batman, we suppose.
Of course, though, there’s only one thing we really want to discuss this week – the Joker. Or rather, the potential Joker that another impressive young actor brought to us this week. And what a performance it was from Cameron Monaghan, who seemed to channel his favourite traits from Joker actors’ past. His laugh was perfect, and beautifully Hamill-esque, while his sudden shift from grimness to gags reeked of Nicholson. The stoney-faced intimidation he showcased at points reminded us a little of Ledger, too.
Indeed, we could watch Monaghan’s interrogation scene time and again, particularly his delivery of lines like “ba-dum-tsh… Looks like the bitch got me with a zinger in the end – HAHAAHAHHA!” We’re certain this isn’t the last we’ve seen of the fella, and he’s certainly won our approval if he does eventually turn out to be this show’s version of the Joker. Deploying “y’know?” as a catchphrase after a particularly unrelatable anecdote could be a brilliant ongoing characteristic, if and when he does return.
It’s surprising then, in an episode that had such a brilliantly scripted scene as Jerome’s interrogation, that The Blind Fortune Teller fell so floor-scrapingly flat at other points. Particularly, Gotham’s use of female characters this week was arguably the most baffling material the show has aired so far, even including the Balloonman episode.
Fish was suddenly calling her inmates a ‘family’ despite killing one of them last week, threatening them all with a knife and literally standing on one of their aching bodies as she delivered the speech. In fact, none of Fish’s strand seemed to add up this week, and we can’t help but feel that surely those guards would have just knocked her out, or worse. They were the ones with guns, after all.
Barbara fared even worse, with her least-likely piece of decision-making yet. Who in their right mind would come home, find that they have squatters and then ask them for fashion advice about ten minutes later?
Doctor Thompkins’ sudden interest in the supernatural and post-creepy-interrogation lustiness didn’t seem to be in her character at all, either. We’d loved her characterisation up until this point, now it seems as though she’s been completely rewritten into a nagging nut-job for the sake of a bit more conflict in Jim’s life.
Thank God, then, that the central investigation this week was strong, with Rob Gorrie bringing decent stubbornness as Robin’s dad-to-be John Grayson, and Mark Margolis impressing as the eponymous fortune teller with a deadly secret. Harvey was again sidelined, but thankfully Ben McKenzie fared well despite being saddled with close proximity to the strange Leslie changes.
Seeing such classic Batman locations as the Gotham/Arkham bridge and Haly’s Circus was a highlight this week, too, and resultantly The Blind Fortune Teller felt like the first time the setting of Gotham City has actually been explored in the show since the iconic alleyway in the pilot. Visually, both sets held up well to their filmic, comic and gaming predecessors.
We’d like more of these great settings and well-handled villains, Gotham, but please do sort out your handling of female characters.
One final thought: So if Jerome does turn out to be the Joker, was his descent into supervillainy really brought about by his hatred for doing the dishes? It would certainly be a unique variation of the ‘wanna know how I got these scars?’ story…
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