Sunday, February 22, 2015

Gotham Recap: The Blind Fortune Teller

It’s time for another Gotham recap! This week’s episode introduces a very important and controversial character. Let’s delve in! Spoilers ahead. And, as always, we would like to remind readers that Gotham contains adult content and viewer discretion is advised. Trigger warning for blood, relationship abuse, and sexism.

Bruce is planning a meeting with the board at Wayne Enterprises to ask questions about things that have him suspicious. Alfred doesn’t think this is at all a good idea and thinks it could get them both killed, but Bruce is determined. During the meeting, he tells the board he’s suspicious about both WellZyn and underworld involvement in the company. The board members assure him in condescending tones that there’s nothing to worry about, but they say they’ll look into it. They also remind him that, among all these serious accusations, he has not offered any proof. Bruce says he hasn’t told them everything he knows. When they press him on this, he refuses to tell them anymore, but reveals he intends to raise questions at the next shareholders meeting with a view of possible legal action. He tells them that, if he was old enough, he would be ensuring the company was run honestly. As he leaves, the board members don‘t look at all pleased.

Meanwhile, it looks like however clever and creative Oswald is in manipulating others to obtain power, that cleverness and creativity apparently does not extend to entertaining guests or running a club. He’s turned Fish’s old club into quite a gloomy, unpopular place. Oswald doesn’t seem to notice this problem at first; he continues to let his mother give performances, as he looks proudly on, oblivious to the dwindling number of guests.


And attendance only gets more scarce after he murders a man for booing his mother’s singing.


Soon Victor Zsasz pays a visit to the club, and Oswald is horrified to see he has brought Butch along with him. Zsasz seems to enjoy Oswald’s fear, but assures him it isn’t necessary. Since business at the club is doing so badly, Falcone ordered that Butch be brought in to help. After all, Butch has years of experience working a club after being in Fish Mooney’s service. Oswald is doubtful about this plan, as he knows Butch is loyal to Fish. But after a week of being tortured by Zsasz, Butch seems mechanically obedient, almost as if he’s in some kind of trance. He obeys every order Oswald gives him, and Victor Zsasz assures him there will be no problems.

Jim and Lee’s date at the circus becomes a police investigation when the performance suddenly erupts into an on-stage brawl. Jim intervenes and tries to get to the bottom of what started it all, but doesn’t get much cooperation. Lee, on the other hand, gets an earful of information as she bandages up two of the performers. The performers are John Grayson and Mary Lloyd (the future parents of Batman’s sidekick Robin), who were once in love, but have now rejoined the feud that‘s gone on between their families for about a century. They tell Lee the brawl was started when Mary’s relative Owen punched John’s relative Alphonse, and the reason for the fight was that both men are in love with the circus’s snakedancer, Lila. Lee meets back up with Jim, who apologizes for their date being ruined. She tells him not to worry about it because she finds the whole thing exciting. She also fills him in on what the two performers told her. Jim is impressed by her ability to get information faster than him, and they go to question Lila the snakedancer.

At her trailer, they find Lila’s son Jerome.


But Lila herself is nowhere to be found. The circus ringleader tells Jim that Lila is known to be something of a party girl and often disappears to go entertain men. Jerome seems uncomfortable with them discussing his mother’s sex life; and also points out it’s not a good explanation for her disappearance anyway, as she has left behind her hat and handbag — things she never leaves without. Lila’s snake Sheba seems agitated; and Jim orders it be let loose, hoping the snake will lead them to Lila’s whereabouts.


It leads them to a cart where, under a tarp, Lila’s dead body has been placed. As Jerome cries over his dead mother, the ringleader reveals he was the one who placed the body there. He shows Jim where he originally found the body, outside the circus. The reason he didn’t report it, he says, is because the circus troop prefers to settle matters like this among themselves, rather than involve the police.

Despite the ringleader’s wishes, Jim declares an official GCPD murder investigation. At the station, Eddie goes to report his findings to Essen, and becomes annoyed when Lee talks over him and reports the findings herself instead. She reveals that Lila was murdered using a hatchet.

All the circus performers are brought in for questioning. Each family continuously accuses the other for the murder, while Owen Lloyd and Alphonse Grayson continue to fight over which of them Lila would have picked. Jim locks Owen and Alphonse in a cell together, and encourages the other performers to put this feud aside once and for all.

A distraught Jerome is brought to the station, and Jim tries to get information out of him about his mother. He talks awhile about how perfect a mother she was, and how he loves and misses her. Jim asks if he has any other family members, and he says the circus is the only family he’s got. He asks if Lila had any enemies, and he says no. Jerome says that, while she didn’t have any official boyfriends either, she had a very long list of lovers. These included Alphonse Grayson and Owen Lloyd, but he is unable to name any others. Jim asks Jerome how he felt about his mother sleeping with so many men, and he says he was fine with it. He says his mother’s sex life was, after all, what brought him into the world in the first place.


Later, a blind man comes to the station with his child aid, and seems to know who Jim and Lee are without asking. His name is Paul Cicero, and he is a psychic at the circus, as well as an old friend of Lila's. He claims to have received a message from her from beyond the grave, which says, “The servant of the devil lies in the garden of the iron sisters.” Jim dismisses him as a publicity ploy, and Lee gets angry at Jim for being too closed-minded. That night, when Jim and Lee are in the middle of a dinner date, Lee believes she has figured out the message. She thinks “the garden of the iron sisters” must refer to the park under Arkham Bridge. After convincing the reluctant Jim to take her to the park immediately, they find an axe on the ground with initials carved into it. The initials are that of the Hellfire Club, a satanic cult.

Despite the message leading them to the murder weapon, Jim is still skeptical about Cicero being a genuine psychic. Soon, both Jim and Lee are angry at each other. Jim is mad at her for interrupting their date, and getting involved in police work which, Jim says, isn’t work for a lady. Lee is mad at him for being closed-minded about psychics, and for his hypocritical attitude toward women.


Both admit they have things about themselves they need to work on, and apologize to each other. Suddenly, Jim gets a theory about the case involving Cicero and Jerome. He orders that they be brought in to the station; and to make things up to Lee, he lets her sit in on the questioning.

Jim tells Cicero he doesn’t buy the psychic story. And the only other way Cicero could have known the murder weapon was in the garden was if he put it there himself, or had someone else place it there. Jim believes that Cicero is trying to frame the Hellfire Club for Lila’s murder in order to protect the real killer. The real killer, Jim suspects, is Lila’s own son Jerome, who he also believes to secretly be Cicero’s son.

Jerome denies all of this. He says that of course he would never kill his own mother. He denies that Cicero could be his father as well, as his father was a man named Sven Carlson, a sea captain who died at sea. When asked, however, Jerome is unable to provide the name of the ship his father died in, claiming his mother never told him. When Jim suggests a blood test to settle the matter, Cicero comes clean, admitting he is Jerome’s father. This revelation seems to take Jerome by surprise. It turns out Lila was too ashamed of Cicero to admit he was the real father, and instead invented stories about a sea captain to tell Jerome instead, so that the boy could feel more proud of his father. As Cicero explains this, Jerome refuses to believe any of it. Cicero points out that, after what Jerome did — murdering his own mother in cold blood  — he wouldn’t have helped him unless he was his father.


At that moment, Jerome snaps. He starts laughing, saying this is a very funny joke his mother has pulled on him, and that she finally got him in the end. Jim asks why he killed Lila, and Jerome says it was because he felt she had no right to boss him around when she lived such a promiscuous lifestyle. He begins angrily shouting slurs against his mother and laughing maniacally.


Jim and Lee are both disturbed after witnessing Jerome’s unsettling outburst. However, Lee says she also found it thrilling, likening it to looking down a deep, dark tunnel. Jim is impressed by her ability to witness such things without being troubled by them, and tells her she’s a very unusual woman.


Jim and Lee spend their first night together (which Harvey, to Jim’s chagrin, guesses the next day).

The next morning, John Grayson and Mary Lloyd visit the station. They reveal that they’ve gotten engaged, and thank Jim for encouraging them to put the feud aside. John says, when they have a son, they’ll name him after Jim; but Mary isn’t too sure about that decision.


Barbara finally goes home to her apartment, only to catch Cat and Ivy there. She asks where Jim is, and Cat says he dropped off his copy of the apartment keys the week before. Barbara realizes this means she and Jim are officially over. She doesn’t seem to mind that Cat and Ivy are there, and tries to cheer herself up by hanging out with them. Barbara begins formulating a plan to get Jim back. She tries to figure out what to wear when she goes to see him, getting advice from the two girls. Cat says to dress in a way that makes her look like she’s meeting some other guy. Once she’s chosen an outfit, she heads to the station, only to walk in on Jim and Lee kissing. She leaves angrily.


Fish and the other prisoners taken by the pirates watch as, one by one, they are taken out of the prison and then brought back with missing body parts. Apparently, whoever is holding them captive is using them for spare parts. Fish, meanwhile, has succeeded in wrapping all the prisoners around her finger. She has become a sort of spiritual leader among them, giving encouraging speeches and leading meditations, until all the prisoners have developed a religious loyalty to her.

One of the men holding them captive, Thomas Schmidt, comes down and orders a prisoner to come forward to be used for parts. Fish interferes. Since he needs them alive in order to use them for parts, Fish threatens to kill the prisoner unless Schmidt give in to her demands.  She then names off a list of supplies needed for the prisoners’ comfort and survival.


Thomas Schmidt refuses; and the prisoner gives himself up as a martyr, being voluntarily beaten to death by the other prisoners under Fish’s command. At this, Schmidt says Fish will need to be taken up to see the manager. The other prisoners come to Fish’s protection as she refuses to go with him. Fish says the only way she’ll go up to see the manager is if Schmidt stays behind and leaves himself to the mercy of her friends. Concerned, Schmidt goes back up to discuss things with the manager. Once the prisoners are left to themselves, Fish turns to the dead body and makes a great show of honoring him.

When Thomas Schmidt returns, he reveals that the manager is forcing him to accept Fish’s offer. He stays behind with the threatening-looking prisoners, and Fish leaves the prison to meet with the mysterious manager.


Final Thoughts: 

This episode was another mixed bag for me. On one hand, the episode had many problems. The fact that Jim confronted Cicero and Jerome with absolutely no proof of their guilt and still got confessions out of both of them, and the fact that Fish was able to manipulate Schmidt so well despite the fact that he and his men had rifles while she and the prisoners only had a knife and their fists, all served to only make the story more unrealistic. Some of the acting seemed off to me as well, especially Mary Lloyd and some of the other circus performers. On the other hand, the episode had some great character and relationship development between Jim and Lee. It dealt with the issue of misogyny well, using multiple characters, both villains and heroes. And it also introduced a character I was particularly impressed by — Jerome, the boy rumored to one day become the Joker.

The actor who plays Jerome, Cameron Monaghan, is amazing. The quick switches between anger and laughter, both shot through with insanity, was played to perfection.


I have to stress, even more than I did last week, that I really want this character to be the Joker. Even if they do introduce more possible Jokers and red herrings, Jerome needs to be the genuine article in the end. There’s just no one better for the role. Despite his age and short amount of screen time, I already like his performance as much as I did Heath Ledger’s in The Dark Knight. It’s just brilliant, and I really hope we get to see him on the show again soon. What’s more, I really hope Season Two is devoted to his character, just as this season was devoted to Penguin’s.

The showrunners have said in a recent interview that this was definitely the episode that introduces the Joker’s storyline, though they refused to confirm if Jerome was really the Joker. This has caused some fans to question if he really will become the infamous villain, and wonder if perhaps this episode introduced the Joker in a different way. Some people have wondered if Cicero’s child aid might turn out to be the Joker, or even Butch now that Zsasz’s torture has allegedly made him a new man. Only time will tell, but I really hope Jerome turns out to be the genuine article in the end. Cameron Monaghan’s talent is just to good to waste on a misdirection.

Not everyone feels the way I do. In fact, some viewers say they would rather not have Jerome be the Joker, as we know too much about Jerome already. The Joker, after all, is meant to be a villain shrouded in mystery. But I would argue that the mystery is still there. Although we meet Jerome, the father he didn't know he had, and get a glimpse of his murdered mother, we still know very little about him. He already has a great deal of insanity hidden inside him, and we don’t see what caused him to originally go off the deep end. There are plenty of questions left to explore or leave to the imagination. Jerome has all the makings for a mysterious and interesting origin story. It might be a different origin story than the one presented in the famous comic, The Killing Joke. But the Joker has had many different origin stories throughout the years. This gives the showrunners a good range of freedom when it comes to portraying a young Joker, and I think Jerome’s story makes for a fascinating direction.

Some viewers have also questioned the showrunners’ choice in giving Jerome’s character such a misogynistic angle — having him be so disgusted by his mother’s sexuality that he murders her. But actually, this is not too different from how the Joker has been portrayed in other media. Take, for example, Batman: The Animated Series, in which the character Harley Quinn was introduced to the Batman canon.

Harley becomes the Joker’s “girlfriend” of sorts, though he is mainly interested in using and abusing her. Several times, Harley Quinn attempts to earn the Joker’s attention and affection by appearing sexually provocative around him. But the Joker’s reaction to this is typically either apathy or disgust. He beats her often, and sometimes even attempts to kill her. He does not seem to hold a very favorable view of female sexuality. And since the showrunners have promised to introduce Harley Quinn in a later season of Gotham, the feelings about his mother that Jerome expresses in this episode provides a great context for that eventual relationship.

(On a side note, I also have to point out that — since his name is Jerome — if he meets Harley earlier on the show than he does in the comics, he won’t have to adopt the Joker persona for her to start calling him “Mistah Jay” as she is so well-known for doing.)

Barbara was a complete mess in this episode, even more so than usual. What was the point of dressing up like she’s going out to meet another man if she then plans to head straight to the GCPD? There’s no way to casually run into your ex-boyfriend if you do so by going to the locker room at his workplace. Not to mention the fact that getting fashion advice from street urchins probably isn’t the smartest idea either.


Nothing about Barbara makes any sense at all, and it’s kind of hilarious. It seems almost as if the writers have completely given up on her  — like they came to terms with the fact that most viewers hate her, and decided to just embrace it rather than fix it. It’s gotten to the point that, instead of dreading her presence on the show, I actually enjoy hating on her every week.

I loved the scene where Oswald kills a guest for insulting his mom. That’s exactly the sort of scene we needed. In the last episode we had with her, we saw Gertrud show her love toward her son. But Oswald seemed nothing but annoyed by her. We needed to see some sign of devotion on his side this time. And this was a perfect way of showing that, while still keeping a disturbing edge.


Also, surprisingly, his mother is still alive at this point in the show! I didn’t think the showrunners would keep her around this long, but I’m certainly glad they have. Now I’m thinking that, if she is going to be killed off, it will probably be in the season finale. Most likely to fuel some change in Oswald’s character that will make audiences want to tune in next season. Or perhaps she won’t be killed off at all. Is it too much to hope that we’ll get to see her in Season Two?

I also love the fact that Oswald and Victor Zsasz hate each other so much. Though, I do wonder where that animosity comes from. Is it simply because they both want to become Falcone’s top man?

I’m also curious about Butch. I can’t help but believe he must be faking, no matter what torture he went through from Zsasz. This must be some ploy to infiltrate Oswald’s club and win it back for Fish. Unless the theories are right about him somehow being the Joker, I have a hard time swallowing the idea that Butch is actually brainwashed. And from the look of the preview, it appears Oswald is still suspicious as well, and wants to test and question him.

What’s to Come: 

Not much news has been released since last week about the future of the show. We know that there are six episodes left of this season, including the finale. We know that the next episode will feature the Red Hood gang, and a later episode will feature a villain known as the Ogre.

Some photos have been released of an upcoming episode where Oswald is being held at gunpoint by a woman in what appears to be a small country home, and Jim is by his side for some reason.

As mentioned before, we will meet an old friend of Alfred’s, watch Barbara and Cat become friends, and possibly witness a meeting between Oswald and Bruce.

Harvey Dent will be returning to the show soon. And, as previews have shown, members of the board at Wayne Enterprises will be going after Bruce. It appears some harm will befall Alfred because of this (I wonder if this also has something to do with Alfred’s reunion with his old friend?)

And lastly, Fish will come face to face with the manager, Dr. Dulmacher. Also known as The Dollmaker.


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