Season One, Episode Sixteen – “The Blind Fortune Teller”

Gotham-season-1-episode-16-1By Jarrod Jones. Well. If Fox’s aim was to trivialize every aching minutiae of the Batman’s world, let “The Blind Fortune Teller” be the proof. Bruce Wayne’s frontal assault on Wayne Enterprises – one of the show’s only plot threads that grew naturally and subtly – is tucked away in lieu of Gordon’s team-up with Doc Thompkins to solve a circus murder (in-between kisses). Fish rips off Alien 3. Penguin plays the piano. Maybe the Joker showed up. Better Call Saul came on shortly afterwards.

WHAT WORKED: To be honest, Cameron Monaghan’s Joker impression wasn’t terrible. For an episode that made me hate Dick Grayson’s family (why did Mary have to use the word “douchebag”? Huh? Do any of you have an answer for that?), Monaghan’s third act performance art made the show that much more watchable. (Keep in mind, this only lasted for about two consecutive minutes.)

WHAT DIDN’T: Watching li’l bitty Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) suffer condescension by the Wayne Enterprises board should have made for riveting television – especially since Bruce has been digging up compromising dirt on the company since the show’s pilot episode. But this potentially entertaining subplot was shoved to the very end of the episode, given three short minutes before Fox dropped yet another spoiler-ific teaser for next week’s episode. What a waste of everybody’s time.

Barbara Kean (Erin Richards) returns to Gotham as a drunken, skeezy mess only to find Selina Kyle (Camren Bicondova) and Ivy (Clare Foley) shacking up in her ritzy-ass penthouse. So the natural thing to do when your life is a shambles is to take relationship advice (mostly offscreen) from two homeless street urchins. Every decision that Barbara has made in this show is the wrong one, and her consistently poor judgment – to say nothing of her histrionic, downright shrill behavior – does nothing to endear her to anyone. (And wasn’t she with her parents last we saw her? Shouldn’t the show use that outlet to explore Barbara as a person? Naw, slap her in a frivolous dress and have her storm back into Jim’s life.)

BEST LINE: You slept somewhere without razors, and you smell like lady soap.” – Det. Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) pops in at the last minute to fart out the best zinger of the night. Why the show insists on focusing on Ben McKenzie’s perpetually flummoxed Gordon is beyond me. Bullock has enough charisma to ride this show into five seasons at least.

BEST MOMENT: It was brief, it was fleeting, but watching Oswald (Robin Lord Taylor) play “Heart and Soul” was a rarity for Gotham: a quiet, meditative moment featuring a character that matters. And it was shot beautifully. Tighten the focus, Gotham. Jettison the dead weight and give characters like Oswald Cobblepot, Edward Nygma, Harvey Bullock, and Alfred Pennyworth room to flex their considerable muscles, because I can’t take another season of watching Ben McKenzie contort his face in exasperation. I just can’t.

EPISODE’S MVP: Morena Baccarin. In spite of the episode’s downright silly, circus-themed episode (get used to seeing clowns in the GCPD, Bullock), Baccarin’s Dr. Leslie Thompkins was an effervescent draw to the proceedings. Her enthusiasm, and her palpable chemistry with an upright sheet of plywood (Ben McKenzie) gave this episode a pull that proved to be essential. Baccarin has become an effective member of the Batman mythos.

Gotham-season-1-episode-16-4TO THE BAT-CAVE:

– John? Mary? Grayson? Yup, those kids are gonna be Dick Grayson’s folks some day.

– Haly Circus can’t have a Gotham engagement without some serious shit going down. Gotham maintains its record for glaringly obvious foreshadowing.

– This episode could very well be called “Dick Grayson’s Fetus Begins.”

– The titular blind psychic, Paul Cicero, is not in fact played by Paul Sorvino (Goodfellas, people), but by Mark Margolis, character actor who was featured in practically every film Darren Aronofsky ever made. To make this Batman-relevant, Aronofsky was the guy Warner Bros wanted for their Batman reboot back in the early Aughties. (You can acquire a cursory knowledge of that aborted fiasco here.) Life is certainly a funny thing.

– I just want to go on record as saying that I called the Barbara Kean awkward walk-in last week. Go ahead. Click this shit. There’s your proof that this show is hopelessly predictable.