Recap: Gotham Episode 16, The Blind Fortune Teller

Jim and Lee finally go on their circus date, during which a brawl breaks out between the acrobats (The Flying Graysons) and the clowns. Jim breaks it up and questions those involved, but gets nothing. Lee is treating some of the wounded, and Mary Lloyd (of the Lloyd family of clowns, who has had a multi-generational feud with the Graysons) suggests it is Lila’s fault. Lee reports back to Jim, and the ringmaster takes them to Lila, the snake handler. Lila is not in her trailer, but her son, Jerome, is. Jim, for whatever reason, thinks it would be a good idea to let Lila’s snake out of its box and it leads them to Lila – or, rather, Lila’s body.

While interviewing brawlers at the station, Paul Cicero (not the character from Goodfellas), a blind psychic with the circus, comes in to give Jim a message from Lila on the other side. Jim doesn’t believe in psychics, but Lee does, which leads to some weird tensions between the two. While eating dinner together at Lee’s house, she puts together the mysterious message Paul gave them, and insists that they need to go check out the Arkham Bridge park, like, right now. Jim isn’t real happy about this because he was hoping to get laid. But Lee is adamant, so they go. As it turns out, they end up discovering a bloody hatchet with “Satanic” scratchings on the handle.

Jim pieces this all together, and brings Paul back into the station. He puts him and Jerome into a room together and gets Paul to admit that he is Jerome’s real father. Jerome sobs – or pretends to. Best I can tell, he really didn’t know that Paul was his father; his mother made up a story about a captain who died at sea. But Jerome’s sobs turn into laughs, with that insane, Joker smile on his face. He admits to killing his mother, because she was a drunken, cold-hearted whore. Which he could have dealt with, but he didn’t like that she nagged him. Paul admits in helping him stage the crime.

Fish Mooney, now running the underground “prison,” where all the captives are being kept for illegal organ transplants, makes a plan with her new “family” to get “most” of them out alive. When Schmidt comes down to get the next “donor,” Fish steps up and offers him a deal: he can have prisoner 57A, but they want some fresh fruits, veggies, water, blankets – basic gear. Schmidt refuses, and he refuses to let her speak to “the manager,” so Fish signals the other prisoners to kill 57A. He knows it is coming, and willingly submits to being beaten to death. Schmidt, shocked by their actions, realizes he has no good options. The manager agrees to meet with Fish, and Schmidt must remain with the prisoners. Unarmed.

Barbara comes back tonight, and in the biggest surprise ever, I don’t completely hate her. She comes home, drunk and falling out of a tiny cocktail dress, to find Selena and Ivy living there. Rather than kick them out, she befriends them, gets their advice on fashion and winning Jim back. I think I hated her less because basically she has the maturity of a 13-year-old girl, so it seems natural for her to be hanging out with with them. Anyway, she goes to win Jim back and discovers him making out with Lee in the locker room. Boo hoo.

Finally, Penguin turns out to be a horrible club owner. His taste in entertainment is horrendous, the “stand out” act being his demented mother singing. Zsasz shows up, with Butch in tow, which scares the shit out of Penguin. But Zsasz promises Butch has been completely “fixed” after he spent a few weeks reprogramming him in his basement. Butch is there purely to help him run the place.

I’m torn about this episode. Looking at it purely as a television show, 40-some minutes of entertainment with no source material, it was quite good. You’ve got a circus brawl, an underground organ farm, and a sociopath with a brilliantly demented grin. But taken through the lens of the Batman universe, it feels forced. Like I said last week, the producers are once again trying to wedge in as many Batman characters as humanly possible. I actually wasn’t bothered by bringing in the Graysons. I thought that was handled well. It was subtle.

Where I take issue is with Jerome, who is clearly going to grow up to be the Joker. Various interviews have refused to reveal Jerome definitively as the Joker, which makes it even worse. Jerome is the right age to be the Joker, and he has the right smile. Don’t dance around it. Make a decision and stick with it. I am not happy with getting a definitive backstory on Joker, and I hate the fact that it seems like the producers are boiling all the Joker’s problems down to mommy issues. That is such a lazy backstory. On top of that, I can already see where this is going. The Joker will eventually kill John and Mary Grayson, and that is what will inspire their son Dick to take on the mantle of Robin. Yes, the death of his parents is what sets off the chain of events that eventually turns Dick Grayson into the first Robin, but Joker was not responsible for that. With Mary Lloyd and John Grayson announcing their engagement at the end of the episode, I am guessing that they will be popping out a kid by the end of season two.

You can check out a promo for episode 17 of “Gotham” in the player below. Titled “Red Hood,” the episode is officially described as follows:

“Following several bank robberies, Gordon and Bullock investigate the Red Hood gang. Selina Kyle continues to bond with Barbara, and Fish Mooney tries to reclaim her position in the underworld.”

“Red Hood” is set to debut February 23. “Gotham” airs at 8 P.M. EST. on FOX.