Gotham S01E16 ‘The Blind Fortune Teller’

Robert Gorrie as John Grayson and Abbi Snee as Mary Lloyd in 'Gotham'

Gotham S01E16 ‘The Blind Fortune Teller’

Robert Gorrie as John Grayson and Abbi Snee as Mary Lloyd in 'Gotham'
Robert Gorrie as John Grayson and Abbi Snee as Mary Lloyd in ‘Gotham’

‘The Blind Fortune Teller’ continues a run of incredibly strong episodes with another huge DC Comics connection and a brilliant case of the week which may (or most likely not) give us our first experience of Gotham’s very own Joker.

Fans have been aware for some time that this episode would feature a guest appearance by the future Grayson family prior to the birth of their son Richard ‘Dick’ (Robin, Nightwing etc…) Grayson. What we weren’t aware of was another character who might be waiting in the wings at Haly’s Circus.

Let’s start out with the setting : Haly’s Circus is in no way shoehorned in to this episode to allow John and Mary to appear. Gordon takes Lee on a date and that date happens to be at the circus currently visiting Gotham which happens to be Haly’s Circus and happens to feature a trapeze act called The Flying Graysons. Thankfully for Jim this date goes a little better than that time Bruce Wayne took Chase Meridian to the circus in ‘Batman Forever’.

The setting is very organic and the episode itself is written by show runner Bruno Heller so the setting around the circus tent is full of characters who make this easily the most colourful episode of ‘Gotham’ so far. Naturally there’s a murder under the big top which leaves a child of the circus orphaned and Gordon’s date suddenly transformed in to an investigation.

As always with ‘Gotham’ not everything is as it seems and the episode takes on a comic (in every sense of the word) spin as the investigation involves the titular blind fortune teller from the circus and Lee finds herself intrigued by thrill of detecting.

In many ways ‘The Blind Fortune Teller’ feels like a completely different show to the opening episodes of the season. Tonally the show has really found solid ground in the quirkier side of its personality, episodes which are played straight often find themselves meandering from start to finish where episodes which take us in to the unusual are much more intriguing to watch.

The Grayson’s themselves make up only a small part of the world of Haly’s Circus, it’s almost coincidental to all the other events of the episode that they are present which only adds to the authenticity of their appearance. Throughout they remain secondary characters who aid the story in reaching its eventual conclusion but in thanking Gordon for bringing them together Heller just can’t resist a little nod to their future offspring.

I can’t discuss ‘The Blind Fortune Teller’ without discussing The Joker. Without spoiling the character who may (or most likely not) be The Joker I can tell you the appearance is a surprise and quite a twist. In the space of one scene the character turns from innocent to… well… twisted. It evokes more Ledger than Nicholson but still it’s unmistakably The Joker even if just for a moment.

Heller has always send that The Joker is more end-game for ‘Gotham’ but that we would meet him or his inspirations early on. Whatever indication ‘The Blind Fortune Teller’ is for future appearances of The Joker it’s a perfect start and a brilliantly chilling take on the character or some form of him.

As I said at the start of this review: another incredibly strong episode in a strong run of episodes for ‘Gotham’.

4 stars

 

 

 

4 stars

Charlie Tahan as Jonathan Crane in 'Gotham

Gotham S01E15 ‘The Scarecrow’

Charlie Tahan as Jonathan Crane in 'Gotham
Charlie Tahan as Jonathan Crane in ‘Gotham

Last weeks opening gambit in the Scarecrow saga ‘The Fearsome Dr. Crane’ (reviewed here) paved the way for one of the more creepy and twisted episodes of ‘Gotham’.

It’s like a mini-serialised story within a show which is predominantly all serialised stories.

Gerald Crane continues to conduct experiments on victims from his support group whilst Bullock and Gordon investigate his background. Discovering he lost his wife in a fire years ago they deduce that his own fear is what caused him to be unable to save his wife. Believing he can ultimately abolish fear Crane is experimenting on adrenal glands to create a serum to remove fear by making victims confront their biggest fear.

Sadly Gerald ultimately wants to remove the fear from him and his son Jonathan and when Gordon tracks him down he overdoses his son causing, as most comic fans can guess, irreparable damage. In a nice nod to his future identity it turns out that Jonathan’s biggest fear is now scarecrows… it’s not going to end well.

It’s quite a tragic story, the loss of his wife clearly weighing heavy on his conscience didn’t drive Gerald to become a criminal. It only drove him to want to better the human race but unfortunately the consequences of his actions led him to the climactic scene with Gordon and Jonathan which ultimately ended his life.

The change to the Scarecrow origin works well and showed the writers can handle even the more a-list characters in their own ‘Gotham’ way.

Frustratingly the Fish Mooney storyline fails to pick up with what happens after she charges at the assailant charging back at her in her cabin on the ship. Instead she wakes up in a dank basement and quickly sets about learning her new surroundings. Of all the crazy endings it seems she’s in a pit of unwilling organ donors if the girl who appears with no eyes is to be believed.

The Fish story is really going to crazy lengths but I can’t help but wonder if this ties in to where the season is heading for its climax. If you recall episode two ‘Selina Kyle’ (reviewed here) the street kids of Gotham were being ferried up stream to become organ donors for The Dollmaker. Perhaps he has returned.

Penguin is struggling with running the club, exited for his opening when a visit from old pal Maroni throws things in to disarray. Maroni has a message for Penguin, when Falconi passes he won’t hesitate to off Penguin for his betrayal. It remains one step forward and two steps backwards for Penguin who seems to be making waves but still under the watchful eye of his current and former bosses. At some point he’s going to try and legitimately strike out on his own but right now he doesn’t have enough power to stand alone.

Bruce is going through a new experience this week when he strikes out on his own in to the woods surrounding Wayne manor on a trip he used to take with his father. He falls foul of the usual giant log followed by falling down a bank and injuring his ankle trick proving that he’s not as untouchable as he believes and it’s of course up to Alfred to save the day.

Bruce has been feeling strong in his recent scenes, almost vaguely Batman-esque so considering his young age he needed a reminder that he isn’t the fully trained vigilante he perhaps sees himself as in his head. His separation from Gordon and the city has returned to its status quo of before the mid-season finale which is a small step backwards for ‘Gotham’. If his inclusion in the show is paramount to its continuing success he needs to be firmly planted in the heart of the city and not resigned to its outskirts where he has little impact on the world around him.

There’s time for a little Gordon-Thompkins action as she takes up her post within the GCPD. Again ‘Gotham’ and it’s creative team continue to treat this relationship with more care and affection than that of Gordon and his end-game wife Barbara who is again MIA.

‘The Scarecrow’ continues the run of strong episodes that are making up the second half of the first season of’Gotham’. Long may it continue.

4 stars

 

 

 

4 stars

Morena Baccarin as Dr Leslie Thompkins in 'Gotham'

Gotham S01E14 ‘The Fearsome Dr. Crane’

Morena Baccarin as Dr Leslie Thompkins in 'Gotham'
Morena Baccarin as Dr Leslie Thompkins in ‘Gotham’

Romance is in the air in ‘Gotham’ with the first of a two-part episode exploring the backstory to the famous Batman villain The Scarecrow.

‘The Fearsome Dr. Crane’ is a wonderfully misleading title as all of us were kept guessing about just how the show would introduce Jonathan Crane aka the Scarecrow. I didn’t see the twist coming that he would be nothing but a teenager.

Instead the episode focusses on his father Gerald Crane (Julian Sands) who poses as a victim attending a support group to identify the subjects for his fear experiments. The introduction of a pre-Scarecrow history and family connection is a little derivative for this type of show but as ‘Gotham’ doesn’t rely on this angle regularly it works.

Elsewhere in the episode the burgeoning relationship between Gordon and Dr Thompkins takes on a new twist when an opportunity comes up to shift her focus for Arkham to the GCPD. The writers have quick manipulated her story to allow more screen time for her clearly seeing the same magic between Ben McKenzie and Morena Baccarin that we can all see.

Edward Nygma gets to take more of a centre stage when he frames the medical examiner for stealing body parts, it’s a creepy yet comical side story that allows Dr Thompkins to move in to the GCPD but is also a great introductory tale to the creepier side of his character. As the season has developed so has his personality, in the pilot he was an awkward addition to the cast but now his scenes are a real draw to the show and it’s hard not to eagerly await the moment he finally snaps.

I’m a little concerned that the object of his affections, Chelsea Spack’s Kristine Kringle, is going to end up a twisted Riddler equivalent to Harley Quinn. Her character is a little random to say the least and considering all her quirks it’s amazing that she doesn’t share Edward’s affections for her.

Penguin is having another tough week this week after Fish returns the favour and dishes to Maroni that his new lieutenant has been working for Don Falconi all along. Maroni sidelines Penguin in a secluded cabin to kill him but the pair soon end up back in Gotham. As I’ve said before Penguin can’t find a balance between anxiety and exuberance but right now he’s firmly planted on the side of anxious.

The development of the Penguin story has slowed down a little to focus on the fall of Fish Mooney which is now heading in strange and dramatic new territory. After grassing up Penguin to Maroni, Fish makes it out of Gotham on a ship which finds itself attacked at the episodes close with the final shot being Fish and a marauder charging at each other with full force. It’s quite a strong image to end on but one which has bemused a lot of fans who have found it to be entirely laughable. I felt the image was very comic book in tone and the cinematography of the final shot of the episode feels straight from a comic book panel so absolutely no complaints from me.

The serialised story has gone a little off the boil in that the characters have all fractured and gone their own separate ways at the moment but it’s always good to take a breather when the action can be so heavy. The separate elements of the show all still remain strong and a change in focus, no matter how brief, has not hurt ‘Gotham’ in any way.

3 stars

 

 

 

3 stars