When clowns and acrobat families don’t get along, you get “The Blind Fortune Teller.” You also get the return of Barbara, the introduction of the Flying Graysons, and a kid who could be Joker, but also not really.
The episode begins with, appropriately, a montage. We get Bruce sleeping…
Gertrude performing at the club while her son proudly watches on….
Fish waking up her minions…
And a tipsy Barbara- remember her?- returning to her home and not finding it strange at all that it’s being occupied by two young girls. Selina and Ivy tell Barbara that Jim dropped off his keys last week. Screw him, Barbara says.
So let’s go to that circus Jim and Leslie talked about last week. Up to perform are, you guessed it, The Flying Graysons! However, one of those clown cars drives in. A fight breaks out between the clowns and the other performers. Don’t you hate when that happens at the circus? Anyway, Jim and Leslie go down to break it up.
Gertrude is done performing. Penguin gets the applause started until some guy boos her. Penguin goes to handle business.
Back at the circus, we learn that there’s an ongoing feud between the Graysons and the clown family- the Lloyds. Two members from different families: John Grayson, played by Robert Gorrie, and Mary Lloyd, played by Abbi Snee, argue back and forth, but get quiet when Mary mentions a woman by the name of Lila.
Jim meets up with Leslie, who is busy stitching up some performers. Lila is a snake dancer in the side show. Jim wants to look into her alone, but Leslie comes along. The Ringmaster, played by James Monroe Iglehart, takes them to Lila’s trailer. Out comes her son, Jerome, played by Cameron Monaghan, who last saw his mother this morning. According to the ringmaster, Lila is a party girl.
Because Jim knows all about snakes, he tells Jerome to let the snake out of its cage. He does, and it leads them right to Lila’s body. Jim asks the ringmaster if he knew, and he responds that she was like that when they found her.
Back in the not-so-interesting underworld, Fish tells her minions that the people of the outside world just use them as transplant donors. That will continue unless they do something. Her plan is to get some of them out alive. Repeat, some, because she knows that a few will die. However, better that they die with dignity than alone.
The ringmaster leads Jim to the spot where he found Lila. The performers planned to give her a proper burial and handle whoever did this in their own way. The circus folk have their methods. Luckily, so do the GCPD. The ringmaster is arrested.
And Bullock’s work day becomes more interesting when Jim brings in the performers. Jim speaks to Jerome, who admits that his mother wasn’t perfect, but she did the best she could and was a good cook. She never had enemies, but Jerome says that she had plenty of lovers. No boyfriends, but lots of sex partners, such as Alphonse Grayson and Owen Lloyd. Jerome isn’t too bummed, though. Sex is a healthy, human activity. If not for her love life, he wouldn’t be alive. He has no other family, though. Just the circus.
So Jim now asks Owen Lloyd, played by Jeremy Bobb, about why he assaulted Mr. Grayson. Owen thinks that Alphonse killed Lila. As to how this whole family feud started, his great-grandfather accused his mother’s uncle, Barry, of stealing a horse…before World War I. Bullock, meanwhile, speaks with Alphonse Grayson, who thinks that Owen killed Lila. Alvarez isn’t having much luck with John and Mary, who bicker like a young, married couple.
Underground, Fish and pals welcome the arrival of some collectors who have come for Inmate 57A. He eventually raises his hand, but Fish intervenes and lets these people know that she is calling the shots now and there will be a few changes. Yes, this man has a job, but Fish wants some things for her minions- namely food, water, blankets, and magazines. If he refuses, she’ll hand over 57A, just not alive.
Unfortunately, these men need the subject alive. When the man refuses to leave, some of the subjects pummel 57A to death. It’s simple economics, she says. Their lives are worth something. The man tells Fish that the manager isn’t going to be very happy with her, but he may not be happy with him, either. If this manager wants Fish to talk, he can come down. She does agree to go and talk with him, but only if this guy remains down there as a guest. The collectors retreat for the moment.
So Nygma and Thompkins brief Essen, Gordon, and Bullock on Liza’s death: she was killed by a large knife or hatchet, with multiple blows to the head and upper torso. The murder took place around three o’clock yesterday, but both Grayson and Lloyd were in the ring for the matinee from 2:30 to 4:15.
Gordon cuts the performers loose, but tells them to not leave town and to stop fighting. Leslie, impressed when Jim tries to act tough, invites him over to her place for dinner.
But then enters Paul Cicero, played by Mark Margolis, a psychic from the sideshow. He doesn’t think that either Owen or Alphonse are guilty and has a message that Lila sent him from the other side. The message? Lila told him that the servant of the devil lies in the garden of the Iron Sisters. Jim is skeptical. After all, if you were going to send a message from beyond the grave, the priority should be a name instead of a riddle. Leslie isn’t going to argue with him now. She’ll argue with him later.
Back at Wayne Manor, Alfred informs Bruce that the board has confirmed his meeting with them after postponing it so many times. Alfred still worries that this is a bad idea, premature, and dangerous, but Bruce’s mind is made up. Well, Alfred says, if they wind up dead in a ditch, don’t blame him.
Barbara takes fashion tips from Selina and Ivy. You’re right. Who cares?
Jim is a big fan of Leslie’s cooking, but the recipe came from Leslie’s sister, and that made her think the message’s meaning: it’s talking about the Arkham Bridge. The towers are called Mary and Betty. There’s also a park under the towers on the Gotham side. Jim thinks that it’s just a riddle to an impossible story. Jim would rather go tomorrow morning, but Leslie wants to go now.
So they do. Jim thinks that this is no place for a lady, which prompts Leslie to call him out on her hypocrisy. To be fair, Jim doesn’t want Leslie to be the good girlfriend who stays at home and bakes cookies. Pies, however, that’s a different story. They soon find an ax with the initials THFC, which Jim recognizes as The Hellfire Club, a Satanic Cult that supposedly went inactive over a decade ago. Jim calls in backup.
Back at GCPD, Jim still thinks that this theory is bogus, while Leslie is more enthusiastic about it. After a bit of back and forth, the two head in and talk to Cicero about finding the hatchet. This makes him an accessory to murder. The message didn’t happen, Gordon says, which means that me invented the message and had someone plant the hatchet. A hatchet is a clumsy ploy, so Cicero wouldn’t do it unless he was protecting someone close.
In enters Jerome, who still wants to know about his mother’s killer. Jim has an answer: Jerome did it. He killed her up on that hill and Cicero let him clean up in his trailer. He then scratched the marks on the hatchet and threw it off the bridge. Jim also theorizes that Cicero is Jerome’s father, despite Jerome’s claim that his father was a sea captain. Cicero apologizes to Jerome, saying that he is, indeed, the father. Jerome takes this in and sobs…
…until he flips a switch and starts laughing. His mother, he says, was a cold hearted whore who never loved anyone. Looks like the bitch got him with the zinger in the end. When asked why he killed his mother, Jerome says that she just kept pushing. Don’t yell at him to do the dishes if she’s been banging a clown in the next room! Then, he stuck a blade in her mouth, and said ‘Let’s put a smile on that’- wait, wrong Batman universe. Never mind.
Leslie and Jim regroup in the locker room. She found the whole situation ugly, but thrilling at the same time, like looking down a tunnel. She thanks Jim for letting her be there, prompting Jim to call her an unusual woman. Jim doesn’t know many women. The two kiss just as Barbara enters. Again, who cares?
Zsasz shows up at the club on Falcone’s orders. Falcone thinks that Penguin is messing up. The club numbers are low. Also there is Butch, who appears to have been completely neutered thanks to Zsasz working on him in his basement for a couple of weeks. Butch knows the club scene and will obey Penguin’s orders, such as dancing.
So Bruce appears before the board at Wayne Enterprises. He has two specific concerns relating to the Arkham Project and chemical weapons manufacturing. He concludes that high-level individuals or groups within Wayne Enterprises have colluded in corruption, bribery, racketeering, and unethical medical research. The board calls these just rumors, but Bruce is smarter than that. And despite Bruce’s young age, he will be pursuing this matter and maybe even considering legal action. He’ll be bringing this up again at the next shareholders’ meeting.
Oh, John and Mary are a thing. They’ll have a son. We all know who he’ll be.
Meanwhile, back in the caves, the collectors return. The manager has agreed to meet Fish. Meanwhile, we finally learn the name of the head collector: Thomas Schmidt, played by Elliot Villar. He shall stay behind. No worries. Fish’s family will show him a good time.
I’m mixed on this episode because there are parts of it that I do like.
First off, really enjoying the chemistry between Ben McKenzie and Morena Baccarin. The show is taking its time not just to develop Jim and Leslie as a couple, but make them feel much more believable than Jim and Barbara. They don’t always agree on everything and I like how Leslie was willing to call Jim out on his hypocrisy. Leslie worked in Arkham Asylum with some of Gotham’s craziest so far. She can handle a little GCPD action.
Plus we got to see how enthusiastic she was on investigating this murder mystery. I like the fact that the two don’t see eye to eye on everything, but don’t let a silly little disagreement rip them apart. They literally kiss and make up before continuing with their work. Again, it feels like the first locker room kiss was too soon and that moment would have felt more natural had it come after this, now that the writers have decided to flesh out this relationship.
Jim really shouldn’t have an issue with Leslie being involved with his investigations given that they literally work in the same building. If she still worked at Arkham, I could understand that, but not when they both work for the GCPD.
Side-note, I think one of my favorite moments may have been when Leslie refused to join Jim in the interrogation room until he held her hand, which gave her this giddy, childlike grin while he just wanted the moment to be over. Now that is how you develop a couple.
Bruce and Alfred were mostly in the background this episode, which was fine, but Bruce got his moment when he took on Wayne Foundations and called the board out on its corruption. You can tell that they underestimate Bruce because of his age, but as he told them, that shouldn’t make any difference. He’s going to ensure that his parents’ foundation is run with integrity.
Now onto the less enjoyable stuff. Penguin wasn’t nearly as interesting this week as he has been before. With him running Fish’s club, he’s still Falcone’s henchman, but a less than successful one. His attack at the beginning just seemed to be more of him standing up for his mother than being the ruthless Penguin that we’ve seen him as before. Though it’s always nice to see Zsasz, much like Barbara meeting up with her parents in “What the Little Bird Told Him,” this subplot didn’t really need to be here.
And that’s my cue to awkwardly segue onto Barbara. First off, impressive that she had little to no reaction to Selina and Ivy being in her place. She asks who they are, but only after asking where Jim was, assuming they even knew Gordon.
Second, why are Selina and Ivy back there in the first place? Didn’t Selina say they’d only be there until Ivy got better? And even when Jim caught Selina there, she didn’t really have a reason to be there. This show really needs to give these two something substantive to do or just not have them in the episode. Otherwise, you get scenes like Barbara getting fashion advice from two girls that she’s never met. And looks like that whole thing with her going to her parents didn’t add much.
Oh, and how damn convenient was it for her to spot Jim and Leslie kissing? Anyone can just stroll into the GCPD locker rooms, it seems. Also, why does Barbara even care that Jim is with another woman? She already believed he was with someone else when she called and Ivy answered the phone and pretended to be another woman. This whole moment felt forced, but if it drives a wedge between Jim and Barbara to the point that she leaves, then we’re all happy.
Onto the main case at hand. We’re back to Jim’s random hunches when he somehow figured out that Jerome was the one who killed his mother. Not sure how he arrived at that conclusion, considering he had little to go off of.
Now onto Jerome himself. I think Cameron Monaghan did a good job when he flipped the switch and I did like his laugh, but just who is this kid supposed to be? Is this a young Joker or not? If so, the story crafted for him isn’t all that thrilling. He didn’t get along with his mother and didn’t like doing dishes while she had her way with clowns. If he’s supposed to be Joker, he seems to be pulling the interpretations we’ve seen from Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger.
Many people prefer that the Joker have no origin story. If this is him, then he’s already had his bad day. Now he’ll just need to go shopping for purple suits, knives, and guns. But if he isn’t the Joker, then this was just a bunch of hype and misdirection. Plus, the preview for the next episode features the Red Hood. What do, Gotham? What do?
Oh, and we meet Robin’s parents. How delightful. At least they didn’t think up random names like Richard when they talked to Jim at the end.
And Fish’s storyline? It’s pretty convenient for her to see these people as her family when she’s barely been there for long enough to have even justified such a bond.
So we got some pretty good character development stuff with Jim, Leslie, and Bruce, but everything else was pretty bleh.