Media · Story & Characters

“Gotham” – Episode Sixteen (S1) Review

GOTHAM
The Blind Fortune-Teller

This week, “Gotham” goes to the circus and, as expected, it gets a little crazy. Both in Gotham and wherever Fish Mooney has been holed up at for far too long.

Here, we meet some folks who become important in the Batman mythos: John and Mary Grayson (well, she’s not a Grayson yet), who are part of a family acrobat act. Why are they important? Well, they just happen to be Robin’s parents. You know, as in Batman and Robin – yes, that Robin.

While the heart of this episode is the mysterious slaying of Lila, a snake dancer, one side plot is the reason why the Graysons aren’t on the best terms with another circus family, the Lloyds. Turns out they are at each other’s throats thanks to a decade’s old feud regarding a stolen horse. It sounds petty but it serves as proof that sometimes old grudges and sins, if left not forgiven, can taint the next generation. It’s not so much the sins of the fathers getting passed down, but if each generation is given a license to hate, then they’ll continue to do so until the chain of bad behavior is broken. As Gordon rightfully observes, “What good is this feud doing you?” Answer: absolutely nothing. Luckily, both families are atoned for as the Graysons and Lloyds are merged in the ultimate way through the impending marriage of John and Mary. So kudos for giving peace a chance.

But that’s not the only messed up family here. We’re also introduced to the rather enigmatic Jerome, son of the murdered snake dancer. At first, Jerome is a quiet, polite young man who you kind of feel sorry for. His only family is his mother (a notoriously loose woman), whom he claims is “perfect” despite her sexual sins and drunkenness, and he asserts, “The circus is my family.”

That’s so sad. Isn’t that so sad?
Sad Jerome

That is until you learn, from his own lips, that Jerome killed his mother for being a nagging drunk whore (I guess being a drunk whore was okay). Jerome’s admission pretty much slams the brakes on any feelings of sympathy for him. But let’s get to what everyone has been talking about concerning this episode: have we finally met the Joker? Seeing as I’m not an expert regarding the Joker’s origins, I’m not going to state definitively whether he is or is not the Joker. But I will offer some hunches.

First, the Joker has been hailed as an unreliable narrator, meaning the character doesn’t tell the truth even when it comes to his own origins. As the Joker himself has touted, “Sometimes I remember it one way, sometimes another. If I’m going to have a past, I prefer it to be multiple choice!” In Jerome’s case, his “origin” is that he grew up in a single parent home with a hooker for a mom and a blind psychic for a dad. (Imagine those family reunions – they might make the Grayson-Lloyd brawl look like a picnic!) He’s a nice kid up front but, once he confesses his dark deed, we see a whole other side and it’s creepy, to say the least.

I can see why Jerome might be teased as the Joker. He’s connected to the circus (so hanging out with all of those clowns is sure to have an impact), his family life is in the toilet, he sees things as funny when they’re not supposed to be funny (like murder). He’s even vaguely associated with a Satanic cult as he used an axe bearing their mark to kill his mom and probably knows as much about snakes as Harry Potter‘s Lord Voldemort, so you can’t get any more openly associated with evil than that!

But does all of that mean Jerome is the Joker? Maybe…or maybe not. The next episode also teases the villain Red Hood, with whom the Joker’s origins are also tied. So it’s possible Jerome was an off-his-rocker murdering kid. Yet the attention on him and build up in promos seems a bit too obvious to brush his character under the proverbial rug. So I suppose as far as this possible revelation is concerned, we’ll just have to wait and see.

Meanwhile, Fish Mooney is trying to scrap together a new “family” for herself. It is ironic to consider how far she’s fallen, from being a high-profile member of one of Gotham’s underworld to the makeshift leader of a ragtag bunch of ruffians and hobos. Quite a fall from grace, I must say.

But in all honesty, I’m tired of Fish’s story arc. As in, this tired of it…
Angry 1
Well, okay maybe not to that extreme but close enough.

Seriously, what more can they do with her? What purpose does her character serve anymore? And even if she does find her way back to Gotham, what is she planning to do? Take down Falcone, Oswald, and anyone who looks at her cross-eyed? She’s not a canon character and, thus, shouldn’t be given the same status as a canon character. From the start, I took no issue with adding a non-canon character since she fit in with the spirit of the show and didn’t take too much time away from the canon characters who rightfully belong front and center. But now Fish has worn out her welcome and I hope she isn’t included in the season two cast. From all the time spent trying to develop whatever scrappy storyline she’s been given now, we could be seeing more development with the real villains like Catwoman, Penguin, and Riddler.

In three words – Fish must die. And soon. (Okay that was five.) She was fun in the beginning and served her purpose, but now she’s like a patron at an all-you-can-eat buffet bar who has eaten everything edible in sight but still refuses to leave. It’s time to shove her out the door and write her out of the picture. Ideally, I’d love to see some kind of showdown between her and Oswald with the latter putting her character out of her misery. Or just let her get eaten by a shark.

Heck, even Left Shark.
left shark dancing
Something. Anything. Just make it stop!

Fish Mooney is not a canon boss, so it’s unfair to the other canon bosses to be put on the back burner while we watch her shoot her mouth off and act all high and mighty in what looks like Fox’s unused set for the Panamanian prison Sona from the third season of “Prison Break.” Speaking of bosses, Oswald has been given some outside help for his new club from none other than Butch. (What did Zsasz do to him to addle his brains? On second thought, never mind – I don’t want to know.) So this should prove to be a fun combo.

But one character who’s got his boss on right now is young Bruce Wayne. His meeting with the board was brief but it proves he is all business and no bluff. His accusations ring loud and clear but it’s obvious no one is paying him one wit of attention. That doesn’t stop Bruce from being determined to stand up for what’s right rather than be discouraged. When he’s called out for being young, he retorts, “My youth is not relevant.”

Boss Bruce 1
His response reminded me of a Bible verse that admonishes youths to not let older people think less of them just because they’re young, but serve as an example “in love, in faith and in purity.” (I Timothy 4:12 in case you’re curious). That’s sort of what Bruce does here: he won’t let himself be talked down to just because he’s a kid. These corporate bigwigs could learn quite a bit from his level-headed, business-like demeanor that pulls no punches and openly seeks the truth.

Overall, this episode was just okay. I really would like to see where the whole Jerome story goes and I hope it doesn’t turn out to be a dead end. But for now, we can only speculate who or what he might become, if anything.

Crazy Jerome
But one thing is for sure – Jerome does his fellow gingers no favors when it comes to the (fictional) debate over whether or not that have souls. (No offense to anyone who has red hair. I wish I had red hair! So don’t hate me. Red hair is awesome.)

Until later, fellow Gothamites!

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