Warning: Spoiler Alert
The FOX Television Network, took a calculated risk last fall when they introduced their new series “Gotham,” a prequel to the Gotham City protected by Batman whose adventures first appeared in comic-books in 1938. The producers of this series take us back to Gotham City, when Bruce Wayne’s just a boy dealing with the recent murders of his parents, Thomas and Martha Wayne his legal guardian the family’s butler Alfred Pennyworth. The show’s focus however is not on the future Caped Crusader, instead Gotham City’s future Police Commissioner Jim Gordon’s the protagonist a young detective determined to get rid of corruption in the city.
Gotham’s not just an origin story for young Bruce and Gordon through the series first 16 episodes, we’ve gotten introduced to characters we know play a significant part in Batman’s future. Our first future foe of the Dark Knight that we meet’s Selena Kyle a young-teen who lives off the streets and fends for herself quite well. She of course will adopt the name Catwoman and get involved in the infamous love/hate relationship she has with Batman.
Her tag-along-pal’s Ivy Pepper, perhaps the creepiest little girl shown on a regular basis on the small screen. It’s truly tough to visualize she’ll one day be the temptress criminal Poison Ivy, a woman with a hypnotic hold on men. Earlier this season Bruce and Alfred ran into her walking in downtown Gotham City, when Bruce stopped to talk to her. Alfred’s revulsion was as plain as the nose on his face as he told his charge “Watch out for this one Master Bruce, I believe she might have the mange.”
There’s a young man employed by the GCPD as a forensic scientist named Ed Nygma, who’ll one day transform from public servant to public menace. Extremely intelligent and equally nerdy, Nygma’s instincts are excellent for his job. Unfortunately he’s got a terrible habit of attempting to share his latest riddles with all his associates, causing many of them to avoid him. We’ve already seen what the future Riddler’s capable of getting the former Medical Examiner dismissed, as he stuffed the doctor’s locker with various body parts. after the ME demanded he get suspended.
Of course the breakout star of the series is Oswald Cobblepot whose known as the Penguin due to the way he walks. Cobblepot’s advanced from being Fish Mooney’s umbrella boy, to the right hand man of Don Carmine Falcone. He’ll double-cross anyone, except for two people, to achieve his goals, a quality that’s almost gotten him killed quite often so far. For those new to the world of Gotham City Fish Mooney’s a character invented for this series, a deadly part of the old guard criminals that will eventually give way to the criminals whose exploits we’ve followed for many years.
The latest episode of Gotham entitled “The Blind Fortune Teller,” expanded the series’ universe greatly as a name that resonates loudly for fans of The World’s Greatest Detective, as well as the Caped Crusader’s chief nemesis get introduced to the series. Both situations could be considered fill in the blanks type of moves and advance the long-term story rather strongly. The revelations in this episode pretty much eclipsed the story line, as Gordon figured things out on his own rather easily.
I’m going to break format this go-round and just give a rather brief description of the storyline of the episode. Jim and his girlfriend Lee Thompkins are in the audience enjoying the circus, we join them as trapeze artists fill the space between them and the big-top. When their act ends and they bow to the crowd, the clowns come on, joking at first then start beating on the acrobats. Gordon approaches the center ring, flashing his shield, yelling GCPD, everybody freeze.
It turns out the clowns are the Lloyd family and the acrobats are the Flying Graysons, whose family’s started feuding before World War I and it’s gotten passed down through the generations. However John Grayson and his seemingly former girlfriend Mary Lloyd believe this fight came about as part of a rivalry between John’s older brother Alfonse and Mary’s uncle Owen, both vying for the affections of the same woman. Lila, the snake-dancer who works in the sideshow.
Gordon and Thompkins’ head to Lila’s trailer however she’s not there. Her son Jerome answers the door and he says he’s concerned, his mother was due back hours before. The Ringmaster says to Jerome his mother’s probably out on one of her binges, then he tells Jim and Lee that Lila takes off on little adventures with men all the time. Gordon asks Jerome to release Lila’s snake and it leads them to Lila’s dead body. The Ringmaster and some other circus folk found the body out in a field and planned to bury her when they hit the road.
Lloyd blames Grayson and Grayson blames Lloyd down at the station, each saying the other killed Lila because she chose them. The rest of the circus staff’s allowed to leave the station while Alfonse and Owen get incarcerated. A short while later an elderly blind man accompanied by a young boy wearing a coonskin cap, (Once again what era does Gotham take place in, or is it an alternate Earth?) The man asks Gordon if he’s Detective James Gordon then asks Lee if she’s Doctor Thompkins the Medical Examiner. He introduces himself as Paul Cicero a psychic from the sideshow and a longtime friend of Lila’s. He said she sent him a message from the beyond and although Gordon’s ready to tell Cicero to beat it, Lee wants to hear the message. He says that the servant of the Devil lives in the garden of the Iron Sisters. Then he leaves.
That night Jim comes over to Lee’s for dinner and she’s certain she’s figured out the message. The Iron Sisters are the two towers that support the Arkham bridge and there’s a park next to them that could be construed as a garden. Jim says they’ll check it out in the morning, but Lee wants to go right then. Despite Jim’s protests they go to the park.
As they’re searching the grounds with a flashlight Jim finds a hatchet the weapon that Ed said killed Lila. There’s an inscription on the handle, saying THC, Gordon says it stands for The Hellfire Club a cult of Satan worshiping killers that disbanded a decade before. Lee says perhaps they reformed but Jim says no, but he now knows what happens. He calls the station saying he wants two people to be brought in, but they’re not to know of each other’s presence.
They get to the interrogation room and Paul Cicero walks in. Gordon says that Cicero knew the Hatchet was there as he told the killer to plant it there, he’s also an accessory to murder. Cicero protests claiming he’s innocent then they bring in Lila’s son Jerome, Gordon accuses him of killing his mother and says Cicero helped him after the fact. He also says that Cicero’s Jerome’s father.
Paul realizes the jig’s up and tells Jerome he actually is his father and Jerome says that’s insane. His father was a sea-captain and he died at sea. Gordon asked the teen what was the name of his ship and Jerome responds he commanded lots of ships. Jim asks him what was the name of the ship he went down on and the teen responds his mother never told him.
Realizing there was no sea-captain Jerome starts to break down and cry for a second, only to look up at Gordon and flash that unmistakable grin. Cesar Romero, Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger and the Joker from the comic-books, all wrapped up in one magnificently evil smile a truly chilling moment as we realize who Jerome will become.
Jerome looks over at Cicero and tells him his mother was a cold-hearted whore, who never loved anyone and would stay away from a pathetic creep like him. Paul tells Jerome to think things through why would Cicero help him after what he did only a father would protect a son that way.
Gordon asks Jerome why he did it and the future Joker replied, you know mothers she just pushed too much. You can be a whore, you can even be a drunken whore. But what you can’t be is a nagging drunken whore complaining the kitchen’s a mess when you’re having sex in the next room.
With Owen and Alfonse cleared they’re freed, ending the century old feud, which allowed John Grayson and Mary Lloyd to get engaged. Years later, they’ll have a son named Dick and John and Mary will get shot during a performance, leaving Dick an orphan until Bruce Wayne became his legal guardian. Due to his acrobatic ability Grayson became the first Robin, now guarding the streets as Nightwing.
There was no talk about introducing perhaps Batman’s greatest foe, the Joker in any of the preseason talk about the series, the show-runners kept it under wraps until the preview they showed at the previous episode’s conclusion. The fact that we got to meet Dick Grayson’s parents, was an unexpected bonus.
There’s a reason that the Caped Crusader’s still one of the most popular characters in comic-books, now 77-years after Bob Kane introduced him to the planet in Detective Comics. Gotham won’t last 77-years, but if this season’s an accurate indication for what’s up ahead, it will enjoy a long and popular run, on the FOX Network.
The Story Continues Next Monday Night at 8:00 pm on FOX.