‘Gotham’ 1.16 Recap: “It’s Simple Economics”

This week’s episode of ‘Gotham’ could prove to be one of the most important the show has aired so far. Or maybe it won’t. It’s hard to say. Honestly, this entry is overpacked with storylines and is a little disjointed.

He Who Laughs Last

The network promos suggested not so subtly that episode ‘The Blind Fortune Teller’ would introduce The Joker. That might be what happens, I guess. Or maybe it’s a fake-out. Earlier in the season, show-runner Bruno Heller said that he didn’t want to bring The Joker into play this season at all, but more recently changed his mind about that and has called this episode “the beginning of the Joker saga.” Nevertheless, he still remains coy about whether the character we meet here is actually Joker himself, or just someone who will pave the way for Joker later (his father, perhaps?).

So, what happens? Jim takes his girlfriend Leslie on a date to the circus, where they see an acrobat troupe called the “Flying Graysons.” (Foreshadow Alert!) The act is interrupted when a clown barges on stage and punches one of the acrobats, leading to a huge brawl that Jim has to break up. The fight centered around a long-standing feud between two circus families, and a dead snake charmer named Lila. The clowns blame the acrobats for her murder, and vice versa. It seems that the woman was a big slut who’d whored around with both sides.

Jim meets the snake charmer’s nervous son Jerome (Cameron Monaghan from ‘Shameless’), who is so obviously the real killer that there’s really no point dragging the mystery out further. The blind fortune teller of the title tries to draw suspicion away from the boy by pretending to receive a message from the victim’s spirit that points to a satanic group called the Hellfire Club, which hasn’t been active in years. Leslie totally buys into all of this, but Jim sees right through it. He eventually figures out that the fortune teller is Jerome’s father, and that Jerome is the killer. Once confronted, Jerome drops the nervous act and turns cacklingly evil, for which actor Monaghan puts on his best Jack Nicholson impersonation.

Is Jerome really The Joker? I don’t know. Maybe. Or this could be an elaborate misdirect. Only time will tell where this is really heading.

As I mentioned in last week’s recap, I think a major villain like The Joker should be saved for another season. I’d prefer that this year should be all about the rise of The Penguin, without anyone stealing his thunder.

Speaking of Penguins…

For all his skills as a schemer and manipulator, it seems our dear Mr. Oswald Cobblepot isn’t so good at running a nightclub. He keeps putting his crazy old mother (Carol Kane) on stage, which confuses the ever-dwindling patrons.

With business down, Falcone’s henchman Zsasz pays a visit to scare Penguin into getting his shit together. To do that, he brings along Fish Mooney’s former #2 guy Butch. Zsasz explains that he’s put a lot of work into re-educating Butch to be a docile pet, and now he’s leaving Butch with Penguin to teach him how to run a club.

Spare Parts

As for the resilient Fish Mooney, she has quickly taken charge of the dungeon prison and rallied the other inmates around her. We learn that they were all captured and have been kept alive in order to harvest their organs for involuntary donations. (Hence the woman last episode whose eyes were cut out.)

When the guards come down to claim their next donor, Fish announces herself as the new shot-caller and refuses to give him up unless the guards provide food and other amenities for the rest. When asked what power she thinks she has to stop the guards from simply taking the man, she has a bunch of inmate thugs beat the victim to death, ruining his usefulness as a donor.

The head guard Schmidt tells Fish that the “Manager” wants to talk to her. She agrees to meet with him only on the condition that Schmidt stay behind with her thugs, as insurance that she not be harmed. That Fish is a clever girl.

Boy Genius

Bruce Wayne arranges a meeting with the board of Wayne Enterprises. The board members treat him patronizingly, until he lays out what he knows about their criminal dealings and warns them that changes are coming.

Oh Yeah, She’s Still on the Show Too

Remember Jim’s former fiancée Barbara? The show’s writers may have forgotten about her for a while, but she returns home to her apartment this week, dressed like a skank. She’s clearly having a rough time of things. She finds Selina and Ivy squatting at the apartment again (I thought Selina had run off?), and hardly bats an eye at finding these two strange children there.

For whatever reason, Selina tries to help make Barbara presentable again so that she can win back Jim. Her motivations for this are not clear at all. Barbara heads down to the police station, only to walk in on Jim and Leslie kissing.

As much as Barbara seems like a throwaway character who probably ought to be written out at this point, comic fans know that she and Jim eventually get married and give birth to the future Batgirl. In order for that to happen, Leslie’s going to have to be removed from the picture. I figure she’ll either get killed off, or turn out to be secretly evil. At the moment, my money’s on secretly evil, knowing how this show usually works.

I feel like this episode simply has too much going on. I really like the Fish Mooney storyline, and wish we’d seen more of Bruce’s confrontation with the company board. I have mixed feelings about the circus stuff, and just don’t care about Barbara at all.

I believe the show only has two more episodes left this season. I hope it builds to a decent finale.


  1. Gotham has 6 episodes left according to the teaser that played for next week’s show (“only 5 more episodes until the season finale” is what the text read)…for a total of 22. Remember, it got upgraded from 16 to 22 a while back.

    I really liked this episode. I’ve never watched SHAMELESS, so that actor is totally new to me, but damn – he really “felt” like the Joker in that scene at the end. He’s got the laugh down perfectly. I wasn’t crazy about them bringing in the Joker this early in the series’ run, but now I’ll kind of be disappointed if that kid’s NOT the Joker. I wonder if we’ll see the blind guy again too? There’s kind of an Alfred/Bruce feeling to the Fortune Teller/Joker relationship that I wonder if they’ll expand upon…it would be a nice parallel to what’s happening with Bruce.

    I really didn’t understand the point of the whole board meeting…I thought Bruce would pull out some documents or something, but he just put them on notice. Hopefully, that will get expanded on in the weeks to come.

  2. Really good episode here, Monaghan was in top performance mode here, channeling a bit of Ledgers Joker and Nicholsons Joker plus the laugh was downright perfect. This kid should be the Joker in the Suicide Squad, screw Jarred Leto 🙂

    Next Episode is called the Red Hood, which its hard to say what the episode will contain right yet, but as one of the only back stories to The Joker (as far as I found out) he runs a thug group called the Red Hoods before he falls into the Vat of junk that turns him into the Joker. Whether the show is about this, who knows yet, but I think its too coincidental that he acts like this and then the next episode is named after his origins….either way, this is becoming one of my current favorite shows to watch and I’m glad its doing well 🙂

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