I am beginning to like Gotham the most when it lays a majority of its cards on the table and has episodes that could feel like a season finale or at least a mid-season break. This week’s Gotham is not as good as Penguin’s Umbrella or even Lovecraft (hey, what’s Harvey Dent been up to?), but it does move some of the pieces around significantly by both diving headfirst into the Fish/Falcone situation and unfortunately ending Gordon’s time at Arkham. I say “unfortunately” because it would have been nice to have more of a break between Det. Gordon and Security Guard Gordon, but if it means the momentum of the series is going to speed up, while relying on less of the entire cast in every episode, I am all for it.
Let’s talk about Gordon first. Last week he was knocked down a peg by letting Christopher Heyerdahl’s Jack Gruber get the better of him and escape Arkham, with his associate Aaron Helzinger in tow. That said, it allows Gordon to make a play for getting his old job back, with Bullock initially excited, before realizing that he has been set up to take a big fall with Gordon if the two of them cannot catch Gruber. This plot is basically put in motion by Commissioner Loeb (played by Peter Scolari), who makes his series debut as a no-nonsense type, despite having the same sort of seedy disposition as Mayor James.
All of this is fine. It is not the most innovative material, but the show is at least at a point where Jimmy & The Bulls have the kind of chemistry you want to see in a pulpy cop series. Given the lack of his involvement with Lil’ Bruce, Barbara, and Cat this week, I am just fine with seeing Ben McKenzie do a regular cop show thing and get down to business. This, of course, leads us to Jack Gruber’s redubbing as “The Electrocutioner.” As a villain, Heyerdahl certainly sinks his teeth into this performance. It may not be the most compelling storyline in terms of what he wants and why he is doing it, but in terms of theatricality, he rivals Victor Zsasz AND The Balloonman with the presence he brings when entering a scene (that 2nd one is a joke).
It helps that this plotline ties into what we see of Penguin and Maroni this week. With the clamps pressing down around Fish and Falcone’s storyline, Penguin believes it is time for him to relish his role as a secret rat for Falcone. Unfortunately, while attempting to sneak away from what appears to be a hilarious storytelling session with Maroni, The Electrocutioner attacks, which leads to Maroni and the boys heading to the GCPD for protection. Penguin nearly gets caught in his lies, only to have The Electocutioner make his appearance, knocking out everyone around him with the exception of Gordon, who decided to wear his department issue rubber galoshes.
Reading that back it sounds a bit silly, but what we do get is a series of fun tension building episodes between Maroni, whose attitude can turn on a dime, and Penguin, who is always fun to see in panic mode. We also get to see Gordon have another face-off against a big villain at the very unprotected GCPD, despite claims suggesting otherwise. With that in mind, while the threat is real enough and Gordon gets to have a fight with Helzinger, the actual takedown of The Electrocutioner is pretty fun in itself. It is a simple resolution really, but I enjoyed that more than the possibility of seeing Gordon just punch an old man a lot. All of this leads to Gordon getting his old job back, so bully for him and the GCPD, despite what would appear to be a lot of thin ice under Gordon, given his reputation and cause of irritation for both the Mayor and the Commissioner.
Elsewhere, this episode spends a lot of time with Falcone and his situation. Liza is kidnapped, but we all know that Fish has Liza in her pocket, so it is not really a matter of what will happen to Liza (so we may think), but how this will play out in the mob war that has been brewing. Unfortunately for Fish, Penguin gets in the way of things. At first Falcone was willing to let it all go, both because he recognizes the age he is living in matching up to how long he has been at it and because of a genuine amount of love for Liza. That all comes crumbling down once the deceit has been made clear.
I am not sure where things are headed for Fish (I doubt this show is about to ditch Jada Pinkett-Smith), but seeing Falcone strangle Liza, with the scene closing out on Penguin grinning menacingly enough, gives me reason to be intrigued by what will happen in a war that did not have nearly as much public destruction as some may have thought (though Maroni and Falcone may still have cards to deal to each other). What I have enjoyed here most was seeing John Doman do his work as Falcone, a level-headed crime boss, who provides enough presence to make this role work and make this plot feel like it has weight to it.
The episode leaves us with another curious thread, which is the presence of Dr. Leslie Thompkins. She stops by the men’s locker room to chat with Gordon, but really the two of them just want to deliver on the natural chemistry they seem to share, even if they have only known each other for what would amount to several hours. Regardless, there was not much time for love, because a shootout at Fish’s place interrupts the two and closes out this episode.
What “What the Little Bird Told Him” may lack in series defining scenes, it makes up for by having only a couple plotlines to follow, a villain who makes for a grand enough theatrical presence, and some delivery on what Fish only kept talking about for weeks. If Gotham is finally more confident with how to balance the amount of characters and tone of the show, I am all for seeing more episode strive for something like this and hopefully more in the future, as this latter half of the season heads toward some kind of conclusion.
From Det. Jim Gordon’s Police Files:
- So Gotham was picked up for a second season, hopefully signaling the return of The Balloonman! #AmIRight
- Is Jim Gordon homeless?
- No signs of any of the kids this week. Nice to take a break from them.
- Oh Barbara: This week, Barbara goes to her parents’ home to have awkward conversations and then stare blankly at things. Oh Barbara.
- Nice to see Victor Zsasz again. He shows up to remind us of what he is capable of and is a fun presence in general.
- This week in Nygma: Ed offers his crush a riddle in the form of a treat – a cupcake with a bullet in it. The answer: A beautiful woman can be a dangerous thing.
- “Fried like a donut” – Not many great Bullock lines this week, but he chimes in when he can.
- The show is having fun with Batman’s rogue’s galleries with someone obscure like The Electrocutioner and more obscure like Amydgala.
- This week’s Classic Gordon Clip.