12 “What the Little Bird Told Him” (Gotham season 1) [SPOILERS]


After Gotham‘s ignominious return to screens last week, I’m a little shier about getting excited. Once bitten and all that…

Arkham was disappointing, yes, but I can rationalise that away — to an extent — that this show is called Gotham, not Arkham. So a return to former glories is not at all impossible.

It needs to return to the spirit of what it’s trying to catch, the vastness of a mythos decades old. There were times last year when Gotham did really manage to hold onto the idea of a city falling apart — an atmosphere which was more important than the appearance of minor, or even major, Batman villains.

On with the show…

To my mild surprise, Gotham has decided to carry on from last week pretty directly. Jack Gruber is on the loose, and Gordon blackmails the Commissioner into letting him onto the case. Gruber, though, is after revenge against a one-time partner who turned on him, a familiar face to the show. Meanwhile the mob-wars heat up, as Fish Mooney decides to make her move against Falcone.

So Gordon firstly. Maybe the writers have decided not to bother with Arkham, because this episode Jim gets his shield back. Blackmailing his way onto the Gruber case, if he catches the killer then he gets back on the force. If he doesn’t, he and Harvey are slung on the Arkham scrapheap. Harvey, naturally, is thrilled.

Fortunately, Arkham dispenses him a clue that the partner is in fact Maroni, who Gruber conveniently attacks. So Gordon brings the gangsters to the GCPD, and waits for Gruber’s attack. The resultant tense standoff is cool, but gets cooler when he defuses the situation with a cup of water. Very Indiana Jones.

In the world of the Falcone-flavour criminals, Mooney decides that it’s time to force Falcone out. She kidnaps her plant, Liza, and threatens to kill her if he doesn’t leave Gotham and sign everything over to her. He’s willing to go along with it, until the Penguin plants the seed of doubt in his mind, that Liza is working for Fish.

Gotham’s premier mob boss regretfully strangles Liza, and has Fish and Butch taken away. It’s a sudden escalation of violence from a man who hasn’t previously been disposed to such acts. What was surprising, to the audience and to Fish, was how ready he was to accept his end. A conversation with Victor Zsasz, where the enforcer tries to persuade his boss to fight, is especially moving.

Penguin, though, has gotten himself in a world of trouble. When Falcone calls, his rush to his true master’s side is interupted by the Electrocutioner’s attack, and in a daze he lets slip to Maroni that he’s working for Falcone. Oops!

Those are the main plot lines, but we get a nice sub-plot with my favourite Gotham character, Ed Nygma. He’s still pursuing the records keeper Miss Kringle, leaving her a cupcake with a bullet in as a “riddle” (a beautiful woman is a deadly think, apparently…). She brushes him off, though she is clearly flattered, and amused by his jokes. But you can see poor Ed’s heart break as, within earshot, she tells a detective, “He’s so weird.”

So Gotham is back on track. This was a really good episode which advanced the plot, with more of its trademark twists, and brought back the excitement of the show. Gordon’s stint at Arkham feels a bit redundant, since it only lasted one episode, but whatever. I’d rather just put that little bit behind us.

One thing which is being kept from the Arkham time, is Dr Thompkins. Or “Lee”. She helps Jim investigate, and at the end ambushes him in the men’s locker room, for a quick kiss to set up a Jim-Barbara-Lee love triangle. Only to be interupted by a policeman telling Jim that there’s been a shootout at Fish Mooney’s place.

Given that there hadn’t been any shots fired when we left the mobsters, this is the cliffhanger of the episode. My bet? Maroni followed Penguin to Falcone, and attacked them all. Falcone and Penguin have to survive for the Batman canon, and they’ll want to hang on to the excellent character that is Fish Mooney, but how it unfolds is up for grabs.

And that, I guess, is what we tune in for next week.

Closing thoughts:

  • Penguin monologuing in a room of the mobsters he has infiltrated is one of this episodes stupider points.
  • Maroni, Italian-American crime boss, asks for a “double expresso”. I actually despair…
  • The Kean’s freaky butler make me miss Alfred. Who, along with Bruce Wayne, takes another episode off.
  • “You think you’ve been careful until now?” Bullock asks Jim, incredulously. Given that Gordon kidnapped the mayor and attacked the mob, I have to agree with Bullock.
  • The GCPD desk sergeant is just the worst at his job.

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