TV Review: Gotham - Season 1 Episode 12 "What the Little Bird Told Him"
Episode 12: "What the Little Bird Told Him"
Synopsis: In an attempt to get his job back, Gordon seeks to capture Jack Gruber, a deranged electrical genius who escapes Arkham Asylum. Meanwhile, Falcone struggles to hold onto his empire after Fish Mooney makes her next move.
Recap: A strange thing happens in this episode of GOTHAM. After eleven chapters in the ongoing development of Jim Gordon and the future Rogue's Gallery of Batman villains, we finally get our first episode that directly carries a minor villain and plot from the previous episode. Yes, this is a highly serialized show, but until this week you could have easily dropped into any episode and not felt like you missed anything. Finally, viewers have been given an incentive to be caught up on the series.
While Jack Gruber regains access to his electrical death machines in a cool scene set to Johnny Cash's elegaic "God's Gonna Cut You Down", Jim Gordon challenges the Gotham Police Commissioner Gillian Loeb (a Batman: Year One reference) to reinstate him so he can track down the escaped Arkham inmates. The Commish is not a fan of Gordon and Bullock and grants them 24 hours to bring Gruber in or they will be shipped back to security duty at the asylum. Edward Nygma discovers Gruber's real name is Lester Buchinsky and he wanted to be transferred to Arkham. Buchinsky was a successful bank robber but used access at the asylum to try and get his revenge. Gordon and Bullock soon discover the electronic store where Jack regained his tools.
Now dubbed The Electrocutioner, Gordon and Bullock continue to theorize on what the escapee plans next when Dr.Thompkins arrives from Arkham with a clue. A doll created by Buchinsky he called Mr. M bears a passing resemblance to Don Moroni (I say passing when it actually looks nothing like him). We find Moroni holding court while Buchinsky waits outside in a van. Penguin gets a call from Falcone and as he steps away is electrocuted by the doorknob to the restaurant. As Moroni and his men try to determine what happened , an EMP detonates, injuring them all. Gordon deduces that Moroni was one of the bank robbers that Buchinsky is trying to get vengeance on and suggests putting him in protective custody as bait for Jack. At that moment, an unconscious Penguin wakes up and spouts nonsense about needing to see Falcone.
We get a brief flashback to Carmine Falcone as a child as he attends a wake. In contemporary Gotham, Falcone offers Liza the chance to be on her own but she elects to stay with him, still oblivious to her ulterior motives on behalf of Fish Mooney. As Liza shops for Don Falcone's dinner, masked men kidnap the girl. Fish reveals Liza's kidnapping as part of a plan and call Falcone with ransom demands.
Barbara visits her parents at their estate. Why we keep getting these scenes featuring her is beyond me as her story is nothing more than filler at this point. There is clearly an estragement between Barbara and her parents who begrudgingly allow her to stay with them. Barbara even lies to them regarding her relationship with Jim. Again, why this scene even exists in this episode is still beyond me as it doesn't even fit anything else in the hour. It did serve to remind me that it has been multiple episodes since we have seen Bruce Wayne, another in a long line of inconsistency on this show.
Back at GCPD, Penguin comes to and is confronted by Moroni about his mentioning of Falcone earlier. Penguin struggles to explain himself but it may already be too late. Fish Mooney calls Falcone and pretends to be brokering a deal for the kidnappers. Falcone immediately knows she is behind it all to which Fish readily admits. Fish tells Falcone all he needs to do is leave Gotham and she will not be harmed. Falcone agrees and tells Fish she was always his favorite. While Fish still respects Falcone, Falcone respects her as well and refuses Victor Zsaz's request to kill her and her crew.
Edward Nygma explains his affectionate riddle to Ms. Kringle only to be shooed away by another cop. Nygma notices the lights fading, a sure sign of the presence of The Electrocutioner whom we see cutting a hole in the way of the police station. Buchinsky knocks everyone unconscious with another EMP, but Gordon's rubber galoshes saved him. Buchinsky cites the same message about Gotham not being worth saving to which Gordon once again proclaims his mission to save everyone...blah,blah, blah. All it ends up taking is a glass of water and Buchinsky is in cuffs and Gordon getting his badge back. Well, so much for that stint at Arkham.
Penguin finally arrives at Falcone's home and reveals to Falcone that Fish planted Liza and it was a setup from the start. Falcone slaps Penguin and demands he prove what he is contending, but Falcone refuses to believe him. At that moment, Fish calls and brokers a deal for Falcone to arrive at her club in one hour. Falcone demands to see Liza and confronts her about whether she and Fish knew each other. Falcone then realizes Fish's plan and chokes Liza to death. Falcone has Fish and Butch locked up and thanksher for reinvigorating him before revealing to her that Penguin was his informant the whole time.
The episode closes with Dr. Thompkins running into Gordon coming out of the shower and asks for Buchinsky's doll back. Gordon asks if that was why she came and the two kiss, likely the only paid off development on the show in a while. As the two begin to get hot, a cop comes in to reveal the shootout at Fish Mooney's.
Verdict: 6/10 Gotham PD Badges
GOTHAM is getting very close to alienating viewers the way AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. did around the mid-point of of that show's debut season. There is a startling inconsistency on this show as too many characters continue to be introduced while worthwhile stories are given the short shrift. I really don't care about Bruce Wayne, Barbara Kean, or Selina Kyle. The criminals in the Moroni and Falcone families vying for control of Gotham is much more interesting. There is so much potential in Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock investigating crime in Gotham but the showrunners still feel like we need at least a half dozen comic book references each week, which we don't.
The big plots of each episode are either overcooked or too cheesy while individual scenes peppered through each hour are much more interesting than the whole episode. Plus, villains are thrown around like set dressing rather than explored. The Electrocutioner, a potentially cool recurring foe, is given less than 15 minutes of screen time in the last two hours of GOTHAM, which essentially neuters the character's menace. GOTHAM may have already been renewed for a second season but the showrunners really need to find a balance that works or next year may be the final season.
Next Episode: "Welcome Back, Jim Gordon" airs January 26th: When the key witness in a homicide ends up dead while being held for questioning by the police, Gordon suspects that it’s an inside job and looks to an old friend for information. Meanwhile, Oswald Cobblepot takes control of one of Fish Mooney’s prized possessions, as she gets a gets a small taste of her own medicine.