‘Gotham’: ‘What the Little Bird Told Him’ – Review

As previously predicted, Jim Gordon’s time at Arkham has already come to a close on this week’s Gotham. Our white knight manages to strong-arm his way back onto the force with an improvised bluff that ultimately pans out in his favor. He assures the Commissioner he knows how to find Jack Gruber (aka “The Electrocutioner”), and the Commissioner gives him 24-hours to prove he’s right, with a promise of reinstatement if he is successful. Unshockingly (haha) he is, with the help of his partner and the clearly admiring Dr. Thompkins – Lee – who brings him a patient-made voodoo dolls that helps crack the case.

Turns out “Gruber” is an alias taken on when our antagonist managed to bribe his way into Arkham from the regular prison population, where he was being held as a career criminal in league with Maroni. His breakout finds him hunting the mob boss down for some good old fashion retribution, all cloaked in rubber, with a large electricity generator strapped to his chest. As far as supervillains are concerned, he certainly makes for menacing one…as long as he stays dry. In a climax reminiscent of that infamous Indian Jones gag, Gruber stands before Gordon in all his sinister glory, having just electrocuted the entire police precinct into unconsciousness, save for Gordon, who was the only one smart enough to wear protective rubber goulashes. Gordon has managed to take out Gruber’s mind-controlled lackey, but Gruber still seems to hold the upper hand – if the cinematography in this sequence is anything to go by – until Jim casually picks up a cup of coffee and throws it over Gruber’s machine, which makes a faint whine and quickly sputters into a defunct hunk of metal.

Honestly, I can’t tell which is more unbelievable – the fact that the entire police precinct knew Gruber was coming (they set a trap for him with Maroni as bait!) and did not bother to insulate themselves with protective gear, too. OR the fact that Gruber is supposed to be an electrical genius and a criminal mastermind, and he did not managed to have the foresight to protect his primary weapon from the likes of inclement weather, not to mention spilled coffee. But whatever, we got to see Ben Mackenzie’s fantastic arms by the episode’s end, so I have some forgiveness for the plotholes.

Elsewhere, Fish Mooney makes her move on Falcone, ‘kidnapping’ Eliza and holding her hostage on the terms that Falcone gets to leave with her if Mooney gets to be the new big fish in town. At first he agrees, finding the idea of retirement appealing; but when he discovers from Cobblepot at the last minute that Eliza was a plant all along, Falcone instead takes Fish Mooney and her second captive, and ruthlessly strangles Eliza to death. The scene is quite disturbing, since the episode takes pains to show the level of genuine affection he has for her. And I will admit, it was also very effective at reasserting that underneath Falcone’s seemingly refined, rather pleasant gentlemanly veneer is the leader of an enormous organization of deadly criminals.

Although the failure of Fish Mooney to overtake Falcone was predictable – since in the Batman universe, he is still running things when Bruce Wayne first takes up the mantle – it was also rather disappointing. Watching her plan almost come to fruition was thoroughly captivating, and I could not help but feel a distinct twinge of regret on her behalf. She kinda deserved her victory over Falcone, if you ask me. But he kept her alive and I suspect she’ll worm her way out of the ultimate punishment. She’s clever like that. I don’t think this is the ultimate downfall of Fish Mooney. I think it is merely the end of round one.

Barbara Kean actually got some interesting character development/background last night as well. Having been kicked out of Renee Montoya’s place and thinking Jim has shacked up with another woman in her penthouse, Barbara shows up on her very wealthy parent’s doorstep and bizarrely has to explain to the butler opening the door who she is. She is clearly not on the best of terms with her very stiff, upper-crust parents, who invite her in for tea, and allow her to stay, but are extremely cold about the whole thing. This is frankly the first time I’ve found Barbara’s story interesting in its own right and I hope they continue to develop her beyond her relationship with Jim, which was always major snoozeville. He’s definitely better off with Thompkins, if their steamy kiss in the men’s locker room was anything to go by.

kiss

And speaking of romance, Ed Nygma continued to fulfill his role last night as the helpful but creepy forensic analyst with good intentions and terrible social skills. He apparently is still pursuing his coworker, the nominally Yuletide Kristen Kringle, this time utilizing a cupcake and a live bullet, which he claims is a riddle for the adage “A beautiful woman is a dangerous thing.” She is understandably weirded out by Nygma’s ill-conceived come-on and bemoans its creepiness along with its destruction of a perfectly good cupcake.

When Kristen first showed up in the episode “Spirit of the Goat,” I was under the impression her role was temporary and perfunctory, meant to serve only as a display of Nygma’s social incompetence. Now, however, it seems like there is more to her and her interactions with Ed. There might be a real story brewing there after all, one that I hope does not fall into one of the many clichés it seems perched upon at this moment: fridging the woman to generate man-pain, damseling the woman to redeem the creepy guy’s creepiness when he saves her, hurting the woman as a means to get at the man, or worst of all, using her rejection of him as the catalyst for his villainy. Please Gotham, stay away from those tropes, especially that last one. They are all very gender-regressive, not to mention bad writing. Some comic-book clichés are much better off in the trash.