GOTHAM Season 1 Episode 12
Episode Title: “What the Little Bird Told Him”
Writer: Ben Edlund
Director: Eagle Egilsson
Imagine what “Gotham” would be like if it was a good show with competent writing. “Tick” creator and “Supernatural” veteran Ben Edlund almost makes it work this week by leaving out Bruce Wayne and Alfred while focusing on Gordon’s case and the big mob showdown.
Some of it’s actually good. But even in this episode, there are plenty of stupid moments.
After letting The Electrocutioner aka Jack Gruber (Christopher Heyerdahl) escape Arkham with his brain damaged henchman (and probably a “Gotham” staff writer) Aaron Helzinger (Kevin McCormick), glorified Arkham Asylum security guard James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) struts into the GCPD and demands to be a part of the case.
To his dismay, Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) finds that his job is also on the line when Gordon coerces Police Commissioner Gillian B. Loeb (Peter Scolari) into reinstating him as a detective in order to catch Gruber. Privately, Gordon admits to Bullock that he has no idea how to catch Gruber, but there’s an arbitrary 24 hour ticking clock for them to do so.
Meanwhile, future Riddler, Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) continues his romantic pursuit of the police file woman with a bullet in a cupcake, and it’s so painful to watch. I’m gonna have to blame the writing here, Edlund fans!
Fishing For Carmine
Professional Eartha Kitt impersonator, Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith) decides that now is the time to move on Carmine Falcone (John Doman). First, Fish orders the staged kidnapping her mole, Liza (Makenzie Leigh). Then Fish contacts the Don herself and offers to act as a broker for Liza’s life.
In a very solid scene, Falcone calls out Fish to take responsibility for her actions and she admits that she was behind the kidnapping. Over the objections of his top killer, Victor Zsasz (Anthony Carrigan), Falcone agrees to accept exile from Gotham City in exchange for Liza’s safe return.
Butch Gilzean (Drew Powell) prematurely celebrates Fish’s victory, but Fish seems to actually care about Falcone’s fate. However, Liza appears to have developed real affection for Falcone, which earns her a warning from Fish.
Penguin Under Glass
Oswald Cobblepot aka The Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor) receives an urgent summons from Falcone and he tells his boss, Sal Maroni (David Zayas) that his mother is sick. However, Penguin is electrocuted by Gruber during an attempt on Maroni’s life. Gordon and Bullock realize that Gruber is targeting Maroni for revenge and they convince him to let them take him into protective custody.
Unfortunately for Penguin, he wakes up from his shock therapy and mentions his pressing business with Don Falcone… within earshot of Falcone’s top rival, Maroni. It’s really silly, but Taylor makes even the crappier parts of “Gotham” bearable.
The Pointless Tea Interlude
Speaking of unbearable, Barbara Kean (Erin Richards) drops by the home of her extremely rich parents and she has tea with them while lying about how happy she is with Gordon. The Keans seem even more stiff and one-dimensional than Barbara herself! It’s a really stupidly written and performed scene that drags down the rest of the episode.
Back the GCPD, Gruber makes a second attempt on Maroni’s life by electrocuting the entire precinct. Only Gordon is protected because of his Riddler issued rubber shoes. And then Gordon easily beats Gruber and Helzinger before getting his job back and threatening Commissioner Loeb if it ever happens again.
After seemingly convincing a suspicious Maroni that he didn’t mean to say “Falcone,” Penguin visits the fallen mob boss and tells him that Liza was Fish’s mole from the start. Enraged, Falcone cancels his plans to flee the city and visits Fish’s club himself. Once there, he determines that Penguin was telling the truth and he murders Liza in front of Fish and Butch.
Off screen, Zsasz and the other henches kill most of Fish’s men before capturing Fish and Butch. But before they get marched off to their fate, Falcone brings in Penguin to say goodbye to Fish as she realizes that he’s been working for Falcone all along.
That was actually really good. Why can’t the rest of the show be like this?
The Love Doctor
Throughout the episode, Dr. Leslie Thompkins (Morena Baccarin) pops up with some information about Gruber (involving a ludicrous voodoo doll) while flirting with Gordon. And she’s immediately more interesting than Barbara simply by not being a complete moron. It helps that Baccarin is also a better actress than Richards. But Edlund still gives Dr. Thompkins some campy dialogue with Gordon.
In the end, Thompkins visits Gordon at the precinct and they’re playing tonsil hockey less than three minutes later. But she’s still an upgrade over Barbara! Before Gordon can go further with the good doc, one of his idiot colleagues interrupts them to relate the news of the shootout at Fish’s nightclub.
Against all odds, that was actually an entertaining episode of “Gotham.” But don’t worry, I’m sure that next week’s episode of “Gotham” will slink back into the comfortable mediocrity that has come to define the show.