Gotham returned a couple of weeks ago, and then took a week off again, but comes back tonight with a real spark. “What the Little Bird Told Him” allows the conflict between the crime families to come to a head, which puts the slippery Penguin in an awkward position as he gets himself trapped between the warring families. As for Gordon, the stubborn detective has yet to learn any semblance of subtlety at this point in his career, and continues to tackle his roadblocks head-on. So between Penguin and Gordon’s tactics, which will prove more rewarding by episode’s end?
Hit the jump for my Gotham recap.
Yep, another episode without a hint of young Master Wayne’s journey to become Batman.
Bullock’s Path to Redemption:
While Harvey Bullock has significantly more screen time than Wayne, he doesn’t get to do much to move him along on his redemptive path. True, he does stick by Gordon’s side even after his partner gets him in hot water with the Commissioner, but that’s about all he does. This hour was dedicated to Gordon, and to a lesser extent, Penguin.
Gordon still hasn’t learned any humility from his brief (ie one episode…) stint as a guard at Arkham Asylum. While I feel like it’s a waste of a good storytelling opportunity to pull Gordon from this position so soon, it’s clear that the writers wanted to get him back into the department as quickly as possible. The path he takes in order to make this happen is a strange one, as he shows up at the police station and berates the Commissioner into granting him 24 hours as a Detective so that he can apprehend the escaped Jack Gruber and his brainwashed accomplice Aaron Helzinger.
Speaking of the gruesome twosome, Gruber (now dubbed the Electrocutioner) and his henchman head to Irwin’s Electronics in order to reclaim the electrical genius’s old equipment. To do so, they first electrocute the poor clerk, and then fry Irwin’s brains to the point of causing him to write the same thing over and over again.
Back at GCPD, ever-creepy Edward Nygma figures out that Jack Gruber’s real name is Jack Bukinski, and that the felon wanted to get himself tossed into Arkham. Gordon and Bullock plan to track down Jack’s partners from his previous capers in order to get a lead on his whereabouts. Right on cue, Dr. Leslie Thompkins arrives at the GCPD. She fills Gordon in on a pagan sorceress that resides in Arkham (of course) who curses voodoo dolls for clients in exchange for sweets. One of the dolls apparently looks like Don Maroni…
Cut to Maroni and his crew enjoying dinner at their favorite restaurant. The Electrocutioner was one step ahead of the cops, since he booby traps the front door and then walks in and drops a electromagnetic bomb that knocks Maroni’s gang for a loop. Gordon shows up and reminds Maroni, who’s recovering from the shock in a waiting ambulance, that Bukinski once worked for him, and is now out to harm him, along with anyone else who’s in his way. Maroni agrees to go into protective police custody in order to help them take the Electrocutioner down.
It isn’t long before the mad genius attacks Maroni at the police department headquarters itself. Though his machinations manage to incapacitate most of the department, Gordon is left standing. The born-again detective tries to take him down, but a combination of the Electrocutioner’s gadgets and his muscular henchman make that difficult. After Gordon knocks out Helzinger, Bukinski actually makes a fairly astute assertion that Gordon doesn’t do this job for his love for the law, but rather his hatred of losing. Their conflict ends without drama as Gordon throws a cup of water on the villain’s electrical suit, essentially shorting him out.
Now that Gordon is (presumably) back in the good graces of the Commissioner, it’s as good a time as any for him to spark up his romantic life again. Dr. Thompkins peeks in on the Men’s Locker Room … waiting for Jim. Turns out that Gordon has been living at the GCPD locker room, and that these two are apparently into each other as they share a kiss after a brief and awkward silence. A guard interrupts their fun to tell Gordon that there’s been a big shootout at Fish Mooney’s place.
Though this section is about Penguin, his character progression is really only seen through the events that unfold between the rival crime families. First up, Falcone experiences a brief Godfather-like memory of his mother’s funeral during his childhood before the camera pulls back to reveal him ordering the execution of one of his own kin in contemporary times. He walks with his dearest companion, Liza, in the rain and offers her a fresh start, but she opts to stay by his side. Keep this sweet interaction in mind, because Liza is soon kidnapped from a market, but it’s by Fish Mooney’s people. Mooney calls Falcone threatening to hurt her if he doesn’t cooperate.
The first time we see Penguin in this episode is when he’s at dinner with Maroni. He gets a call from Falcone telling him about Liza’s kidnapping. When Penguin tries to leave, he gets zapped by the Electrocutioner’s booby trap. Penguin gets knocked out, only to wake up from his shock, and momentarily reveals that he’s working with Falcone; not the brightest move. When Maroni makes the police department his new home, an unconscious Penguin is along for the ride. Penguin comes to and Maroni asks him about his urgent business with Falcone, which the slippery one manages to weasel his way out of.
Meanwhile, Fish calls Falcone inquiring about Liza and he immediately knows she’s behind the ransom attempt. Fish admits her part in it and tells him that she wants him to leave Gotham for good, allowing him to take Liza, and he somehow agrees… Fish isn’t exactly thrilled with the result, but knows it’s for the best since Falcone would have ended up getting killed by a rival at some point. At the same time, Zsasz makes an appearance alongside Falcone, who concedes that it’s probably time for him to step away. Zsasz tries to remind him who he is, and that he’s owed respect. Falcone wants to retire to the countryside with Liza, and he tasks Victor with keeping him safe throughout it all.
Penguin eventually arrives at Falcone’s and informs him that Liza has been in Fish’s employ all along. Falcone doesn’t want to believe it. He agrees to meet at Fish’s place and then accuses Fish of setting him up. He brings Zsasz and his team to neutralize Fish and Butch, while Falcone himself chokes Liza to death. For some reason, he keeps Fish and Butch alive, but locked up. He calls out his informant, and Penguin waddles to the front of the club in order to say goodbye to Fish and Butch.
This is a decent episode for Gordon’s character with respect to his tenacity, but the main man sure doesn’t learn a whole lot. He seems to have gotten a handle on how to get by in Gotham by the end of this episode as he and Bullock are buddy-buddy when they go out for drinks after a hard day’s work. But I’m not entirely convinced he’s earned this good will. Penguin, on the other hand, has definitely worked for everything he has. Sure, some of his status was gained by luck, but most of it was through scheming, plotting, and aligning himself with the right people at the right time. At this point in Gotham’s existence, I wish Penguin would be the one running the entire show.
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars
I love that the Electrocutioner and his henchman are the most conspicuous characters in Gotham, but no one seems to pay them any attention. Just a six-and-a-half-foot guy carrying car batteries strapped to his chest and arms; nothing to see here.
Bullock: “You’re like a human rollercoaster, except you only go down.” Nygma: “Wouldn’t that make him more of an elevator?”
Kristen Kringle: “You left this on my desk.” Nygma: “It’s a riddle.” Kringle: “It’s a cupcake with a live bullet in it.”
Nygma: “In the event of … electrical misadventure, your footwear should be insulated.”
Though it has nothing to do with the plot, Barbara shows up at her very rich parents’ place unannounced. The stuffy older couple don’t seem too pleased to see her but grudgingly let her stay a few nights. They ask about James but Barbara avoids the truth. And what exactly are we supposed to do with this little aside?
Bullock: “When you use a tethered goat as bait, shouldn’t the goat be out in the jungle and not in the house?”
Nygma: “The cupcake is sweet. The bullet is deadly. A beautiful woman’s a dangerous thing.”
Nygma gets a rude awakening from another cop when he tries to flirt with Miss Kringle again. Riddle me this! Who will Nygma’s first victim be once he goes full villain? Answer: Totally gonna be that cop.
Electrocutioner: “They didn’t cook, just stunned. I expected more …. Oomph.”
Falcone: “I’m very disappointed in my own stupidity.”