GOTHAM Delivers Some Mild Shocks

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GOTHAM: Logo.
Episode 112 “What A Little Bird Told Him”

[Photos: Jessica Miglio/FOX]

Gotham returns with Jim Gordon hell bent for leather as he blackmails Commissioner Loeb, chases Jack Gruber on a deadline, and sucks face with Leslie Thompkins while Barbara Kean runs home to Mommy and Daddy and remains the terrible character we know and love.

Check that.

The main thrust of this episode is to rehabilitate Gordon back into wearing a detective badge, and it’s really something that should have played out over several episodes. Mainly because I’d like to see our hero swing in the wind a little more to prove his resourcefulness — and also to spend more time with Dr. Thompkins so the whole sordid affair actually has some logical basis for it — and to also give Gordon more of an edge. He’s still the spit-shine military Boy Scout. And while he’s learning very quickly how to play the game, he’s still too polished.

Bullock, on the other hand, is getting more respectable, while at the same time staying wrapped in his “I don’t give a crap” cloak of amorality. He even tries to distance himself from Gordon (“Can I take this opportunity to say I have no rebellious fire?”) immediately after trying to protect him.

Commissioner Loeb, played here by Bosom Buddy Peter Scolari (he’s never going to get away from it…), is ruthless and perfectly concerned with his own self-interests. Gordon, of course, sees right through it, knows that Loeb is desperate and so makes a deal to get his badge back in exchange for running down Gruber. Loeb gives Gordon and Bullock twenty-four hours, or else they’re both out.

By now, Bullock’s probably wondering just what he did to deserve a partner like James Gordon.

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Gruber, meanwhile, has used his personal valet robot mindless slave Aaron Helzinger to help him collect his gear, conveniently stowed at Irwin’s Electronics. Hapless Irwin should have invested in sea monkeys instead, as he becomes yet another victim of Gruber’s electrolobotomy and channels Bart Simpson in detention after school…

Naturally, Gordon and Bullock immediately start a city-wide search for Irwin’s vehicle, which has “Irwin’s Electronics” on the side for all to see — wait a minute. No, they don’t.

Hand of the writer much?

This is a point A to point B episode in terms of getting Gordon back to GCPD after his fall from grace, and it really should have lasted longer than just one episode. I know the show is building up to something “big” at the finale, but really… let him stew for a bit.

The other — and more interesting — piece of the plot dealt with Fish Mooney finally making her move against Carmine Falcone. Kidnapping Liza, Fish plays her hand and almost — almost — has Falcone convinced to move out to the country, trade in his Chevy for a Cadillac-ac-ack-ack-ack-ack.

But…

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Penguin finally gets to Falcone after spending most of the day unconscious from being electrocuted when Gruber bombed Maroni’s restaurant and pretty much telegraphed he was coming after Maroni, who was among a group of bank job partners on a job that went South. Gruber found a way to hide behind a false identity and get transferred to Arkham, where he could do his experiments.

Maroni is starting to suspect something’s up with Penguin. It will be interesting to see how this plays out, as Penguin is there when Falcone confronts Fish with the knowledge that Liza has played him. Falcone, insulted that Fish would use the memory of his mother as a manipulative tactic, kills Liza with his bare hands before taking Fish and Butch prisoner.

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So, Falcone re-establishes his position as the Grand Pooh-Bah of Gotham, thanks to Fish’s meddling. Penguin now finds himself with the Grand Pooh-Bah owing him a favor. Maybe more than a cannoli? Could Penguin see this as a way to take over Fish’s operation? That would get him out from under Maroni’s scrutiny, certainly. And Maroni would have his suspicions confirmed, making him even more of an enemy for Falcone.

All in all, a nice little Gangster Tale. Too bad the rest of the episode was a little rushed.

And Barbara went home to Stately Kean Manor. And lied to her parents that she and James (“the policeman” — say it with haughtiness and disdain) are happy. Happy, she says!

I’m telling you, this had better be one of the most profound, insightful, earth-shattering, timey-twisty, never-saw-it-coming wha-huh arcs on television I’ve ever seen by the time we get to the season finale. Because right now, Barbara-dressed-as-Batgirl is still the most worthless character in the show.

And where are Montoya and Allen during all of this mess?

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One bright bit of fun: Nygma’s flirting with Miss Kringle. Yes, she’s hot and a little nerdy. Yes, we’re supposed to draw the comparison between Miss Kringle and Harley Quinn, I’m sure. And it seems Ed’s made a crack in the Kringle Wall. Despite her saying “he’s so weird” to the cop who interrupted their little tête-à-tête, I think that was more for the uniform’s benefit. Nygma just happened to overhear it, so the audience gets Sad Face on his behalf.

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Comparing other elements of the show to the source material, it’s clear the writers are taking the Gordon-Essen affair from Batman: Year One and transferring it to Gordon-Thompkins. Except Jim’s not married to Barbara, and Barbara’s a useless character no one cares about, so I’m not sure Jim and “Lee” having kissy-face is really all that much of a high-impact moment. Certainly, it’s no surprise. I’m more surprised the GCPD is letting Gordon live in the men’s locker room.

Who does that? Remember, Barbara left Jim and the apartment. Is his name not on the lease yet, maybe? She never told him to leave the apartment. Why wouldn’t he stay there, except to demonstrate for Dr. Thompkins (and the audience) just how dire his straits are at the moment?

Hand of the writer. But OK. Overall, it’s a decent episode. Got Gordon back in harness too soon, but I can live with that on the assumption that the season’s building to something really big.

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[Show Web Site at FOX]     [Previous Recap: 111 “Rogues Gallery”]

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Jason P. Hunt

Jason P. Hunt (founder/EIC) is the author of the sci-fi novella "The Hero At the End Of His Rope". His short film "Species Felis Dominarus" was a finalist in the Sci Fi Channel's 2007 Exposure competition.

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