Coming out the mid-season break, Gotham left a little bit to be desired. ‘Rogue’s Gallery’ was on the less spectacular side of things, ranking, in my opinion, near the bottom of the list as far as the series has gone thus far. As it turns out, however, it was really just a set-up. With ‘What the Little Bird Told Him’, Gotham returns in full force. And with Ben Edlund penning the script for this one, it has turned out to be one of the best installments of the show. Read on for all the details.
We begin with Gotham’s addition to the Batman villain list – Hans… er, I mean JACK Gruber. He has his little brain-dead muscleman in tow and they head out to collect some of Jack’s old electrical toys. They leave some bodies in their wake and Gordon (who has managed to cajole the current police Commissioner into temporarily reinstating him) and Harvey Bullock find the evidence of Jack’s passing.
When that lead doesn’t quite pan out, it’s Edward Nigma to the rescue. He finds Gruber’s real name and discovers a connection to Salvatore Maroni. Further clues come via Arkham employee, Leslie Thompkins, leading Gordon to believe that Jack is really pissed off at Maroni and plans on making his day a little more… shocking (badda-bing!). But the info comes too late and Gruber steps up and makes a direct assault on Maroni’s HQ.
Unfortunately for our new super-villain, the attack doesn’t pan out. Maroni and his pals stay alive (though The Penguin gets a nasty shock) and then Gordon convinces the gangster overlord that the only way to get Gruber is to use Maroni as bait. So they all go down to GCPD central and have themselves a little party. As can be expected, Gruber shows up, Gordon fights the baddie and justice prevails.
But that’s just the villain-of-the-week portion of the story. The real meat-and-bones comes in what’s happening in Gotham’s underworld. Fish Mooney decides she’s going to make her big play for power and stages a kidnapping of her double-agent, Liza. Then it’s a phone call to Falcone and a demand for him to “get outta town!” in exchange for Liza’s life. And everything seems like it would have worked out fine… if not for our (not really a) hero, The Penguin.
Penguin is having a bad day. He gets to be the first victim of the electro-attack at Maroni’s place. Then, while in a brain-fuzzed daze, he mentions to Maroni that he has important business with Falcone. Finally, electrified and confused, Penguin makes his way to Falcone and, upon discovering that Fish has showed her hand, he plays his own final card and reveals to Falcone that Liza is a spy and that Fish has been planning the entire thing all along.
And then we get our happy endings! Fish gets dropped by Falcone. The Penguin gets his chance to look her in the eye and gloat. And Thompkins shows up at GCPD HQ and gets a big, sloppy kiss from Gordon (she’s sooooo much better than Barbara).
There’s some other background stuff that’s going on as well. We get to see a little more development with Nigma. His crush on Miss Kringle goes bad, yet another step in his inevitable transformation into The Riddler. We also get to see Barbara going home to meet her parents (who are apparently robots…), but that’s boring.
So where did Gotham shine this time around? Almost everywhere, in my opinion. In all the series I’ve ever watched where Ben Edlund was on the writing staff, he always seems to be the pinch hitter. He steps in, writes a series of tangled knots, unravels a few that the previous writers couldn’t seem to get right and leaves us knowing more about nearly every character in the process. He was just as adept with ‘What the Little Bird Told Him’ as he’s ever been.
We had a chance to see more of The Riddler’s development, the relationship between Gordon and Thompkins started on its journey, Fish was finally brought down (though for how long, we do not know) and The Penguin is now in a position to truly shine. There’s little about this episode that didn’t play well.
I’d have to say that the introduction of Gruber was one of the series’ high points as far as keeping a Batman-esque rogue’s gallery in play. Though in the last episode he was only used as a plot device, his role as this episode’s villain-of-the-week was more entertaining that most of Gotham’s baddies. And since he didn’t get shot full of holes, we have the potential for him to return later, in typical comic book fashion, and cause even more havoc.
In the end, it’s hard to pick out anything truly horrible about this week’s episode. Solid writing, the actors did their jobs and the plot moved along steadily. I’m really looking forward to where things are going, particularly with regards to The Penguin’s newfound usefulness to Falcone.
What’s in store next week? Check out the trailer for ‘Welcome Back, Jim Gordon’ below and watch The Penguin partying the night away in Fish’s (former) club.