Gotham Episode 12 Review: “What The Little Bird Told Him”
***As always, this review will contain spoilers. You have been warned.***
Gotham‘s mid-season premiere ended with The Electrocutioner escaping from Arkham and seemingly becoming a reoccurring threat. Hopefully you weren’t too excited for more of his electrical hijinks because Gordon literally defeats him with a splash of water. Fox’s promos made it seem like Jack Gruber would be Gordon’s toughest foe yet, but it turns out he was about as menacing as The Wicked Witch of the West. This might be dissatisfying on any other show, but this episode makes up for it by delivering a hard-hitting mob drama. In fact, the focus is less on Gordon and more on Falcone, Fish, Maroni and their respective crime families. It’s a risk that ultimately pays off thanks to some fantastic writing and outstanding performances.
John Doman is a force to be reckoned with as Carmine Falcone and this episode really gives him a chance to show off a more somber side of the ruthless gangster. He has all of the personality and swagger of a formulaic mob boss, but still manages to be convincing. Jada Pinkett Smith is equally enjoyable as the stunning Fish Mooney and it’s clear that she’s continuing to have a ball with the role. David Zayas rounds out the trio of crime lords as Sal Maroni and he just may be the most fun of them all. The scene where he fondly reminisces over the time he ripped out a man’s teeth is dark humor at its finest. Much of the episode revolves around Liza, the Mama Falcone lookalike that was previously planted by Fish. As expected, Falcone catches on to her plan and shit hits the fan. Seeing Victor Zsasz and Don Falcone’s goons infiltrate Fish’s club is exciting, but why do his minions wear the most ridiculous costumes? The writers have done a great job of creating a realistic underworld for Gotham‘s villains to play around in, but it’s immediately ruined with unnecessary eye patches and leather corsets.
While this episode does feature lots of nail-biting drama, it does lose some momentum when we’re forced to pay attention to characters like Barbara Kean and Edward Nygma. I mention this every week, but the writers have not given us any reason to care about Jim and Barbara’s relationship. Heck, Dr. Thompkins has only been in two episodes and already has more chemistry with Gordon. We get to see Barbara share a moment with her overly sophisticated parents, but the whole thing seems pretty unimportant in comparison to everything else happening. The scenes with Nygma are equally distracting, as Cory Michael Smith is forced to ham it up as the future Riddler. Smith could be perfect for the role, but having him spout off riddles and awkwardly flirt with coworkers has turned him into more of a joke than a complex character. Luckily, The Penguin has been handled much better and Robin Lord Taylor continues to steal every scene he’s in. I really can’t applaud him enough. From his limping to his devious smirking, he embodies Oswald Cobblepot in every possible way.
They may have pushed the super-villainy to the side this week, but Gotham has proven that it can succeed as a more story-driven crime drama. This episode was more Sopranos than Batman, but the cast and writing staff were able to pull it off seamlessly. I’d like to see Edward Nygma and Barbara become more developed characters, but it’s clear that Gotham is heading in an exciting direction. It’s not just a Batman-less Batman show anymore. It’s a legitimately great show that happens to take place in a comic book world.