REVIEW: GOTHAM – SEASON 1, EPISODE 12 “WHAT THE LITTLE BIRD TOLD HIM”

“Hey everyone! There’s a cool villain in this one and we’re gonna open with some bad ass music and, like, really up the tension…but we aren’t going to live up to that expectation. You’re cool with that, yeah?”

And that, in a nutshell, is Gotham.

The episode opens with an amazing shot of a train barreling through an overcast Gotham. The wind blows a newspaper featuring a story about Discount Strange’s escape on the front page. Johnny Cash’s “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” plays as Discount Strange (clad in a black rubber trench coat) and his henchman walk with purpose through the streets. This is fantastic. It’s beautiful and dark and you can see how it would be rendered in a comic book universe. Discount Strange straight up electrocutes a dude through a door and it’s awesome. The villain is menacing, the mood is grim, the tension is rising – this is what I want Gotham to be all the time.

Also – I fucking love Johnny Cash, so when I heard the first notes of the song I literally cheered and then clapped so loudly I scared the cats. The only way I would have loved this more is if it was “Ghost Riders in the Sky” but that doesn’t really fit here so ignore my suggestion while we take a Johnny break:

If I ever get asked to write a DC book (which is about as likely to happen as a bunch of Republicans taking to Fox News to announce that they really, really, really love Obama and think everyone should have healthcare, regardless of how rich they are) I’m going to pitch a book titled Justice League Dark: The Devil’s Herd. No idea what it’s about, but it’ll give me an excuse to play this song more than I already do.

Over on i09, Rob Bricken says he doesn’t approve of Johnny Cash in his Batman entertainment. Usually, Rob is correct about many things. This is not one of those things.

Jim shows up at GCPD and is all, “Hey guys, this is my case!” and everyone is like “- Jim? Are you lost?” But the commissioner shows up, gets insulted by Jim, and then and gives Jim and Bullock 24 hours to find Discount Strange. Why 24 hours? Because we need arbitrary timelines so this episode feels urgent!

While Jim and Bullock do some detective-ing, Nygma leaves a lovely gift for Holiday FestiveName, the records clerk. The gift is a cupcake. A cupcake with a bullet in it. A CUPCAKE. WITH A. BULLET IN IT. Let us pause right here to say that this is utterly terrifying. “Oh, he’s just awkward!” – NO. Nope. Absolutely fucking not. Awkward or not, everyone on this god forsaken planet should know that you cannot, under any circumstances, give someone live ammo as part of a “riddle”. It’s threatening as fuck and Tinsel here should file a god damn restraining order against him before he decides to turn her into a dead question mark-shaped sex toy. This better not be the beginning of a bullshit “he’s the Riddler because women don’t understand him!” Nice Guy narrative.

Gordon & Bullock discover that Discount Strange was in Arkham under an assumed name but he’s really just a guy who got busted robbing banks. If you’re in a prison so corrupt that you can pay someone to change your name and get you reassigned to a mental hospital, couldn’t you simply pay that person to leave a door open for you and look the other way while you escaped? Oh, sorry, is that too logical?

Leslie shows up with a voodoo doll that Discount Strange had the Arkham sorceress curse. That last sentence wasn’t me just typing up a Palinesque word salad, this is a real thing that happens in the episode because detective work is hard and clues are better when hot people hand them to you. The doll looks like Maroni if you squint and stand on your head while looking at it through a magnifying glass full of whisky. The cops go to pick him up and discover that Discount Strange has zapped Maroni’s men – including Penguin – with some electricity orb thing that really looks like the blue diamonds in the game Bejeweled. Jim puts Maroni and his men into protective custody at the station and then he tells Bullock that Discount Strange will just show up and they should spend the last few hours of their careers sitting around waiting for a guy with wires strapped to his back to come knocking. Don’t do any extra work, guys! Let him come to you!

Jim also says that the station is the most secure building in Gotham and everyone in the audience laughs and laughs and laughs because they remember the episode where Zsasz walked into this very same building, said “I am a criminal – can y’all please leave so I can kill one of you?” and the cops went “Sure, Victor! Lock up on your way out and try not to get too much blood on the carpet!”

Discount Strange shows up and does some electric stuff that “stuns” everyone. Everyone except Jim, that is, because he’s wearing those shoes you wear when one leg is longer than the other. Discount Strange is all, “FEEL THE POWER OF MY ELECTRICITY!” and Jim is all, “Tiny cup of water onto your chest device!” and that’s the end of that. All that awesomeness, all that build up, all that JOHNNY CASH and they blew through what could have been a great villain by making him angry about a bank robbery and throwing an eighth of a cup of water on him. Not gonna lie – I’m bummed. I was hoping he was planning to electrify all of Gotham’s bridges at the same time so everyone in town would get electrocuted or something, something truly worthy of a super villain decked out in a rubber coat stomping down the street to one of the best songs of the 20th century, and they used him on a “I’m mad at Maroni!” plot.

Gordon’s back on the force – another plot the writers burned through – and to celebrate, Leslie tries to fuck him in a flithy locker room with no lock on the door. While I’m all for fictional characters boning as long as those characters are both consenting adults, I’m not all for Leslie trying to fuck Jim this soon into her tenure on the show. It would have been a lot better for both the Jim & Leslie characters to spend time together united in a common goal (like, say, at Arkham) and THEN fall into bed together after a few episodes. It would have been better for the show, too. But they get cock blocked because they forgot to hang a sock on the doorknob, proving that neither of them ever got laid in college. Jim also makes a ridiculous MY BLUE BALLS face that hovers somewhere between rage and more rage, which makes him not getting laid hilarious.

In other plots – shit FINALLY happens with Fish and Falcone. Fish “kidnaps” Falcone’s Walking Mommy Issues and says Falcone needs to leave Gotham or the Mommy Issue gets it. Falcone is like, “Ok. I didn’t like being a mob boss anyway”, which is stupid. Zsasz agrees that this is stupid because he wants to kill all the people and is understandably upset when Falcone announces that he wants to retire. Falcone calls Penguin who gets electrocuted before he can make it to Falcone’s retirement party.

I don’t get the Penguin. One minute he’s supposed to be some suave genius who is expertly setting everyone against the other to serve his own interests, and then the next he’s raising taxes on Maroni’s people or making up stupid excuses to try to cover for his delirious honesty. If you want to fuck everyone over, why draw so much attention to yourself by doing weird shit? He should be blending in, making himself seem so loyal and trustworthy that they’d never expect he’s a rat. Instead, he’s brilliant one moment and stupid the next and all it does is make me wonder how he’s not dead. He’s not dead to tell Falcone all about how Mommy Issues is Fish’s girl, I guess.

Reenergized with Mob Boss Anger and much to Zsasz’s delight, Falcone goes to Fish’s place and strangles Mommy Issues. He takes Fish and Butch alive, but not before letting Penguin spit “hello FISH” at her (which is a great moment and would have been greater if I wasn’t baffled by how he keeps living.)

Two other things:

  1. Was that Gotham Ford tie-in commercial a fever dream? Or was it real? It was weird as fuck, whatever it was.
  2. Barbara was in this episode.

Next week on Gotham – maybe Fish will die but probably not.

Best Bullock line: “He’s dead. Fried like a donut.” Bullock is the best god damned character on this show and I would watch a show about him just walking around Gotham trying not to do his job.

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