TV Show Review

TV Review: GOTHAM: Season 1, Episode 12: What the Little Bird Told Me [Fox]

John Doman Jada Pinkett Smith Gotham What Little Bird Told Him 02 350x164

Fox‘s Gotham What the Little Bird Told Me TV Show Review. Gotham: Season 1, Episode 12: What the Little Bird Told Me brings arc resolution at a large cost to comfort. The thing about a series like Gotham is it’s anchored in two eras; the present (as taken in series canon) and the future

(taken in the canon of Batman-proper as the present), and the two seem to wrestle from time to time. Viewed as a Batman series, Gotham‘s draw is its providing a backstory to beloved characters, and it can be annoying when the series throws in little subplots that take away from that. Then again, the series’ own narratives serve to build up suspense, but it’s undermined because we actually know a lot of what’s going to happen. We know, in essence, who must survive, who can die, and the direction they must ultimately go.

Case in point, Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) is established as being in the GCPD, so no reassigning him anywhere else can last. After spending a total of one episode essentially exiled to Arkham Asylum (from which he still found a way to get the GCPD involved), Gordon uses the escape of Jack Gruber (Christopher Heyerdahl) from Arkham Asylum to talk police Commissioner Loeb (Peter Scolari) to let him back into the police force, arguing that only he knows Gruber enough to catch him. (Note: It certainly feels odd to hear Gordon addressing someone else as “commissioner”.) Turns out, Gruber has little instinct to lay-low, and as Gordon trails him along with his old partner Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue), Gruber’s gleeful electricity crimes jolt the other villains into decisive action when they’re having problems of their own.

What the Little Bird Told Him is very much a villain-dominated episode; in addition to Gruber, Carmine Falcone (John Doman), Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith), Sal Maroni (David Zayas), Victor Zsasz (Anthony Carrigan), Liza (Makenzie Leigh) and The Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor) are all present here. The stage is set for a tense showdown, but it’s also here that the aforementioned point about established continuity goals truly bites. It gives much-needed development to the conspiracy arc; in fact, all-but closing the actual conspiracy and segueing to a more heated conflict advertised in next episode’s trailer, and after seeing so many episodes dodge that point, that should be a good thing. The problem is that in this climax, Carmine Falcone pulls the most rank, as inevitably he must to at least some extent, as an established living, bureaucratic Batman character, and most audiences probably were not rooting for him; insomuch as they might root for a villain at all.

Some characters, such as The Joker, The Balloonman and Victor Zsazs can make evil look fun. Others, like Fish Mooney, along with Catwoman and Poison Ivy when they’re older, can make it look sexy. Falcone isn’t either such a character; he’s a trite Mafioso don played straight, and while that’s serviceable in some works, it just feels too oppressive in this more subversive mythos. There’s a reason Carmine Falcone is not the first character anyone thinks of when they hear “Batman villain”, and John Doman’s performance reaffirms what it is. Stoic, hard-jawed and business-oriented, Falcone can’t feel like an ideal foil to Batman because he’s too much like him, minus those things that make Batman honorable, and that means it’s actually rather depressing to see him either subjugating the other villains or crushing them–sometimes in a brutal manner.

All that said, it’s really not over until it’s over. Based on the trailer for next episode, the battle specifically between Penguin and Fish could still be coming, and it should be more fun…even if we already know which animal eats which.

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Thomas Fairfield

Thomas Fairfield writes some things sometimes on some sites; this one included.

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