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Gotham S1.12 What The Little Bird Told Him review

Gordon and Bullock’s hi-jinks tracking down and defeating the Electrocutioner are entertaining enough, but let’s face it – they’re just a side-show.

The main attraction – one that the Penguin is in such an indecent haste to get a ringside seat for that he sets Maroni’s alarm bells ringing – is Falcone. In the space of one episode he goes from looking like a tired, sad old man who’s lost his mojo to a Godfather who’d put Vito Corleone over his knee.

The show hasn’t just found its confidence now; it’s positively swaggering. It can move with effortless transition from the whimsy of Gordon’s technique of dealing with the Electrocutioner (a glass of water) to Falcone ruthlessly strangling the girl who dared to invoke the memory of his mother to deceive him.

There’s barely a wasted scene here; no exchanges of dialogue exist purely to impart information – there are clever undercurrents of character development, humour, tension or conflict all winding their way through the action. Once again Ben Edlund delivers a lean, economical script full of nuance and wit. Even the use of a flower to reflect Liza’s ebbing fortunes, while hardly revolutionary scriptwriting, is a powerful visual motif that adds a sense of depth the the tragic events.

The Gordon and Bullock relationship continues to grow, and their casual banter is proving one of the constant joys of the show. Ed Nygma once again proves to be a scene stealer. He’s such a great part of the GCPD fixtures and fittings, it’s almost a shame he’ll have to turn evil at some point. That said, he gives Dr Thompkins a leer in this episode which is enough to give you creeps; Ms Kringle doesn’t realise how lightly she’s getting away with it (although the guy who tells Nygma to stop harassing her is so loathsome your sympathies go straight back to Ed).

Speaking of Thompkins, she continues to impress, though maybe a little more will-they?/won’t-they wouldn’t have gone amiss before full-on tongues. If nothing else, the slightly awkward flirting between her and Gordon was fun to watch.

And after meeting Barbara’s parents, we’re in danger of actually feeling sorry for her.

Commissioner Loeb

Introduced in the comics in Batman #404 (1987) commissioner Gillian B Loeb was indeed the commissioner of GCPD when Gordon joined the force. He was also thoroughly corrupt. He has been mentioned before in the show, but this is the first time we’ve seen him on screen in Gotham.

Commissioner Loeb is certainly abrasive and made an impression (anyone else think he was like Robert Picardo’s botched clone?) but the fact that he gives Gordon 24 hours to solve the crime gives the impression he’s not irredeemably corrupt or bull-headed (like the Mayor). It’s unclear if this is supposed to be the case, or just the result of a script that didn’t quite manage to paint him badly enough, but he’s definitely a character we need to keep an eye on.

But the episode truly belongs to the gangsters, especially Penguin and Falcone. Maroni has returned to being a little bit of a buffoon, though the scene where he entertains the cops in GCPD HQ is a great little moment. It’s also not clear if he actually believes Penguin’s lie about his ill mother; hopefully not, but then, we did say he was back in buffoon mode.

(It’s interesting that the Penguin uses his mother as a deception in an episode in which someone dies for using a mother in a deception.)

Falcone, though, is now full-on, grade-A scary. Why would anybody want to make a move on this guy now? The moment just before he strangles Liza he’s reflected in her misunderstanding eyes, and the effect is sickening.

(On a side note, it would be an interesting case study as regards the portrayal of violence against women on TV. Men who are bumped off in Gotham are usually shot in the head – not nice, but quick. Liza is subjected to a lengthy strangling; unlike the men, she has time to contemplate what’s happening. Admittedly, the scene is supposed to reflect that betrayal Falcone feels, but it is also a man showing his domination over a woman… in front of another woman. Should we read anything into that? Probably not – and there are certainly women who can hold their own against men in Gotham – but it’s a point at least worth thinking about.)

So, Gotham’s greatness continues. Does it even need Bruce any more?

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Best Line

Jim: “I'm done being careful.” Harvey: “You think you've been careful so far?” Jim: “Men like Commissioner Loeb are never going to trust me.” Harvey: “You think you've been careful so far?” Jim: “So why play nice?” Harvey: “You. Think. You’ve. Been. Careful. So. Far?” Jim: “Don't worry. I know what I'm doing. Let's go grab a beer.” Harvey: “Now you're messing with my mind.”

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Mother Stands For Comfort

Although we can find no official confirmation of the casting, surely that is Liza actress Makenzie Leigh playing Falcone’s mum in the flashback sequence?

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The Electrocutioner

So, Jack Gruber was an alias, and Jack Buchinsky is the Electrocutioner. Actually, he’s had various aliases in the comics, one of which was Lester Buchinsky, but we know his unnamed brother was the Electrocutioner before him, so presumably that was Jack.

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Friends With Cisco

Ed Nygma and Cisco from The Flash should get together for a villain-naming session, they both seem to delight in silly code names so much.

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Newspaper Copy And Paste

Aside from the wonderful photo with the two grinning cops loving their moment of fame, this edition of the Gotham Gazette is notable for repeating a whole chunk of the text in the main story.

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Great Opening Shot

The gorgeous pan down from the elevated railway to the street below, following the fall of a not-too-obviously-CGI newspaper made a nice change from a skyscraper fly-by.

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Platform Shoes

Okay, rubber soles we understand. But platform rubber soles? Does the Electrocutioner think that Danzig is a little short to be his henchman?

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Another Famous Inmate

You can’t help speculating who the “pagan sorceress” in Arkham might be: Zatana? Morgan Le Fey? Circe? Black Witch?

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The Riddle

We didn’t work it out either and we agree with Ms Kringle: “It's a cupcake with a live bullet sticking out of it… It's menacing and weird and inedible.”

Gotham airs on Monday nights on Channel 5 in the UK, and on Fox in the US.

WriterBen Edlund
DirectorEagle Egilsson
The one whereCommissioner Loeb says Gordon can have his badge back if he catches the Electrocutioner within 24 hours. Meanwhile Falcone learns the truth about Liza.

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Available platformsTV