Gotham S1.12 What The Little Bird Told Him review

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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?

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

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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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Dave Golder
Freelance Writer

Dave is a TV and film journalist who specializes in the science fiction and fantasy genres. He's written books about film posters and post-apocalypses, alongside writing for SFX Magazine for many years.