Gotham (2013) season 1, episode 12
"What the Little Bird Told Me"
WRITER: BEN EDLUND
DIRECTOR: EAGLE EGILSSON
AIR DATE: January 19 2015
‘What The Little Bird Told Him’ picks up where the previous episode of Gotham left off. Two inmates at Arkham have escaped, the mysterious Jack Gruber (Christopher Heyerdahl) and his brutish cohort (who he conveniently experimented on) Aaron Helzinger (Kevin McCormick). It happened under the watch of the temporarily demoted Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie), who still considers the matter his case. He plays hardball with Commissioner Loeb (Peter Scolari) to get reinstated to detective rank and chase the fugitives down, and Loeb gives Gordon and Bullock (Donal Logue) a deadline to find the pair, or they’ll spend the rest of their careers on Arkham guard duty. Things are complicated by the fact that Gruber, nicknamed the Electrocutioner by the media, has a few tricks up his sleeve involving electricity, and a grudge against a familiar face in Gotham: Sal Maroni (David Zayas). The hunt is on, and it brings together more than one storyline in different ways.
The manhunt might be the primary story of this episode, but there are other elements playing out as well. We catch up with Barbara (Erin Richards), who’s taking refuge at the palatial home of her parents. The subtext of their interaction really explains a lot about why she’s such a basketcase. There’s a coldness to both of them, and that’s a recipe for ongoing psychological issues.
The Mob takes up the rest of the episode, and particularly Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith) making her move against Carmine Falcone (John Doman). She’s using Liza (Makenzie Leigh), the singer she’s inserted into Falcone’s life as bait in an effort to force him to stand down, and we’re not quite sure where things are going to go as the storyline develops. Doman plays his character with a certain sense of resignation on the one hand, and then ruthlessness on the other. He is a formidable presence as a character, and Doman brings that across throughout this episode.
Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor) continues to play his cards closely, acting as Falcone’s mole within the Maroni organization, though we sense there are still motivations he’s keeping close to himself. This is the Penguin, after all, and he’ll never be content being second fiddle. He’s a pivotal player this time out in the Mob aspect of the episode, and yet along the way he makes a critical mistake that might end up costing him dearly.
Maroni takes a seat
while Cobblepot lies in an ambulance
There are smaller touches this time out that caught my interest. The introduction of Loeb is one. He’s younger than we might expect, but then again everyone is. Where the comics version of the character is completely corrupt and vindictive, the movie version in the first two parts of the Christopher Nolan films was more pragmatic, though given to perpetual annoyance. This one has the feel of a cold blooded accountant (Scolari certainly has the look) with no loyalties to anyone. Where the character goes from here is another question. Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) remains as awkward as ever as the forensics officer in the Gotham PD, given to saying riddles. While he’s smart enough, he seems socially oblivious to his awkwardness. His seeming romantic interest in a clerk comes across to her and to us as more of a stalker, and he’s totally unaware of it - it takes an officer to tell him to back off and leave. Something said as he goes might get under his skin, though: the audience is left wondering how long it’ll be before Edward crosses the line into Riddler-land.
It was just a matter of time before Gordon got back into the good graces of being a detective again, and it makes sense how he gets back in. What I also liked is how, against a formidable opponent capable of knocking out an entire station filled with police officers, Gordon is able to use his head to outwit the antagonist. In the aftermath, there’s a nice moment with Leslie (Morena Baccarin) that leads to things getting steamed up. Well, how can we blame him? This is, after all, Morena Baccarin, the woman’s irresistible. And her take on Leslie seems much more grounded and emotionally stable than Barbara, whose entire comic book character history suggests a rather unhappy person. Though inevitably it’s just a matter of time until Barbara finds out she’s knocked up, right?