[This review contains SPOILERS for Gotham season 1, episode 12.]
Late kisses aside, Electrocutioner (Christopher Heyerdahl; Are You Afraid of the Dark?) has left his mark on this world of Gotham, and Zsasz (Anthony Carrigan) has tempted us as viewers with his potential; but it’s Carmine Falcone (John Doman), and the city itself that once again brings to light the fun, unnerving tales Gotham can tell, separate from its iconic characters. It’s time to revel in the depths of the city’s darkness until its final breath.
In “What the Little Bird Told Him”, written by (former) Supernatural producer and The Tick creator Ben Edlund, James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) skips the nonsense, calls in his powerhouse (former) partner Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue), and makes a deal: deliver Electrocutioner in 24 hrs and the Arkham story-arc is done (for now). Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) turns brilliant, then odd as everyone – including Dr. Leslie Thompkins (Morena Baccarin) – rallies around Gordon’s plan. Electrocutioner finds his spark, attacks, and loops back around to bring the story back to the Don. Together, the mobsters of Gotham City tap into their superpower – Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor) – and give one unfortunate soul a ticket out of town.
It’s alright that this week’s episode of Gotham is a bit convenient. James Gordon needs light leg work during the reenrollment phase of his career, and a dual-tale featuring a super villain with proper powers is just what the doctor (Thompkins) ordered. Surprisingly, the show thrives because of this. Gordon’s legacy requires him to be able to handle situations swiftly, if anything. In the little time we do spend with the Electrocutioner, it’s fascinating, and his world (somehow) feels completely realized. Even now, on the fritz, he’s easily one of the most enjoyable characters the series has created thus far.
If you take into consideration the previous episode’s bullet-to-the-brain finale, then this week’s installment of Gotham feels more like a natural progression, than surprising turn of events. Like “Sparky”, there are story-arcs which simply need to be dealt with, and sometimes you need to unleash Falcone to prove a point. Not since the series premiere have we seen Don Falcone exert that much power on the city – on his specially-created seductress no less. If anything, he strangled an image of his mother. At some point you have to give Edlund credit for stretching out the series mythology a bit, in order to add some depth. And hey! Barbara Kean is no longer in bed, either.
Mooney, Maroni and Falcone have all essentially been requirements of the over-arching plot for Gotham from the start; Cobblepot gleefully uses their world as his proverbial playground. Now that Falcone have flexed muscles, strangulation and all, it proves that there are painful consequences to playing games in his city. Whether or not Falcone continues to remind curious citizens of his power, is another question. Oswald’s allegiances have been reined in now, however, and the series will need to make up that lost by figuring out a way to make Maroni (David Zayas) more than Angel Batista from Dexter and Mooney more than Jada Pinkett Smith. Both actors are capable of more, if only the story allows.
The quick, clean end to this week’s tale is making the best of the situation. Gordon has to return to the force, so why not do it with a bit of personality – something his character has been sorely missing. In many ways, Ben McKenzie continues to carry an unfair amount of weight in this series about a city. It feels as if the depths of his (not-at-all-Dark Knight) voice is the only way he can convey his frustrations for having had walked 500 feet in 12 episodes. Again, if only the story would allow for more.
The larger story of Gotham could allow for all this and more, as the latest episode proves. The characters are ready, as this episode tries to briefly show (too much success). At some point, though, it still feels as if Gotham still has to prove to itself that it’s still better than its future legacy. The riches of a world where a Rogue’s Gallery – and its rooftop-leaping hero – eventually come to fruition are certainly there, there’s no doubt. The diamonds in the rough, however, still rest in the origin of a world that will require saving from more than your average good guy.
Gotham returns next Tuesday with “Welcome Back, Jim Gordon” @9pm on Fox. You can check out a preview of next week’s episode below: