I guess I needn’t have worried about ‘Gotham’ getting bogged down in the Arkham Asylum setting for too long. After just two episodes, that storyline is effectively wrapped up. Now I’m disappointed that we didn’t spend enough time there.
In fact, the asylum itself doesn’t even play any role in episode ‘What the Little Bird Told Him’, which opens with recently-escaped inmate Jack Gruber (Christopher Heyerdahl) on the loose and taking revenge on old associates who betrayed him. The first scene introduces him like a badass Western villain and is kind of awesome. The press soon dubs him “The Electrocutioner.” We’ll later learn that the top name on his hit list is mob boss Maroni.
The next morning, Jim Gordon shows up at his old precinct demanding to work the case, much to his captain’s surprise. Commissioner Loeb (Peter Scolari) also shows up for a briefing, upon which Gordon tells him off. They argue for a bit behind closed doors, until the Commissioner agrees to temporarily reinstate Jim for 24 hours. If he can’t catch Gruber in that time, he’ll be demoted back to Arkham permanently, and his partner Bullock will have to go with him. Bullock is none too pleased about this, especially when Jim admits to him that he has no plan for how to find Gruber.
Fish Mooney decides that the time has come to make her move against Falcone. She stages a kidnapping for his girlfriend Liza (who was planted as a mole for Fish the whole time). Falcone calls the Penguin to help him with this matter, and Penguin immediately recognizes this as Fish’s doing. He makes excuses to his boss Maroni by claiming that his mother is ill and he needs to see her right away. However, as soon as he gets to the door of the restaurant to leave, he’s blasted by a jolt of electricity and flung across the room. Gruber’s henchman then enters and tosses in some sort of electrical bomb, which causes a lot of confusion and chaos but doesn’t seem to actually hurt anyone. Did Gruber do this on purpose, or are we supposed to think this was a failed invention?
The police arrive, and Gordon offers to take Maroni into protective custody. He scoffs at the idea, until Gordon explains that he’d just be used as bait to lure Gruber out. Maroni is strangely OK with this. Just then, Penguin wakes up, his brains completely scrambled, and announces that he has important business with Falcone. Then he passes out again.
Falcone figures out on his own that Fish is behind Liza’s kidnapping. “You were always my favorite,” he tells her. She demands that he step down and leave Gotham, leaving her in charge of his operation. Against the objections of his henchman Zsasz, Falcone agrees. He finds the idea of retiring to a comfortable life in the country with Liza appealing anyway.
Maroni bides his time at the police station, bullshitting with his henchmen and the cops. Penguin wakes up again, this time with his noggin sorted out a bit. Maroni questions him about what he said about Falcone. Penguin pleads ignorance and insists that he’s been loyal. Maroni allows him to go see his mother, but eyes him suspiciously. I expect that he’s onto Penguin’s betrayal and plans to use him to feed false information to Falcone.
Gruber stages a major electrical attack on the police station and knocks everyone unconscious… except Gordon, who was wearing rubber-insulated galoshes per the advice of Ed Nygma. Poor Bullock dismissed Nygma as a weirdo. I’m not sure that the science of this really holds up, but it’s a comic book story so we’ll go with it.
Gruber uses his electrical equipment as a magnet to pull away Gordon’s gun. He then gives a “Talking Killer” speech about the awesome power he can unleash, but Gordon brings his reign of terror to a premature end by tossing a cup of water onto him, shorting out the gear strapped to his chest. (Again, dubious science.) So much for Gruber being a brilliant supervillain.
With Gruber recaptured, Gordon is reinstated back to his old job. Feeling cocky and indignant, he threatens the Commissioner not to try to interfere with him again. He tells Bullock that, “I’m done being careful.” Bullock asks when he was ever careful in the first place.
The Penguin finally makes his way to Falcone and warns him that Liza is a mole. Falcone meets with Fish, now with a new fire in his belly. He strangles Liza to death right in front of Fish, and tells Fish that all of her other people are already dead. His own men swarm in and grab her and Butch. Falcone orders that they be kept alive. He wants them to suffer. Penguin gloats.
At episode’s end, Dr. Thompkins (Morena Baccain) makes a lame excuse to visit Jim at the police station and flirts heavily with him until he finally kisses her. Sadly, they’re interrupted by news of a disturbance at Fish Mooney’s place.
As I said in the intro, I’m a little disappointed that the show has already pulled out of the Arkham setting, which seemed like it could provide some good fodder for future storylines. I agree that Jim would need to be reinstated eventually, but I assumed that we’d spend at least the back-half of this season at the asylum. This quick resolution seems premature. Despite that, this was a good episode, and the major developments with Fish and Falcone make up for my other qualms.