Things are happening in Gotham, both terrible and wonderful. Carefully laid plans are blown apart by the slip of the tongue, plots are hatched, sometimes foiled, and sometimes successful. Body counts rise, new love begins, and for the first time in a long time, Gotham feels alive, even though it still suffers from a few storytelling weaknesses.
“What The Little Bird Told Him,” let’s call it “Little Bird,” is the second episode off of Gotham’s holiday hiatus, and also a rare latter half of a two-part story arc. Last week’s “Rogue’s Gallery” ended with a cliffhanger as an electrician specialist, hiding in Arkham under a pseudonym, escaped the asylum’s wrought-iron gates.
That maniac Jack Gruber, with his brain-damaged muscle in town, travels to a run-down electronics shop. As is often true with most of these opening sequences, murder ensues, leaving one shopkeeper a bundle of fried neurons and another mortally worse off. Without many context clues needed, it’s clear that Gruber—who, as the audience soon learns, is actually named Lester Buchinski a.k.a. the Electrocutioner—is out for revenge. As the Electrocutioner exacts his vengeance (for whatever reason), the scene ping-pongs back-and-forth to Gotham Central, where Gordon comes face-to-face with Commission Loeb… finally. Not sure who would ever be able to take that many days off the job and still have employment, but after 11 episodes we finally get to see the commissioner of the GCPD. And as you would expect from the moral decrepitude already displayed by “Gotham’s Finest,” Loeb comes across as a figurehead of unpleasantness.
Gordon immediately hates him. In a gambit to get his old job back, he pleads with Loeb to give him 24 hours to work the case. His argument: He’s the one most fit to find Gruber because he talked to him for like 10 minutes last episode? But whatever! Either way, it was a bummer to hear Gotham was going to shrug off its short-lived Arkham story arc so quickly. (In fact, during this scene my episode notes read: “NONONONONO. God dammit. NO.”) One of the few salvageable things from the past episode was being able to get behind the walls at Arkham to see all the strange characters who fill those cells, and also Dr. Leslie Thompkins, Gordon’s new love interest. The relationship felt natural within the confines of their madhouse workplace and even gave some dimension to Thompkins since she worked with Gordon and whose sole role wasn’t that of a romantic interest but an equal. “Little Bird” messes all that up. Sure, she helps by offering Gordon one of her patient’s voodoo dolls, giving them a break in the case. But once the Electrocutioner is behind bars (spoilers: like after this episode), their working relationship will flame out and what will be left is another shallow shell of a relationship. This could be wrong—let’s hope it is—but past episode’s haven’t instilled any confidence that Gotham writers are up to telling a really complex relationship narrative.
NEXT: Revenge is a dish best served electrocuted