Words cannot describe how disappointed I am with Fish Mooney’s decisions lately. She hasn’t made a solid case that she could ever run Falcone’s crime ring, and on top of that her plans to take over have felt like they’ve been stuck in the mud. For the last month and a half, I don’t believe (or better yet, remember if) she has taken any significant steps further along realizing her scheme, and it was only a matter of time that Falcone would find out one of his closest “family” members was firmly lacing a target on his back. Gotham nearly screwed up this story arc last week, and “What Little Bird Told Him” absolutely tarnished it.
Everything involving Fish and Falcone last night was sad to watch, but mostly for all the wrong reasons. Even though I understand Falcone taking the high road and considering retirement, I was never, ever convinced that his love for Liza extended to the point where it could fuel this decision. Besides the mother-son relationship this show has blatantly manufactured, there’s not so much as a scent of chemistry between the two. John Doman always just seemed to play the smitten type with Liza because the writers said so; Makenzie Leigh’s just a terrible actress. Apparently, their love (?) for each other was supposed to be reason enough for them to run away together and leave Falcone’s entire army of mobsters vulnerable to a new face willing to take over – or so Fish thought.
The fact that Fish strung this us as the big “plan” anyway is a joke, and a massive insult to all the viewers who waited patiently to see how her chess game would end up. This week’s episode was the twelfth installment of the season, and Fish has been plotting her old friend’s demise since the series started. If anything – ANYTHING – we at least deserve some derivative mob war shootout, where one of their hangout restaurant spots got trashed or something. Instead, we got Penguin squealing to Falcone about Liza’s conspiring with Fish, which led to Falcone changing his mind about the new life he suddenly started to contemplate living (and I say “suddenly” very, very strongly). Sure, the way Fish’s plan blew up in her face was nice, and I enjoyed the nuance of her talk with Falcone after the big reveal; suffice to say, Jada Pinkett Smith and John Doman delivered the strongest, most emotionally powerful scene in the series by leaps, bounds, and solar systems. But seeing as how the buildup to this moment lasted so long, and the payoff be so non-existent, there was a little next to nothing to really walk away with after the dust settled. The game certainly changes (and Falcone remains the top dog), but I personally feel like we are at the exact same place we were when the series premiere aired in late September.
The worst part of all this is that it strips most of the potential weight away from that awesome scene with Fish and Falcone. I really, really invested in these specific characters, because they were family at the heart but ran a crime organization ridden with power. Everyone wants a seat at the throne, yet it was already taken. People like Fish were willing to give away all that they built with those of a higher rank, just so they could pull the rug from under the chair and stand firmly atop the food chain. All of which made Falcone’s imposing presence so intense, especially this week when he reinforces his disposition by choking Liza to death right in front of Fish’s eyes. Falcone has always been a guy you knew best not to mess with, so seeing that he truly did love Fish like a family member – only to wind up getting betrayed in the end – was both touching and unfortunate. While I could have also felt some sort of remorse for Fish had any of her actions within the last month made sense, I’m left wishing her character gets killed off soon. This is where the weak takeover scheme grinds my gears. With almost the swing of a 360 degree pivot, it takes an interesting, appealing character like Fish, dumbs her down as a total idiot, and displays her as a selfish traitor with no redeemable quality or motive. Throughout this episode, I constantly asked myself, “Why does Fish Mooney want to run Falcone’s organization so bad?” I was left with no answer. She defied the honor this supposed “family” lived by, and did so just because. There were so many other, more plausible, sensible ways for this show to develop this story arc. Gotham chose to milk it ’till it ran bone dry, and leave us starving for substance.
Lester Buchinsky’s (AKA Electrocutioner’s) escape from Arkham last week was supposed to be cooler than what this week followed with. This is a guy who was experimenting with people’s minds and carrying an obsessive impulse to – ahem – shock his victims. I said in last week’s review of the mid-season premiere that I wanted to learn more about what made Lester tick; I’m still waiting. He simply became another villain-of-the-week, rich with cliche’d maniacal dialogue and cheap tricks that somehow (like with “suddenly” saying “somehow” strongly) didn’t severely hurt anyone inflicted – besides that guy in the intro, of course. I won’t begin to tell you how frustrated I am with how easy Gordon and Bullock’s investigations have gotten, with the electronics store Lester harvested being right across the street from where they were scoping for evidence, and how the two managed to figure out that Lester was after Maroni based off a crude doll Dr. Thompkins brought to the precinct. I’m not even going to bother discussion the grounds behind his revenge to get back at Maroni; the episode downplayed it so much I almost forgot why Lester was attacking both him and the GCPD in the first place. Gordon throwing a cup of water at his high-voltage bomb vest was hilarious, and sadly the only truly entertaining moment involving the Electrocutioner at all. What a waste of comic book resources.
The only character arc that I enjoyed throughout was Gordon’s reinstatement to the police department. It was a clever idea to introduce Commissioner Loeb from the comic books as his foil, and it was an even smarter move to have the two verbally go at it a bit behind the handshakes and news camera crews. It all felt similar to his back and forth with Mayor James, which is appropriate considering the differences Jim has had recently with the chain of command. I definitely rooted for him claiming the Jack Gruber investigation as his own, since he did bring it home to the GCPD while he was away in Arkham. I was even satisfied with the payoff, as the Electrocutioner defeat led to him getting both his old job and his badge back. Bonus points for the improving chemistry between Benjamin Mackenzie’s Jim and Donal Logue’s Harvey; the two are slowly starting to become a legitimate buddy-cop tandem.
I wish we saw more of Morena Baccarin, despite the fact that her two scenes with Gordon, including the makeout scene in the locker room, were both awkward and forced. I thought there was a spark between these love birds, but I guess we don’t have to be convinced on-screen. Their chemstry was nowhere to be found here, and although I hoped to see Dr. Thompkins in a more expanded role going forward, I now have to worry if Gotham’s going to use her potential fling with Gordon as some cheap plot device. Speaking of plot devices, Barbara just had to make an appearance this week, as she returned home to her parents while the loft remains fair game for inner-city delinquents like Selina and Ivy whenever they so choose to break in again (my guess is that she’s so stupid, she forgot about it altogether). Gordon revealed that he is currently home-less – the kind where you don’t have a bed to sleep on but aren’t roaming the streets at night – which I refuse to believe, since that would mean he never moved in with Barbara because they’ve been living there together their whole lives. The guy’s been doing police work since the war; it’s not like he experienced some bout of unemployment we weren’t aware of. Where was Jim living before he met Barbara? Was he a drifter? Did he develop a phobia of living on his own after the war, and just floated around town aimlessly until he met Barbara? I don’t know, and I honestly don’t care to know either.
Besides from a nice victory for Gordon, and a powerful scene between Falcone and Fish, “What The Little Bird Told Him” was a ham-fisted comic book reference away from being downright awful. It took all the promise that Fish’s season-long plan had, and squished it like a bug. It made an interesting comic book villain like the Electrocutioner, and made a mockery out of his motives. Worst of all, it generally didn’t make a whole lot of sense. Gotham could bounce back from this, but now my patience with the show is beginning to seriously thin.
+ Gordon firmly placing himself back into the GCPD
+ Falcone’s speech to Fish was sad, moving, and poignant
– Fish’s plan all along was just terrible
– Electrocutioner poorly used
– Gordon and Bullock’s investigations are becoming laughably easy to solve
– A vast array of nonsense sprinkled around (Barbara not going back to her loft, Jim having nowhere to live all of a sudden, etc.)