Gotham: "Welcome Back, Jim Gordon" (Season 1, Episode 13)

Flabbergasted

And you weren't awful. Stupid, yes, awful, no. Way to go, Jim. It may be faint praise, but after the last two episodes, not being awful is almost good. It helps that most of the side bits are serviceable as well.

You were minimally adequate, big guy. Baby steps, right?   

Don Falcone remains pissed at Fish Mooney, who's being tortured in what looks like an abandoned parking garage. It's one of those Hollywood torture scenes, mostly talk and a slap, which is better than wallowing in something nasty that's about to come to a quick end anyway. We know Fish will get rescued because we also see her right hand man, Butch, escaping from captivity. How remains unclear. He just does a Houdini thing off camera.

Gordon meets Bullock at the scene of a murder. A member of the Uptown Assassins named Pinky Littlefield has been hoisted up on the rack in a dry cleaning operation of some kind. Bullock calls it "a public service homicide." Narcotics Detective Flass is on the scene and flashing an arrogant ass vibe that makes it clear he's involved. That becomes even more obvious when Gordon finds narcotics in the hollow heel of Pinky's right shoe.

Yep, the old hollow heel trick.

A janitor saw the killer. Gordon unfortunately convinces him to come downtown to work with a police sketch artist. While the poor janitor is waiting, someone slips into the room and slams an ice pick into the back of his neck. Jim is pissed. He's also dumb for the first time tonight. Having seen both GCPD committing crimes left and right and the police station taken over by professional killers twice already in a mere thirteen episodes, why would he think anyone is safe there? Jim would have had better luck asking the janitor to wait in Crime Alley.

Young Bruce makes his first reappearance in the second half of Season 1. He's having Alfred drive him around low rent neighborhoods looking for young Selina. He even has Alfred park the car so they can go for a stroll. As luck would have it, they run into young Ivy, who has yet to have any real purpose on this show other than to be both uninteresting and the future Poison Ivy a long time from now. Tonight she says she'll deliver a message to Selina for twenty bucks.

Butch busts Fish out of her torture session. Gordon busts a corrupt cop called Delaware for letting Pinky's killer in to silence the janitor. Butch tries to convince Fish to leave town. She's not having any of that until she's made Penguin beg to die. At the same time, Gordon gets the tables turned on him by the aforementioned Detective Flass. Flass is apparently seizing the operations of various drug dealers and running them himself, all the while cutting enough highly placed people in on the action that he's untouchable. Delaware is one of his guys.

The single most ludicrous moment comes next when Internal Affairs declares the janitor's death a suicide. That's right. He not only slammed an ice pick into the back of his head; he managed to dispose of the weapon as well before he died in a locked room. That's initiative. It's also one of those moments when you can feel the show careening out of control. I don't care how corrupt GCPD is, no one could sell that. And if they could, why in God's name would anyone ever go to the police station?

There's some awkward bits that don't really work midway through. Don Falcone has rewarded Penguin by giving him control of Fish's night club, so Penguin brings his mother downtown for a tour. She gets drunk and sings. I could have done without that. There also more creepy Edward Nigma/Ms. Kringle stuff. You know my opinion of that. This week, however, Ms. Kringle actually feels a little sorry for Eddie after Detective Flass publicly humiliates him.

Don't worry, Eddie. Flass is on deck to get his this week.

Professional killer Victor Zsasz is on the trail of Fish. Fish is gunning for Penguin. Before those two plot threads converge, Gordon acts stupid for the second time tonight. He goes to Penguin and asks for a favor--could Penguin find some evidence on Flass. Pretty please with pickled herrings on top?  Why he thinks this is a good idea is impossible to fathom.

Penguin's so happy he decides to get drunk. There's a loud music, disco light ball sequence where Oswald guzzles champagne and plays host to an imaginary crowd lauding his genius. It's actually not bad. At least until Fish shows up to step on his big applause line.

One of Penguin's goons has the oddly named Delaware held at gunpoint while he waterboards the cop's wife in a bathtub. This goon likes the quality of Delaware's contrition. Still, he thinks they're going to need something a little more tangible. All because straight arrow, honest as the day is long Jim Gordon imagined this was a good idea.

Fish is mocking Penguin. There's not much tension, however, since just like with Butch earlier, we know Zsasz is coming. Penguin's finally had enough and grows some balls: "This nobody had you outfoxed the entire time! I was always working for Don Falcone!" That would be the point where he dies, except Zsasz shows up. Fish gets away because Butch sacrifices himself. Zsasz is as wicked as ever while standing over Butch with a gun pointed at his face: "Should we kill it, or should we take it home to play with?"

Penguin's goon drops off the murder weapon and Delaware's confession with Gordon. Call it Goon Ex Machina. It does lead up to an effective scene where Gordon tries to arrest Flass for the murder of the janitor. Flass blows him off. "I'm untouchable." Gordon fires off into an impassioned speech that I would paraphrase as follows: "WTF? People are dying in our house every damn day, at least when it's not taken over by criminals who rub our face in how much we suck. I suck, you suck, we all suck! Doesn't anyone here want to stop sucking for even an hour? WTF?" Lo and behold, Gordon's boss, Captain Sarah Essen arrests Flass herself. Whether because her conscience has been stoked or because she just wants to stop Gordon's screaming fit, it's hard to say.

Oh, Edward Nigma surgically removes the onions from his Chinese takeout under a magnifying glass. Just thought you'd like to know.

Barbara doesn't make a single appearance, either. And some people say there's no God. That's one prayer that got answered.

Gordon's moment of moral triumph is tainted moments later. Mr. Delaware shows up to beg him to spare Delaware's family, to promise he'll call the goons off. I guess even when you don't suck in Gotham, you still kind of do. Lovely town. Jim actually seems surprised that calling down mobsters on someone might not result in Queensbury rules being applied through and through. He's well intentioned, but he is dumb.

Bullock of all people gets Fish to the Gotham docks for a boat out of town. The show implies they care about each other, which doesn't work since I still remember the pilot where Fish was ready to gut Bullock like a... well, fish, for the sole offence of politely asking for her to return a favor. The woman's a stone cold psycho. You can't sell me anything different at this point.                                         

One other pointless interlude occurs. Selina gets Bruce's message and comes to Wayne Manor. She's nice enough until Bruce offers to let her stay there because, you know, his place has got proper manners and she might not turn out completely horrible. Young Selina takes that about as well as you'd expect. She tells Bruce off, twisting the knife further by claiming she didn't see his parents killer, that she just made that up. Little Bruce is upset. It's an unnecessary bit in this episode, a reminder of just how crammed to the gills this show is.

But at least it wasn't awful tonight. I said it was minimally adequate, and I'm standing by that.

Pretty brave, huh?  

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