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TV Brew: Heroes in a Mad City – Gotham Season 3

What a crazy ride it has been!

Gotham’s third season has reached its climax and fans are still reeling. We started in a city gone mad and then watched as heroes rose. As we wait the long months until Season 4, now is the time to reflect. What are some of our best memories? What could we have done without? Where do we see things going?

In the words of Fish Mooney, “Don’t worry sweetheart, the fun has just begun.”

((WARNING: The following has spoilers for both the season and the finale.))

Heroes Rose but Villains Ruled

I will admit I am entirely biased, but this season belonged to Oswald Cobblepot and Edward Nygma. We loved Oswald’s defiance and endurance, even in the face of ultimate failure. Then there was Ed’s donning of the Riddler persona, something we all cheered when we finally saw that green suit and hat. Robin Lord Taylor and Cory Michael Smith are probably the best actors on the entire show. Their chemistry and animosity remind me of Babylon 5’s Peter Jurasik and Andreas Katsulas, both of whom won awards for their performance.

Well, Not All Villains

On the flip side, we had two decent characters that went down some ridiculous paths. Nathaniel Barnes was too serious for a show with glowing ice guns, mind-control perfume and clones. Yet, shoehorning him in as “the Executioner,” a D-list villain that appeared in one issue of Golden Age Batman, was also unnecessary. Oh, and that outfit and weapon? Even Fish Mooney’s corset, or Azrael’s reject from Assassin’s Creed, were more appealing. Gotham… how could you do that to Michael Chiklis?!

That brings us to, perhaps, the most hated character in the entire season (or even show): Lee Thompkins. We loved her in the beginning, but boy did she go wrong this season. She became that ex who’s so delusional and wrapped up in themselves, they make your life a living Hell.

Preferring alternative facts over reality, Lee committed to a rash path of destruction and a crusade against Jim that endangered his life and the lives of others. How many times did they have to explain that her husband was infected with a murderous virus and about to kill her? She made horrible choices all season and not once took responsibility; instead, blaming Jim for everything, even as he continually tried to help her. On top of that? After everything goes to Hell and Jim saves her ignorant ass one more time? She just up and ditches him and the entire city.

Good riddance. By the end we were so done with Lee that even Barbara’s fall into madness made more sense than what was done with her.

A Match Made in Hell

‘Yo, Lee, I’m really happy for you, I’ma let you finish, but Oswald and Ed had one of the best stories of all time.’ I already mentioned their acting and characters, but the plot was even better. Oswald’s election and betrayal, Ed’s vengeance and rise to villainy, plus the resultant war between the two. You couldn’t even pick which side you were cheering for!

OK, that’s a lie – I’m always Team Penguin. Still, their entire conflict was fun, especially as each kept outwitting the other. Even the season finale left us focused on these two, wondering what will happen to Nygma and cheering on Cobblepot (and his subtle reference to the Iceberg Lounge).

Too Much Secret Society

My least favorite storyline though was the Court of Owls. I’ll admit, I didn’t particularly like them in the comics either. Batman has been prowling the streets of Gotham for how long now, and somehow this “secret society behind all secret societies” has gone unnoticed? From the world’s greatest detective?

Even if you enjoyed that particular story, someone jumped the gun by introducing them while Bruce was still a teenager. This move felt like Star Trek: Enterprise when suddenly we had Ferengi and Borg running around a century before Kirk. I appreciate where the Court led, but I think they could’ve used something else rather than drawing from more recent (and questionable) comic material.

Finally, the Demon’s Head has Come to Gotham

Of course, without the Court, we never would have had the greatest twist in the whole season: the League of Assassins. I’m not saying it wasn’t predictable, if only because of online rumors, but seeing the League drop from the rafters had us all on the edge of our seats. The best part wasn’t just the assassins, but the appearance of their leader, portrayed for the first time as the character’s origin intended.

Ra’s al Ghul is one of the classic examples of whitewashing in pop culture. He’s been portrayed by an Irishman and an Australian in his previous live-action forays. Even his voice actors were majority white, with some exceptions. Luckily, Gotham cast the amazing Alexander Siddig, breaking down barriers and giving us the Ra’s we’ve wanted since the travesty that was Arrow. What little screen time he had was enough to make us want more, and I certainly hope the next season follows through.

Fast-Forwarding Characters… Literally

Getting back to characters, plots, and twists, I’m going to state an unpopular opinion: I don’t like what they did with Ivy. Maggie Geha is a great actor, don’t get me wrong, but making her jump in age felt unnecessary. Part of the joy of Gotham is watching Baby-Bat, Baby-Cat, and others still in their teens, grow and develop into the rogues’ gallery.

I was eager to see how young Ivy Pepper became the seductive botanist we all knew, but they chose to gloss all that over. Instead, we’re given a young Ivy in an older body, which was somewhat disturbing when you think about her actual age. While the whole Big situation has its moments, I’m disappointed they couldn’t have just focused on her like Bruce and Selina. The latter is precisely how we’d like to see a character approach their destiny. She’s got the whip!

Death Becomes Her

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention those who are no longer with us, at least for the moment. One went out shockingly, albeit in a proper way. The other character experienced a rather anticlimactic end.

Barbara, your drama was annoying, to begin with, and your fall into villainy made little sense. This last season, however, we’ve enjoyed your kind of crazy; plus, at least you weren’t Lee. You went out like a champion, insane until the very end.

Fish, some people disliked you, but I still think you were one of the greatest characters on the show. You were the boss of all bosses, and we were super-excited to see where you went. Unfortunately, the writers stiffed you with an episode and a half of material. Then you went out with a whimper, so unlike the goddess you were.

The Future is Dark, and I Like It

Going into next season it looks like Bruce is starting his crime fighting career, hopefully with the support of Alfred and Lucius. Gordon may take over as Captain and begin his path towards Commissioner, while Selina looks at her life choices and figures out who she wants to be. We also have Penguin’s return to the underworld (and a hint of his infamous nightspot).

They’ve also laid the groundwork for villains new and old: Solomon Grundy may be a consequence of this season’s actions with Ra’s al Ghul the main antagonist. However, what about Jonathan Crane or Harvey Dent, who’ve been long absent? Or perhaps someone new, like Waylon Jones or Mr. Dorrance? Either way, we can be sure the rogues’ gallery will be chocked full of wonders and surprises.

This season more than made up for some flaws in the previous ones. Sure, there were some problems and questionable choices, but overall this was Gotham at its best. Here’s hoping the next season has us as riveted – or at least, we don’t end up with another Lee.

Seriously. You suck, Lee.

I give Gotham Season Three a solid 4.5 conveniently-located Lazarus Pits out of 5.

About Brook H. (73 Articles)
Generalist, polymath, jack-of-all-trades... what hasn't Brook studied. Knowledge is power, which is probably why he ended up with degrees in Human Behavior and Psychology, not to mention majoring in everything from computers to business while working in theater, security, emergency communications, and human services. He currently resides outside Baltimore where he tries to balance his children, local politics, hobbies, and work. Brook is a major Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing advocate (he's HoH himself), lifelong gamer (from table-top to computer), loves everything paranormal, and is a Horror-movie buff.
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