Gotham returns for a third season. Last season had subtitles for the halves of its season. They seem to be continuing that trend as they lead off with “Mad City: Better To Reign In Hell…” As you’d expect, most of the cast is not exactly in a good place.
The episode opens with a recap of some of the most important points of last season. At the end of the various reminders, they lead off with a scene explaining where things stand with Jim Gordon and Lee Thompkins. Let’s just say it doesn’t go well for Jim, and I don’t think we’ll be seeing a lot of Lee this season.
Six months later, we see the new status quo for some of our major characters, as well as what the ongoing threats are going to be. There’s an after-hours pharmacy break-in going on. At least I think it’s after hours. It’s dark and the lights are off, but for some reason, the pharmacist is there, trying to defend his shop. The thief is a huge man with what look like Godzilla ridges down his back. My guess is this is some version of Killer Croc. The robbery comes to an end after Jim Gordon intervenes, in his new guise as a black leather-clad bounty hunter. Mind you, I’m not sure how he manages to collect the bounty given what happens this time.
Back at the GCPD, Captain Barnes gives a press conference. In a nice bit of continuity, he’s using a cane, still not recovered from the nasty injures he suffered last season. The Arkham escapees are the major topic. Mayor James, who I guess got his job back after Galavan exploded (literally), tries to paint them as victims. A female reporter keeps interrupting with good questions and logic. She’s Valerie Vale. Presumably, they’re trying to reserve Vikki Vale for a future love interest of Bruce’s and this is some kind of relative.
After the conference, Jim and Bullock have a chat. Harvey is trying to get Jim to come back to the police force, and it sounds like it’s not the first time they’ve had that discussion. Gordon is very bitter over where his life is at this point, and has no intention of returning. From what Harvey said, it sounds like Gordon is making pretty damn good money as a hunter. I’m not sure I’d go back either. Gordon says one of the good things is not having to listen to Barnes anymore. Remember that for later.
Since so many dark secrets were revealed about Indian Hill and Wayne Enterprises last season, Lucius Fox decided that wasn’t a place for him. He’s now working as a consultant for the Gotham Police. He shares a few snide remarks with Bullock and Gordon before telling them that the drug the big guy was trying to steal was for immuno-suppression. Considering how much bizarre experimentation Hugo Strange did, it’s a good bet some of his work is coming undone.
The press conference ends on a dramatic note. Mayor James’ useless prattling is interrupted when Penguin limps in, flanked by Butch. Penguin says that James’ reassurances are worthless, that the escapees are being led by Fish Mooney, and everyone in the city is in danger until she is captured. While the press goes after James about this, Penguin asks Gordon why he hasn’t captured Mooney. Newly-cynical Gordon says that Penguin hasn’t made it worth his while, and leaves. Penguin reflects that Gordon made a good point.
Up next is one of the many bar scenes this episode. Apparently Butch and Tabitha have broken up, and Tabitha and Barbara now have a bar together. They’re either in a relationship, making them both bi, or they’re just torturing Butch. Penguin offers them protection, which they refuse, to no surprise. Penguin also announces a one million dollar bounty on Fish Mooney, dead or alive (and that’s putting it mildly). Gotham really is like the Wild West at times.
Butch is alone at the bar, moping about Tabitha. Selena comforts him before stealing his wallet. Selena leaves, meeting up with Ivy, who is worried about Selena stealing in Barbara’s bar. Selena says Ivy worries too much and Selena has another gig lined up that will take care of them.
Disinterested, Selena hands the wallet off to some random kid in the alley they walk down. She also blows her perception check, because the kid is the clone of Bruce we saw at the end of last season.
Speaking of Bruce, he and Alfred have returned from being out of town. This covers where they were during the summer break for the show. Bruce has a big day planned for tomorrow, and is nervous about it. Alfred does his best to reassure him.
In a different bar, Jim Gordon reads the paper, and gets interrupted by Vale. She dangles a lead in front of him about Fish, and mentions Penguin’s huge bounty. This sets the major plot in motion. Penguin himself visits Nygma in Arkham, showing the two are still friends, although it’s an odd relationship. Anyone want to take bets on how long before Nygma escapes and/or is helped by Penguin?
On the street, Fish Mooney and some of her thugs march along in broad daylight. I guess she’s not worried about Penguin’s reward on her head. They break into a warehouse, and we see that all is not well with Fish. Selena is working with Fish as her break-in expert. One of Fish’s thugs can age people with a touch, the other seems to be some weird version of Man Bat. Once again, we see the show is off in its own world; in the comics, Kirk Langstrom became Man Bat after trying to develop a serum to help Batman fight crime. He’s about a decade early, at least. Gordon shows up and has an unresolved clash with Fish and company.
Bruce’s big day ends up being his confrontation with the board of Wayne Enterprises. He hints to them that some of the people who ran Indian Hill are among them, and he wants to meet. If they refuse, he’ll take everything he has to the media. The only board member we get a name for, a man named Crowley, is annoying and dismissive of Bruce. I’ll bet he’s a bad guy. After the meeting, the old woman we saw last season dispatches a man on a mission with the words, “Bruce Wayne. Do it quietly.”
Back in Barbara’s bar, she gets interrupted doing paperwork by some thugs on a shakedown. Barbara is still nuts, and Tabitha is still deadly. The thugs don’t do well. As this is going on, Selena finds Vale and asks about a reward for information about the “Indian Hill freaks.” Since Selena’s friend was one of them, this seems kind of harsh to me. Vale, in turn, goes to Gordon with some new information and a plan.
Bruce finally finds Selena, up on the roof with the pigeons again. I think it’s rather amusing the future Catwoman is tending to birds. He tries to apologize for leaving so suddenly, and she pretends she’s ok with it, badly. They are watched in their reunion by Bruce’s clone.
Gordon uses some of his connections to find Ethel Peabody, Strange’s assistant. She’s in protective custody after agreeing to testify. Of course, all this is a trap. Of course, Gordon knew this. Further of course, nothing goes as planned, and we see a few new Indian Hill folks, including a woman with a thing for black leather and a ratty looking thug who apparently has super speed.
No one is happy that Peabody has been captured. Barnes limps around in his office, raging at Gordon and Bullock. Remember that bit about not having to listen to Barnes anymore? Neither does Gordon. Very little goes well here, and there are potential rifts developing between many characters.
There are several quick meetings. Selena and Ivy talk on the roof, and Selena tells Ivy to stay away from her new boss. Then Clone Bruce shows up and tries to get Ivy to tell him first about Selena, then who Bruce Wayne is. As this goes on, we learn more about the earlier scene with the gangsters in Barbara and Tabitha’s bar. That place really needs a name so I can stop typing that phrase over and over.
A lot of bad happens at Fish’s headquarters. She gets news she really doesn’t want to hear from Peabody about her powers and what’s happening to her. Ivy shows up, makes a lot of dumb statements, and gets some of the Indian Hill mob (who also need a name) sicced on her. Little goes well for anyone in these scenes.
There’s a montage near the end of the show. Gordon mopes in a bar, looking at Lee’s picture. Tabitha and Barbara enjoy their place’s success. Barnes drills cops in what might be a new version of his Strike Force from last season. And Val Vale is developing pictures the old fashioned way, under red light, and has a really interesting shot of one of Fish’s goons.
The actual end of the show is back at Wayne Manor. It continues to show how remarkably ineffective its security system is, despite Alfred having supposedly put in a new one. Alfred has a fight with the old woman’s thug, who seems a lot like a Talon from the Court of Owls to me. This, too, would be a revision of Batman’s timeline from the comics, since he doesn’t learn about them until well into his costumed career. The scene ends badly for two of the three involved.
What I liked: There’s an echo of the Gordon/Bullock rhythm I liked so much before, but it’s not long enough. Gordon as a bounty hunter makes a certain amount of sense. Bruce’s confronting the board was very Batman, his failure to plan for the consequences wasn’t. I think I know what one of the rumors I heard about Ivy is about now. Barbara and Tabitha are a formidable pair. Penguin visiting Nygma was nice.
What I didn’t: They drift further and further from the comics’ timeline (I know, I say that a lot). I’m not sure I like Super-Fish and her Legion of Freaks (don’t love that name for them, either. I’ll keep trying). For the love of his life, Gordon gave up on Lee pretty easily. And I don’t see why they need to make up a new Vale as a reporter in Gotham. Either use the one from the comics and movies, or create a new character. Heck, the time frame is about right, wouldn’t it be interesting if one of the reporters in town was Perry White before he goes to Metropolis?
Season three is off to an interesting start. The pieces are in motion that will no doubt trouble both our good and bad guys throughout the season. I’ll give this one a 3 out of 5.
I wonder if Jim knows about Barbara’s new place? He was hinting he needs to find a new bar. That could be an awkward meeting.