Gotham’s Third Finale Is Satisfyingly Guano Mad!

This season of Gotham actually ended on a optimistic note? They made an exciting finale that didn’t rely upon toothlessly threatening to blow up the entire supporting cast? Many of its big threats were overshadowed by legitimutantly satisfying character developments? WHAT IS THIS DEVILTRY? I shall attempt to elucidate with SPOILERS.

The  Indian Hill escapees like Nancy were set up as a big threat in last year’s cliffhanger, but they vanished after this season’s first two episodes. “Resurrecting Fish Mooney with superpowers sure was worth it,” he wrote sarcastically. Between the brisk pace & big airing breaks, that subplot feels like a hazy memory. The pacing sometimes feels like they’re just moving an overabundance of characters around the board until the next big event, but at least we’re past the era of pointless season one subplots like Bruce falling in a ditch. If the resulting characterization continues to be this juicy, however, I won’t even mind the events being treated like afterthoughts. (The National Guard sure solved that viral outbreak with bullets.)

Despite being set up last season as the ultimate secret society, The Court of Owls thwarted itself by recruiting Jim “THE WORST” Gordon for absolutely no reason. They didn’t actually need him for anything. There aren’t enough facepalms for how eagerly they snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. The Court unleashing the Alice Tetch virus on Gotham as a wake up call to the city to cease being crime ridden is too reminiscent of Batman Begins. If their goal was to stamp out lawlessness, why not use their vast influence to support better welfare & law enforcement initiatives? It’s also superfluous since the Jerome-ker showed how easy it is to whip Gothamites up into a sadistic frenzy without a bloodborne illness. They also ordered the hit on Bruce’s parents, the only Gotham citizens Ra’s al Ghul explicitly didn’t want dead. They were too stupid to live.

I was expecting the Court to make more use of Bruce’s clone (a.k.a. Bruuce if you’re a Star Wars Expanded Universe Legends fan) than deceiving Alfred while the real deal was brainwashed by The 100’s Mountain King. It’d be less work to just kidnap Pennyworth & Wayne together. He didn’t succumb to degenerative cloneitis or get defenestrated by Catwoman yet, so maybe he’ll resurface as Owlman. It’d be even better if he suited up as Killer Moth!

Remember when Hugo Strange sicced Azrael on Gordon after he got all up in his business? Well the Court of Owls steals from Strange’s playbook. Even with an axe-hand borrowed from The Reaper or The Phantasm, boring Barnes as The Executioner is no Azrael. The only cool thing he did was decapitate Kathryn of Owl’s Court an episode early. Why is is this show keeping him around? At least they didn’t officially make him another gringo Bane. (Will we meet teen Bane since they foreshadowed that in episode five?) Can we get Electrocutioner back instead?

Lee returning to Gotham City after all she’d been through at the season’s start makes no sense. Neither does her shooting up with Alice Tetch blood as penance for her fiance’s death. She’s been wasted as a wet blanket lately, however, so I’m excited about her becoming a supervillainess. Breaking bad worked wonders for Stabby Babs! (This makes Valerie Vale the wisest of Gordon’s exes for getting the Hell out of Gotham after being non-fatally shot.) It’s a bummer that the new & improved Lee didn’t get a face off with Babs over who’s the craziest ex-girlfriend. While complete 180 from comics Leslie Thompkins, this was the most entertaining Lee has ever been so it’s unfortunate she gets cured. Morena Baccarin gets my vote for the next Morticia Addams. 

It would’ve been nifty if the virus turned Gordon into the morally upright yet likeable be-mustachioed character fans have given up hope of him becoming. Sadly it did not. It did, however, imply that Jim could be overcoming his murdery base instincts. Of course I also thought Hugo Strange giving him a psychological dressing down last season finale would motivate him to be nobler, so let’s see if this sticks any better. At least him figuring out how to fill a Mason jar with Mad Hatter’s neck blood without killing him counts as progress.

Despite seemingly still incarcerated at Arkham Asylum at the end of last season, Penguin & Poison Ivy have to make two separate journeys to recruit Mr. Freeze & Firefly.  Both characters had very personal origin stories, but they wind up being glorified lackeys. Much like the comics, their motives are too specific to exploit for limitless in-character appearances yet their gimmicks & costumes are too popular not to use continuously. (Is there a more specific TV Trope for this than Villain Decay?) More of them wagering who can torture Strange with the most finesse!

The mysterious recasting of Firefly bothers me more than it probably ought to. If Diamond Select Toys does an action figure of Bridgit Pike can she come with alternate heads for Michelle Veintimilla & Camila Perez? She’s short enough that they could probably budget the unused plastic for extra accessories. I think I might slightly prefer  her prototype suit with an interchangeable masked head. She had spiffy hair then in addition to being better written. I’m worried that the recasting combined with different costumes may inspire DST to skip this B-list baddie altogether. The next assortment really ought to be Firefly, Tabitha, & Jerome.

Recall how creeped out everyone was when Poison Pepper Ivy had an extreme growth spurt? Well unlike Riverdale, the writers actually avoided a jaunt to Statuory Rapeville. Post-pubery Ivy has concocted hypnotic perfume & saved Penguin & Catwoman from the brink of death so they remember their murder appointments. Her metamorphosis is still unnecessary & weird since she didn’t get any plant powers out of it, but kudos to Gotham for not picking the low hanging exploitative fruit for once!

Gotham is my favorite police procedural because it doesn’t pretend to care about police procedure. The GCPD has even outsourced its brutality to gentleman’s gentleman Alfred Pennyworth! Hooray for civil rights loopholes! Alfred referring to kidnapped Master Bruce “my boy” makes me all warm inside like The LEGO Batman Movie. He’s become Bryan Mills in Taken minus the implicit Islamophobia.

The relationship between Penguin & Riddler continues to be both wonderful & frustrating. Their animosity is genuine, but there’s still enough chemistry between the two that a reconciliation could be possible if they just forgave each other’s betrayls. They may be playing murderous blackguards that have destroyed each others’ fragile shreds of empathy, but Robin Lord Taylor & Cory Michael Smith are always Gotham’s highlights. Penguin playing Riddler with his own compulsiveness was fantastic! When Penguin first opened his club, I was disappointed he named it Oswald’s instead of The Iceberg Lounge. The fact that now he’s naming a new establishment The Iceberg Lounge after his frozen Riddler trophy is fantastic! (Out of all the “demises” this finale, Riddler’s is most certain to be undone, whereas Fish’s second seems most permanent.) That was unexpectedly worth waiting for.

I was concerned about Babs & Tabs falling apart since that romance hasn’t gotten as much focus this season. After Oswald & Ed imploded, I was hoping the bisexuals could make it work. In a finale featuring gimmick guns , viral roid rage, & the League of Assassins, their battle was the most brutal. Tabitha showed that you should definitely bring a bullwhip to a gun fight! If Babs had to die for taxes reasons, at least they let her go out with agency unrelated to Gordon. It’s nice to see Tabitha get something meaty to sink her teeth into after the show lampshaded that she was a second fiddle. The dual “deaths” of Butch & Babs  broke her heart. I am really excited that this is finally an opportunity to for her to mentor Selina into becoming Catwoman. Selina cracking that whip was electrifying!

gentlewoman_ghost

If Gotham lets Erin Richards use her Welsh accent whilst wearing a white tuxedo & wielding ectoplasmic weapons, it will win television.

One of my favorite parts about Batman is when various superviallians get to interact with other. Gotham does recurring villains better than any other comic book show because it spends time developing them & their relationships with each other. They’re the coolest part of this show since Gordon turned out so unlikable. This season it implied becoming a criminal is a bad career path because your allies will eventually betray you. Curse your stealth morality, Gotham! Although not infected, trying to exploit the outbreak brought out the worst in the city’s criminal element. Interestingly the halves of the major crime couples that “died” were the ones that had shifted their morality most. Alternate moral: Get into supervillainy as early as possible to avoid being dispatched by rookie hubris.

Gotham wisely resists offing Ra’s al Ghul to wrap up all the big threats. While he’s not there long, I’m really glad they didn’t needlessly rush through him. He even seems delighted that Bruce overcame his conditioning. Not only did he magnanimously advise  rebellious Bruce to revive his slain butler with the Lazarus Pit, he lurks behind a humongous door shaped like a demon’s head! That door is the Gotham character most deserving to be absorbed into Batman comics! (Personal branding is al Ghul’s weak point.) Perhaps next year year he’ll return to force Bruce to take Talia al Ghul to prom?

After being shot point blank in the head by Babs, I thought Butch had a good run for a tertiary non-canon character. So I was pretty annoyed they instantly backtracked by having him inexplicably comatose, until they revealed his real name is Cyrus Gold. BUTCH WAS SOLOMON GRUNDY ALL ALONG?! That’s the most out of field retcon in a show made of out of left field retcons! I’d heard the producers were considering using Grundy (again, not the Riverdale edition), but I’d completely forgotten about that amidst the Harley Quinn hype. I was wondering when (Green) Arrow’s Cyrus Gold would return as a super-zombie, but I’ll take this. Hugo Strange can definitely reload his braindead mind with a nursery rhyme & hopefully hook him up with some wacky hand weapons. (Another reason why The Executioner doesn’t need to stick round.)

I joked about Bruce becoming Batman in this finale, & I was technically correct?! Master Bruce started thwarting muggers & posing atop gargoyles! Not only are his villains manifesting many years early, so is the Dark Knight. I am very in favor not not stretching this show out for a decade to see him tediously learn every Bat-skill. Novice Batboy vs. grown-up criminals sounds more dynamic than hypercompetent Batman vs. criminals with far less resources. True, he doesn’t have a Batman costume yet, but I really hope Gotham doesn’t have a Smallville ban on it until the series finale.

Say what you will about Gotham, but its wardrobe department deserves an Emmy! Tabitha had a jacket made of spikes! I prefer the baroque Court of Owls masks to the comics because minimalism is the most overrated design aesthetic of all time! This show still needs to give Firefly a jetpack, although it’s not as egregious as Mr. Freeze letting all the deadly heat in by not wearing a bell jar. Fish Mooney & Barbara Kean are always glam. Selina Kyle is upgrading her (most likely stolen) leather wardrobe to edge closer to becoming Catwoman officially.  His facial hair isn’t quite right, but The Demon’s Head’s sartorial choice was on point. The Riddler looks like the Riddler! The Mad Hatter’s makeshift newspaper topper is perfect. Its writing may not be as consistent as this year’s Agents of SHIELD, but its costumery is a lot more eye-popping!

Gotham has had the strangest trajectory. Its premiere season was too earnestly trying to be a Batman prequel with few fantastical elements. The next slew sophomore slump by becoming a batty sci-fi Elseworlds focused on how villains would develop in lieu of the Caped Crusader. By the end of season three, it appears to have merged both approaches. It’s still kooky but taking definite strides in showing Batman’s progress rather them leaving him the longest simmering & most distracting Easter Egg. If they can maintain this throughline & quality into season four, Gotham could make good on the potential of its premise. If season four jumps the shark, at least the season three finale could retroactively substitute as a solid series finale for selective memory fans. Of course at this point, jumping a series of increasingly weirder sharks is Gotham’s modus operandi.

If you haven’t seen Wonder Woman: The First Leaguer in cinemas yet, what’re you waiting for? Gal Gadot fulfilled her destiny! I’m so happy it put all box office contenders into submission!  Even supervillains love Wonder Woman!

Next time … something else?

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