Gotham – Season 3 Episode 2
“Mad City: Burn the Witch”
Back into Gotham. Back in black. The first is me, the second is Bruce, reprising his Milk Tray Man costume as he tackles the Court of Owls. Fish is properly back too, as a main character, though in a role I didn’t expect Jada Pinkett Smith to accept; but then, I don’t really know why she didn’t do season 2 – just her movie career perhaps. And Jim is back into romance – one of Craig’s predictions from last week that I cannot deny.
I must start by saying that I was not as horrified by season 3 as the end of season 2 had me feeling. Gotham has come a long way from the detective show I thought it was going to be in season 1. Certainly it feels like the producers have been seduced by the money superhero and comic-book film and TV are now taking in and that they’re yelling from the back “more comic-book, more wacky, more over the top!” I’d honestly thought that the monsters released were going to lead to some crazy modern take on the 60s Batman madness – truly awful. However, I think the inspiration for Fish’s fledgling army has instead been the X-Men?
To be fair to Craig, I also agree with him that Fish is just odd in her current role. To be fair to Jada Pinkett Smith she’s done a hell of a good job with it though. Take her interactions with Strange: she plays that very straight, showing the desperation of someone realising they may soon die. Worse still, her survival is entirely in the hands of someone else whom even her threats might not be able to motivate if there really isn’t a cure. (Small print: there will be a cure.)
Despite this acting talent though, I’m still stuck with: ‘what on Earth is she a part of here?’ I’ll confess to thinking ‘please just shoot her’ when Penguin had the gun on her. She wants an army to bring Gotham to its knees? Where does that come from? And those powers? Well, perhaps they’re no crazier than some people’s before her but she does appear to be developing new abilities as time goes on, with I fear no guaranteed end point?
So to be clear: Jada Pinkett Smith – like; CuttleFish Mooney – dislike. I know she’s very persuasive. I also buy that Penguin would want to question her as to why she didn’t kill him. But still, because she’s gone all motherly? It does give her a link to Strange as a fellow creator, which I assume will form the basis of their relationship throughout the half-season, but it feels forced. Would Fish not be more ruthless and make a move to retake the city – her declared aim?
Penguin by comparison I do like. Very interesting to see him in the role of upstanding member of the community, rallying the mobs in the vein of good ol’ D. Trump, who’s in all the news we see coming across The Pond these days. Not quite sure how he got away with his step-family’s murder but if he can afford to put a million-dollar bounty out on Fish then a few bribes in the legal world are probably no big deal.
Either Penguin or Fish surely has to come up against the Court of Owls though soon? Perhaps not, actually, as the Court were happy with a crime boss knocking around before if it didn’t spoil their enterprise. That keeps Penguin safe. Fish though, a city run by monsters can’t be good for Court business?
I’m currently siding with the Court, which I find interesting in myself, as I blame the Court for the ridiculous nuclear-bomb threat that was a part of ruining the end of season 2. Still, there it is.
Such distaste aside, I really enjoyed Bruce’s dealings with Kathryn of the Court. Bruce plays a mean game of poker to bluff his way to them with absolutely no hand whatsoever and still manages a deal. He has little to offer but the promise not to make waves but it’s perfectly reasonable that the Court would take this offer, as it means not having to make changes to their plans.
It is a slight shame that this in theory means that Bruce won’t be playing politics with them any more, as I’d really enjoy a little more of that one-upmanship, but presumably the deal won’t last forever. Perhaps the appearance of Emo Bruce will break the deal immediately.
I really did not expect Emo Bruce to turn up and announce himself at Wayne Manor. I had dreaded a lot of mistaken-identity plot coming well before Bruce discovered his clone. With that skipped and Emo Bruce now Bruce’s problem straight away, I’ll admit to being quite intrigued as to where on Earth this plot can go. I cannot predict it.
And back on the subject of predictions, whereas Craig may have called the Valerie Vale / Jim Gordon romance I think he missed Vale’s motivations and what she means for Gordon’s plot. This might be a shame though. That development of Gordon from idealist in season 1 to compromised in season 2 would have rather neatly completed an arc if he had become a corrupt cynic in season 3. If Vale had been an idealist then Gordon would be on exactly the opposite side of the argument he had been in season 1 and maybe she could have been the light shining his way back onto the path.
As it is Lee has returned from kissing a random man and a love-triangle or fight scene is about to ensue. I am not looking forward to this. Strangely the best romance triangle Gotham has offered so far was Selina/Bruce/Silver. None of the adult messes seemed to live up to that one and it’s difficult to see that changing now. Still, who can really say? Up until now Lee has been the most adult and wise person in matters of love and has so far avoided all sitcom love tropes. Maybe that will save the plot idea?
Interesting to see Valerie Vale (mother to be of Vicki Vale?) in the role of hungry reporter with little to no honour. I’m glad she hasn’t turned out to be totally stupid either. Fine she was tricked by Selina and Fish last episode but that was just the once and since then Vale has been able to follow people’s motives like a good reporter. Despite finding her personally unlikable (should I have met her in real life) I think she’s a great addition, well-needed in Gotham that struggled with strong adult female characters since it lost Fish at the end of season 1.
Barbara Kean has moved on as a character certainly – in fact in Pinewood I thought she was truly excellent – but that was a long time coming. Again, nothing to do with the actor: Erin Richards has always played what she’s been given very well. I do think she wasn’t given enough to work with though until quite late on. Jessica Lucas and so Tabitha still very much suffer from that even now.
Very interested to see what plans Barbara has for Jim now too. She’s still obsessed and toying with him. Perhaps she’ll be the one to make the Lee-Jim-Valerie mix up worth the watch.
Ivy may also be an interesting character. Now that sewer water has added her to the adult female cast maybe she too will help fill the previous gap. Will she still have the mental attitude of a child or did whatever was in that water age her mind as well as her body?
I must go back to episode one and look for signs for Ace Chemicals to see if that’s the explanation for her changes. Presumably something like that explains the new Ivy and has presumably given her powers too? She hasn’t needed them yet though, in order to be interesting. Though I never would have thought a savvy street kid would have gone home with a total stranger it was certainly a nice twist that he wasn’t a bad guy and that she murdered him anyway, just because of his attitude to plants. Let’s see Selina handle this form of crazy in another of her friends.
Not as much of the tales of the lunatic fringe that I feared it would be Gotham season 3 has been a pleasant surprise but still not an amazing one.
Suspension of disbelief is still something I struggle with when watching the show. The power level of Fish’s army seems to be in check with the police being able to arrest three of her squad and an angry mob able to kill two more. Nonetheless, I still find it difficult to see why the government or at least state hasn’t stepped in when things get as bad as they do. The Court of Owls perhaps.
Still, the additions of Valerie Vale and a grown-up Ivy really support Barbara Kean well in holding up the banner of a decent adult female cast, which was one of the big failings of season 2, so I’m most happy with that change.
- the adult female cast getting some decent treatment in the addition of Valerie Vale and a grown-up Ivy
- Jada Pinkett Smith’s attempts to save Fish as a character
- Penguin as a pillar of the community
- Bruce’s dealing with the Court of Owls
- Emo Bruce turning up at Wayne Manor and avoiding mistaken-identity plot
- Fish sparing Penguin just seemingly to make a plot connection with Strange
- the threat of another poor love triangle
- still struggling with the suspension of disbelief, given the government and state are still ignoring Gotham City