Gotham is back for a third season, but what is the show’s direction at this stage of the game?
COURT OF FOULS
Fox’s Gotham has run through the extremes of hot and cold throughout the entirety of the series. Season 3, whose debut arch is entitled “Mad City,” is no exception.
I have defended Gotham rigorously throughout its run. I am a massive fan of the Dark Knight, so far as to say that Batman is my favorite superhero. I’m not so sure I can make a fair argument for where Gotham’s head is at.
Season 2’s “Rise of the Villains” was the high point, an absolutely superbly executed production on what Gotham can (and should) be. “Wrath of the Villains” sputtered aimlessly, despite some big name stars joining the cast and a potentially awesome, engrossing story line that featured Arkham Asylum and Indian Hill. The show completely fizzled by the finale, creating more questions than answers.
Where does that leave us?
“Mad City” kicks off season 3 with an underwhelming, disappointing start. The focus is scattered. Fish Mooney is sadly back, and not just present – she’s the centerpiece. Penguin (despite Robin Lord Taylor’s standout performance) is wandering about. Jim Gordon is…..a bounty hunter? If this is any indication of the rest of the season, Gotham (the show) won’t survive.
Jada Pinkett Smith’s Fish Mooney needs to go away. She has more than played her part in this story. Her presence was one of the early highlights of the series, where Smith created a Disney-like villain that was memorable and well-liked. An absolutely terrible arch to Mooney’s story line finished season one, led into season 2, and sadly we see her back for more. That’s scraping the bottom of the barrel.
Gordon’s new plot is interesting to say the least, and not necessarily in a good way. Thanks to the cluster of interweaving character arcs, Gordon feels far less prominent. That’s a big reason the show has lost its way. Despite all of this, Ben McKenzie is still very likable. David Mazouz is consistently taking ownership as Bruce Wayne and has only improved week-to-week. It’s hard not to root for baby Bats this time around. I nearly stood and applauded after his board room exit. The nice symmetry between Bruce and Jim displays the premise that though Jim was a flower among the weeds, he was corruptible. Bruce, thus far, has been Gotham’s white knight, a pillar of morality. Sean Pertwee’s version of Alfred is one of my favorites to date, in any Batman universe. That could change with JK Simmons’ rendition in the DCEU in the years to come, but Alfred’s undying loyalty and guardianship over Bruce is admirable and inspiring.
It remains to be seen how prominent of a role Lee will play, but something tells me we haven’t seen the last of her. Initially, I had hoped that Barbara would go the way of Fish in season 1 and hit the road, but I am pleasantly surprised by her role thus far in Mad City. We’re clearly grasping for straws here, so I’ll take what we can get.
I am okay with the classic comic standpoint that any character can come back from death at any time, but Gotham’s complete disregard for the impact of a well timed kill has taken away a prominent part of the series’ intensity. Who cares if say, Penguin dies next week? We’ll just see him pop back up in a few weeks. In this universe, it doesn’t work. You know what else doesn’t work? The mythical powers that have ravaged some of our main villains. Just stop. There’s something about that first season that really made Gotham feel like a superhero-infused police drama, and it was great. Now, the clear lack of direction has brought us to this. I applaud when a studio makes an IP its own and infuses its own ideas and story. I’m not so sure Gotham is in the right mindset currently. And that saddens me.
Lastly, the Court of Owls – really? Sure, we knew it was coming at the end of last season. But again, that’s barrel scraping. Bruce’s clone? That’s an odd subplot that will inevitably end in Selena Kyle trusting who she thinks is Bruce, only to be fooled – shocker! Camren Bicondova was my favorite part of tonight’s episode, as we saw a standout performance and a solid development for Ivy’s story. With all of these thoughts running around in my mind, lets hope Gotham can get this show back on the rails before it is too late.
Gotham’s premiere predictably followed up last season’s finale with a mundane, unexciting kickoff to what hopefully ends up being the low point of Mad City.
+ Camren Bicondova as Selena Kyle, along with Ivy’s bigger presence (finally).
+ One thing never changes – Robin Lord Taylor’s Oswald Cobblepot.
– Unfocused, messy, uninteresting.
– Lack of direction leads to a bunch of smaller subplots that don’t feel relevant.
– Awkward usage of certain prominent characters.
Josiah LeRoy is one of The Geekiverse’s biggest Batman fans. Chit chat about Gotham with him on Twitter.