A Look at Gotham- Season 3 Premiere: “Mad City: Better to Reign in Hell…”

Last season was all about the Rise and Wrath of the Villains.  With Fish Mooney busting out some monsters from Indian Hill at the end of Season Two, now let’s see why Gotham is now a “Mad City.”


The season begins in suburbia as Jim walks up to a house with a bouquet of flowers in hand.  He looks through the window and finds Leslie enjoying herself with another man.


Okay, so she’s at least happy.  Six months have passed and we cut to a pharmacy where a clerk fights off an intruder who looks like some sort of proto-Killer Croc.  The intruder throws the clerk through the window, only for Jim Gordon to enter the battle and end up easily overpowered.  In a convenient moment, the man ends up hit by a truck instead.


At GCPD, Barnes and Mayor James speak with the press about the pharmacy robbery and how the attacker might be another Indian Hill escapee.


Typical GCPD talk with the press until in enters Gotham Gazette reporter Valerie Vale, played by Jamie Chung.  Vale grills the GCPD over why no one can see the body and why GCPD can’t handle this threat, but a bounty hunter has already handled several. Mayor James, though, thinks that the hunters should be lauded for bringing in poor souls who, as Vale points out, were once insane inmates at Arkham Asylum.


Up in the wings, Bullock also lauds Jim for bringing in a few escapees, but also wants him to return to the precinct.  After all, Jim is a cop in everything but name, but this way, he doesn’t have to answer to Barnes.  Bullock begs Jim to stop blaming the job on what happened between him and Leslie.

Lucius Fox, now gone from Wayne Enterprises and working at GCPD, has an update on the drug that the escapee wanted: it’s an immune suppressant only available at three pharmacies.  Jim goes off alone to find out why escapees would rob pharmacies of all places.  If Bullock can get a lead, Jim will try to bring in the escapee.


As Vale keeps asking questions, she’s interrupted by the arrival of Oswald Cobblepot.  Penguin wants Barnes to tell the truth: the escapees are organized under Fish Mooney’s leadership.  After getting no help from GCPD, Penguin appeals to the people of Gotham to find Fish, who has been missing for six months.  Until Fish Mooney is found, no one is safe.  When Penguin’s appeal is over, he has brief words with Jim.


Penguin and Butch head to Barbara and Tabitha’s club to get an update on Penguin’s offer: he wants to protect Barbara, but she and Tabitha can apparently handle themselves.  Butch still isn’t all together from last season, just so you know, and still hopes that he can be with Tabitha.  Then Penguin asks the two to spread word of his offer, he will reward $1 million to anyone who brings Fish Mooney to him, dead or alive.


After Selina swipes Butch’s wallet, she meets up with Ivy who, for now, is still played by Clare Foley.  As the two walk, Selina gives some money to the Bruce Wayne copy we saw at the end of last season.


Bruce and Alfred arrive at Wayne Manor, though Bruce is lost in his thoughts.  He wants to know if it was right of them to leave.  But now is not the time to think about that, as Bruce has big plans for tomorrow.


Jim’s quiet time at the bar is interrupted by the arrival of Valerie Vale, who asks Jim about the night at Indian Hill.  Also, there are zero investigations on Wayne Enterprises and aside from Hugo Strange and Ms. Peabody, no one has been arrested.  Jim maintains that Penguin is a liar, but based on the escapees and knowing Fish Mooney, Penguin might not be wrong.  Vale then tells Jim about Penguin’s million dollar bounty.


At Arkham Asylum, Penguin gives Nygma a puzzle: the trick is opening it.  People have passed it down unsolved for generations, but Nygma accomplishes the feat in seconds.  Nygma asks why Penguin is being kind, but Penguin doesn’t know how he would have gotten by otherwise, despite Nygma’s past treatment.  Oswald just wonders why Fish didn’t kill him when she had the chance.

Nygma talks about the Gordian knot, a complex knot that no one could untagle, and how Alexander cut it in two, rather than try to figure out.  Sometimes a simple solution is best.  Whatever Fish is planning, Oswald should remember that penguins eat fish.


Fish, along with Selina and two flunkies, head to a facility.  The henchmen kill one of the doctors through touch steal the equipment.  A cop dumb enough to try and arrest Fish ends up under her control instead and knocks himself out.  However, Fish loses her bearing for a bit.


Not long after, Jim arrives at the same warehouse and confronts Fish, who figures that Jim wants to collect the bounty.  As Fish monologues about all of her minions, she gives one of them enough time to attack Jim from behind.  The two fight until the minion manages to elude Jim and escape.


The next day at Wayne Enterprises, Alfred and Bruce meet the board to talk about Indian Hill.  Bruce doesn’t believe that Hugo Strange acted alone, but was hired by an unknown group.  Bruce left to find evidence.  One board member scoffs at this, but Bruce has proof that this group exists and some members are even in the room.  He wants to talk face-to-face and gives the board 24 hours to talk.  Otherwise, the information he has will go public.


Following this, a woman receives a call about the board meeting.  She tells a masked man to do it quietly in regards to Bruce Wayne.


We return to the bar where three men confront Barbara about her bar being built on their territory.  They let her because Penguin protected her, but now they claim the spot as their own.  Tabitha enters and kills two of the men, but one is left alive.


After getting some information from Selina Kyle on Fish Mooney, Valerie speaks with Jim about his confrontation with Fish and tells that she knows where she’ll be next.  Valerie doesn’t tell GCPD, but knows that Bullock still trusts Jim, so Gordon has to lie to him.  Oh, and as a bonus, Valerie wants to join in on the adventure.  So Gordon goes off to get his hunch from Bullock.


On a rooftop, Bruce tells Selina about what he found at Indian Hill and warns her to be careful since powerful people know the two are friends.  Selina doesn’t want to hear Bruce’s apology of why he left.  Hell, she’s none too concerned that Bruce vanished anyway.  But she has business to take care of right now.  From a distance, Bruce’s doppelganger watches.


So Jim meets up with Vale, only to cuff her to the car so he can go alone.  Vale could scream, but then she’d have to admit everything and would lose her story.  When two officers leave a nearby building, Jim enters and finds, of all people, Ms. Peabody, who isn’t in jail because she agreed to testify against Strange.

Jim doesn’t care about who ran Indian Hill- he just wants to find Fish Mooney.  Whatever Strange did is making Fish sick.  The drugs aren’t working, so Fish or her goons may come after Peabody, even though only the police would know about Peabody’s location.  Fish would get information from a person that no one would suspect, like a reporter who would go to a bounty hunter.

Two women enter the room and kidnap Ms. Peabody while Jim’s bat-nemesis of the episode engages him once again.  The man tries to jump out of a window and fly away, but Jim subdues and cuffs him.


At GCPD, Barnes chews out Gordon for crossing him, and then expresses pride in Bullock for how he handled things in his absence.  That doesn’t change how livid Barnes is at Peabody’s kidnapping.  Bullock tells Jim that it might be best that he stay away.


Vale then arrives and asks if Jim knew that Fish used her to get to Peabody, and he did.  That’s Fish Mooney’s kind of play, after all.


Ivy, for some reason, wants to help out Selina, but Selina wants her to stay out of it.  As Selina leaves, the doppelganger, who Ivy thinks is Bruce Wayne, tells Ivy that she wants to meet Selina, who he thinks is in trouble since she knows Bruce.  The doppelganger gets frantic upon hearing that name, and that just scares off Ivy.


Penguin and Butch are brought to Barbara and Tabitha’s club to make arrangements with the captive man from earlier.  The club is the other group’s territory, but Barbara isn’t willing to concede much,if anything.  Barbara thinks that Butch set up this entire ploy just to get the ladies back in Penguin’s corner and put Butch back in Tabitha’s good graces.

It’s not entirely untrue.  Penguin finishes off the third man and then warns Tabitha that Butch is the only reason she’s alive right now.  When Butch gives the word, it’s over for Tabitha.


Ms. Peabody is brought before Fish and explains that Fish’s body is rejecting the changes made to her DNA.  She feels it each time she uses her powers.  If she stops using the power, she will recover.  Simple enough, but Fish likes the power.  Peabody tells Fish that Strange is the only one who can fix her, but he’s hidden somewhere secret.

Fish wants an army just like he and Strange will comply.  Fish then introduces Peabody to Marv, played by Victor Pagan, who operates as a Fountain of Youth in reverse.  He demonstrates as such when he sucks the life out of Peabody.


One of Fish’s henchmen then brings in Ivy, who was spying on the place.  Ivy tells Selina that Bruce Wayne asked about her, but Fish warns her to stay out of this.  Ivy, genius that she is, threatens to expose the ordeal.  Ivy flees until Marv pushes her into an open sewer line.  Selina appears crushed, forgetting that she’s in Gotham City where anything is possible.


After a montage, we return to Wayne Manor, where Alfred himself coming face-to-face with the same masked man from before.  The two fight with the man managing to overpower Alfred.  When Bruce heads downstairs, the man kidnaps him as the episode comes to a close.

So after last year’s Rise and Wrath of the Villains season, Season Three’s “Mad City” seems like it’s going to show Gotham City descend further into madness.  Though if that’s the case, perhaps this would be the appropriate season for villains to rise.

Like last season, a more story-driven approach to the show, as opposed to operating with a villain of the week, benefits the show because the seasons feel more connected.  With Season One, Gotham operated like a case of the week show, but Season Three deals with the impact of the breakout at Indian Hill, the troubles at GCPD, and Bruce’s investigation, as well as bringing in some new story elements and characters.


The most prominent of which is Valerie Vale, who strikes me as the same idealistic type Jim was back when the series started, but is aware of what kind of city she’s in.  Jamie Chung is fine in the role and Vale’s questioning of the GCPD’s handling of crimes, as well as inserting herself into Jim’s bounty hunting, showed that she’s willing to get her hands dirty, similar to Leslie.


Jim, meanwhile, is a shell of the man we first saw in the pilot.  His relationship with Leslie appears all but over, he’s not a cop, and is now a drinker.  And somehow, I don’t have a massive issue with this.  Jim has always been portrayed here as being a thorn in the police’s side.  Having him try to reclaim his badge would be familiar territory.  So have him operate outside the law since the guy has done some pretty bad things, let’s not forget.


Pairing him with Vale almost mirrors his relationship with Bullock, but now Gordon is the jaded cop molded by Gotham’s corruption.  He’s not looking for glory or a police uniform now- he’s out for himself.  After all, he wouldn’t take the bounty unless the price was right.  He seems to be all-consumed with this, but is this his way of venting for losing Leslie or does Jim feel this is the logical next step since he’s no longer a cop?


Either way, it’s an interesting avenue for Gordon to explore.  I do appreciate Gotham following through on him being a rogue.  It would be too easy to pin a badge on him and act like his vigilante acts should be rewarded.

He’s still in the GCPD’s crosshairs, though he technically hasn’t done anything wrong here, as far as I can tell.  He’s operating outside the law.  And the people of Gotham already backed The Balloonman since he killed corrupt citizens, so not like Jim wouldn’t have public support.

Though I’m left wondering why Barnes doesn’t just toss Gordon in a cell.  It’s not like he doesn’t already hate the guy.  While Bullock is no longer in charge, I’m left wondering whether Barnes is going to fully heal, given that he took Azrael’s sword through his gut and still looks to be in a lot of pain.


So Fish Mooney is looking for a cure.  How she and her goons managed to track down what they needed, I don’t know, but this can’t be the first time Fish has seen signs of her powers failing.  And yet she’s still on the frontlines and staying involved with the search, rather than just having her army do it for her.


Then you’ve got Penguin, who is always fun to watch, back with some power in Gotham City after his stint in Arkham, where he does at least have a good scene with Nygma.  Given his on and off friendship with Gordon, not to mention the favors, I’m surprised Oswald didn’t just directly offer Jim the bounty instead of announcing it to Barbara first.  Either way, it looks like there will be some friction between Penguin and Tabitha.

Side-note, if Tabitha is still in Gotham City, what the hell happened to Silver St. Cloud?


Anyway, since that’s about as good of a transition onto the kids, let’s talk Ivy for a second.  Okay, we already know that Clare Foley’s Ivy has been recast with Maggie Geha.  If Gotham is going to bother recasting a recurring character, I imagine part of that is because Ivy will play a bigger role going forward.


Like some issues I have with Gotham, my problem comes in how it happened.  For the most part, Ivy has been more of a side character.  The one character she’s interacted most with is Selina, but just when the plot demanded it.  Other than that, she kept to herself.  So why would she now want to get involved with Selina’s line of work?  As far as I can tell, nothing ever indicated she’d be interested.

So when she falls into the sewer, it just feels like the oddest send-off to Clare Foley until Ivy reemerges as Maggie Geha.  Either way, I don’t buy that Ivy suddenly decided she wanted to be Selina’s partner-in-crime.


Bruce seems to have a knack for putting himself in harm’s way, but at least he’s making moves instead of speculating about the secret society running things behind the scenes.  How damn deep does this well go?  And you thought The Order of St. Dumas pulled some strings in Gotham City.

There’s always another deeper, more secretive level with corruption in this city.  And like the Order, they manage to kidnap Bruce.  Well done, future detective.

“Better to Reign in Hell” is a decent start for the third season that continues some story threads from Season Two, while adding to it with Valerie Vale and bringing us one step closer to the Court of Owls.

The bits with Bruce and Alfred, Jim the Vigilante and his sidekick Valerie, or moments with Penguin felt stronger than anything involving Fish or even the GCPD, but there are enough lingering threads that leave me wondering what will happen with some characters next.  We’ll see.

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