‘Gotham’ has worn me down. I’m exhausted by it. Frankly, I found a lot of this season a slog to get through. When I sat down this week to watch the season finale, I was both relieved that I’ll be getting a break from the show, and disheartened at the prospect of sitting through two back-to-back episodes to get to that point. And now I still need to write about it.
The city of Gotham is in chaos. Again. Didn’t we just go through this when Jerome drove half the city crazy? Now the release of the Tetch Virus has supposedly infected thousands, triggering riots in the streets. I’m pretty sure that the visual effects skyline shots of buildings burning are directly recycled from earlier this season.
The police are once again overwhelmed. Jim Gordon is infected and struggles to keep his anger contained. Harvey allows him to keep his badge but takes his gun away. The other cops are nervous working with him. Lucius tells Harvey and Jim that he believes Prof. Strange created an antidote for the virus before giving the bomb to The Shaman. Harvey then has to calm Jim down after telling him that Alfred let Strange escape.
Strange of course tries to skip town as soon as possible. Unfortunately, he’s grabbed at the train station by Fish Mooney, who wants her own sample of the virus to create an army of freaks she can control. When she hears he has an antidote, she wants that too.
Because the train station is apparently the only way out of town, Harvey and Jim race there looking for Strange and find him with Fish. Mr. Freeze creates an ice wall trapping the two cops in a tunnel. Jim rages out and punches through it, but Fish, Freeze and Strange are already gone.
Under Fish’s mind control influence, Penguin works for his old boss once again. When Strange won’t tell them where to find the antidote, Penguin tortures him with Strange’s own brainwashing device from Arkham. Eventually, Strange leads Fish to his lab and gives her a handful of vials that he says are the only samples of the antidote. Suddenly, a bunch of ninjas turn up and demand that the antidote be given to them. As Mr. Freeze and Firefly fight them off, Jim and Harvey also arrive on the scene and join the fracas. Jim goes into Beserker Mode and kills a bunch of ninjas. He also stabs Fish Mooney in the gut. Fish drops the vials, shattering all the antidote on the floor. With her last breaths, she tells Penguin to, “Make this city yours,” and then she dies, for the second time. Knowing this show, it won’t be the last.
The cops arrest Strange again, along with Penguin. Strange claims that he can make more antidote, but he’ll need a sample of Jervis Tetch’s blood.
Stuck in the Riddle
While watching the city burn, Barbara sees this as an opportunity to seize power, but Nygma isn’t interested. All he cares about is getting revenge on Penguin. They come to a compromise where he’ll use his brains to help her rule the city, and she’ll deliver Penguin to him.
Anticipating that he’ll be useful, Barbara and Ed spring Jervis Tetch from prison. Jim Gordon’s moral rigidity being fairly compromised by the virus, he decides to use Penguin as bait to lure out Nygma. He calls Ed’s cell phone and offers a hostage exchange, Penguin for Tetch. Knowing that Barbara would never go for that, Ed slips away with Tetch. This of course enrages Barbara when she realizes what happened.
The swap goes sideways when Barbara interrupts. During the confusion of a big shootout between Jim and Barbara, Penguin gets the upper hand on Ed and locks him in the back of a stolen police car.
Jim and Harvey run off with Tetch. Barbara corners them in an old factory. Tetch is delighted that Jim is infected and encourages him to let the virus take him over. Jim slits Tetch’s throat to fill a jar with his blood, then leaves him there with his neck wrapped in duct tape for Barbara to find.
Penguin drives off with Ed in custody and obnoxiously gloats at his success, berating Ed for not being as smart as he thinks he is. Ed feels around between the seat cushions and finds a pin to pick his handcuffs with. After getting his hands free, he taunts Penguin and tricks him into pulling the car over. He then manages to turn the tables and wrestle Penguin’s gun away.
Ed drives Penguin back to the harbor where he previously shot him and left him for dead. He intends to finish the job this time. He asks Penguin if he has any last words, but Penguin nonchalantly says that he can wait until later. Ed grows increasingly frustrated with Penguin seemingly not grasping the finality of the situation he’s in, but Penguin remains unconcerned. Ed pulls the trigger, only to discover that the gun is empty. The whole thing’s been a set-up. Penguin allowed him to pick his handcuffs and get the gun. He knew where Ed would bring him. Ivy and Mr. Freeze are there waiting for them.
Penguin chastises Ed for being too predictable, then has Mr. Freeze blast him with his cold gun and freeze him into a block of ice.
Later, penguin opens a new nightclub and puts the frozen Ed on display as a trophy for all to see.
Three’s a Crowd
Fed up with Barbara’s abuse, Butch urges Tabitha to turn against her. He insists that they need to kill her so that they can rule the crime underworld themselves. Tabitha resists. Although she acknowledges that Barbara is growing out of control, she still has feelings for her former girlfriend. After a certain point, however, she can’t take it anymore and agrees.
Barbara is on to their little plot and confronts Butch alone. He tries to protect Tabitha by claiming that she wasn’t involved. Barbara shoots him in the head.
Barbara then tracks Tabitha to the safe house where she was supposed to meet Butch. Tabitha demands to know whether she killed Butch, and Barbara admits that she did. The two women fight, and kiss, and fight again. Eventually, Tabitha tosses a lamp into the puddle of water Barbara is standing in, electrocuting her, presumably to death.
In the aftermath of this, Tabitha returns to Barbara’s club. Selina (wearing a sexy new “I’m all grown up now” outfit) finds her there. She feels lost and is looking for a new mentor. Tabitha suggests they should join forces, and gives Selina her whip. Selina takes one crack with it and proves an expert at handling it. The whip suits her.
Lest we thought Butch was gone just from a little gunshot the head, he’s seen again at the end of the episode on life support. The doctors discussing his case reveal that Butch’s birth name was Cyrus Gold. In the context of this episode, that seems like a random non sequitur, but some quick Googling explains that Cyrus Gold is another name for Batman villain Solomon Grundy, an evil zombie and Swamp Thing imitator.
Lee calls Jim and tells him that she’s leaving town. She hopes that he’ll give in to his darkness and join her. Jim says that he will.
After nearly killing Tetch, Jim brings the jar of blood to Lucius, who is able to quickly whip up a single dose of the antidote for him. Jim insists that he needs two doses, one for himself and one for Lee. He grows increasingly enraged when Lucius tells him that the next dose will take a couple hours. Harvey is unsuccessful at calming him down. Jim grabs the one syringe and locks Harvey in the lab.
Jim finds Lee at home and tries to trick her into taking the shot, but she stops him and refuses. She kisses him and Jim drops the syringe. Lee crushes it under her shoe. She has seemingly seduced him to the dark side.
Lee and Jim head for the train station and slip past a virus screening checkpoint. Harvey chases them there and confronts Jim, who tosses him around. Harvey appeals to whatever is left of Jim’s reason and gives him his badge back. (Why Jim didn’t have his badge when Harvey let him keep it earlier is unclear.) Taped to the back of it are two more doses of the antidote.
Jim gets on the train with Lee, pretending that everything is fine, but stabs her with a syringe and gives her the antidote. He then injects himself. They both fall asleep on the train, which apparently doesn’t go anywhere because Jim winds up back at the GCPD station soon enough.
By the next day, the antidote is being distributed across town to whatever victims remain that the National Guard didn’t murder. (Did I skip over that plot point? During the crisis, the National Guard comes to town and massacres anyone who looks infected.) Jim tells Harvey that Lee left him a goodbye note. We see her getting on another train out of town. Harvey suggests that it might make Jim feel better if they hit the streets like their old beat cop days.
The Young Knight
Bruce Wayne starts the episode in police custody. Still brainwashed, he’s furious at Alfred for killing his mentor, The Shaman. Alfred tries to get through to him by appealing to his love for his family, to little avail. When Alfred is distracted by a disturbance in the police station, Bruce is able to escape.
However, Alfred follows him to a secret temple in Chinatown where Bruce searches for the “Demon’s Head” that The Shaman told him about. He runs into some ninjas, who point him to a glowing pool of greenish water that comic book fans will recognize as a Lazarus Pit. Waiting for him is the Shaman’s master, the semi-immortal Ra’s al Ghul (Alexander Siddig from ‘Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’ and ‘Game of Thrones’). Ra’s (pronounced “Raish,” as the Arrowverse shows on The CW say it, not “Rah’s” like ‘Batman Begins’ said it) tells Bruce that he’s been waiting for a worthy heir. First, the boy must prove himself with one more test. The ninjas have captured Alfred and drag him into the room. Ra’s gives Bruce a sword and orders him to kill his friend.
Alfred again appeals to Bruce’s love. Having heard enough, Bruce coldly impales him right through the chest. Alfred dies.
Immediately, Bruce snaps out of his brainwashing and is horrified at what he’s done. He turns to confront Ra’s, but the man has disappeared. Bruce is drawn over to the Lazarus Pit and scoops up some water. He pours it on Alfred’s wound, and Alfred instantly revives from the dead.
Bruce brings Alfred to a hospital, where he’s stabilized. While Alfred sleeps, Selina stops by to talk to Bruce. She tries to make amends with him, but he’s especially pissy with her. They fight and she walks away, telling him to, “Have a nice life.”
In the finale’s last scene, a masked vigilante foils a street mugging and climbs to the top of a building. Of course, it’s Bruce. He removes his ski mask (it’s a pretty crude costume) and stares out over the city in a very familiar Batman pose.
Season 3 of ‘Gotham’ was pretty disappointing on the whole. Although individual episodes were entertaining and the show never got so bad that I needed to stop watching, it felt very disjointed and overstuffed, and went way overboard with the supernatural material, especially resurrection. If the concept of death no longer means anything, what stakes does the story have? How long will it be before Barbara Kean comes back from the dead – or Fish Mooney does so again for that matter? Why should we care when they’re killed?
I’m also very annoyed with the way Bruce Wayne was treated in the brainwashing storyline. Even though the kid snapped out of it at the end, I can’t help but question how someone so weak-willed and easily manipulated could possibly become Batman.
The show’s ratings declined this year, and these finale episodes were filmed before the network had announced whether ‘Gotham’ would get a fourth season or not. In a lot of ways, this plays like a possible series finale. In the ending scene, Bruce makes his first big stride toward becoming Batman, and the last shot of the episode could serve as a fitting capper. Any dangling plot threads, such as Ra’s al Ghul or Solomon Grundy, could be left as things that adult Batman will need to deal with later.
Ultimately, Fox did decide to grant the series one more season. I will return to watch, but I doubt that I’ll attempt to recap every episode again. It just takes too much energy out of me.