It looks like Batman is finally beginning on ‘Gotham’. The fourth season opens with both a schedule change to Thursday nights and a story arc none-too-subtly titled ‘A Dark Knight’. The question left unanswered is how long the show will continue to hold my interest.
First, the plot: Season 3 ended with Bruce, dressed up in a crude black costume, launching his crime-fighting career by foiling a street mugging. We get a replay of that scene here, with the new added information that the muggers are carrying a document labeled a “License of Misconduct.” Also, Ra’s al Ghul watches Bruce from the shadows.
Although Penguin is no longer mayor, he’s still ruling the city. In dominant control of the underworld, he started his own program to regulate crime by way of issuing official licenses for it. Anyone caught committing a crime without a license gets hunted down by Victor Zsasz (who’s much more comedic this season than he’s ever been depicted before, for some reason). The result of this is that violent offenses are way down throughout the city. Penguin gets both the corrupt new mayor and police commissioner on board with this plan, and Harvey (still an acting captain) is pressured to comply. Any GCPD officer who encounters a criminal carrying a license is under orders to walk away. Naturally, Jim Gordon doesn’t want to play along. Harvey has to rein him in.
A small-time gang led by a guy named Grady Harris don’t care for Penguin’s rule and thumb their noses at him by robbing banks without a license. Jim is determined to catch them before Zsasz does.
Grady comes up with a plan to humiliate Penguin by busting Jonathan Crane (last seen in Season 1) out of Arkham Asylum and forcing him to produce more of his father’s fear toxin. Grady and his crew will then sneak into the grand opening party for Penguin’s new Iceberg Lounge (the name he’s given Barbara’s club since taking it over) and spray Penguin with the toxin in front of the public and press.
All the storylines in the episode converge at the club. Jim tries to lay a trap for Grady, but Penguin is already on to the both of them and catches Grady first. Bruce and Alfred make an appearance at the party in order to gather intel on Penguin’s licensing scheme, and learn that a bookkeeper named Mr. Penn holds records for everyone who applies for a license. Selina and Tabitha also turn up in order to bend the knee to Penguin, which gives Bruce an opportunity to apologize to Selina for being a dick the last time she saw him.
As Penguin puts on a show for the press to demonstrate how he personally stamps out crime, Ivy double-crosses him and cuts the lights and power in the club. This gives Grady enough time to spray Penguin with the toxin. Jim ultimately arrests the gang, and Penguin is reduced to a blubbering baby (terrified by a hallucination of Ed Nygma coming back to haunt him) in front of TV cameras.
Bruce steals the license list from Mr. Penn, but his attempt to stop a burglary goes sideways and it looks like he’s about to be mistakenly arrested for the crime.
Meanwhile, the batshit crazy Jonathan Crane gets loose and assumes his new identity as The Scarecrow.
Season 3 of ‘Gotham’ really wore me out. The show is so overstuffed and convoluted that I found it exhausting to watch by the end. I tuned into this fourth season premiere with some reluctance.
The episode itself is fine. I like Penguin’s crime license scheme. Most of the storylines work well enough. I don’t have anything overly negative to say about the episode, but nor is it particularly great by any measure.
I’ll continue to watch the show this season (which, if the ratings continue to decline, may be its last), but I don’t plan to recap every episode in this blog as I have in the past. It’s too much work and I just don’t have the same level of investment in this series that I had during the first couple seasons.