Gotham, Season Three Episode One - "Better To Reign In Hell…"
Directed by Danny Cannon
Written by Bruno Heller and John Stephens
Starring Ben McKenzie, Donal Logue, Robin Lord Taylor, David Mazouz, Cory Michael Smith, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Michael Chiklis, Jamie Chung, and Camren Bicondova
Airing on Fox September 19 at 8 p.m. EST
‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10
It’s taken three seasons, but we’re finally at the point where Gotham has earned its namesake. Originally billed as a show about young Jim Gordon out to fight the corruption of the city and a scarred child Bruce Wayne, the show then evolved into something that spotlighted the villains in favor of the heroes. Now with the season premiere, it becomes the ensemble force it was meant to be and the story of a city that can either break you or build you.
Mild Spoilers After This Point
Starting off, we see Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) take action going up against the monsters created by Dr. Hugo Strange (BD Wong) in Indian Hill that have slowly made their way to the streets of Gotham. It’s a new role for Jim having walked away from the GCPD, one without a boss and regulations; he’s essentially become a new man. Far removed from a man of the law, Gordon’s only ally is still Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue), who loves him like a brother. Gordon finds himself going up against not just these man-animal hybrids, but also a returning Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett-Smith) is looking to claim Gotham as her own once more.
Across town, Barbara Kean (Erin Richards) and Tabitha Galavan (Jessica Lucas) have started their own nightclub, Sirens, which Newsarama visited last month. It’s quickly become a melting pot of Gotham’s high society and underworld personnel including a cover band belting out “I Know What Boys Like” made famous by the Waitresses. Richards steals the scene here taking down a mob boss that accuses her of muscling in on his turf. Her delightful squeals as she pummels him to the floor shows is just the beginning of the cast having fun this season.
Once again, Robin Lord Taylor as Oswald Cobblepot/the Penguin gives his character true agency as the return of Fish has set him on a course of revenge. The opening scene has him address the media about Fish’s reemergence and in a few minutes, has a showcase of emotions that makes his star shine a little brighter than we’ve seen before. He shares scenes with almost the entire cast in the premiere, and each time goes from manic and forgiving to subtly agitated. Since the first season, Taylor has been the standout performance of the series, and the season three premiere proves why the Penguin is a force to be reckoned with.
Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) has yet to come to terms to what he’s destined to become, but as the secret society that is actually running Wayne Enterprises starts to reveal themselves - the Court of Owls, his path accelerates to the businessman he will become later in life. What Mazouz brings to the show is an fascinating sort of energy because for a while, Bruce was lost in the shuffle as Gotham was figuring out what it needed to be. He’s no longer stoic in his performance and the young master Wayne has clearly grown into the role. There’s even a bit of fun banter between Alfred (Sean Pertwee) and Bruce after he outright schooled the members of his board. It’s literally two seconds long, but it adds so much to their relationship on screen.
Even young Selina Kyle (Camren Bicondova) has more to do this time around as not just a young socialite imposter, but as one of Fish’s associates making her relationship with Bruce more strained than ever. When Newsarama talked to Bicondova on the set of Gotham last month, the actress mentioned that Selina will make her way to the dark side sooner than later. This episode could be the start of that tightrope act towards the dark side. It was confirmed that her friend Ivy, played by Clare Foley, will be replaced by a somewhat more mature version (later to be played by Maggie Geha) and the story reason behind this is given in the last few minutes of the episode. It’s a stretch, but given the show has officially introduced super science onto the world, it’s anything goes at this point.
Rewatching Gotham, it’s been interesting to see how the show has evolved from this mixed bag of elements of the Batman mythos that didn’t quite mesh well, to fully embrace the insanity that Strange has brought with him. There’s a lot going on this season with Bruce’s eerie doppelganger, the city having monsters in its midst, and the Court of Owls looking to sink its talons into Gotham, the first episode is just the key in the ignition for this soon-to-be wild ride.