Gotham was an interesting idea right from the start, playing on the comic book fans love of Batman by looking at the early years of the Caped Crusader, Jim Gordon and a vast array of villains we would all come to love and hate. However, I don’t think the people behind the show really understood just exactly what they were undertaking here and the show suffered a severe identity crisis because of it. As we moved into season two things became a bit more clear, plot lines a little more coherent and Gotham seemed more confident at what it actually was becoming a show. This continued at the start of season three but with the addition to more characters and story lines, things have gotten a little convoluted again.
Let’s start with season one.
The biggest mistake the showrunners made was trying too hard to please all of the comic book fans around the world. Too much time was spent doing a ‘nod-nod, wink-wink’ concerning all the up and coming villains in Gotham, not to mention many familiar characters that play important roles as the years role on. While a young Bruce Wayne was obviously the main character early on, in quickly became clear that Jim Gordon was going to be the ‘Batman’ of Gotham.
The show spends most of its time seeing the city of Gotham through the eyes of Gordon, who at this time is a detective and honestly, not a great one. In fact, the GCPD itself is a bloody mess which is just fine for the villains and scum that inhabit the streets. A lot of time was spent on the building of storylines of competing crime families and outfits, with characters like Falcone, Maroni, and Fish Mooney all vying to take over Gotham in some way, shape or form. Penguin also became a big part of the story and this wasn’t a bad thing, except when they spent too much time rehashing the same old thing, making his character less interesting which in itself is a crime.
This is where Gotham had its full-blown identity crisis. One minute it’s incredibly brutal and bloody the next, a cartoon come to life embracing all of its villains in a way that must have made the fanboys weep with glee. These two sides were so extreme in nature it totally crippled the show, especially in the second half of the season and is something it couldn’t shake right up to the finale of season one.
Season two was where some great villains came out to shine, Gordon took a walk down the dark side and overall, the show became much more evil. This is a good thing as Gotham seemed to pick a direction and go with it, even if some episodes cried out for a more adult time slot then its regular 8pm. Ed Nygma/The Riddler, Hugo Strange and The Joker not only made memorable appearances but impacted the show in many ways that are still being felt in season three.
One of the big questions about Gotham was how they were going to handle the Joker. I was pleasantly surprised by both the performance of Cameron Monaghan as the psychotic madman but the way the show handled him as well. You don’t need to nitpick and say technically he’s not really the Joker, even though it’s true, but you just need to appreciate the story woven around such an iconic character and be glad that Monaghan took the character on with no fear and made it his own.
The same thing can be said, although at this point to a lesser degree, for The Riddler and Penguin, who in season two are being slowly set up to be important parts of the show. Throw in Hugo Strange, his bizarre experiments, and the Theo Galavan/Azrael arc and you have quite a few bad guys vying for our attention. Amazingly, this was not a bad thing but too many other characters and storylines got lost in the shuffle. Bullock needs a lot more screen time, Fish needs a lot less and Barbara…well, she was awesome when she went completely crazy but up until then, she was very disposable.
Season two wound up with the Court of Owls appearing and Bruce vowing to take them down, as well as a collection of freaks and monsters being released on the streets of Gotham, thanks to Hugo Strange and his experiments that were secretly funded by the Wayne Foundation. Not only that but Gordon left the city to try and find Lee. Chaos ruled the streets and while the show sometimes suffered it was at least more fun than season one.
As Gotham rolled into season three, I was very unsure of what to expect but thankfully, the show rolled out a great villain and a new Gordon. (sort of) I was not very excited about Mad Hatter as a villain but he has been a wonderful surprise. Crazy, smart and lots of fun he has caused complete chaos so far and in the right kind of ways. He doesn’t seem like one of the ‘big’ name villains in the whole Batman mythology but he is having a great impact so far in season three.
Another nice surprise was the character switch for Jim Gordon. No longer a cop, he is now a bounty hunter and man, has he embraced his dark side. Feeling free from the police force and no longer shackled by their ‘rules’, Gordon goes after criminals his way and damn anyone who gets in the way. The crazy thing is, this is the most likable his character has ever been and it’s been fun watching him play loose with the rules and not worry about protecting his badge.
However, the best thing to happen so far is the relationship that has blossomed between The Riddler and Penguin. Both are future super criminals that would kill each other without a second thought but they become a very effective team and in a twisted, humorous way it is almost a romance of sorts. It works on many levels and is evil fun and with so many possibilities it boggles the mind.
The Court of Owls also bares their teeth this season, showing how far their reach really is in terms of both people and companies. Bruce originally bows to their threats but after finding a weakness he changes his mind and plows straight ahead with plans of destroying them. The only thing that might stop him is the clumsy romance the writers keep trying to ram down our throats with Selina Kyle.
The best/worst thing about Gotham is summed up in the fact that I have no idea where season three is going and I don’t know if the writers do, either. Just sit back and enjoy the chaos and here’s hoping it’s a lot of fun along the way.
Premiere Date: Sep 19, 2016