Gotham has always been a bit of a strange one in the TV show world. Fans of Batman, comics, games or films, do not overly like Gotham, if at all, at least the ones that I know. In fact I only know a couple of people who are actually watching the show. However, the show has been renewed for the fourth season, so they must be doing something right.

I am writing this review within seconds of finishing the third season of it. As far as the season finale goes, I rather enjoyed it, so maybe my opinion here might be a little rose tinted, so I may not cut into it as much as I was planning to.
You see Gotham has always been a show that I could take it or leave it. I was obviously drawn in by the premise that it was a prequel to Batman and all of the villains that the character would face later on down the line. It was the same premise that everyone else tuned in for. But after the first few episodes, people got a feel for what Gotham really was and they did not like it. It was all a bit silly. It felt stupid and messed around with certain key characters’ origins. This is why most “true” Batman fans turned it off and labelled it as a rubbish, whilst others, who maybe did not know the ins and outs of the history of Batman’s foes, continued to watch it and probably even enjoyed it. It is essentially a popcorn flick in a TV show.
I am not entirely sure who the target audience is for the show, as the entire thing is a colossal mess. Is it trying to be a cop or crime drama? A comedy? A superhero show? Or a thriller? It seems that the makers of the show do not know themselves, as the entire thing is a mess and just a combination of all of the above.

The problem with Gotahm, other than not knowing what it wanted to be, was the direction that it was heading. Sure we know that it is going to tell the story of Bruce Wayne and how he eventually became Batman, as well as how all the villains he will face became who they are, but most of the show are silly sub-plots that do not seem to go anywhere. Now and again we are given hints towards key things from the Batman universe, such as when Bruce and Alfred discover the hidden room beneath Wayne manor last season, which will eventually become the Bat-Cave, or when a classic Batman character takes a step in the direction of what they would become. But these are few and far between.
The first two seasons almost felt as if they was rationing what key stories they could tell us, whilst at the same time, throwing in whatever Batman references they could. “Hey look, here’s Arkham. Oh look, it’s Dr. Strange. Hey look, here’s Azrael”, all of which were added in with little care to the source material.
Of course you can’t just stick to how the comics did it. I suppose that is the key thing here. Gotham wants to tell it’s own story and isn’t afraid to change characters up, most of the time making them worse than they were before. A few that come to mind are; Poison Ivy – her origin story in Gotham is, not only sudden, but also a little non-existent. She originally entered the show as a little girl, called Ivy who enjoyed plants, hinting to what she would become one day, only to fall into… a sewer? Where some plants were? And they saved her and made her older? As you can tell I was not sure at all what the hell was even going on with that one. They rushed through her story to get her a lot closer to where she is in the comic books when Batman faces her, but by the end of it, we couldn’t feel any further away because of how different a character she really was.
Another is Firefly. SHE (as Gotham has Firefly a girl now for some reason) is basically nothing more than someone who stands behind whoever she is working for (Penguin, Barbara Keen, the Riddler) with her Flame-thrower in hand waiting for the time when she can fire it. In season two she was a reasonably deep character who was fighting against her past but became one of Hugo Strange’s experiments, as well as having a relationship with Selina Kyle, but in this season she is nothing more than just a henchman. It is the same as Mr. Freeze. He has a very interesting storyline in season two, one that kept me mildly anticipaiting the shows return after being hinted at at the end of the season prior, but in this season he stands the other side of his boss alongside Firefly and do nothing. Both the characters have about three lines of dialogue in the whole season and do nothing except shoot fire or ice respectfully.
Both characters’ stories are so drastically different which I didn’t mind at first, but now that their own personal storylines are done, both Friefly and Mr. Freeze are just standing around waiting for something to do.

I felt this a lot with Gotham throughout the years. The writers of the show didn’t know where they wanted these characters to go. It is like they knew the end of the story, but have no idea how to write the beginning and the middle.
That being said, I did feel that season three pushed the characters in the right direction. Maybe this is down to the season finale cleaning house, killing off a few characters, who have dramatically outstayed their welcome and should have died long ago, as well as making us feel that some characters are now becoming who they are supposed to be. A few examples of this is when the Penguin announces he is going to open the Iceberg Lounge, or when Bruce saves the family at the end, before standing on the edge of a building’s roof, we can see that he is starting to become the Dark Knight.

Now, Bruce Wayne’s story is usually the least interesting in the show. In the past he was been struggling to find his parents’ killers, tackling his love for Selina Kyle (another character who at the end of the season, I felt as if she was a step closer to becoming Catwoman), and learning how to fight from his butler.
This season Bruce’s story (once it actually got going at around the mid-season finale) became the story that I wanted to get back to. It was all hinting to the League of Assassins and Ra’s al Ghul’s appearance, which I was very interested. It also linked nicely with the Court of Owls storyline, which was probably the second storyline I wanted to know more of.

But you forget that Bruce Wayne is not the main character of this show. The show is actually centred around Jim Gordon; the GCPD detective who will eventually become Commissioner. Bruce Wayne’s rise to become Batman is merely a side story following concurrently with whatever Gordon is up to.
This year Jim was originally dealing with Jervis Tetch (the Mad Hatter), and his sister, who had a strange power/virus inside of her to turn people insane if they came into contact with her blood. This was the basis of the first half of the season. It was an overly uninteresting story that meandered around; infecting Sgt. Barnes (which was quite a good story line to be fair), dealing with ANOTHER love interest for Jim (one that is long forgotten the moment the storyline ends), and being overly disappointing.

The same thing happens to me every single time with this show. I can take or leave this show. Usually I watch it whilst doing something else, such as sorting out something at home, as I can normally guess what is actually going to happen and I know that every character who dies will most likely be resurrected some how, or survive. No one is really going to get their comeuppance as characters escape from Black Gate Prison, or Arkham Asylum, or the GCPD so easily that it is pointless even keeping them there. As soon as antagonists are captures, they receive a call within minutes telling us that they have already escaped, or that the transport crashed, or we know that we will see the characters later on down the line. It is incredibly predictable writing, which is why I never really give the show my full attention. I feel as if I could turn it off at any moment and give up entirely on watching it. It is nice having that safety net knowing that if I did get a little bogged down with too many shows, Gotham would be one that I could axe in a heartbeat. Half the time I think to myself “I am going to stop at the mid-season break” or “at the end of this season”, however, these episodes are the ones that hook you in, hinting towards what is coming, and the writers know that this is the best way to keep an audience. While over half the episodes in the middle of the ridiculously long winded season (22 episodes is far too many) are dull, even though the writers try and make them as action packed as they possibly can, you could easily cut the season down to just twelve episodes and trim out the fat (quality over quantity). The last episodes of the seasons and the mid-seasons are usually the best and manage to keep me interested in this show.

In this case it was the return of Jerome. Jerome was a character in previous seasons who was hinted to being the Joker. As anyone who remotely likes Batman would know, the Joker is the best villain of the caped crusader and his comic book origin story has never been confirmed. There has been a lot of different backstories to the Joker, and I was very interested when Gotham started to hint towards their own. As soon as we saw the actor who played Jerome smile, then we all knew. Then in season two, the character was brought back and it was hinted even more to him being the Joker, to the point where we were all knew he was and they may as well referred to him as the Joker. But then suddenly Gotham did something I did not expect… they killed him. In a show where I knew where every plot was going and every “shocking” twist moments before it happened, the show had surprised me.
I remember I spent a little while talking to my friends, of those that I knew actually watched the show, about it the same way I had talked to people about Westworld or Game of Thrones.
Although I was a little disappointed they had killed off Jerome, I was pleased that the show had caught me off guard the same way that the Red Wedding had (to a far lesser extent). But, as you can tell by the start of this paragraph and as I mentioned before, no one ever stays dead. Jerome was kept alive in some status tank and now after the mid-season of season three, he was thawed out and brought back into the spotlight. He had remained dead for about the length of an entire season (from season two’s mid-season to season three’s). Which is a good run for Gotham’s standards.

This kept my interest in the show, as although I did roll my eyes at the fact he was not dead, I did really like the actors portrayal of the character and wanted to see how it played out. Unfortunately, as with Gotham, whenever a storyline does capture my attention, it stumbles from the writer’s hands like a bar of soap. No sooner had Jerome showed up, then he was ushered away a few episodes later for ANOTHER season break. This one lasting from January to April.
I am not entirely sure what was happening in America with their TV show schedules, as Marvel’s Agents of Shield suffered the same fate as this, coming back after a mid-season break with three episodes before breaking up again. Although Agents of Shield did a far better job than Gotham did.
I hope that this is not now the normal thing and that shows will now span from October to June. As it is a long old time to keep someone interested for. It is like getting to play with a new toy, only to have it taken away and locked up every couple of months, before getting it returned to you. It can be quite frustrating.
When writing this review, I had to have a list of Gotham season 3’s episodes next to me so I could keep track of what was actually going on this season. If it was not for the Azrael storyline at the end of season two, then I am sure that season two and three would have merged together.

Anyway, so after the show finally came back, the storyline involving the Court of Owls came forth and the show was mildly interesting again, at least with that plot. The Court are the shady organisation of mask wearing rich people who want to see Gotham in total disarray… for some confusing reason about wanting to see it reborn. They kidnap Bruce and we get to see him begin his path on his training. Anyone who, knows Batman’s history, or has watched Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins will know that he is trained by the League of Assassins, and now Gotham seems to be heading in that direction, which was all we really wanted to see.
A sub-plot at this point (well technically the main plot as Gordon is the main character of the show) sees Gordon reunited with his uncle Frank; played by legend James Remar, and linked in with the Court’s storyline. But as usual Remar is killed off within episodes of his arrival and the status-quo returns.

To cut a long story short and not go through the entire season piece by piece, the show links back up with the virus storyline involving the Mad Hatter, tying both halves of the season together nicely. Sgt. Barnes (now masquerading as the Judge) comes back, only, in true Gotham style, to be captured and then escapes. Other characters are killed, only to be brought back, and other people just stumble around waiting to be given some direction from the writers as to where their character is heading.

While Bruce Wayne’s story was interesting, Jim Gordon’s was not. Eventually these stories intertwine for the build up to the season finale, and thankfully there are some good moments in the final two episodes that really make up for the sloppy wandering we did to actually get to this point, if only for the fact that they killed off Barbara Keen! What a terrible dragged out storyline that really was! From the main character’s wife, to lesbian, lured away by a killer, innocent insane, full blown insane (to the point where we thought she was going to be Harley Quinn), and then crime boss. No character has had more of a transformation that Barbara. But that is not in a good way. Her transformation was purely based on the fact that they wanted to keep her in the show but didn’t know what to do with her. It’s okay folks, don’t worry. I am sure she will be back before we know it.

Fish Mooney made a return for these episodes, only to be killed off again. What an incredible waste for an absolute pointless character. I thought her coming back would have had some relevance to something, but she is just brought back and killed almost instantly. The whole thing is pointless. She too went through a confusing journey of change where we did not know where she was heading to. I’m sure she will be back. The character has died more times than Kenny in South Park.

Penguin and the Riddler found themselves back at the port again… and again this season. I think the writers were trying to go for a poetic ending for them and their strange gay rivalry story, but after a season of both characters trying to kill one another (and getting nowhere) it felt pointless. Especially due to the fact that neither one of them died at the end, only the Riddler was frozen, so we will see him again very soon.
This is the issue when you using characters that will eventually be fought by Batman years later; you can’t kill them off yet. But this means that their storylines must go drag on until the show’s eventual cancellation.

At the end of the season we see Bruce finally becoming a Batman-esc character. As well as meeting Ra’s Al Ghul, who I was looking forward to seeing and did not feel disappointed with once I did. The only thing that did annoy me with his story was when Bruce stabbed Alfred. Although it was a surprise, I instantly knew that Ra’s has the Lazarus Pits, and since there was a pool of water behind them, I straight away knew once more what was going to happen. Maybe people who do not know enough about the characters enjoyed this more, as they did not know whether Alfred would live or die (shame on you really as this is Gotham, and nobody really dies).

Once last point before I wrap up is the character of Butch. Throughout the show he has been another pointless character whose changes meant that he has just wandered aimless around for the right storyline to fall into. Well at the end we learn that Butch is in fact Solomon Grundy, the strange muscular zombie guy that Batman fights. This was a surprising little twist that I did really enjoy and will look forward to seeing next season, although I am unsure how he survived a shot to the head.

Overall, while Gotham season three did have some good moments, especially the ending, the show as a whole is long winded and dragged out. It lasts far too many episodes for the story/s that it wants to tell, filling it up with pointless plots that do not seem to go anywhere. While it has some potential, the show is pretty mindless, similar to how the producers think that the target audience is. With character’s never staying dead, status-quos constantly returning to normal after each episode, and some strange character development, the show is badly written. Not only that but it feels as if the show does not know what it wants to be.
At a few moments Gotham managed to hold my interest, most of the time it was just on in the background. While I am mildly interested in seeing what season four has in stock, I know that only the first episode, the mid-season finale, and the finale will only be the episodes worth watching.
If they chopped it down to ten or twelve episodes, then really polished and developed what they had well, then this show might have been able to pull itself out of the downward cycle that it is in.
As it stands the idea that I could drop this show at any point and my life would be unaffected is still in affect. Until that day happens, I will continue to watch this mess of a “What If” show that would never be considered canon in any Batman universe, but one day the people of Gotham will need a symbol, and sadly, this show is not it.

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