Gotham hit all the right notes in their season three premier, doing what was feeling impossible the past two seasons; shining the spotlight on the heroes and not the villains.
Gotham has become widely known as a show that heavily relies, more or less, on their villain’s than their heroes, using them more of a pushing force to keep the plot rolling the past two seasons. Now, however, we see Jim Gordon breaking away from the law, Bruce Wayne growing into the man he’s destined to become and Penguin on a path of revenge.
The premier opens with Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) taking the law into his own hands, hunting down Dr. Hugo Strange’s (BD Wong) creations from Indian Hill. Following season two’s finale; months have passed since Jim has left seeking out Lee Thompkins down south, finding her having moved on from from him. Now, alone in Gotham, unknowing what happened with Lee, and the police force behind him, Jim does what he wants, when he wants, or as he says himself, “I go home when I want, get drunk when I want, and when I go home, I can go to sleep because protecting Gotham isn’t my job anymore.”
Not only just hunting Strange’s Indian Hill creations, Jim sets his focus on Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett-Smith), resurrected by Strange last season. Mooney, looking to make Gotham hers again, is searching for a cure along with the other escapees, in order to prevent their inevitable death if they continue to use their powers. With the help of a new character, reporter for the Gotham Gazette, Valerie Vale (Jamie Chung), and Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue), Jim gets closer to Mooney, capturing some escapees along the way. It’s a different Jim Gordon this season, yet the same. He no longer has a badge, but seemingly still follows his same moral code, however just more drunk.
Meanwhile, the Penguin/ Oswald Cobblepot, played by Robin Lord Taylor, disrupts a press conference nonchalantly, calling out Fish Mooney and putting a bounty on her head on his path for revenge. Taylor continues to bring a special shine to Penguin, as he has the past two seasons, effortlessly guiding his character from unsettling calm, to manic sociopath and back to forgiving friend in the blink of an eye. Not only is Penguin a force to be reckoned with this season, he seems to be more scheming as ever, seen planning with Edward Nigma (Cory Michael Smith)(still in Arkham), using him not only for his brain, but also a confidence booster as the pair continue to see each other as friends.
Not only is he working with Nigma, but also the new “Sirens” nightclub owning Barbara Kean (Erin Richards) and Tabitha Galavan (Jessica Lucas). Richards doesn’t skip a beat in her scenes, proving her character is just getting started this season. Hearing her delighted, almost childlike squeals of joy and laughter while she beat two mobsters to death, shows Richards is able to go to great lengths with Barbara, and now allied with Tabitha again, is another exceptional force in Gotham.
David Mazouz reprises his role as Bruce Wayne, and having physically grown himself, makes Bruce literally feel like a bigger character this season, managing to bring a breath of fresh air to a character that felt lost in emotion in previous seasons. Returning with Alfred (Sean Pertwee) from a getaway in Switzerland, Bruce faces the Wayne Enterprises board of directors following the public revelation that the corporation was behind the Indian Hills/ Arkham Asylum fiasco. Calling out the board, Bruce threatens he now has proof which members are responsible for the affair, and gives them an ultimatum before he releases the information to the media at large. Mazouz makes Bruce feel like he’s pursuing the path to the man he’s destined to become. With the secret organization, the Court of Owls, that secretly runs Wayne Enterprises lurking ever closer and his apparent clone escaped from Indian Hills searching him out, it will be fascinating to see where he takes Bruce in the coming season.
Even Camren Bicondova’s Selina Kyle doesn’t feel like the character that simply ties good to evil this season. We get to see Bicondova’s Selina lean more towards her darker aspect, once again working with Fish Mooney as one of her right hand associates. It feels like Selina will be a more centralized character like she felt like she was becoming by the end of last season, and with Fish Mooney whispering in her ear we’ll be sure to see her go to even darker corners of Gotham in the coming episodes. Already she has seeming lost her only friend, Ivy, played by Clare Foley but soon to be played by Maggie Geha, for obvious reason after the premier.
The season three premier of Gotham gets the show to live up to what most fans expected the show to be when it initially premiered. Bringing the heroes of Gotham more center stage, with more intriguing character development and stronger performances from the cast, I can see the series only getting stronger from here.
I give Gotham season three episode one a 9/10.
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, Camren Bicondova, Erin Richards, Jessica Lucas and Sean Pertwee
Fox: September 19 at 8 p.m. EST