As far as season finales go, Gotham‘s third season finale was spectacular with one gasp-worthy moment after another, giving all of our core character some major business, even when it seems terribly small (like with an almost absent Selina). But as the Tetch virus begins to infect the citizens of Gotham, our heroes and villains find themselves at crossroads.
Jim Gordon, more than others, has had a huge character arc since the start of the series, and this season he’s been particularly put upon, dealing with the Court of Owls, his uncle Frank and the revelation that he killed Jim’s father, and the fallout from the shooting of Lee’s new husband. Even after she realized Jim saved her life — and that took way too long to come to light for my tastes — she still held it all against him, refusing to so much as hold a civil conversation with him until she infected herself with the virus, unleashing her deepest desire: Jim Gordon.
Fighting through his own infection, Jim had to deal with Fish Mooney, Professor Strange, Mr. Freeze, Penguin and Ed, doing all he could to secure the antidote in order to save himself and Lee. And he came close to having it while confronting them all in a tunnel just before a band of ninjas appeared out of nowhere. Jim managed to fight them all off single-handedly but his last cut was the deepest, right into Fish’s stomach! While she was holding the tubes of antidote, of course. As they crashed to the ground, Jim realized what he had done in his rage-fueled fervor, and Penguin rushed to console his mentor who left this earth, for good this time, by telling him to make Gotham his own … or burn it to the ground. R.I.P. Fish Mooney.
But Jim still needed an antidote and there was only one way to get it – from Jervis Tetch. Except Barbara and Ed have kidnapped him, holding him for ransom. Barbara wanted million and most of Gotham in return for Tetch, Ed just wanted Penguin. For Jim, the only sensible option was to give Penguin to Ed. But Barbara was not too happy to find out Tabitha and Butch failed to see Ed sneak Tetch away, finding them all at the warehouse meeting and unleashing all hell on the group, allowing Jim to take Tetch in the process, draining him of a good pint or two of blood to take back to the lab for the antidote. It also left Ed in Oswald’s clutches, the tables turned once again.
As Penguin took Ed away in Harvey’s car, Ed tried to prey on Penguin’s emotions by telling him none of his schemes ever pan out, all the while managing to find a pin deep in the car seat to help him unlock his handcuffs. Pushing Oswald too far, he stopped the car but Ed kicked open the door and got the upper hand once again. Roles reversed, Ed took Penguin once again to the spot where he’d killed him once before, asking Oswald if he had any final words. “No, I’m good,” was all he had to say which made Ed even more angry as it was taking his power away from the situation. Finally having enough he pulled the trigger and … click. Oswald had already removed the bullets. And he planted his tie pin in the seat so Ed could find it. Penguin had the upper hand all the time. And he also had Mr. Freeze and Ivy on stand-by at the docks (and why Ivy and not Bridget is a mystery since Bridget played a hand in taking on the ninjas earlier), putting Ed on ice to become the centerpiece of Penguin’s new venue, The Iceberg Club.
So, one villain down, one incapacitated so far. But we’re not done yet. Barbara is still furious at Tabitha and Butch, but they know Jim and the GCPD are hot on their trail. Barbara decides their best bet is to split up and rendezvous at the safe house. Butch tries to convince Tabitha that it’s time to take action against Barbara, who treats her like dirt. As they go their separate ways, Butch is cornered by Barbara at his car, knowing that he and Tabitha have been conspiring behind her back. Having had enough she shoots Butch squarely between the eyes. Another one down. At the safe house, Tabitha arrives and finds a box on the table. Inside is Butch’s lead hand. Barbara comes out of the shadows, telling her it’s time to put all this behind them and move on. Tabitha wants to know if Barbara killed Butch, and when she says yes Tabitha cracks her whip. The two have a major brawl, which seemed to turn Barbara on just a bit, but she got out of the way just as the whip cracked again, catching on something. While Barbara thought she had won this one, it turned out Tabby’s whip was wrapped around a light stand. Barbara was standing in a puddle of water. Tabby pulled the light over, frying Barbara in the process. Another one bites the dust. R.I.P. Barbara Kean. We’re going to miss your crazy.
While the GCPD was busily, and extremely quickly, whipping up an antidote for the virus for Jim, he refused to take it, hoping to save Lee first. But she stopped him, and convinced him to let the virus completely take over. As the two made their way to the train station, barging through the checkpoints to make sure no infected got on the trains, Harvey appeared hoping to stop Jim. After nearly killing Harvey, he appealed to the good side of Jim, handing him his police badge which had two doses of the antidote attached to the back. Back on the train with Lee, he managed to inject her and then himself. The whole experience, however was too much for her, leaving Jim a farewell note as she left town, telling him she knows he’s a good cop and leaving the door open for them to be reunited, signing the note “Love always, Lee.” Jim now hopes that they can get back to work on cases that don’t involve a mysterious group of people and supervillains with strange powers.
As for Bruce, he was taken to the GCPD after Alfred killed the Shaman and the virus was released. Alfred hoped to appeal to the Master Bruce he knew was still deep inside the boy, hoping to break through the brainwashing by reminding him of his life, he parents and the love Alfred has for him. It seemed to be working as Bruce was fighting back his emotions, but a virus-fueled commotion in the station distracted Alfred long enough for Bruce to escape.
Leading Alfred an Lucius through the streets of Gotham, Bruce heard the words of his mentor telling him to go to the Yuyan Building and find the Head of the Dragon. Inside Bruce saw a massive dragon head which was actually a set of doors. Finding the secret latch, he opened it and went in, walking through a corridor until confronted by a band of very familiar ninjas. Turning arounf, another blocked his way and pointed him back in the direction he was heading. Emerging in a room with a pool of glowing green water, Bruce comes face-to-face with Ra’s al Ghul, the Head of the Dragon. Ra’s knows Bruce failed at releasing the virus but he’s willing to give him one more chance to prove himself … by killing Alfred, who was captured after he entered the building.
Sword in hand, Bruce faced down his friend, Alfred giving a truly heartfelt speech (bravo Sean Pertwee), watching Bruce start to crack but the brainwashing was too strong and Bruce’s emotions finally got the best of him as he plunged the sword through Alfred’s heart! At first it seemed like it might have been an hallucination, but no, Alfred was dead. But proving his worth, Ra’s was heard telling him to use the pool’s waters. Bruce took a small bowl of the glowing water and poured it on Alfred’s wound, cauterizing it instantly, reviving Alfred to a state of semi-consciousness, and getting him to the hospital. Whew!
Hearing about Alfred, Selina showed up and asked Bruce how he and Alfred were doing. But after their last encounter, Bruce lashed out at his friend, telling her she cares about no one but herself, not buying her concern, telling her he knows her better than that. Very obviously hurt by Bruce’s words, Selina replied that she thought he did know her better than that and walked away. When we last see Selina, she’s entering Barbara’s club, finding Tabitha there alone and asking for Barbara. She’s not coming back, ever, but Selina appeals to her, saying she’s tired of just surviving and wants to move up in the world. Eyeing Tabitha’s whip, she tells Selina to give it a try. And she does, breaking a bottle with her first crack, surprising and impressing Tabita. These two may have a future together, and Catwoman is born.
With all of the shocking deaths and an antidote dropped over the city to reverse the effects of the Tetch virus, this season finale almost felt like a series finale … which it very well may have been considering Fox only renewed the show a few weeks ago. The producers certainly hedged their bets by wrapping things up but leaving us with a few tidbits that could play out in the fourth season. Strange is still around, so he can always be used to conjure up more monsters. Penguin is secure with Ed on ice, and with Barbara now deceased he has Gotham to himself with Ivy, Victor and Bridget at his side. Jim Gordon’s life is returning to normal, and Harvey is still alive. Captain Barnes has gone missing, and unless he was somewhere in Gotham, is still infected with the virus. Tetch will recover from his bloodletting and be returned to Arkham. But two threads dangle by the end of the episode. Butch, it seems, may not be dead despite a bullet to the brain. And his name isn’t really Butch Gilzean. According to the paperwork, his real name is Cyrus Gold, better known in comic lore as Solomon Grundy, a zombie character with quite a different origin story than presented here. Perhaps Jim’s wishes for normal detective cases will not come to him any time soon.
What really made this feel like a series finale were the last few moments of the episode. In the streets of Gotham, a family similar to the Waynes three years earlier are held at gunpoint by a robber. Out of the shadows a masked figure dressed in black overtakes the gunman, rescuing the family. The figure quickly ascends to the top of a building, the mask removed to reveal Bruce, wearing either a billowing jacket or cape, silhouetted against the city skyline. The producers have always said we’d not see Batman on Gotham until the very last frame of the series.
Thinking this could have been the end, they gave us something as close to Batman as we were likely to see had the series ended. But with season 4 on the books, where will we go from here? It feels like season 4 could see a reboot, similar to what the series underwent with season 2, verging more into comic book territory from the slog that was season 1’s Gordon-centric storyline. Wherever they decide to take us, I’m on board. How about you?
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