Review: Gotham S3E01 “Better To Reign In Hell”

by Nat Brehmer
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All right, a new season of Gotham has begun and to my somewhat surprise, it’s gotten even goofier, zanier and over-the-top than last season. But I think this is to be expected. The end of year two started introducing more and more fantastical elements, from superpowers down to monsters. That’s our entry point into season three. Gotham is a city overtaken by monsters and the police don’t want anyone to know about it. They’re trying to keep a lid on just how bad things are getting.

Fish Mooney is back in a big way, leading the escapees of Indian Hill, and it looks like she’s absolutely here to stay. While I don’t think she needed to return, I think her struggle with her newfound abilities is genuinely interesting. It could make for a cool story if it plays out right, but that’s always a bit of a gamble.

As for Gordon, I’m not sold on his new arc, but I understand it. They’ve sort of written themselves into a corner with his character because he wasn’t a particularly good cop in season two, so they have no reason to want or accept him back onto the force. So having Gordon return to Gotham as a bounty hunter does make sense, even if it really shouldn’t.

The resolution of his relationship with Lee, one of the major things set up at the end of last season, is literally tacked on. It’s a clip just pasted onto the front of the show before we get into any of the new story that just lasts the duration of a few seconds to let us know that things didn’t work out. Again, this is a tough one to think about because I think it would be more interesting if Gordon was actually happy and setting up a life with Lee and then ultimately had to be dragged back to Gotham. But I also support this decision because Gordon wasn’t great at relationships last season, so she’s probably better of without him.

Barbara, now that she’s back and making a name for herself in the criminal underworld, operating the bar Sirens with Tabitha, is clearly being pushed in a direction that was teased not too long ago. The showrunners teased that Gotham’s Harley Quinn might be someone already on the show, and just as I suspected, they’ve clearly chosen Barbara. It’s not remotely subtle. She’s gone even further into over-the-top and quirky and has a brand-new gimmick of laughing at everything.

The saving grace of the episode and a true breath of fresh air for the new season is Jamie Chung as Valerie Vale. She comes in with confidence, bursting with energy, feeling like the only one who knows exactly who her character is what her intent and purpose on the show is going to be. She clashes with virtually every other Gotham resident in terms of her charactersitics and portrayal and I think that is ultimately going to make her someone to watch as the season goes on. She could wind up on either side.

Gotham is off to a start that’s about what I expected, but it seems to be shaping up a clear, singular story and that is absolutely something to be excited for.


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