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Check out HTG’s 2017 Season, opening July 13, 2017!
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CPU! Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie
Who: “Gotham” is a crime drama centered on events and characters inspired by the Batman franchise/DC Comic Universe, which airs fall through spring, formerly Mondays at 8:00 PM on Fox, though the show is being moved to a similar time slot on Thursdays this fall.
What: “Gotham,” a crime series developed by Bruno Heller and primarily based upon the characters of to-be Gotham City Police Commissioner James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz), the real life identity of Batman. As originally conceived, the series would have served as a straightforward story of Gordon’s early days on the Gotham City Police Department. The idea evolved not only to include the Wayne character but also to tell the origin stories of several Batman villains, including the Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor), the Riddler (Cory Michael Smith), Catwoman (Camren Bicondova), Poison Ivy (Maggie Geha), Two-Face, the Scarecrow, Mr. Freeze, Hugo Strange, and the Joker.
A new recruit in the Gotham City Police Department named James Gordon (McKenzie) is paired with veteran detective Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) to solve one of Gotham City’s highest-profile cases: the murders of Thomas and Martha Wayne. During his investigation, Gordon meets the Waynes’ son Bruce (Mazouz), who is now in the care of his butler, Alfred Pennyworth (Sean Pertwee). Eventually, Gordon is forced to form an unlikely friendship with Bruce, one that will help shape the boy’s future in becoming Batman.
When: The Season Three finale aired on Monday, June 5, 2017, at 8:00 PM.
Where: The action is set in the fictional metropolis of Gotham City, the primary setting of the Batman franchise.
Why: To find out why individual podcast panelists started watching this show, listen to the podcast episodes embedded below!
As for CPU! Chief Couch Potato Kylie, I picked up this show when shopping for pilots during the 2014-2015 TV season (a yearly ritual for this viewer and this blog, no matter how far behind I am). I said:
“This is one of the most anticipated pilots of the new season, by critics, fans, and this blogger. First, as a DC girl, Batman is my second favorite of their properties, after Superman, of course. Second, picking up the story from this prequel point is potentially brilliant; this could be must-see TV for a long time to come, folding in a Smallville like examination of the rise of Batman and the foes he fights, all from the perception of to-be Commissioner Gordon. I’m super excited for this one and can’t wait to see a full episode.”
I asked some fellow panelists to join me in evaluating how effective Gotham is in its storytelling muster and how successful it has been serving as the “prequel” it has become. Scroll down, and take a listen!
How – as in How Was It? – THOUGHTS
If you haven’t caught up on CPU!’s Gotham coverage, which we’ve been covering (more or less) since its auspicious beginnings, listen via the embedded links below:
Season 2B, The Wrath of the Villains
Season 3A, Mad City
Our Gotham panel, now consisting of Hilary, Kyle, Spencer, and Nick, previously compared notes on the first half of the third season and spent time in so-called “Mad City,” with some trepidation and frustration as we considered the success or lack thereof of the following plot developments: the Bruce Wayne clone (we hated it), the Court of Owls (we were confused by it), Jim’s struggle with identity and with his love for an engaged Lee (Morena Baccarin; we hated it), Mayor Oswald Kabelput and his Chief of Staff Edward Nygma (we loved it), and the introduction of Jervis Tetch aka The Mad Hatter (Benedict Samuel; we struggled with it), as well as the aftermath following the villains’ so-called wrath in season two. We now discuss Gotham’s wrap up of “Mad City” as well as the “Heroes Rise” arc, in which we see the return of Joker-Not-Joker Jerome Valeska (Cameron Monaghan), the Riddler come into his new name, the Court of Owls wreak diseased havoc on the city it has sworn to puppeteer, the Penguin implode, the introduction of Ra’s al Ghul (Alexander Siddig), and a number of character progressions that, somehow, did not feature Jim Gordon as much as it should have. How did the panel like this second half of the third season? Listen to the embedded link below to find out.
This podcast was recorded in June 2017, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points of the first half of the third season and all episodes that have aired to date. Listen at your own risk, and let us know what you think by commenting below!
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Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly! Next Wednesday, we launch a five-part “Looking Back” retrospective, in this, the twentieth anniversary of the premiere, of CPU! favorite Buffy the Vampire Slayer and, by rights, its spin-off Angel. The first episode will feature discussion about the first three seasons of “Buffy.” Stay tuned!
Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations
1) REPEAT QUESTION: Will Penguin and Riddler have a falling out, which motivates them toward their most sociopathically driven selves?
ANSWER AS OF THE END OF SEASON 2: Surprisingly, Penguin and Riddler stayed friends, supporting each other on occasion in this half of the season. Penguin ended up in Arkham after confessing to the murder of Galavan to cover for Jim. Strange brainwashed him (if you want to call it that) into submission; Penguin ended up finding his real dad (played by Paul Reubens), who had fallen victim to a gold-digging former waitress and her sociopathic children. When the presence of a biological son emerged, the new wife poisoned Penguin’s father, who seemed to understand Penguin as no other could. This murder, once discovered by Oswald, brought out the old Penguin, rather suddenly and menacingly. In the meantime, when Lee began to ask questions about the deceased Miss Kringle not picking up her paychecks, making Jim aware that there was a possible crime to solve, Nygma embraced his most Riddler-esque tendencies and staged riddle-filled capers and committed more murders before Jim finally caught him, clearing Jim’s name and landing Nygma in Arkham. The moral is: Penguin and Riddler found their psychoses independently of one another, which is a shame because they are infinitely watchable together.
NOT SO FAST! ANSWER AS OF MID-SEASON 3: Well…it seems their mutual affection and cordial friendship have taken a controversial turn. Penguin, as it turns out, develops a romantic devotion to Edward after Ed offers Penguin some admiration and validation for achieving victory in running for mayor despite being a well-known criminal mastermind, enthralled as Ed is by Penguin’s ability to manipulate the people of Gotham. In the meantime, Ed only has eyes for women, specifically any and all women who bear more than a passing resemblance to Miss Kringle, the GCPD employee with an affinity for poodle skirts that he strangled in season 2. When Barbara Kean (Erin Richards) informs Ed of Penguin’s misplaced devotion in an effort to start trouble, a devotion which causes Penguin to order a hit on the Kringle doppelganger Isabella, who could very well have been Ed’s sociopath soulmate, Edward vows to destroy good old Oswald in revenge. I imagine Ed’s penchant for riddles and a war with Penguin are going to get him where he needs to go to be the fully realized Riddler, while Penguin is pretty much Penguin, angling for power and acceptance but struggling to attain and keep it, the thematic undercurrent of this particular antagonist. The panel hopes that a war between these future arch-villains would be great, but we’re more than a little worried about the ability of this show’s writers to capitalize upon their own potential.
ANSWER AS OF END OF SEASON 3: Ed’s gone full-on Riddler, and the two arch-villains’ enmity has peaked. The show allowed the war: Ed works with Barbara, Tabitha Galavan (Jessica Lucas), and Butch Gilzean (Drew Powell) to try to take down Penguin. Ed eventually gives up on those yokels and shoots Penguin, leaving him for dead, which gives him enough guilt, reluctant confidence, and logic loops to ascend? descend? toward adopting the official moniker of “The Riddler.” Penguin, nursed back to health and the world of the living by a surprisingly botanical Ivy, declares his revenge, complicated by his love and devotion for Ed. Penguin manipulates Ed’s slavish devotion to completeness and detail – and his ego – such that Penguin freezes Ed, with the help of Mr. Freeze, noting that the chunk of ice known as “The Riddler” would feature prominently as a centerpiece in his to-be-opened Iceberg Lounge. The podcast panel generally approves of most of this story-line and can’t wait to see “The Riddler” get out of the ice and cause his puzzling and enigmatic mayhem, with Penguin, Gotham City, and everyone.
2) REPEAT QUESTION: Will Riddler’s riddles get more complex and mind-twisting?
ANSWER AS OF THE END OF SEASON 2: Riddler’s caper riddles, as he began to frame Jim for the murder of a police officer, were potentially more complex. Mind-twisting? Eh. Marginally more mind-twisting, perhaps.
NOT SO FAST! ANSWER AS OF MID-SEASON 3: Though Ed told fewer riddles in this half season, his ire has been irked (see above). We can only imagine what a provoked and forlorn Ed might riddle when the riddles finally and continuously come.
ANSWER AS OF END OF SEASON 3: He got there! He just needed a worthy adversary…which he finds in “Foxy” Lucius Fox (Chris Chalk) and secondarily in Penguin. Now, if only Batman was around…
3) REPEAT PARTIAL QUESTION: What is the takeaway from Jerome, the Joker-not-Joker? Is he alive or really dead?
ANSWER AS OF THE END OF SEASON 2: During this half of the season, Jerome is most definitely considered dead, preserved in one of Hugo Strange’s reanimation tubes in Indian Hill, which, though run by Wayne Enterprises, is located in the basement of Arkham Asylum.
NOT SO FAST! ANSWER AS OF MID-SEASON 3: The Gotham social media accounts have been foretelling the return of Jerome…
ANSWER AS OF THE END OF SEASON 3: Dude was dead, but a devoted and brilliant acolyte named Dwight finds a way of reviving him, almost as improbably as Hugo Strange’s version of resurrection. Either way, Jerome seems here to stay now…what does it all mean? He’s in Arkham currently, so…
4) REPEAT QUESTION: Are the writers going to treat the nascent Ivy character (who the podcast panel presumes will be Poison Ivy) better?
ANSWER AS OF THE END OF SEASON 2: Well…this answer is in the eye of the beholder. Ivy was starting to grow plants in this half of the season and helped Selina and Bruce in some of their escapades, but the pundits have announced that the show is recasting the part. Ivy will apparently be older and sexier, like the Poison Ivy most people know. The panel is at a loss as to how this could be rendered believable in the story, especially as the writers are not batting at any kind of decent percentage right now in terms of consistency with the source material or, even, with following any of the rules they set up for themselves in this version of the Batman mythology.
NOT SO FAST! ANSWER AS OF MID-SEASON 3: Is making her randomly grow into an awkward, teenage sexpot via the touch of an Indian Hill escapee with the power to make things rapidly age and to drain life constitute treating her better? Listen to the podcast episode for our panel’s verdict.
ANSWER AS OF END OF SEASON 3: Ivy’s on the struggle bus; she’s strange, awkward, and not especially better as a teenage sexpot. The panel struggles still…
5) REPEAT QUESTION: How will the Court of Owls be explained in the larger context?
ANSWER: The Court of Owls contains members of Gotham City’s oldest families and functions as a sort of secret ruling elite, present to steer the City away from trends or personages that would serve to harm it. The Court has existed as long as the City has existed, for centuries. We additionally learn that the Court was created by a Shaman (played by Raymond Barry), who has also lived for centuries. He appears to be a mentored apprentice of Ra’s al Ghul, the Demon’s Head, officially a Batman villain (and not a Green Arrow villain, sorry Arrow fans). The Shaman intervenes, but it is acknowledged in this half season that the Court also created the Bruce Clone for the purpose of distracting Bruce’s life compatriots, like Alfred (Sean Pertwee), while the Court kidnaps Bruce and subjects him to brainwashing courtesy of the Shaman. In so doing, Bruce is conditioned to act on behalf of the Court to be the official purveyor of laying waste to Gotham City in its crime-ridden and corrupt state and, presumably, to assume a place on the Court. Listen to the podcast for details.
6) REPEAT QUESTION: When will Bruce have his inspiration to be Batman? And how will that happen if he didn’t see bats when he fell into the cave?
ANSWER: Still waiting… And it’s concerning. Bruce Clone isn’t on the path to be Batman, but Bruce, after his trials with the Shaman and Ra’s (and his League of Shadows), is already dipping his baby toes into vigilante crime fighting – with billowing black trench coat, ski mask, and the ability to quickly climb sides of buildings to boot…and yet, no bats, much to the chagrin of the podcast panel (listen to the episode for details…and rants).
7) REPEAT QUESTION: When will Selina have her inspiration to be Catwoman? She can wait awhile, but since everyone is finding themselves much sooner than they should be, the writers might as well give Selina the idea to be a cat. Maybe she’ll take whatever drug Ivy’s got going on and get all sexy feline on us.
ANSWER: Still waiting… but she does test Tabby’s whip at the end of the season and is quite the prodigy with it. Plus, Bruce Clone pushes her out of a tall building, and she lands, all Michelle Pfeiffer-like, askew while being licked by 30 different alley cats, though she is ultimately saved by friend Ivy’s plant penchant. Panelists Hilary and Nick are concerned about the Tim Burton-esque approach and the possible supernatural implications of this obvious homage/callback scene, but it does seem to indicate Selina’s forward progression toward a more feline state of mind in the short-term future…
8) Who is the leader of the Court of Owls, the shadowy figure with a ring like Jim Gordon’s father? Is this person his actual father, alive after being thought long dead? If not his father, does Jim know him? Does the audience?
ANSWER: He is not the Court’s leader, but he is Jim’s Uncle Frank (James Remar), who like Jim’s dad formerly, is a prominent member of the Court. We learn that Jim and Uncle Frank were estranged following the death of Jim’s father — and, for good reason, because <SPOILER!> Uncle Frank killed Jim’s dad at the behest of the Court. The audience was not introduced to this character prior to Season 3.
9) Will we see Fish Mooney and Hugo Strange again? Will Dr. Strange cure Fish’s ailment(s)? Will he give her a personality makeover?
ANSWER: Yes to both. Hugo (BD Wong) returns, wrangled by the Court of Owls to weaponize the virus spawned by Jervis Tetch’s sister Alice, transforming it into a gas that can be disbursed in large quantities over the City. Hugo does not really have time to cure Fish (Jada Pinkett Smith) because <SPOILER!> a Jim Gordon affected by this same virus kills her when she attempts to steal the antidote to leverage against the City. So, whether all of her ailments might have been cured seems to be moot. The panel can only hope that Fish is dead for good.
10) Where did all of the Indian Hill escapees go? Were any of them truly progenitors of future Batman villains?
ANSWER: Still unanswered but for two such escapees. Mr. Freeze (Nathan Darrow) was hiding out in the Arctic, as he was without his suit and had nowhere else he could go where he would also survive. Firefly/Bridget was hanging out downtown, abetting some small crimes for a typical street thug type. As for the rest of the Indian Hill escapees – we presume they are back in Arkham, dead at the hands of Jim Gordon, or in the wind.
11) Will Edward Nygma make his transformation to full Riddler in the coming half season? Will we see a full-blown rivalry and war between Mayor Penguin and Ed, along with Ed’s allies of Barbara Kean, Tabitha Galavan, and Butch Gilzean?
ANSWER: Oh boy did he! All of these hoped for developments came to pass in spectacular ways, and the whole panel appreciates this part of the story the best, in terms of consensus and averages. Listen to the podcast for details.
12) Why should we care about Barbara anymore? Or Tabitha? Or Butch? Their ambition is boring, particularly since Barbara remains as off-putting as ever.
ANSWER: Well…Barbara nurses grand designs of being a crime mogul and sees herself using Ed to achieve those aims, particularly when it comes to dethroning Penguin, who was acting as mayor and crime lord all at the same time. Babs achieves this result temporarily, owing to Riddler’s cleverness and identity crisis and her ability to play people off each other. Tabby, who I think is meant to be Babs’ girlfriend, and Butch, who I think is meant to be Tabby’s boyfriend? Or maybe bestie…really, I’ve lost track. Anyway, they are mostly helping Riddler to oust Penguin, though this aid is begrudging given the fact that Ed cut off Tabby’s hand in the last half season. When Riddler is officially out of the picture courtesy of a vengeful Penguin, Tabby and Babs come to blows, culminating with Tabby electrocuting Barbara but not before Babs shoots Butch, point blank, in the head…who is subsequently revealed to be Cyrus Gold, who notably does not die from this conspicuous wound. Batman fans should sense where this is headed…
13) Where did the Bruce Clone go, and why would he come back? Will the show provide any sort of explanation as to when and how – and why – the clone was created? Did the Court of Owls commission his creation? For what purpose?
ANSWER: The Court indeed commissioned the Clone’s creation, with the help of Hugo Strange, all for the purpose of substituting for Bruce while Bruce is brainwashed in a secret ninja facility. The Court formerly housed Bruce Clone at its Ruling Council’s headquarters until such time as the Court enacted their plan to kidnap Bruce.
14) Will we see the Mad Hatter again?
ANSWER: We saw him once or twice. Ole’ Jervis is still hanging out in Arkham Asylum, occasionally manipulating gullible visitors like Lee Tompkins.
15) Who will be the primary villain(s) in Season 3B?
ANSWER: In this order – Jerome, Riddler, Barbara, Court of Owls (with secondary contributions by Penguin/Ivy/Freeze/Firefly, the Executioner aka Captain Barnes at the behest of the Court, and Fish Mooney).
16) Is Lee, who was splattered by an infected Mario’s blood when Jim shot him, in danger of contracting the random blood infection that affected Captain Barnes (Michael Chiklis) and Mario Falcone?
ANSWER: She was not endangered by the blood spatter (apparently) – just by her own stupidity and blind rage at Jim and susceptibility to Mad Hatter’s manipulations – SINCE SHE INJECTED HERSELF WITH THE VIRUS. The podcast panel ranks this among the worst plot developments of the whole show.
17) Will we see Valerie Vale again? I don’t think any panel member has a need for it.
ANSWER: Val may very well be scared off by all of the nonsense.
18) Will Lee be able to reconcile with Jim now that Jim shot Mario and killed him? Will Jim face retribution from Carmine?
ANSWER: Jim momentarily faces Carmine Falcone’s retribution when Carmine orders Victor Zsasz to take Jim out. Lee pleads with Carmine to call off the hit when she realizes that Mario was affected by the Tetch virus, after speaking to a brain-addled Captain Barnes, and presumably, as Carmine later notes, because Lee still loves Jim. Hypocritically, Lee struggles for her own reconciliation with Jim until Jervis Tetch convinces her manipulatively that she is, in fact, to blame for Mario’s death, leading her to test the theory by executing the aforementioned injection (hashtag shaking our heads). Only after Jim obtains the antidote from Lucius and helps to save the city from the Court does Lee achieve some kind of detente with her former love(r), though she leaves the City in the process, presumably because Morena Baccarin is slated to appear in a new show with a pilot to air this fall.
19) The adventures of Ivy: will she stop killing the plants she professes to love?
ANSWER: She does not kill any of her pet plants in this third season back half, so that’s in the right direction on the road to progress? Maybe?
20) What is the crystal owl that Selina stole from the secure vault of the Court of Owls?
ANSWER: It is one of several crystal owls depicting a map of Gotham City, on which is marked the secret locations of Court bases. This map is only revealed if light is shined directly through the owls.
21) Why should we care to meet Selina’s mom?
ANSWER: Only to realize that Selina has mommy/abandonment issues. Mom is a plot device, appearing long enough to try to con/bribe Bruce Wayne into giving her and her bookie/possible lover money. Bruce does so only to protect Selina from her mother’s lies, despite knowing exactly what is happening, which pisses Selina off royally when she finds out the truth. She breaks up with Bruce (if they were labeled prior to the point) because she feels he is not honest with her; she also continues to despise her mom.
1) Is Joker-Not-Joker Jerome really Proto-Joker, and will we see him again in Season 4?
2) Will Riddler escape his freezing cage? (All panelists predict yes…or there will be hell to pay.)
3) Will Bruce finally see freaking bats already?
4) Will Ra’s al Ghul be the “Big Bad” of Season 4? What is the prophecy to which he referred, and what does it mean for Bruce?
5) Will Selina go full on Catgirl in Season 4?
6) Is Fish dead once and for all? Is Barbara? Or, are they going to do the detestably unthinkable and change Barbara into Harley Quinn, despite not being named Harleen Quinzell and despite not being a psychiatrist at Arkham (though Joker-Not-Joker Jerome is in Arkham right now…hm…)?
7) Where did Hugo Strange end up nowadays?
8) Is the Court of Owls truly defunct? Or, are they the DC equivalent of Hydra in the Marvel universe?
9) If Butch is really Cyrus Gold, how Solomon Grundy will we see him get in the coming season?
10) What will it mean for Gotham when Penguin opens the Iceberg Lounge?
11) Is Bruce Clone Batman’s Bizarro equivalent, Batzarro? Or, will he die? Did he die? The panel is universally against crossing DC comic concepts when just the Batman franchise seems difficult for this writing and producing team to wrangle.
12) Generally speaking, and notably, our Gotham panel is loathe to ask further questions or to make predictions because the writers, in their quest to be unpredictable and “non-canon,” have taken the story to wild places with little satisfying payoff for the viewer in the end. Everyone is sort of bracing themselves for the coming season while cherishing the few truly enjoyable nuggets about this show, mainly in character/performances.
The CPU! Gotham panel reached a remarkable turning point with the show this half season: a wide variety of opinions traveling from higher highs to the lowest of lows. Panelist Nick finds the show entertaining and is less bothered by the adaptive story points, though he is more bothered by some of the writing choices and inconsistencies. Panelists Spencer, Kyle, and Kylie identify moments they truly love and moments they truly hate but continue to enjoy watching the show, even if reacting to the show in these podcast episodes has repeatedly proven to be the very definition of “cautionary tale.” Panelist Hilary continues to mostly hate the direction of the show but likes to talk about it, so she persists without jumping the shark, reluctantly. There is a sense that, perhaps, the writers took ours (and others’) advice of last time: the Joker-Not-Joker story thread was inspired by one of the more famous comic book story lines, for example, and there was sincere focus on some of the best aspects of the show, particularly surrounding Penguin and Riddler. The show survived to be renewed, at any rate, and none of the panel is ready to jump the shark, so in the “make it or break it” ultimatum of last time, Gotham ultimately made it. even somewhat convincingly.
The previous unrest among the panelists, however, given the writers’ track record to date, still produces a variety of emotions and trust issues, preventing most if not all panel members from being able to recommend watching the show, in good conscience, to anyone, at least for now. The panel is still open to a story that seems to follow a consistent set of rules, no matter how much of a deviation it might be from the Batman comics or franchise proper, as long as the writers do not continue to change the direction of the show to compensate for “Twitter reaction.” In fact, most of the panel find this half of the third season to be the show’s new high point, even as it also contained some low points. The panelists, as such, continue to advise the writers to revisit not only the Batman comics but also their original blueprint for the show and to adhere to a structure and story continuity for the show that rightly capitalizes upon the amazing – and the strongest – performances of the cast, which the panel universally agrees are good if not phenomenal. Also, the writers should continue to track their own continuity and not turn what is one of the tightest and most enjoyed (and most widely known) comic book properties into an absurdist’s take on the story, or they will alienate viewers and, thereafter, cause declining ratings and waning network support.
Gotham has been renewed for Season 4, which is slated to premiere on Fox on Thursday, September 28, 2017, at 8:00 PM; in fact, Fox will be broadcasting the program on Thursday nights instead of Mondays this coming season. The Gotham podcast panel will next reconvene following the fourth mid-season finale, which will likely air in or around December 2017. As always, CPU! will keep you informed of news and additional Gotham coverage. Until then!