Gotham S3

One step closer to Batman – Gotham Season 3 (Blu-ray review)

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Gotham Season 3 makes its UK debut with this DVD/Blu-ray release from Warner Home Video. Let’s just allow that to sink in for a moment. In 2017 where we have more TV channels than ever along with Netflix and Amazon, we’ve actually had to wait for nearly a year for a US show to be shown over here. In this day and age where we can simulcast Game of Thrones or show series like The Flash and Arrow in the same week, who knows the reasons behind Gotham taking so long. Channel 5 has the rights to air it and yet somehow it premieres on home release and even Netflix has it before its TV airing. Complete madness.

Anyway with that little bit of bitterness out of the way, the real question to ask is whether this third season of Gotham was worth the wait or not? In short – absolutely. It may not get the love and attention that Oliver Queen and his CW pals get but it’s arguably the highest quality DC show out there in terms of cast and storyline consistency. The first season took its time to find its footing for sure, but once the second came along with Rise/Wrath of the Villains we really got to see Gotham at its best. Shaking off that expectation of a Batman television series and allowing the audience to enjoy Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) as he struggles to balance love, life and work, Gotham delivers on many levels. With such an eclectic mix of characters it’s often surprising how well the show manages to balance them all but once again this latest season manages to surpass expectations.

It’s been a long wait since those tantalising closing moments of the previous season. Monsters are on the loose – including one that looks just like Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) – and Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith) is amongst them, brought back to life by Hugo Strange (B. D. Wong). Her rebirth has left her with significant powers enabling her to control anyone she comes into contact with. If the mess on the streets of Gotham wasn’t enough to deal with, Jim has another dilemma he needs to clean up – his relationship with Lee (Morena Baccarin). Unfortunately for him he finds her in the arms of another man (James Carpinello) and we quickly jump six months ahead to find him focused on solving the one thing he can – crime all over Gotham. As a bounty hunter disillusioned with the police force Gordon takes more risks than ever, making it difficult for his ex-partner Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) and Captain Barnes (The Shield’s Michael Chiklis) to support his actions.

Gordon isn’t the only one looking to make the world a better place. Bruce Wayne, not content with sitting at home in piles of money, investigates a mysterious secret council who have a huge influence in society. Many will be familiar with these people as the Court of Owls from the comic books. The ever faithful Alfred (Sean Pertwee) is there to advise, be ignored, kick some serious behind and even offer up some romantic advice when it comes to Selina (Camren Bicondova). The dynamic between Alfred and Bruce is one of the best relationships on the show and certainly one of the most believable. The same can be said for Bruce and Selina, a naturally awkward and generally disastrous coupling but exactly what we’d expect from two youngsters and the familiar Batman and Catwoman dynamic we all know and love.

The most enjoyable bond on the show however is between Oswald ‘Penguin’ Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor) and Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith). These two together are the most heinous and hilarious coupling, BFFs forever it would seem, and willing to do anything to get to the top. Their portrayals of these well know villains are real highlights of Gotham and they genuinely steal every scene they’re in. Sure they’re slightly edged out on the crazy scale by Barbara (Erin Richards) and Tabitha (Jessica Lucas) but it’s fascinating to see the journeys of two men we’re all too familiar with and how they get to their real unhinged states. What starts off as a fruitful working relationship and friendship breaks down through jealousy and heightened emotions and soon enough their egos get the better of them. Only one man can rule the roost after all.

That’s the real key to Gotham – who has the power and how they use it. The fight for dominance comes from all angles and from new characters and old. The first 14 episodes are subtitled Mad City, with an overall arc driven by The Mad Hatter Jervis Tetch (Benedict Samuel) and his use of mind-control. He has lost his sister Alice (Naian Gonzalez Norvind) who has a virus in her blood that brings out the worst in people. As you can imagine, things go south for Gordon and company once they start investigating him and getting too close for comfort. This storyline gives Michael Chiklis some great scenes to sink his teeth into and also puts additional strain on Gordon, Lee and her new partner Mario. It certainly doesn’t help that a certain villainous man gets his grubby hands on the Mayor’s office during all this too.

Apparently Gotham is determined to show how terrible men are at relationships. Not only does Jim pine after Lee while getting involved with a new reporter on the scene named Valerie Vale (Jamie Chung), but Bruce fights with his feelings for Selina and what to do about them. Only once his doppelganger makes an appearance does he finally realise he has to do something, though Selina has enough on her plate with a suddenly grown up Ivy (Maggie Geha) and a mysterious but familiar figure lurking in the shadows (Ivana Miličević). And as for Penguin and Nygma, well that’s definitely the most complicated of them all. There is certainly a fine line between love and hate that’s for sure, and Isabella (Chelsea Spack) turns up to drive a wedge between the two men. It’s almost a wonder how anyone ever achieves anything in Gotham considering how much time they spend on their failed relationships.

Gotham Season 3 is really about moving the chess pieces around, shaking them up a bit and making sure they end up where they need to be. Bruce becomes more determined to do what he can to protect his own interests and Gotham as a whole. His father/son relationship with Alfred is a thing of beauty amongst a truly ugly world. Gordon and Bullock continue to have probably the most stable relationship on the show, driven by a passion to do what’s right and aided by good men like Lucius Fox (Chris Chalk). The villains continue down a dark path unsurprisingly, although there are some wildly comedic scenes especially involving Barbara. Gotham manages to maintain a decent balance between humour and drama, the stakes do feel real but there’s regularly a hint of madness there that raises a smile. That’s something that rival shows Flash and Arrow have struggled to do in recent seasons, going from one end of the scale to the other without ever finding that comfortable middle ground.

With supporting cast such as James Remar, Paul Reubens and Cameron Monaghan popping up from time to time the latest season of Jim Gordon and friends delivers solid overall story arcs while still offering ‘story of the week’ episodes to great effect. This is one of those shows that you can happily sit down and binge watch and forget to leave the house for a few days. So say goodbye to your friends and family and spend some time in the company of Gotham’s finest. You certainly won’t regret it. And after 22 episodes if you still haven’t had enough you can sink your teeth into some great special features where you can see just how much the cast and crew enjoy working together and developing these characters. It’s going to be a painful wait for season 4.

Gotham Season 3 is out now on DVD and Blu-ray from Warner Home Video.

Cast: Ben McKenzie, Donal Logue, David Mazouz, Morena Baccarin, Sean Pertwee, Robin Lord Taylor, Erin Richards, Camren Bicondova, Cory Michael Smith, Jessica Lucas, Chris Chalk, Drew Powell, Maggie Geha, Benedict Samuel, Michael Chiklis

Year: 2016/17

Episode Run Time: 43 mins (approx)

No. of Episodes: 22

Special Features: The Dark Within the Dark – The Court of Owls, Madness Rising: The New Villains of Gotham, Ben McKenzie Directorial Debut, Gotham: 2016 Comic-Con Panel, Deleted Scenes