Gotham (2014): The Complete Third Season Blu-ray Review: A Look at the Dark Underbelly of One of the Comic World’s Most Famous Cities

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided us with a free copy of the DVD reviewed in this Blog Post. The opinions shared are the writer’s.

The third season of FOX’s prequel drama Gotham offered a gritty take on Bruce Wayne’s city, while inching the characters closer to their eventual familiar roles. It brought in elements from the Batman comic books, while presenting fresh takes and incorporating some surprises in the process. Gotham is perhaps the best written of all the DC TV shows. It is now available on Blu-ray as Gotham: The Complete Third Season.

At the start of Season Three, Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) is no longer a member of the Gotham City Police Department, instead working as a bounty hunter. He has also learned that Lee (Morena Baccarin) has moved on, as he sees her with another man. This has a profound effect on Gordon. McKenzie and Baccarin are married in real life and their on-screen chemistry is evident throughout the show.

The season premiere, “Better to Reign in Hell…,” finds that a group of monsters has escaped Indian Hill, terrorizing the city. Gordon manages to catch one, but there are many more. The Penguin, Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor), crashes a police press conference about the monsters, saying they aren’t doing enough to stop them and that Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith) is their leader. It is later revealed that Penguin is offering a $1 million bounty to anyone who can capture Mooney. Gordon persues her after learning of the bounty. At the same time, Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) interrupts a board meeting at Wayne Enterprises to state that he is aware that a corrupt group has taken over his company, giving them 24 hours to reveal themselves before he goes public with the information. This group ends up being the Court of Owls, which is straight from the comics. While Wayne is aware of this problem, he has no idea that he has a lookalike and the trouble that will bring him. While there is a lot going on in this episode, it does a good job of setting up the many subplots that will follow. The Court of Owls is done somewhat differently than in the comics, but as Wayne is not yet Batman, that may be more out of necessity than anything.

“Burn The Witch” finds a captured Wayne facing the Court of Owls head on. Here we meet Kathryn (Leslie Hendrix), who tells Wayne to stop investigating them and his parents’ murder in exchange for them not killing him. Wayne reluctantly agrees. Gordon goes with a reporter Valerie Vale (Jamie Chung) to visit his ex, Barbara Kean (Erin Richards), in an attempt to find out Mooney’s location. Kean tells of a dream she had of pushing a legless Gordon around in a giant baby carriage. Richards is very convincing as the conniving, crazy Kean, both here and throughout. We learn in this episode that Ivy Pepper (Maggie Geha) is alive, surviving her fall into a sewage pipe, but not without undergoing a major physical change after being touched briefly by an Indian Hills’ aging monster (Hey, it’s a comic book series. Suspension of disbelief is a requirement). Penguin, who has been building up a large group of supporters, takes intel he receives from Gordon and leads an angry mob to an abandoned mansion where Mooney is. While the mob kills members of Mooney’s group, Penguin decides to spare her after being reminded she made him the man he is now. This becomes a theme throughout the season, reoccurring in the dynamic between Penguin and Edward Nygma/Riddler (Cory Michael Smith). Penguin becomes a populist hero for the people of Gotham, who are willing to overlook his faults, as they believe he has their best interests at heart. For his part, Taylor does an excellent job of balancing his crazy side with one that seemingly does care about the little guy.

The episode “Look Into My Eyes” introduces Jervis Tetch/Mad Hatter (Benedict Samuel) to the series. His character, with his powers of hypnosis, becomes a pivotal part of the rest of the season with Kean in particular taking an extreme interest in his talents. We learn that he is looking for his sister Alice (Naian Gonzalez Norvind), who has powers of her own as her blood is very dangerous, often lethal. He goes to Gordon to help find her, offering a large sum of money. When Gordon learns from Alice that Tetch is not who he claims to be, he confronts him, only to be hypnotized. Tetch proves to be an intelligent, yet sadistic, villain, not unlike Penguin or Riddler. Fed up with the current regime, Penguin announces he is going to run for mayor and threatens the warden at Arkham Asylum so that Riddler is let out so that he can work on his campaign with him. While the odds of someone like Riddler being let out in real life in this fashion are pretty much nil, he and Penguin make for a great team, one where both are always trying to one up the other and making for some dark, yet humorous moments.

“New Day Rising” finds Penguin, much to his surprise, winning the mayoral election. He quickly names Riddler his chief of staff. Wayne’s doppelganger, who had gone out with Selina Kyle (Camren Bicondova), is outed when she discovers scars on his body. He later speaks to the real Bruce Wayne, stating he doesn’t know what he wants and that he was leaving Gotham, only to be kidnapped by the Court of Owls. Gordon goes after Tetch with Kean; only to find out he has been using Alice’s blood in an attempt to infect more people. Gordon manages to free himself of Tetch’s hypnosis, but not before Tetch escapes. This episode gives a good deal of background information as to the motives of the characters, pointing the viewer in the direction the rest of the season will follow.

In the episode “Red Queen,” Tetch gets a hold of a hallucinogenic drug called the Red Queen, which has been known to drive people mad. We learn that he has been harvesting Alice’s blood in an attempt to make a virus to infect Gotham. When Gordon goes after him, Tetch blows some of the Red Queen onto Gordon, causing him to hallucinate. Gordon imagines himself in an elevator with Kean as the crazy elevator operator who takes him on various stops to confront his inner demons. The segment is brilliantly acted by McKenzie as the frustrated man on the trip he can’t end, and Richards as his all-too-willing enabler. Most surprisingly is that Riddler gets a love interest, much to the chagrin of Penguin. This factors heavily into their future relationship.

“How The Riddler Got His Name” finds the Riddler killing people who cannot solve his riddles. He is looking for help in understanding who he is and states that he needs an enemy. Riddler begins taking capsules, which cause him to hallucinate. His visions always include the Penguin, which make for some comical scenes, but also show how much deeper Riddler has gone into his lunacy. Meanwhile, Bruce’s doppelganger has been brainwashed by the Court of Owls to impersonate the real Bruce Wayne. He drugs Wayne, who wakes up in a jail cell on a snowy mountain. This is primarily a Riddler episode, and it does a good job of explaining his motivations. That said, Gordon learns some surprising information from his uncle that will impact both of their futures. The show manages to do a good job of mixing the predictable with the unexpected plot twists throughout the season.

The two-part season finale culminates with “Heavydirtysoul.” Riddler has Tetch hostage and plans on killing Penguin. Gordon goes after them, as does Kean and her group. In the scuffle, Penguin escapes with Riddler, while Gordon gets a sample of Tetch’s blood to create an antidote for the virus. The episode shows several relationships changing, including those of Kyle and Wayne, Riddler and Penguin, and Gordon and Lee. In addition, both Kyle and Wayne take steps toward becoming their comic-book alter egos. As the show has already been renewed for season four, this episode does a good job of setting up next season’s run.

The video is presented in 1080i High Definition 16×9 (1.78:1) and looks great. Audio options include DTS-HD Master Audio: English 5.1. The disc includes a number of special features, such as deleted scenes, the 2016 Comic-Con panel, and featurettes about the show.

Gotham: The Complete Third Season followed a dark path, though not without occasional bits of twisted humor. It explored the growing madness of several characters and did a good job of showing how they will become their famous namesakes. It also raises a number of questions that will hopefully be resolved in season four. Well worth a look for Batman fans.

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