Martin Carr reviews the twentieth episode of Gotham season 3…
Swing a cat and hit a villain, such is the influx of threat currently flooding Gotham in the penultimate episode before its two hour finale next week. With bomb threats, viral injections and Pennyworth GCPD team ups happening left right and centre, we find everything coming together. Between the near rabid Thompkins, brainwashed Bruce Wayne and conspiring den of villainy ‘Pretty Hate Machine’ throws in elements of Fight Club amongst the escalating mayhem.
What we get more of is Pennyworth in vigilante mode being given free rein to extract information any way he sees fit. Pertwee who felt criminally underused brings the cockney bad boy persona to the fore lacing it with an element of decorum. Bullock and Alfred make a solid pairing hunting down ‘Court’ meeting points and chasing around Gotham in search of an increasing multitude of threats. While Jim faces off against his metabolically challenged ex-love interest who has more than a reunion on her mind.
In terms of narrative curveballs the Thompkins transformation could not come further out of leftfield. A writers reasoning for doing this which stems from some form of guilt on the part of Lee feels far-fetched. No amount of inducement would sensibly make her want to inject herself out of some sense of forced attrition, yet this is the route they decided to take. In terms of getting us over the finish line it feels a touch convoluted, because of what those actions lead to but ultimately it makes for good entertainment.
As for the gathering of villainy personified through Penguin, Nygma, Barbara, Butch, Tabitha and Strange amongst others. There seems a more solid sense of cohesion as the dynamic which fluctuates between back biting through to collusion, feels convincing and earned over time. At one point there are three viable threads coming together, which completely engage, entertain and draw the audience in. Echoes of things to come resonate across ‘Pretty Hate Machine’ which include the evolution of Batman, rise of Catwoman and continued development of Penguin and The Riddler.
What has become apparent with the continuation of Gotham season three is that these characters and this universe are now worth the audience investment. Bullock, Gordon, Wayne and Pennyworth have established a living breathing entity which feels substantial. Classic DC roles have now been given another lease of life personified through Robin Lord Taylor, Cory Smith and David Mazouz amongst others. With only the extended finale to come and more than a few surprises coming back in the final moments of ‘Pretty Hate Machine’, this should be a barnstorming closer and solid setup for season four.