With Season 3 of Gotham around the corner, we find ourselves in the midst of the now annual tradition of discussing the show's new supervillains. Although this is the Batman prequel series' main selling point, it is perhaps not its greatest asset. Behind the theatrical villainy of Season 2, story arcs were opened wider and characters grew deeper — culminating in numerous powerful scenes where the villains appeared more down to earth. These moments, though aesthetically low key, successfully crowded characters into small spaces, allowing powerful performances and unpredictable writing to take over. Here are three such instances from Gotham's sophomore season.
3. Bruce Meets His Parents' Killer (Season 2, Episode 14)
The hunt for this infamous entity has been one of the main driving forces in Gotham, therefore the face off with the man who pulled the trigger could not afford to be an anti-climax. Fortunately, when Bruce encounters Matches Malone, the six-minute sequence is a satisfying yet subtle thrill; unfolding in humble surroundings and driven only by the dialogue of its two characters and the single weapon that divides them.
The antagonist does not possess a similar flare to many of his fellow Gotham criminals; his tone is laid-back as he runs through the gun-for-hire process in a way that makes it almost relatable to more conventional jobs. As the scene progresses, Malone manages to turn the audience's immediate disgust into a level of sympathy and Bruce's body-language alters in a likewise fashion. The young Batman's subtextual rage floats to the surface before eventually finding pity for the criminal himself.
At one point, Malone even comes across as fatherly when instructing Bruce on how to best fire his weapon. Truly, this is a standalone scene that refuses to abide to the black and white nature of good vs. evil — it is unpredictable, without the need for masks or explosions, and the result of an extensive story arc.
2. Jim Gets Caught By Barbara And The Lady (Season 2, Episode 18)
The dynamic between Jim and Barbara is one that has been severely rattled over Gotham's two seasons. The detective's former lover became one of the show's key villains in the first half of Season 2 before her supposed rehabilitation at the hands of Hugo Strange reverted her back to an image reminiscent of her former self, albeit one that continues to show signs of villainy without a clarified allegiance. Her rather vague release from Arkham Asylum left Barbara to play a high-stakes game of double bluff, which is the specific focus of the sequence in question. Here, Jim is forced into recruiting her to speak with The Lady, setting up a scene riddled with twists and doubt as Barbara appears to turn her back on any good intentions by teaming up with the enemy.
However, with the aid of some spectacular dramatic timing, she turns the tables once more by taking down The Lady after extracting the necessary information from her. This highly unorthodox, but benevolent, act rekindled admiration for Erin Richards's character from the audience and helped to stir up what had become a stagnated relationship between two of Gotham's key characters. This was an impressive feat as far as the show's longevity is concerned, and it stemmed from what could have otherwise been a basic encounter between only Jim and The Lady.
1. Silver Comforts Bruce In His Cell (Season 2, Episode 11)
It speaks volumes about Gotham's young performers — as well as those responsible for their onscreen exploits — that scenes featuring only the likes of David Mazouz's Bruce Wayne can remain gripping and in line with the tone of any given episode. A notable example of this is when Bruce is being held captive by Theo Galavan and finds himself comforted by former girlfriend/current nemesis Silver St. Cloud.
At face value, the back-and-forth is as simple as the setting they occupy, yet the subtext Silver carries into the encounter adds more to it. By this point, the audience knows that if Silver successfully deceives Bruce into loving her once more, then she will not face a similar fate at the hands of Galavan. However, the rug is pulled out from under both her and the viewer when Bruce confirms that he knew of her deceit all along. Additionally, as a final twist before eventually closing the scene, Bruce delivers the kiss to save her life under the complex and ironic circumstances thrust upon them. Never have the lines between good and evil been as blurred as they are here — when the children of powerful men are planted in a deadly lock of horns they have no right being a part of.
After the most recent finale teased us with what was literally a bus full of monsters, Season 3 of Gotham looks primed to introduce a new wave of supervillainy that fans have come to expect and adore. The show delivers the sort of retro bad guy vibe generally not found in modern superhero blockbusters and it is one that helps disassociate the criminals from reality enough to make them supportable. Beyond the fresh faces, however, the show already has plenty of characters still in play, as demonstrated in the new poster for Season 3. This means that there should be many more lengthy story arcs with humble, yet gripping, moments of conflict to come.
Such faces to consider in Gotham's third season include the resurrected Fish Mooney, her father-of-sorts — who survived his crimes Hugo Strange — and even the likes of Falcone, who could still play a part. This is without even considering the long-term loyalty of Barbara or the whereabouts of Butch and other recurring criminals in Gotham's shifting hierarchy. Then, of course, there's the series' protagonist James Gordon who, after his rather prompt change of character in the Season 2 finale, is now open to conflict from all angles.
Witnessing the emergence of new supervillains is simply one of countless reasons to tune into Gotham when it returns on September 19.
Which returning Gotham character are you looking forward to seeing most in Season 3? Let me know in the comments below.