The Gotham Season 3 Finale is a Clever, Ambitious & Satisfying Finish to a Strong Season

Photo Credit: Jeff Neumann/FOX

Gotham Season 3 Finale Plot Summary:

With the Tetch virus now running rampant all over Gotham, the GCPD desperately attempts to find a cure, while Lee (Morena Baccarin) tries to entice Gordon (Ben McKenzie) in giving into the virus. Barbara (Erin Richards) and Fish (Jada Pinkett Smith) battle for control over Gotham, while Oswald (Robin Lord Taylor) and Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) have one final showdown. Alfred (Sean Pertwee) does all he can to bring Bruce (David Mazouz) back to the light, as he finally meets the ultimate master (Alexander Siddig) who’s wanted Bruce from the start.

As all great season finales do, they resolve season long conflicts. That’s exactly what Gotham’s two-hour finale did. It was house cleaning time. Boy, was it ever. While a tad slow in the first half, the finale brilliantly sets the mood in the first sequence. After a creepy bank scene where a random old lady inflicted with the virus violently demands her savings from the teller, we scan to outside the city in which people are smashing windows, screaming in rages, and there are even trains on fire. It looked like complete and utter chaos. While the first half had its strengths, the second hour is where scores got settled. Nygma v Oswald. Gordon v Lee. Barbara v Butch/Tabitha. The most emotionally charged, and perhaps most compelling conflict of them all though was Bruce Wayne Vs. Alfred Pennyworth.

It’s been an interesting second half season for Bruce Wayne. From the moment he was captured by the League of Assassins (Yeah, I’m calling them the League of Assassins. Get over it), it’s been hard to tell where Bruce’s state of mind has been. While many in Gotham struggled with their demons while the virus ran through their blood, Bruce had been battling a much greater threat within himself. At times, I thought Bruce had been playing the League with a Long Con, but last week proved differently. He really bought in. He wanted Gotham dead. And most importantly, the mysterious Shaman (Raymond J. Barry) had completely stripped him of all emotion. That’s where Alfred comes in.

This was by far the strongest part to the first hour. There wasn’t anything complicated going on here. It was just classic Alfred, as he tries to bring Bruce back to goodness, showing him that forgetting his parents is a bad way to go. This was easily the most emotionally satisfying arc. Credit to David Mazouz’s performance, who really keeps you guessing as to which way he’s leaning – Alfred, or the League.

This of course leads to the meeting we’ve all been waiting for – Ra’s Al Ghul. The real Ra’s Al Ghul. Long story short, Alexander Siddig nailed it. It’s Ra’s Al Ghul. The exchange between him and Bruce was right out of the comic books.

My biggest complaint with the Bruce storyline was how the first half ended. It was way too unclear. So, was he sort of under an influence? Brain washed? Huh? That could have been handled better. Unfortunately, as good as Bruce and Alfred were in the first half, it dries up a lot in the next hour, although this was due more to other characters getting center stage. We did get one brutal scene between Bruce and Selina (Camren Bicondova) though, and when I say brutal, I mean that in a good way. HARSH.

As soon as Gordon took the virus last week, we knew this would be his entire arc for the whole two hours. Will he succumb to the virus? Long story short, it was satisfying, but a slow burn. Him and Lee have a good back and forth. Let’s be honest though, we all knew how this would end. It was painfully predictable. The best part of this storyline was Bullock (Donal Logue). Not only do we get vintage Bullock lines all throughout, but it brings the show back to its core – the Gordon/Bullock partnership. Perfect dialogue. Emotionally satisfying. Flawless.

Barbara continued her second half “I’m not just crazy” character arc. This was probably Richard’s best turn as the character since her iconic moment with her parents back in season one. Not only is Barbara the most unhinged we’ve ever seen, but truly emotional and dramatic. Her entire kingdom is falling apart, and the way it ends with a confrontation between her and Tabitha (Jessica Lucas) worked well. Tabitha usually isn’t a stand out character, but this was definitely a big episode for Jessica Lucas. They both delivered. Barbara’s situation by the end of the finale is no doubt a problem, but I’m intrigued to see where they go with it. With Barbara, it can always go in multiple directions.

This finally brings us to the best scene of the entire episode, and let’s be honest, what has been the single best storyline to all of season three – Oswald and Nygma. The climax to this season long arc could not have been more perfect. Not only is a clear winner determined, but the build up to that final moment was full of twists and turns. Not only do these writers know these two characters inside and out, but they know each other just as well. Not only was the final resolution completely unpredictable, but it fit the winner like a glove in so many ways. This was probably the cleverest piece of writing the show has ever offered in its three year run. AWESOME.

This was an ambitious finale. Aside from all the crazy conflicts, the cast list for this episode must have been a mile long. They incorporated almost everyone. Even guys like Hugo Strange (BD Wong) and Jervis Tetch (Benedict Samuel), who just served as plot devices, were a lot of fun. I was surprised Fish served such a big part in the first half, especially because she’s been absent for so long. Her big scene with Oswald though was a great connection to the first season. They need to utilize Victor Fries (Nathan Darrow) better going forward, but because he’s used as an INCREDIBLE plot device here, I’ll forgive it.

It’s a good thing they confirmed season four, because I would have been livid if this was Gotham’s swan song. There’s so much to salivate for going forward, in particular with so many characters getting big iconic steps that take them closer to their future. That last shot says it all.

It’s hard to say which season of Gotham is the best, as they’ve all been consistent. This was one hell of a way to close out season three though.

P.S. Bring back Harvey Dent. Seriously, where the hell is he?

Rating: 8.5 out of 10 (Really Great)

Daniel Cohen is the hard-boiled Film Editor for the Pop Break. Besides reviews, Daniel writes box office predictions, Gotham reviews and Oscar coverage. He can also be found on the Breakcast. If Daniel was sprayed by Scarecrow's fear toxin, it would be watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on a non-stop loop.