After a poignant momentary glance at Lee, the third season premiere of Gotham, Mad City: Better To Reign In Hell, finds Jim Gordon back in Gotham, thwarting the robbery of a pharmacy by a giant who looks to be part stegosaurus.
The monsters are making things tough for police. Not making their image better is Gordon’s successful work as a bounty hunter. And then there’s the inquiring mind of Gotham Gazette reporter Valerie Vale…
Better To Reign In Hell’s brief glimpse of Lee (Morena Baccarin) is enough to suggest that she and Gordon won’t be getting back together any time soon, but his work as a bounty hunter has been rewarding – capturing six of Hugo Strange’s at $5,000 a pop is definitely paying the rent.
On another front, Barbara Keane (Erin Richards) and Tabitha Galavan (Jessica Lucas) have opened a swank nightclub, Sirens, on someone’s turf and he doesn’t like it.
Plus, Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor) drops a bomb when he informs police that the monsters are organized – and who’s organized them – before attempting to persuade Barbara and Tabby that they should accept his offer of protection – the only reason he hasn’t just had Tabby killed is because Butch (Drew Powell) is still sweet on her. And when our Penguin visits Edward Nygma (Corey Michael Smith) for a bit of conversation, Nygma reminds him that ‘Penguins eat fish!’
There’s a reason that Stegosaurus Guy was robbing a pharmacy and it plays into a brief return by Strange’s right-hand woman (Tonya Pinkins)…
Just to make sure we’re not sleeping, Better To Reign In Hell also has Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) challenging the Court of Owls (or whatever they’re calling themselves here); Alfred (Sean Pertwee) gets into rip-roaring knife fight; Ivy (Clare Foley) has an encounter that sets up her new look, and Selina (Camren Bicondova) just misses meeting Bruce’s doppelganger. Oh, and one of the freaks from Indian Hill presages Batman and one of his strangest villains in a clever and unexpected way!
Written by John Stephens and directed by Danny Cannon, Better To Reign In Hell is a fast-paced descent into the madness that is now Gotham City. Despite the sheer amount of information contained in the ep, it never feels rushed or forced. Carefully placed moments of quietude – like Penguin’s chat with Nygma, for example – add depth to the characters and give us a moment to catch our collective breaths.
Gotham’s third season premiere also adds physical clues to just how dark things are getting – the lighting is darker, the angles are more pronounced and just the fact that Gordon can make a living off capturing escaped Indian Hill freaks (C’mon! A Stegosaurus Guy?) tells us we ain’t seen nuthin’ yet!
Final Grade: A-