The first season of Gotham was a somewhat tame affair, part police procedural, part family drama, with the occasional hint of something dark and sinister lurking in the background. The second season took that formula, realized what worked, and cranked the "dark and sinister" element up to 11. Season three – set six months after Fish Mooney's (Jada Pinkett Smith) escape from Dr. Hugo Strange's lab (super powered friends in tow) – takes everything we've seen before and goes for broke. All the cards are all the table here, and everyone has an ace or three up their sleeves.
Here are our players in the third chapter of Gotham:
Detective Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie): Devastated after losing the love of his life, Jim Gordon has settled into a rough and tumble groove as a gun for hire, hunting down the super-powered monsters that escaped Indian Hill.
Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz): Bruce has discovered hard truths about the organization that bears his family's name, and has set out to right some wrongs.
Doctor Leslie "Lee" Thompkins (Morena Baccarin): Jim Gordon's ex. Lee fled Gotham for some semblance of normalcy, but she's in for something else entirely.
Detective Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue): Jim's former partner, Harvey still feeds Gordon information to help him bring in the monsters that are rampaging across the city.
Alfred Pennyworth (Sean Pertwee): Bruce's butler, guardian, and all around ass-kicker. Alfred has raised Bruce like his own son, and has been teaching him to fight.
Selina "Cat" Kyle (Camren Bicondova): Cat burglar, street kid, and confidant to Bruce.
Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor): Former King of Gotham. Recently rich after murdering his father's murderous family. Becoming increasingly enamored with…
Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith): Gotham City Police Department's Forensic Scientist, Edward Nygma is fixated with riddles and puzzles. He accidentally murdered his girlfriend, got sent to Arkham Asylum, and might actually be pretty crazy.
Captain Nathaniel Barnes (Michael Chiklis): Captain Barnes is a good cop, former father-figure to Jim Gordon, and the one thing keeping Gotham from sliding into anarchy. He's also the Commish… oh, wait. Wrong show. The lengths the writers go to so that Barnes is never actually commissioner is breathtaking.
When last we saw Gordon, he was lurking outside Lee's new home, looking super crushed as she kisses her new beau. Too bad, Jim. If only you had that mustache, you might be luckier in love. Flash forward six months, and Gordon is chasing down the monsters that escaped the Indian Hills facility with Fish Mooney. Turns out Fish is leading the monsters, and orchestrating their reign of terror over Gotham. We're pretty sure Gordon fights Man-Bat on a fire escape, too.
Now super-rich and drunk on vengeance, Oswald offers a million dollar bounty on Fish Mooney. Barbara (Erin Richards) and Tabitha Gallivan (Jessica Lucas) are in a business (and personal) relationship, and Oswald would like to use their bar to front his new business venture – but they decline. Oswald then visits his old friend Edward Nygma at Arkham, where he is told to stop trying to capture Fish and just have her killed.
Alfred and Bruce return to Gotham, hoping to expose the nefarious schemes within Wayne Industries with new evidence. A mysterious woman on the board orders Talon (an assassin she has retained) to kill Bruce. Alfred and Talon fight briefly before Alfred is knocked out, and Bruce is abducted (not for the last time) – later to be introduced to the Court of Owls.
Selina watches in horror as one of Fish's minions uses his powers to rapidly age Hugo Strange's assistant until she dies. Ivy Pepper (Clare Foley), one of Selina's street kid friends, also witnesses the murder and attempts to flee, but is touched by the rapid-aging-powers guy before making her escape. When Ivy eventually comes too, she has aged about ten years, and now has the looks of your average super model (Maggie Geha).
We'll call her Poison Ivy and see if that sticks.
Bruce is told by Kathryn (Leslie Hendrix), the leader of the Court of Owls, that he needs to stop his meddlesome investigation into the Court's affairs, or every person Bruce holds dear will be murdered. Bruce decides to side with reason, and agrees to stop his investigation. Meanwhile, Bruce's clone breaks into Wayne Manor – hoping to find someone who will help him figure out who he is.
Jervis Tetch (Benedict Samuel), a hypnotist with an Alice in Wonderland fixation, hires Gordon to find his missing sister, Alice (Naian Gonzalez Norvind). Poor Alice was a subject at Indian Hill, and Jervis just wants to make sure she's safe. Oh, wait. This is Gotham; Jervis wants Alice's blood, because it imbues people with strange powers before killing them. Jim ends up hypnotized into trying to kill himself, but Alice intervenes and sets Jim free. Rule 4,326 in the GCPD handbook: never trust a hypnotist, especially one that dressed up like the Mad Hatter.
Oswald Cobblepot decides that he wants to be mayor of Gotham, because the current mayor is corrupt and useless. After securing Edward Nygma's release from Arkham, Oswald makes Nygma his campaign manager, and the two of them succesfully see Cobblepot elected Mayor. Oswald begins to have feelings for Edward – who does not reciprocate, since he has stumbled across the doppelganger of Kristen Kringle (Chelsea Spack), the woman he loved and accidentally murdered.
Jervis Tetch starts hypnotizing people around Gotham in an attempt to push Gordon to his limits. Each person he hypnotizes matches one victim to another, setting Gordon up with impossible to win scenarios; save one, but the other dies. Eventually, Tetch kidnaps Valerie Vale (Jamie Chung), a young reporter with whom Jim has been dating, and Lee Thompkins, forcing Gordon to choose who will live and die. Gordon tricks Tetch into shooting Vale, while Lee's fiance Mario rescues Thompkins.
Meanwhile, Captain Barnes has been exposed to Alice Tetch's blood and is beginning to hear voices in his head. He has also become increasingly strong, and starts taking his frustrations out on criminals. Eventually, Barnes snaps and becomes the costumed vigilante The Executioner, and begins murdering the criminal population of Gotham. Gordon overpowers Barnes in a fight, and the disgraced captain is sent to Arkham Asylum for his crimes and… wait for it… Gordon is reinstated to the GCPD once again.
Now an adult, Ivy Pepper starts stealing trinkets from men who are easily distracted by her beauty. She has also developed a plant based poison that allows her to influence her prey, especially men. She gets into trouble with a crime syndicate when she inadvertently steals a locket, which contains a mysterious key.
Lee's fiance, Mario (James Carpinello), begins to show symptoms of exposure to the Tetch virus. He begins to fixate on Gordon, believing that Jim still has feelings for Lee and will try to interfere with their wedding. He's also completely right. Mario is planning on killing Lee, when Gordon intervenes and guns him down. Lee is convinced that Gordon was acting out of jealousy, and refuses to hear him out about Mario's infection. Mario's father, former mob boss Carmine Falcone (John Doman), vows to get even with Jim for the murder of his son.
Edward Nygma begins working against the penguin, using Clayface (Brian McManamonto) to impersonate Cobblepot's deceased father (Paul Ruebens) in an attempt to drive the Penguin mad. The plan backfires, and Penguin recruits Ivy to help him raise an army to help him get his revenge on Nygma. Ivy brings in Mr. Freeze (Nathan Darrow) and Firefly (Michelle Veintimilla), and at this point we started screeching like lunatic barn owls because things are truly going off the rails!
A group of fanatics try to resurrect Jerome Valeska (Cameron Monaghan) – because that's going to go well. The leader of the group believes the attempt failed, and cuts off Jerome's face so he can wear it around and make all of his followers think he's cool. Jerome wakes up, finds his face is literally missing, and goes on a killing spree to get it back. Once he reclaims his face, he staples it back onto his skull, kidnaps Bruce (seriously?), and takes him to the circus. The two have a pretty cool little fight in the hall of mirrors, and Bruce defeats his lunatic assailant. Realizing that he could have killed Jerome, Bruce decides that he is going to fight crime – and he'll do so without taking any lives.
Then he gets kidnapped. Again.
Bruce has been abducted by the Court of Owls, and is being brainwashed and trained by a Shaman on how to be an assassin. Gordon finds out that his father is a member of the Court, and takes his place in an attempt to infiltrate the secret society. The Court has also taken Barnes in as their new enforcer, and plan to harvest the Tetch virus from his blood to destroy Gotham. Barnes ruins those plans by beheading Kathryn, leaving the Court without a leader. Alfred tracks the Shaman down and kills him, but the Shaman tells Bruce that he must seek out "The Demon's Head" to finish his training.
Once again, we commence with the shrieking.
Lee realizes that she's on Gotham and needs to do something silly, so she injects herself with Barnes' blood – then gets all spooky eyed and evil looking. You can tell she's evil now because there's so much more cleavage – obviously the writers realized a goatee would be overkill. Lee kidnaps Gordon and buries him alive in a coffin with a vial of Magic Tetch Blood. Jim realizes his only hope of survival is to inject himself…and he does, becoming "Evil Jim." But not Evil Cleavage Jim, and he's not sporting a goatee, either – so how are we supposed to know he's gone bad?
Bruce finds "The Demon's Head" Ra's al Ghul (Alexander Siddig), an ancient being who has been waiting eons for his heir to come forth. That heir would be Bruce, he believes, and decides to have Bruce prove his worth by running Alfred through with a sword. Bruce does as instructed, and Alfred dies…
The citizens of Gotham have been contaminated with the Tetch virus, and Barbara has teamed up with Nygma – the newly-appointed Riddler – to acquire an antidote from Hugo Strange so they can rule the city. They are met by Penguin, Ivy, Freeze, and Firefly – and Gotham has it's first full-on super villain battle. There may have been noise complaints in our neighborhood due to the shrieking. Fish Mooney and Barbara are killed, and Strange agrees to make an antidote- but he needs Tetch blood.
Ra's al Ghul shows Bruce the source of his long life: a glowing pool of liquid called a Lazarus pit. Bruce uses the pool to bring Alfred back to life, and then takes him to the hospital – only to find the butler completely healed.
Gordon kills Tetch, and secures some of his blood so that Strange can make an antidote. Still under the influence of the Tetch virus, Lee and Gordon try to flee Gotham to start over somewhere else, but they are intercepted by Bullock – who begs Jim to remember his dedication to law and order. Harvey gives Jim his badge and a vial of antidote, and Jim uses it to cure himself and Lee.
Selina returns to the Sirens club, hoping to learn how to fight better. She is taken in by Tabitha, who trains her on how to use a whip. Oswald opened his own club, The Iceburg Lounge, which features a large chunk of ice with The Riddler frozen inside of it. Lee has left Gotham again – but this time she believes in Jim.
While in a dark alley, a family is saved from certain harm by a mysterious vigilante dressed all in black. Shrieking commences, and that's an end to Gotham's third season.
The fifth and final season of FOX's Gotham debuts Thursday, January 3rd!