Gotham Season 3 Finale: Every Batman and DC Villain Reference You Might Have Missed
The Gotham Season 3 finale introduced major elements of Batman lore.
Every week, we’ve been breaking down the Gotham easter eggs that you might have missed, whether it was a Batman reference or something dealing with the wider DC Universe. Now that the season is finished, we look at everything you might have missed in the Gotham Season 3 finale!
Let’s get started…but beware of spoilers! Click the episode titles to go to full reviews.
Gotham Season 3 Episodes 21 and 22
The big intro in the Gotham season 3 finale is the arrival of Ra’s Al Ghul. We all knew The Demon’s Head was coming the second we saw snowy mountain peaks and monasteries, but this week, Ra’s finally arrives as played by Alexander Siddig. We truly are living in a Ra’s Al Ghul renaissance as Siddig’s Demon’s Head is the third live action Ra’s that we’ve seen in the last decade. Of course, Liam Neeson played Ra’s in Batman Begins while Matt Nable played the character on Arrow. That’s a lot of Ra’s for one generation! If the DC Cinematic Universe includes a Ra’s in a future film, that would be a fourth, and you know Warners is just dying to have a classic Ra’s versus Batfleck throw down.
Ra’s Al Ghul was first introduced in Batman #232 (1971), and was created by Julius Schwartz, Dennis O’Neil, and Neal Adams. Instantly, Ra’s upped the ante when it comes to Bat foes. Before Ra’s and his League of Assassins were introduced, Bat villains were pretty much gimmicky gangsters and bank robbers. Even when the Bat Rogues began to darken in purpose in the early Bronze Age, they still weren’t much of a threat outside the confines of Gotham City. But with Ra’s Al Ghul, Batman was facing an international, James Bond type threat. Batman had to travel the world to foil Ra’s plans for world domination, and really, Ra’s was a sign to comic readers that Batman had grown up from the camp of the 1966 TV series and the kid-friendly shenanigans of the Silver Age.
Ra’s has become Batman’s greatest foe not named Joker and has a unique mentor/villain relationship with Bruce Wayne. You know it’s only a matter of time until Gotham introduces a young Talia and really doubles down on the Ra’s inclusion. The idea of a pre-Batman Bruce Wayne being courted by Ra’s was first introduced in Batman Begins. Gotham has the Bruce Ra’s relationship beginning quite early, but that’s really par for the course for this series. Having Ra’s around should heat things up in Gotham moving forward and raise the stakes considerably.
And where Ra’s Al Ghul goes the Lazarus Pit follows. The Lazarus Pits are hidden, mystical bodies of water that gift whoever bathes in them immortality. We saw Alfred receive a Pit’s gift this week. Of course, a Lazarus Pit has paid a huge role on Arrow and I suspect one of the many characters that died in this episode will take a bath in a Lazarus Pit in Gotham Season 4.
– Speaking of the fallen, we see the death of Butch this week and surprise, surprise Butch was never truly the big lug’s real name as it is revealed that Butch’s actual moniker is Cyrus Gold. Comic historians will tell you that Cyrus Gold is none other than the long time DC villain Solomon Grundy!
Grundy first appeared way back in All-American Comics #61 (1944) and was created by Alfred Bester and Paul Reinman. When two criminals murdered Gold, the thugs hide his body in a swamp. Fifty years later, the swamp’s mystical waters and gasses revive Gold as the shambling and murderous beast known as Solomon Grundy.
Grundy first fought the Golden Age Green Lantern Alan Scott, but hey, guess what, the Golden Age GL’s adventures took place in Gotham City! So it’s totally appropriate to have Butch Grundy smash up TV’s Gotham. Plus, Solomon Grundy kind of became a Bat villain by proxy when Jeff Loeb and Tim Sale included the swamp zombie in Batman: The Long Halloween. As I said, one has to wonder if Butch will became the almost unstoppable Grundy from exposure to a Lazarus Pit. It really would all blend together nicely. One also has to speculate if the suddenly deceased Barbara could also have a Lazarus revival in her future.
– In a week filled with iconic imagery, we get to see Bruce Wayne’s first time busting up a criminal in a dark alley and taking to the rooftops. This sequence mirrored Bruce’s time as a ski mask wearing vigilante in Batman: Year One. Bruce was an adult in Frank Miller’s classic, but there was definitely a Year One feel to Bruce’s first vigilante excursion.
– Young Selina Kyle picks up her famous whip for the first time this week as the iconography continues. Of course, the whip has long been the weapon of choice for Catwoman.
– The old lady at the beginning of this week’s episode going nutso in the bank reminds me of Ma Parker from the Batman ’66 TV series. Ma Parker was played by the great Shelley Winters and appeared in a two part episode where she and her rowdy gang of offspring gave Batman and Robin some headaches.
– The finale also saw the first mention of Penguin’s Iceberg Lounge. In the comics, the Iceberg Lounge has long been the Penguin’s HQ and a center off criminal activity in Gotham. It’s like the Gotham City version of Tony Soprano’s Bada Bing.
Watch Gotham Season 3 on Amazon
– Once again Lucius Fox was able to find a cure for a debilitating psycho disease. It seems like Fox’s only function this past decade and a half is to find antidotes and disarm bombs.
– We should start a drinking game next season. Every time GCPD headquarters gets attacked or destroyed, take a drink. We’d all have liver problems by the fifth episode.
Spot anything we missed? Tell us in the comments! Hit the drop down menu to check out easter eggs from other episodes, too!
Hit the next pages for the previous episodes!
Gotham Season 3 Episode 1: Better to Reign in Hell…
– First off we had the introduction of Valerie Vale, an intrepid Gotham City reporter and potential love interest for James Gordon. Long time Batfans will recognize the name Vale as a grand tradition in Gotham City media. Reporter and frequent Batman love interest Vicki Vale first appeared in Batman #49 (1948) and was created by Bill Finger while Bob Kane caressed his stupid ascot or something.
Vale was to Bruce Wayne what the late Golden Age/early Silver Age Lois Lane was to Superman, a nosy reporter who was constantly trying to discover the secret identities of Batman and Robin. Like Lois, Vale evolved into a troubleshooting reporter and, unlike Lois, eventual lover to Bruce Wayne. The character’s finest hour was in the 1989 Tim Burton Batman film where, played by Kim Basinger, Vale stole Bruce Wayne’s heart and for some reason that DC fans still can’t figure out, was let into the Batcave by Alfred.
As far as I know, there has never been a Valerie Vale in the comics. One supposes that this Vale could at some point have a younger sister who follows in her footsteps as a reporter or something. Whatever the case, Vicki Vale hasn’t appeared in the comics that much these past few years and certainly wasn’t in any recent Bat film, so it’s good to have the Vale tradition continue on Gotham.
– We saw the Court of Owls last season on Gotham, but “Mad City: Better to Reign in Hell…” featured our first live action look at a member of the Talons. As introduced in the already immortal Court of Owls storyline by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, the Talons are basically the Court’s muscle. They are highly trained, fiercely loyal, and deadly. The Talons are usually taken from circuses at a young age and brainwashed into serving the Court of Owls.
Over in the pages of DC Comics, a few of the Talons even turned good and fought side by side with the heroes of the DC Universe. But most of the Talons are like the silent assassin we witnessed in the season premiere. Talons are highly susceptible to cold which could be a way to bring Mr. Freeze back to the show, too. It’s funny, I hate the Court of the Owls look on Gotham, but I kind of dig the Kato mask aesthetic of TV’s Talons. I don’t think the very busy Talon costume would translate well to TV.
– I also really dug the bond between Selina and Ivy. After all, when these future fatales get older, they will make up the Gotham City Sirens with Harley Quinn and their bond will be stronger than ever, so it’s nice to see the forging of that sisterhood on Gotham.
– Speaking of Harley, Barbara is becoming more and more Harley like as time goes on. The timeline wouldn’t work at all for Barbara being the Joker’s best gal, but perhaps soon we will meet a young girl named Harleen being brought into Barb’s new gang? Wouldn’t be at all surprised.
– So how many of you were just trying to figure out if any of Fish’s new gang were actually established comic characters? We had stegosaurus guy, vampire guy, death touch guy, scary mask chick girl, and a bunch of others. I don’t think any of these weirdos were supposed to be anyone special, but you cats can correct me if I’m wrong.
Maybe death touch guy was supposed to be a villain named Lord Death Man, a crazy ass Japanese crime lord that does have death bringing powers, at least in a few versions of the little known character. But Gotham’s death touch guy was neither Japanese nor a crime lord so I guess not. I just wanted to show my nerd cred by referencing Lord Death Man.
– We saw the accident that may cause the aging of Ivy Pepper into her more familiar Poison Ivy form. We have to bid farewell to Clare Foley, the actress that has portrayed ‘lil Ivy since the first season. We haven’t seen much of Clare these past two years and change, but what we have seen has been fun as she brought a twitchy yet innocent dynamic to her role. You’ll be missed, Miss Foley.
Gotham Season 3 Episode 2: Burn the Witch
– This episode saw the debut of the more, shall we say, voluptuous Poison Ivy. The classic comic book Poison Ivy first appeared in Batman #181 (1966) and was created by Robert Kanigher and Sheldon Moldoff.
Ivy was a rarity back in 1966 as Catwoman was pretty much Batman’s only female foe, but after her initial appearance, Ivy became Batman’s second most popular femme fatale. When Catwoman became more of a sympathetic anti-hero, Poison Ivy took her place as Batman’s leading lethal lady.
Like Selina Kyle, in more recent years, Ivy has evolved into an anti-hero herself. She has also been portrayed as an eco-terrorist, a vengeance obsessed killer and a straight up master criminal. If you want to experience a truly compelling Poison Ivy origin check out Secret Origins #36 (1988) written by Neil Gaiman. In this story, Gaiman created the template for the modern day eco-Robin Hood Ivy.
These past few years, Ivy has become quite the iconic Bat-foe thanks to her enduring friendship with Harley Quinn. Lately, the comics have made Ivy much more heroic and in control of her own sanity, but the poisonous fatale is still right beneath the surface of this sizzling super criminal.
I’m not sure how I feel about this Ivy transformation on Gotham. Yeah, Maggie Geha is the most comic accurate Ivy ever to appear in live action, but at the same time, when your enjoying Geha’s, ahem, buds and stems, your essentially ogling a thirteen year old girl who had a sudden growth spurt and that’s pretty much unacceptable. This is a rather creepy direction for Gotham to go, and has no precedent in the comics.
– Speaking of changes from the comics. In the Court of Owls storyline, Bruce Wayne discovers the secret society of avian shot callers for the first time. I guess in the world of Gotham, Bruce discovers the Owl’s machinations at an early age saving him from the mystery he must unravel later in life.
– How did I miss this last season? During Hugo Strange’s first comic appearance way back in 1940, the mad doctor created a group of grotesque killers known as the Monster Men. In fact, many consider “The Monster Men” to be the first great Batman tale. While the early Golden Age’s Monster Men looked very different that the ones on TV, it’s really cool that Gotham drew so much from such an early Batman classic.
– Valerie Vale continues to add something unique to the show. In fact, Vale channels more classic Lois Lane than Amy Adams has channeled in two Superman films. Vale is also quite the brilliant and quick thinking character. Think about it, back in 1989, with about twenty minutes of screen time, Kim Basinger’s Vale was kidnapped by the Joker like seventeen times. This new Vale is so much more than just a hostage in waiting.
Gotham Season 3 Episode 3: Look Into My Eyes
“Mad City: Look into My Eyes” gives Gotham fans their first look at Jervis Tetch, the Mad Hatter. Thanks to the Batman ’66 TV series, the Mad Hatter has long been one of Batman’s most well-known and recognizable foes.
The original Mad Hatter first appeared in Batman #49 (1948) and was created by Bill Finger and Lew Sayre Schwartz. The Hatter first appeared as a diminutive criminal who wore a giant top hat. He only appeared once in the Golden Age.
In the Silver Age, Detective Comics #230 (1956) by Bill Finger and Sheldon Moldoff to be exact, a very different Mad Hatter made his debut. This Mad Hatter sported carrot red hair and a mustache and was obsessed with hats of every kind. He was completely devoted to the theft of headgear from every era of history. Of course, the Holy Grail of his obsession was Batman’s famed cowl.
This same version of the character appeared on the Batman ’66 series. Played by the great David Wayne, TV’s first Mad Hatter was the spitting image of his comic book counterpart. From here, the history of the Mad Hatter gets pretty convoluted with the hat-obsessed Hatter revealed as an imposter and the mini-Hatter revealed as the original. Both Hatters existed in continuity until Crisis on Infinite Earths.
In the comics, the Hatter didn’t use his hypnotism gimmick until Detective Comics #526 (1983). Before the mesmerism, Hatter was an OCD thief who focused on hats, but after the hypnotism was introduced, he took his place as one of Batman’s most eerie foes.
Batman: The Animated Series introduced a very different looking Tetch, this one with a Lewis Carroll obsession rather than a hat obsession. The animated version of the Mad Hatter seems to be where Gotham and actor Benedict Samuel is pulling from. The Mad Hatter of comics and animation was more of a master at mind control than he was a hypnotist, but I guess Gotham is postulating that Tetch has not developed his tech as of yet. Either way, Samuel was pretty damn near spot on, huh?
– One of the highlights of the week is Selena’s concern for Ivy. Of course, Catwoman and Poison Ivy are longtime allies and both members of the Gotham City Sirens with Harley Quinn. It’s cool that their love and trust stretch back before they both don costumes.
– Mario Falcone first appeared in Batman: Dark Victory #1 (1999) and was created by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale. In the comics, Mario was no doctor nor a lover of Leslie Thompkins. The comic Mario Falcone was a straight up gangster who ran the Falcone crime empire after Carmine was arrested. Check out Batman: Dark Victory for a deep dive into Falcone history and the introduction of the character that has replaced Jim Gordon in Lee Thompkins’s heart on Gotham. By the way, in the comics, Mario is killed by Two Face so it’ll be interesting to see if we get any Falcone/ Dent interactions on Gotham.
– How ballsy/awful/typically Gotham would it be if clone Bruce turns out to be the Joker?
Gotham Season 3 Episode 4: New Day Rising
– The Penguin ran for mayor in the Batman ’66 two-parter entitled “Hizzoner the Penguin” / “Dizzoner the Penguin.” The Penguin also ran for mayor in Tim Burton’s Batman Returns (a film that strangely predicted the Donald Trump presidential campaign, inappropriate and stupid pussy comments and all). So this Penguin as mayor thing isn’t new. But it has been the best part of this season of Gotham so far. How can it not with Cobblepot and Nygma returning to their BFFness of last season?
Sadly, in both the ‘66 Batman series and the Burton film, the mayoral campaign of the honorable Oswald Cobblepot went very bad. It will be fun to see how Gotham’s little political story arc goes pear shaped for dear Pengie.
– This is the first live action appearance of long time Batman villains Tweedledee and Tweedledum. The Tweed Brothers as they are often called first appeared in Detective Comics #74 (1943) and were created by Don Cameron and Jerry Robinson. The Tweeds were crime bosses that used their tumbling and acrobatic skills to make life difficult for Batman and Robin. The brothers were recurring villains throughout the Golden Age but kind of faded from the DC Universe during the Silver Age.
In the ’70s and ’80s, the Tweeds would be seen in Arkham, but the once dapper rogues were relegated to footnotes of Batman lore. In recent years, both Tweedledee and Tweedledum have been frequently utilized as henchmen for the Mad Hatter. But there once was a time when the Tweed brothers were big deal Bat villains.
Gotham depicted the Tweeds as white luchadores which was kind of strange. I mean, if you’re going to go with the wrestling Tweeds angle why make them luchadores when they’re not Mexican? On Gotham there were like six Tweed brothers with only two not getting arrested or killed. I guess these two will go on to serve the Mad Hatter in the future or something, but darn it, the Golden Age comic lover in me kind of wanted to see the old school rotund Tweeds of old put in an appearance after so many years of Bat obscurity.
– Hmm, the Court of Owls kidnapping clone Bruce is an interesting little direction. Could Bruce become the first Talon or will there be a more unexpected transformation in store for Bruce 2.0?
Gotham Season 3 Episode 5: “Anything For You”
“Anything for You” saw the return of the Red Hood gang. Of course, the Red Hood identity was first used by the Joker in the Clown Prince of Crime’s origin tale in Detective Comics #168 (1951). The Red Hood was used a number of times since the original Golden Age Joker tale as well, most recently as the new identity of former Robin and former corpse Jason Todd.
The Red Hood Gang was used as an Easter egg just for the sake of being an Easter egg as Butch’s group of hired thugs could have just worn generic ski masks and served the same plot function. But it is kind of cool to see the Red Hoods as an almost urban legend type gang. It also further explains why the Joker would adopt that identity if Gotham ever goes that route.
– Edward Nygma looked right smart in that green blazer didn’t he?
– The kiss that Bruce and Selina share on the rooftop is the first of many nighttime rooftop smooches the two will exchange before it’s all said and done. Of course, most of them will be while wearing ludicrous amounts of leather and Kevlar, but hey, those two crazy kids gotta start things small and innocent, you know?
– We saw Ivy with a hapless, brain-addled male patsy at Cobblepot’s party. This is a major part of Poison Ivy’s MO. She frequently uses her abilities and looks to manipulate men of means into being her mind controlled sugar daddies. We’ve seen her do this to Harvey Dent in Batman: The Animated Series to great dramatic effect and we saw her do it to Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson to not so dramatic effect in the cinematic suppository that was Batman & Robin. But this time, we saw Ivy use her powers to manipulate some shmuck in a tux for the first time.
– Man, how unsettling is Mad Hatter now? Mad Hatter has always been an important rogue in Batman lore, but other than Jerome, the Hatter is probably the biggest psycho killer Gotham has presented. Way to up the ante on Jervis Tetch, Gotham.
– I think I’m going to stick by my Captain Nathaniel Barnes as Solomon Grundy theory, especially with that story about the rage mice chewing through cages to savage other mice. We already had a sort of Solomon Grundy on Arrow so this would make one of the very few DC characters to pop up in both the Berlanti shows and Gotham. Let’s see if I’m right.
Gotham Season 3 Episode 6: Follow The White Rabbit
Man, this is a weird episode. Let’s examine some interesting factoids.
– The idea of the Mad Hatter being obsessed with a woman named Alice began in the Paul Dini written 1992 Batman: The Animated Series episode, “Mad as a Hatter.” In this classic installment of this legendary cartoon, Hatter is obsessed with a coworker named Alice who he kidnaps and dresses as the titular character from Alice in Wonderland. This creepy, sexually obsessed mind manipulator trope has followed the character of the Mad Hatter ever since. This whole incestuous obsession is a wrinkle introduced on Gotham and it does indeed make the character a little bit slimier. But it also makes a once elegant Dini crafted elegant backstory more convoluted.
– And speaking of Lewis Carroll characters, we have our first proper appearance of Tweedledee and Tweedledum this episode. Decked out in their bowler hats and tuxes, the Tweeds were in their classic Golden Age garb. You ever thought we’d get live action versions of the Tweeds? That’s a deep cut right there and I love it.
– We almost had another Carroll inspired Bat character in the White Rabbit. In the comics, White Rabbit is a femme fatale type that can split herself into two individuals- one Jaina Hudson, former flame of Bruce Wayne, and the other, the criminal mastermind White Rabbit. White Rabbit is a recent rogue that was introduced in the New 52. Alas, Hudson’s media debut will have to wait because the White Rabbit in this one is just a hypnotized albino that looks eerily similar to Evan Peters.
– When the Vicki Vale character was introduced back in the ’50s, she basically became Batman’s Lois Lane. She seemed to just exist to be rescued by Batman. It’s really not good that Valerie Vale has taken on that same role over sixty years later. Attention creative minds of Gotham: having Vale pick a lock and fail to escape and then get gut shot does not make her independent or self-reliant. It makes her the same character Vicki Vale was back in the day, just with a big hole in her stomach.
– I think it’s a nice little character wrinkle to make Penguin openly gay. It’s not like the character has a long history of lady loves in the comic, and Robin Lord Taylor is an out gay man so why the heck not? Does this make Gotham’s Penguin first openly LBGT Bat villain in any media?
Gotham Season 3 Episode 7: The Red Queen
– Now that Valerie Vale and Jim Gordon have broken up, one has to wonder, is this the same Vale that’s destined to date Bruce Wayne at some point? Valerie is much older than Bruce, but hey, in the future, charming billionaire playboy and all that. Will there be a Bruce and Valerie hook up sometime in the future or does the intrepid Valerie have a niece or little sister named Vicki?
– The dude that sold Jervis Tetch the Red Queen drug sure was rocking the Tim Burton hair wasn’t he?
– The Mad Hatter has always been a rather sick dude, especially since his Paul Dini Batman: the Animated Series reimagining as an obsessed but brilliant stalker, but he has never been a necrophile. He is now, but hey, why not? It’s not like Gotham is known for subtlety.
– I’ve probably experienced thousands of Batman stories in my gloriously geeky life, but seeing a smitten Penguin moon over the Riddler as Nygma helps Cobblepot choose his wardrobe is just so incongruous that I love every darn inch of it.
– Penguin’s purple tie and formal apparel are the closest thing to his classic comic appearance we’ve seen on Gotham so far. Now, we just need to origin of the monocle.
0 Gordon’s bad trip reminds one of another bad trip that Gordon once had to famously endure. Of course, I speak of The Killing Joke, where Gordon was dosed by the Joker and forced to look at images of his undressed and dying daughter as Joker put Gotham’s leading cop through the most twisted carnival ride in comic book history. Compared to that, Mad Hatter’s drug trip was weaponized narcotic spring training.
– I can’t recall Penguin and Mad Hatter sharing a meaningful storyline in the comics, but it was a blast to see Robin Lord Taylor and Benedict Samuel chew scenery together as their respective classic rogues. I only wish it was longer or that Penguin and Hatter got to throw down in a battle of the well-dressed rapscallions.
And whoa, that ending. I can’t recall James Gordon’s father being a major presence in the comic, but perhaps that all changes with that startling climactic revelation of Gordon’s father potentially being part of the Court of the Owls.
Gotham Season 3 Episode 8: Blood Rush
– Edward Nygma’s beloved Isabella isn’t the only famous Gotham City librarian in Batman history. Of course, when Barbara Gordon, aka Batgirl, was first introduced in the ’60s Batman TV series, her day job was that of librarian. In fact, Isabella’s bee hive like hair style is very reminiscent of Yvonne Craig’s old school bouffant. Not sure if the hair similarities were intentional, but if so, bravo Gotham.
– In this episode, Captain Barnes brutalizes a thug who calls himself Toad. This Toad has almost no resemblance to DC Comics’ Mister Toad, an anthropomorphic toad person that speaks in a cockney accent and partners with the horrific Professor Pyg. Mister Toad was created in a fit of dark creativity by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely in Batman #666 (2007). Gotham’s Toad was not anthropomorphic, British, or interesting, but it’s worth pointing out that he shares his name with a very strange, very scary villain.
– A version of the villainous Dollmaker already appeared in the first season of Gotham played by Colm Feore. But the face removing Maxwell Simon in “Blood Rush” has more of a resemblance to the New 52 version of the Dollmaker. In the comics, Dollmaker is not a black market dealer in faces, he is a serial killer that is obsessed with making dolls from the severed body parts of his victims. This Dollmaker is most famous for removing the Joker’s face at the Clown Prince of Crime’s behest. Since there has been more than one Dollmaker in the comics, I guess Gotham’s second skin removing madman can also be a Dollmaker of a sort. Kind of an obscure villain to double down on though. Even more odd since a version of the character also once appeared on Arrow.
– I’ve been speculating that Barnes will end up becoming Solomon Grundy, what with the infected blood, the rage, and the pale complexion, but after Barnes’ “judge, jury, and executioner” speech in this episode, perhaps the not so good anymore Captain will become Lock-Up, Gotham’s justice obsessed, abusive vigilante? Maybe?
Gotham Season 3 Episode 9: Executioner
– “Mad City: Executioner” is really the first time we get to see Maggie Geha go full Poison Ivy. There was the slinky green dress, the mind manipulation of a rich patsy, and most importantly- the perfume. For decades now, Ivy’s pheromone controlling perfume has been a staple of the character. All we need now is the poison lipstick and we will have the full Ivy package. And I’ll say this for Geha, she looks like she walked off a comic book page because this fatale is every inch the perfect Pamela Isley.
– And what was with that antiquities dealer that Ivy robs? He was like a chimera of Terrence Stamp, Ra’s Al Ghul, and Gomez Addams.
– In the comics, Edward Nygma never really had an inciting incident that made him the Riddler. The Riddler always kind of just…was. Adding the death of Isabela to the Riddler’s past is an interesting layer to the origin, but one wonders why she had to look exactly like Miss Kringle? Ah Gotham, always needlessly convoluted. But having the Penguin be the responsible party for Ed’s descent into madness is a cunning way to link up the histories of two of Batman’s most enduring rogues.
– These past few weeks, we’ve been speculating on what classic DC villain Barnes could be becoming. Now, I guess that answer is…nobody? We’ve guessed Solomon Grundy; we’ve guessed Lock Up, but it looks like Barnes is just Barnes. Or perhaps the not-so-good Captain’s identity lies in a very deep layer of Bat lore.
– There is in fact an Executioner in Batman’s rogues gallery. DC’s Executioner first appeared in Detective Comics #191 (1953). This Executioner was a carnival worker named Willy Hooker (how many carnivals were there in olde time Gotham City anyway) that would help criminals escape jail. Hooker would then don the guise of the Executioner to murder the crooks and claim the reward for capturing the convicts dead or alive. Yeah, there is no connection to Barnes whatsoever except the self-administered justice business, but it’s interesting that Gotham would dredge up this almost forgotten Bat villain moniker. How’s that for a deep cut?
– Yeah, we like Judge Dredd, too, but having Barnes constantly spout “I am the law!” is a bit on the nose. But hey, Batman has teamed with Judge Dredd in a couple of inter-company crossovers so I guess there’s a Bat connection there.
– I so need to own that portrait of Cobblepot and Nygma. It would look great hanging in my nerd cave.
Gotham Season 3 Episode 10: Time Bomb
– It seems like some of “Time Bomb” was loosely based on the must read Batman: Dark Victory by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale. This series focuses on a mob war between the Falcones and many other Gotham crime families with Lee’s new fiancé Maro Falcone smack dab in the middle off all the Mafioso chaos.
In the comics, Mario is neither a doctor nor engaged to Lee Thompkins, but perhaps a read of Dark Victory could offer some clues to where this Falcone storyline might be going. Even if it doesn’t, Dark Victory is one of the better Batman tales of the past twenty-five years, so get thee to a comic shop. Spoiler warning though: it doesn’t end with Mario Falcone becoming a jealousy fueled rage monster.
– Gotham really missed a hanging curve this time. Edward Nygma kidnaps Butch and Tabitha Galavan, and doesn’t leave clues? If Nygma isn’t leaving clues then he’s just kind of an obsessed mad man – not the Riddler. The kidnapping scenes were taut with tension, but there could have been a nice homage to Nygma’s lime green, question mark clad future if only he left some signature clues for Barbara to find.
– At least Gotham is nailing the Court of Owls. When Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo first introduced the Court of Owls in the pages of Batman, the organization was this all-knowing evil super cult that pulled Gotham’s political, criminal, and economic strings. In this episode, we got to see how all-encompassing cancer that controls everything from the mob to the banks in Gotham City.
Unlike some of the more impotent threats that have appeared on Gotham (Order of St. Dumas, the Monster Men), the Owls seem omnipotent and truly dangerous. The series also nails the comic vibe of the organization even if the Talons dress like Kato from Green Hornet. Costume budgets just ain’t what they used to be.
Gotham Season 3 Episode 11: The Green-Eyed Monster
– I must send my apologies to all you Gothamites, I assumed that the Whisper Gang, you know that crew of art smuggling thugs that were after Poison Ivy, did not derive from the comic. Well, how wrong I was because the Whisper Gang first appeared in Batman #3 (2011) and was created by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo.
Indeed in the comic, the Whisper Gang was made up of Ukrainian mobsters and its members wore those metal masks that bolted into their jaws. It’s pretty of cool that another Snyder/Capullo creation, the Court of Owls, took down the Whisper Gang on Gotham. It looks like the creative minds behind Gotham are using Snyder and Capullo’s Bat run as a wellspring, and as fans of that insta-classic comic series knows, that’s a good thing.
– I could be wrong, but was this the first time the name “Talon” was said on Gotham? The Talons are the Court of Owls elite squad of highly trained killers. The Talons are chosen from children that have been raised in a circus like environment and brain washed and trained to be the perfect silent killers. In fact, in the comics, Dick Grayson his own darn self was chosen by the Owls to be a Talon. Of course, Grayson’s destiny was to be way different. Maybe at some point the Court will pay a visit to Haley’s Circus and check in on their future charge. It’s about time Gotham revisited that circus because the introduction of the Graysons remains one of the low points in the show’s history. Pffft, fetus Robin.
Speaking off all that, the Talon’s mask is really similar to Nightwing’s mask, innit? Well played, Gotham, well played.
– You just gotta love Jervis Tetch’s newspaper top hat. Nothing like a little classic Batman iconography to jazz up the world of Gotham.
– The serialized nature of Gotham allows fans to witnesses little moments in Bruce Wayne’s evolution. This time, we got to see his first rope walk. Sadly, it did not lead to Bruce and Selena scaling a building and meeting Sammy Davis Jr. or something, but it did allow us to see the first of countless times that Bruce Wayne will skillfully use rope tricks to combat evil. Or at least he tries to, but ‘ol Bruce still kind of sucks at it. So we have Gotham City’s other ropemeister Selena Kyle take care of business.
– You know Victor Zsasz is one of the deadliest killers in Gotham City, right? Jim Gordon sure just left Zsasz unconscious on a couch, huh? Not going to call that one in, Jimbo? I guess Gordon is now responsible for every one Zsasz murders from here on out.
– Nice little touch having Penguin pay tribute to some dude that wrote “The History of Gotham’s Sewers.” After all, in the Batman Returns film, the Penguin dwelled in those sewers because of Tim Burton reasons.
– In the comics, Selena Kyle’s mother was not in any way, shape, or form a master thief. Maria Kyle was a disinterred, neglecting mother who cared more for her house cats than she did for her daughter. Selena’s father was an abusive drunk, and when Maria couldn’t take it anymore, she slashed her wrists, leaving Selena and her sister Maggie to Pappi Kyle’s brutal attentions. So the comic version of Mrs. Kyle was a passive victim, but the Gotham version of the character seems to be anything but. So who else wishes that Gotham could have landed Michelle Pfeiffer in the role of Selena’s darling mum?
Gotham Season 3 Episode 12: Ghosts
– Great use of Clayface this week as the pliable rogue returns to Gotham. Clayface appeared in a two parter last season and it seemed like the character was going to put out to pasture like the rest of the Hugo Strange created freaks. Yet, Basil Karlo makes a nice surprising and important return in “Ghosts.” The master of disguise shtick is more akin to the Golden Age version of Clayface rather than the Silver Age and Batman: The Animated Series shape shifting mudman version of the character, and it’s really cool to see the classic villain play a pivotal role in Gotham once again instead just of being a one and done name drop.
– Once again, James Gordon takes down Victor Zsasz and just leaves without calling backup or arresting the bald killer. Is Gotham just trolling us now? How can we be asked to believe that Gordon isn’t at least incapacitating Zsasz or calling Bullock to corral the known psychotic hitman? That’s twice the show would have us believe that Gordon would leave Zsasz unsupervised to kill again and it was pretty damn silly the first time.
– Of course, it’s always great to see the return of Paul Reubens as Penguin’s dad, essentially reprising his role from Batman Returns.
– Not every actor gets to play a Joker minion twice, but that’s exactly what happened this week as actor David Dastmalchian returned to the live action world of Batman. This week, Dastmalchian plays Dwight Pollard, the Victor Frankenstein like morgue worker that wants to bring Jerome back to life. As many of you will recall, Dastmalchian also played one of Heath Ledger’s minions in The Dark Knight. Remember, he was the dude Harvey Dent tied up before the DA went full Two-Face.
In an intense and memorable scene, Dent pressed the gun to Dastmalchian’s head until he was interrupted by Batman. Dastmalchian was all twitchy and wonderful in the role kicking off his comic book film career. Dastmalchian also played Scott Lang’s Russian hacker pal in Ant-Man. One wonders if DC can somehow find a role for Dastmalchian as one of Jared Leto’s minions in an upcoming film.
Gotham Season 3 Episode 13: Smile Like You Mean It
– The big, obvious comic book reference in “Smile Like You Mean It” comes from the insta-classic “Batman: Death of the Family” storyline. Yes, Gothamites, we’re talking about the Joker’s skinned face. The Clive Barker-esque skinned Joker look was created by Scott Snyder and Greg Capulo and became a cosplay classic almost immediately.
For those not familiar with the storyline, early on in the New 52 era, Joker willfully had his face skinned by the psychotic Dollmaker. Joker then goes into exile for a year but returns with his visage strapped to his flailed head. Capullo’s design is one of the most no fooling intensely creepy looking things in Batman history and Gotham did a very good job matching that aesthetic.
In “Death of the Family,” the skinned Joker goes after Batman’s extended family, claiming that Alfred, Batgirl, and all the Robins distract Batman from his only true family- the Joker himself. After Batman defeats the Joker at the end this story arc, a character that goes by the name of Joker’s Daughter finds and begins wearing the skinned face. When Joker returns, his face is restored, but the time the Joker wore his face like a mask of comedy remains a horrifically memorable time in the Joker’s twisted history.
– I now really want Jerome to truly be the Joker because man, does Jerome just bring energy to this series. He’s even rocking the obvious Heath Ledger voice now.
If Jerome is the Joker, the character’s origins have become a whole lot more convoluted. The comic origin is simple and elegant. You know the deal, before he was the Clown Prince of Crime, the man that would one day be Batman’s greatest enemy took the identity of the Red Hood and fell into a vat of chemicals during a robbery. The chemicals bleached his skin and drove him mad, and the Joker was born. In Gotham, we now have the circus, the resurrection, the gang, the skinned face, and a whole lot more than a simple slip and fall during a robbery. It may be overly complex, but Jerome still rocks.
– Jerome’s disciples really reminds on the Batman Beyond’s The Jokerz. The Jokerz are a street gang that run rampant in the far future of Gotham City. This gang of street clowns pay homage to the OG Joker and it’s ironic that a series like Gotham that is set in the past is effectively utilizing a concept born in the future.
– Did you see Bruce and Selena going at it this week? This won’t be the last time Selena Kyle throws fists and feet Bruce’s way, but the next time might be on a moonlit rooftop while the both wear Kevlar and leather. I swear future Cat and Bat are channeling a little Michael Keaton and Michelle Pfeiffer as they throw down.
Gotham Season 3 Episode 14: The Gentle Art of Making Enemies
Well, someone in the Gotham writers’ room has been watching some ’66 Batman lately because “The Gentle Art of Making Enemies” features not one but two classically convoluted death traps. First, there is the Riddler’s over the top ice and acid bit of business and then there is Jerome’s overstuffed canon routine. It’s always nice to pay tribute to the Adam West era classics, but if you’re really going to do a death trap, maybe you should parse them out a bit. Each one might have had more story oomph if there weren’t two narrow escapes, you know?
– There are more classic Joker gags than you can shake a 10,000 volt joy buzzer at. First there is the carnival itself. Of course, the Joker had his own death carnival in many a Batman comic, but the most famous use of a lethal big top was in the immortal The Killing Joke, where Batman put Gordon through the ultimate house of horrors. In that unforgettable Alan Moore and Brian Bolland story, Joker forces Jim Gordon to endure a funhouse ride just hours after Joker shoots and cripples Barbara Gordon. Joker forces Gordon to stare at projected images of his daughter’s broken, bleeding, and naked form until Batman saves the Commissioner. Nothing quite so dark in “The Gentle Art of Making Enemies” but just seeing Gordon go up against Jerome under the big top reminded me off that brutal moment that is forever burned in the brains of multiple generations of Batfans.
– We also get to see Jerome use killer piranhas this episode. Killer fish play a part in two classic Joker stories. Of course, there is the great Bronze Age story “The Laughing Fish” that appeared in Detective Comics #475 (1978) by Steve Englehart and Marshall Rogers. In this issue, the Clown Prince of Crime uses his Joker gas to put little smiles on the fish of Gotham City in order to trademark the fishies that are now emblazoned with his grinning visage. When Joker finds out that fish are natural resources that can’t be copywritten, Joker salves his disappointment with a murderous rampage that fans of classic Batman tales will still remember.
The second famous Joker fish moment is in the classic “Mad Love” episode of Batman: The Animated Series where Harley devises a death trap where Batman is hung over a piranha tank. The Joker angrily questions Harley to why that’s funny, to which Harley replies that when Batman is upside down, the fish look like they’re smiling. This little punchline angers the Joker who strikes Harley leading to one of the most disturbing and powerful moments of domestic violence ever to appear in an animated cartoon. The moment forever defines Harley as she was able to eventually fight back from the Joker’s abuse and become the solo star she is today. And it all began with a piranha.
– “The Gentle Art of Making Enemies” features the first time Bruce Wayne will go one on one with a killer clown. We don’t know if Jerome is really the Joker, but his house of mirrors battle with Bruce was the first dance with death that Batman and a killer chaos clown will share.
– Bruce and Jerome’s exchange about the true face of evil beneath the citizens of Gotham City really echoes the climax of The Dark Knight where Christian Bale’s Batman and Heath Ledger’s Joker have almost the exact exchange when Joker rigs up two ferries to explode during Joker’s little social experiment. Hey listen, if you got to homage, homage from the best, right Gotham?
– Most importantly, “The Gentle Art of Making Enemies” features the moment Bruce Wayne decides that he will never kill. One of the most oft debated comic in Bat history is the question of why Batman just doesn’t kill the Joker. That question is addressed this week and there is a great historical irony about the fact that the first person Bruce refuses to kill is Jerome, the proto-Joker.
– The wardrobes of Edward Nygma and Oswald Cobblepot are becoming more and more familiar each week. Between Penguin’s purple tie and the future Riddler’s green blazer if you squint, it’s like classic Riddler and Penguin going at it.
Gotham Season 3 Episode 15: How the Riddler Got His Name
Gotham has been teasing Riddler’s classic green suits since pretty much the earliest episodes of the series, but Nygma finally goes full Riddler garb with the three piece suit and the green bowler. I never thought I’d get so much joy for a bowler hat, but there you go.
– I kind of dig the idea of Nygma becoming the Riddler years before Bruce Wayne takes up the cowl. Having a decade of experience under his belt makes the Riddler, who often plays second fiddle to the Joker, that much more potent a foe for Batman. I like the concept of Riddler honing his skills against Lucius Fox and the GCPD to develop into an arch foe worthy of Batman.
– And we had Bruce Wayne training as a knife thrower. Batman isn’t known for hurling cutlery, but those lessons with Alfred will certainly hone the old batarang tossing skills.
– Seeing Bruce Wayne in an alley fight even if he is so young is always a thrill. Why do I get the feeling that this won’t be the last time Bruce Wayne beats up those same thugs in a darkened section of Gotham City?
– I would watch the hell out of a weekly series featuring Lucius Fox and Harvey Bullock solving crimes together.
– Was that Nanda Parbat Bruce Wayne wakes up in after he is abducted by clone Bruce and the Court of Owls? How strange is it that we now have two DC series featuring two different versions of Ra’s Al Ghul’s stomping grounds?
Gotham Season 3 Episode 16: These Delicate and Dark Obsessions
– Now, this episode of Gotham didn’t specifically state that Bruce Wayne was in Nanda Parbat, but I think we can safely assume that Bruce Wayne was in Nanda Parbat. How nutty is it that the home of Ra’s Al Ghul has played a major role in two on going DC TV narratives? Of course, Oliver Queen visited Nanda Parbat on Arrow and now we get to see Bruce Wayne’s first visit to the mystic home of Ra’s Al Ghul on Gotham.
Oddly enough, the city of Nanda Parbat first appeared in Strange Adventures #205 (1967) in a Deadman story. Nanda Parbat was created by Arnold Drake and Carmine Infantino and yes, Drake also created the original Guardians of the Galaxy. Lots of Arnold Drake getting multi-media love this week. Of course, a Nanda Parbat like city also played a huge role in Batman Begins and now it has become vital to the development of Bruce Wayne into Batman over on Gotham. If that was Nanda Parbat, of course.
– But the question is, does Raymond J. Barry play Ra’s Al Ghul? Barry was called the Shaman, but the training of Bruce Wayne certainly harkens back to Ra’s’ training of Bruce in Batman Begins. Could the Shaman be a seriously in need of a dip in the Lazarus Pit Ra’s? So is Barry an old Al Ghul, is he one of the Demon Head’s decoys, is he Henri Ducard, or is he some kind of opposing force to Ra’s Al Ghul? Time will tell, but this direction is intriguing. Perhaps we will see a young Talia soon as well?
– I don’t think we’ve ever had a real Penguin/Poison Ivy connection in the comics, but man, those two nutbags have an odd chemistry together, huh? I would totally watch a sitcom starring Ivy and Oswald.
– I believe the idea of James Gordon’s father being killed by a drunk driver is a new idea presented in Gotham. Certainly, the idea of the senior Gordon being killed by the Court of Owls is new. But it’s an interesting wrinkle to think that Gordon and Bruce Wayne both lost their fathers at relatively the same ages due to some kind of shadow conspiracy. That certainly makes the bond between the future vigilante and future commissioner much more synergistic.
– Man, how many overweight gunsels are going to betray Penguin? You would have through that good old Oswald would have learned his lesson with Butch.
Gotham Season 3 Episode 17: The Primal Riddle
– Gotham went full Tim Burton in this episode as clone Bruce Wayne shoves Selena Kyle out of a high rise window. Of course, this scene is an homage to Batman Returns where Max Schreck (played by Christopher Walken) tosses Selina (played by Michelle Pfeiffer) out of an office building. When she hits the ground, the future Catwoman is on the receiving end of some weird ass and inexplicable cat CPR that transforms her into Catwoman.
Of course in Batman Returns, Selina is a mousy secretary not a street smart teen thief but hey, Selina plummeting to her demise was almost a blow by blow of Burton’s Catwoman origin. And really, who the heck thought we’d ever see the cat CPR business again? I mean, it was strange and possibly ill-advised back in the ’90s and now Gotham, a show that hasn’t really delved into the supernatural, plays that beat. It was strange in 1992 and it’s strange today.
– Speaking of the original Bat films, Cory Michael Smith really has the bowler hat twist Jim Carrey thing down, huh?
– DC Comics has had many supervillain teams. From the Secret Society of Super Villains to the Legion of Doom to the Secret Six and even the Suicide Squad, DC history is laden with teams of rogues, but there is no comic book precedent for a team consisting of Penguin, Poison Ivy, Firefly, and Mister Freeze. But you know what? I kind of like it and I would totally read a comic starring this rag tag band of freaks.
Gotham Season 3 Episode 18: Light the Wick
– This portion of the season may be called “Heroes Rise,” but it has certainly been a villain-centric drama. Can you think of another Batman story that has juggled the Court of Owls, the Talons, Riddler, Penguin, Catwoman, Poison Ivy, Firefly, Hugo Strange, Mister Freeze, Executioner, Mad Hatter, and maybe Ra’s Al Ghul? It’s like a Paul Dini fever dream as Gotham indulges bad guy ADD and jumps from one Bat rogue to the next like a hyper kid digging through a box of action figures.
– Gotham is certainly going out of its way to make Barnes remind one of Bane, huh? From the wheeled gurney to the Dark Knight Rises-esque face mask, any second I feel like Barnes is going to ask someone if “The fire still burns.”
– In the comics, the Court of Owls’ Talons’ weakness is extreme cold. Things went in the opposite direction this week as Firefly takes down a Talon using extreme heat. Kind of odd that the Talon got taken down by a flamethrower when Mister Freeze is readily available and involved in the arc.
– So why would the staff of Arkham Asylum allow Jervis Tetch to wear a prison grey Mad Hatter chapeau?
Gotham Season 3 Episode 19: All Will Be Judged
– Having Martha Wayne’s infamous pearl necklace be the symbol of Bruce Wayne’s pain over his parents death was a really nice touch. After all, how many times in how many different forms of media have we seen those bloody pearls hit the wet pavement the night the Waynes were murdered? Those pearls might be the most famed and tragic object in comics and using them as the symbolic representation of Bruce’s inner agony over his parents’ death really emotionally worked on every level.
– All the meditation and spirit walking that Bruce and Maybe Ra’s Al Ghul is doing reminds one of Bruce’s blue orchid hallucinations in Batman Begins. In that classic film, Ra’s was disguised as a man named Ducard and acted as mentor to Bruce in the same manner the old monk is doing on Gotham. One still has to wonder if Gotham’s parallels to Ra’s in Batman Begins is a bait and switch because the beats are echoing just a bit too perfectly between film and TV.
– The arm scythe used by the Executioner this week is similar to the ones used by The Reaper in the Batman: Year Two comic book story arc and by The Phantasm in the classic animated film Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. A classic design for a very minor villain in The Executioner, that for some reason, Gotham has fallen in love with and keeps bringing out to play.
Gotham Season 3 Episode 20: Pretty Hate Machine
– This week, Bruce Wayne’s puppet master, the man known as The Shaman, said the words we’ve all been waiting for- The Demon’s Head. In Arabic, the name The Demon’s Head translates into Ra’s Al Ghul, so we’ll be seeing the classic Bat foe very soon.
– There is no precedent in the comics for evil gothic mastermind Lee Thompkins. Lee Thompkins is usually portrayed way more Helen Mirren than she is Morticia Addams.
– Did Hugo Strange’s bomb remind anyone else of Bane’s bomb in Dark Knight Rises? Plus, the entirety of Gotham being gassed by a madness drug echoes the third act of Batman Begins so we got all sorts of Chris Nolan vibes in this episode.
– This week’s episode of Gotham was entitled “Pretty Hate Machine.” This title was lifted from Nine Inch Nails’ 1989 debut album. In my 20s, pretty much the only two things I thought about were Batman and Nine Inch Nails so combining the two is okay by me.
– This week saw the deaths of the Court of Owls which paves the way for the rise of a new Court. One supposes that’s the Court that Bruce Wayne will fight when he becomes a full grown vigilante.