Gotham Season 3 Episode 20 Review: Pretty Hate Machine

Gotham's most moral characters turn villainous as the Tetch virus is unleashed on the city.

This Gotham review contains spoilers.

Gotham Season 3, Episode 20

Whatever faults Gotham may have, you can never accuse it of not taking chances. In the course of an hour: Jim Gordon took the Tetch virus; Bruce Wayne turned against Gotham; Fish Mooney came back just as Ed was about to kill Oswald; and the Tetch virus was unleashed on the city.

And those were just the highlights. “Pretty Hate Machine” was a non-stop hour of action, comic villainy, and absurd fun. This show is ridiculous, but it is having a lot of fun in its third season. Heading into its two-hour season finale, there is a lot to like about Gotham.

Jim Gordon takes the virus.

The end of Season 3 has seen all of Gotham’s most moral characters turn evil in some way. Bruce has been brainwashed by the Shaman. Lee has taken the Tetch virus (which I still maintain was both idiotic and out-of-character). And now Jim has also taken the virus to avoid death by aspyhxiation. 

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But what has the virus down to Jim exactly? Before Lee interrupted him, it looked like he might have been working to stop the virus bomb. Is there a chance the Gordon’s extreme (read: obnoxious) righteousness has given him some kind of resistance to the virus? I wouldn’t put anything past Jim Gordon… or the “logic” of Gotham.

Fish Mooney swoops in to save Oswald.

I, unlike much of the Gotham fandom, have always been a fan of Fish Mooney. She’s got panache. However, her grand entrance here is less exciting than past grand entrances. We haven’t seen her since Penguin let her escape near the beginning of the season and, in the midst of all the other character drama going on in that greenhouse, it’s hard to immediately remember how she relates to everyone.

That being said, I will never tire of seeing so many over-the-top comic book villains trying to out-villain each other on Gotham. There is a fine line between love and hate and Oswald and Ed are obviously still the most important people in one another’s lives. Seeing Barbara, Tabitha, and Butch roll their eyes at Ed’s insistence that Oswald call him by his Riddler moniker was kind of perfect, as was Oswald’s continued insistence that the name is stupid.

It will be interesting to see how these characters are affected by the virus — or by the virus’ release, at least? Will they band together in the wake of Gothamliterally going crazy? Or will the virus tear these already tenuous alliances apart? And what exactly is Fish planning? Sound off in the comments below.

Alfred shoots the Shaman.

Ultimately, Alfred shoots the Shaman, but not before the man presses the detonator for the bomb, unleashing the virus into the city. I would have liked to see Gotham make this moment a bit more emotionally-charged. As much fun as the end of Season 3 has been, Bruce’s training with the Shaman have been the least successful. It’s pretty unclear how the man managed to brainwash him. Regardless, Bruce has always been the one force for good that you can count on in this show. Sure, it’s not his fault that he was kidnapped and brainwashed. And, in the end, he didn’t actually press the detonator, but it’s still been a bit of a boring slog to watch Bruce slowly succomb to the dark side.

Alfred’s shenanigans leading up to the Bruce/Shaman confrontation were much more interesting. Watching him hang Hugo Strange off of a Gotham rooftop by his tie was a particular highlight. Sure, it was ridiculous that Bullock would have given him that much power, but this show is fueled by ridiculousness. And hearing Alfred call Bruce any variation on “my son” or “my boy” will never not pull at my heartstrings.

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Inevitably, Alfred’s shooting of the Shaman is obviously going to cause problems between these two — especially because we know R’as al Ghul has to show up at some point to train Bruce. I’m not looking forward to their estrangement, but I may forgive the lapse in Bruce/Alfred scenes if R’as al Ghul’s training is more interesting than the Shaman’s.


4 out of 5