Gotham's season 3 finale is here, but is it any good?

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Jun 18, 2017, 6:10 PM EDT (Updated)

The short(ish) version: Gotham is in turmoil because a bunch of its residents are fully Tetched out. Gordon is trying to keep it together with Harvey's help, but Lee is making phone calls and trying to lure Gordon to the dark side. Parallel to this, young Bruce Wayne is still fully hypno-evil and Alfred is trying to pull him out of it, while a mysterious force seems to be calling Bruce away ... also ostensibly to the dark side.

On the Tetch/Gordon side of the mess, Gordon and Harvey are convinced they need to find Hugo Strange, who they have reason to believe already formulated a cure for the virus. Gordon concludes Strange will be at the bus depot trying to beat a hasty retreat, which I guess was pretty easy to figure out since Fish Mooney (along with Penguin, Fries and Firefly) has already figured that out first. Fish grabs Strange and gets away, but eventually Gordon tracks her down again. There are also ninjas there? Gordon goes crazy, kills all the ninjas and then also "accidentally" kills Fish with a sword. Penguin vows vengeance while Gordon absconds with Strange.

Meanwhile, Bruce escapes custody and finds his way to the Demon's Head. Naturally, Alfred was following the whole time and gets captured. We finally meet Ra's al Ghul, who wants Bruce to be his heir for some reason. But Bruce needs to prove himself ... by driving a sword through Alfred's heart. Which he does.

And that's part one.

Part two: Bruce comes out of his evil stupor, regrets killing Alfred, Ra's leaves (for some reason) and tells Bruce to use an impromptu Lazarus Pit (I assume, the show never says) to bring Alfred back to life. Bruce pours the pit juice (ew) on Alfred's wound and rushes him to a hospital to recover.

I should mention that last episode Hugo leads Gordon to an antidote, but it gets destroyed in the ninja battle. Uh-huh. So part two is a retread wherein Gordon has to get Tetch and his blood in order to make a new cure. Naturally, since Fish is dead, now Barbara and Ed kidnap Tetch in order to make a deal that will make them rich/keep them in power of Gotham. And, naturally, that goes sideways and Gordon uses Penguin (who he has in custody) as leverage to convince Ed to betray Babs and hand over Tetch. Surprise! Babs shows up with Tabitha and Butch, there's a scuffle, Gordon takes some of Tetch's blood, and now Babs' whole plan has gone tits up. Also, Penguin captures Ed and drives off with him in a cop car. Because why not add to the mix a little more? We've got so much time left (we don't, actually).

Gordon gets one dose of the cure and takes it to Lee (remember her), but Lee doesn't want the cure, destroys it and convinces Gordon to be evil with her. That lasts exactly one scene, though, because Harvey shows up at the train station where Gordon and Lee are about to escape Gotham and gives Gordon a speech about being the best cop, yada yada. Harvey hands Gordon a badge with two doses of the cure, and Gordon gives one to Lee and takes the other himself.

Gosh a lot of stuff happens. Almost done, though. Bruce is mean to Selina when she shows up to see how he and Alfred are doing but is all love and roses for Alfred when he wakes up. There's an elongated sequence of Penguin and Riddler stroking their respective egos in front of one another. Each thinks they have the upper hand. Long story short: Oswald has the upper hand and freezes Ed in a cube of ice with Victor's help, and plans to have Ed be the centerpiece in his new club, the Iceberg Lounge. Hey, I got that reference.

Also, should've mentioned, this two-parter features a subplot where Butch is trying to convince Tabitha to betray Babs. She finally agrees, but Babs "kills" Butch by shooting him right between the eyes, and then Tabitha "kills" Babs by electrocuting her. The coroners discover that Butch's real name is Cyrus Gold. If you want to know what that means: Cyrus Gold is actually Solomon Grundy, who's a bit of a zombie character, so look forward to that next season. And, since Babs looks all pale in the face ... I guess she's going to be Harley Quinn next season? Who the @#$% knows?

Sidebar: Selina meets up with Tabitha, they bond over mutually hating everyone, and then Selina tries out Tabitha's whip and is pretty all right with it. Okay.

Anyway, blah, blah, yada, yada, the cure gets finished and sent out into the world, the city is saved (or as saved as it ever is), and Gordon and Harvey go back to being regular cops.

Oh, and Bruce saves a young girl and her parents from being shot in an alley while wearing a mask. But he's not Batman. He's ... Batkid? I dunno. The end. See ya next season!

The good: You won't be bored?

On a first viewing, there is a lot to be enthralled about by Gotham's third season finale. A LOT happens. People "die," scores are settled, everyone acts like crazy people and all the pieces are moved because, hey, the show basically flipped the whole board entirely. Again.

Alexander Siddig is a perfectly cromulent Ra's for the five seconds he gets to be him. So it should be fun seeing him next season all cape-wearing and scene-chewing.

I'm ... into the mentor/tutor relationship between Tabitha and Selina? At least that's a direction for those characters to go? Maybe those two women could be about themselves and be the first ever women on the show not talking about men literally every second of the day? That would be nice.

I enjoyed Ed and Oswald and their competing egos. The whole thing is incredibly over-the-top, but I appreciate the complexity of their relationship. They should've dated, but whatever. Gotham writers can have Ed say the words "I don't love you" all they want, but literally every action he takes with Oswald says otherwise. It's corny as hell that Penguin's probably going to be a forever alone gay, but it's fine. The actors are pretty obviously playing it their own way, and I'll live with that for now.

The bad: Everything else, it's all so rushed, and nobody acts like people

Last season, Gotham didn't get its act together until a few episodes before the finale. This season, Gotham was pretty enjoyable from the halfway point on through until the end. But the finale this year was disappointing, not least because it was just a lot of everyone running around and doing things that make no sense.

Did you know Alfred Pennyworth is played by Sean Pertwee, whose dad was Doctor Who from 1970 to 1974? I bring it up because a lot of Pertwee's era of Doctor Who was tangled up in "Doctor gets kidnapped, Doctor escapes, companion gets kidnapped, companion escapes" plot filling because every story was seven episodes long for a while there. And that's the Gotham finale all over. We have to get Strange! Strange got kidnapped by Fish! We gotta get Strange! Okay, but now Strange needs Tetch's blood! We gotta get Tetch! Ed and Babs kidnapped Tetch! We gotta get Tetch! Okay, but just his blood!

It's exhausting. Most of Gordon's plot this episode is him running around in circles. It's abysmal storytelling, and I'm actually embarrassed for the Gotham writers for putting together something this shoddy for a finale of all things.

And if you thought that was all that was wrong with the finale, oh ho ho, I haven't even begun.

So, Fish is back in Gotham because she wants to take over with her band of freaks. Uh ... okay? She's been gone all season. Why now? Why is now the time she chose to come back, man? And why are she and Oswald suddenly buddies? They've been, at best, backstabbing half-allies since day one, why are they so chummy now? There's literally no reason other than for Oswald to hate Gordon when Gordon kills Fish. It don't make no sense, though. And, to top it all off, it meant that Ivy, who had finally come into her own, got sidelined completely. It's just really bad writing, folks.

But nothing could be worse than what they do to Lee, I say for the millionth time about Gotham. Finally, after seasons of waiting, she turns heel and becomes a cool character. Lee literally goes to Barbara's club, belittles Butch and Tabitha like the chumps they are and tells them she's going to chop of Babs' head. All right! Let's see it! But, no. Instead of a cool fight between Babs and Lee, we get Lee courting Gordon's dark side, Lee refusing the cure, Lee taking Gordon on a train to Evilsville, and then thanking Gordon for curing her in the end. What?! Lee hated Gordon all season. She very clearly chose to have the Tetch virus. She was actually pretty happy being super strong, but then she writes Gordon a love letter for saving her and then peaces out of Gotham?! Are y'all serious with this? Never has there been a character written with less consistency in the history of television than Lee, and I am so mad about it.

And on the note of Gotham's promotion: Why you gonna have your people out here talking about Harley Quinn showing up when you didn't do anything of the kind? Y'all can say what you want, but the show was setting Lee up to be their Harley all season long -- they even put her in a red jumpsuit in the finale! But my takeaway is supposed to be what? Barbara is Harley *maybe* because she got electrocuted and now her face is pale? Come on! That's some of the worst misdirection I've ever seen. That's Steven Moffat-level bad misdirection. I thought the showrunners wanted to give Erin Richards something juicy because she's such a talent? Instead she's just kind of a dick to everyone and now she's dead. I guess maybe we'll get something better for her next season? But this was an atrocious waste.

I also don't know what to even say about Butch suddenly being Solomon Grundy. Why would you do something that requires your audience pause your show and then use Google to figure out what's going on? That's sloppy.

Also, why have Bruce stab Alfred through the heart only to resolve it moments later?

Anyway, you get it: the finale wasn't so great. 

Lines of the night

"Yes, I'm blaming it on the butler!" - Harvey

"Your boss? Tell her next time I see her, I'm gonna rip her head right off her body. Bye now!" - Lee

Lingering questions

What's next? We know Penguin will have his new nightclub, we know Solomon Grundy will show up, and we know Ra's will likely be the Big Bad next season. But Barnes is still out there, too, along with Mr. Fries and Firefly. Will Lee stay gone, or is this just a temporary respite from her very boring character? How will Barbara's death be resolved? Is she Harley Quinn? Or will it be someone else entirely?

And, I guess, most importantly: what is Bruce going to be, since we know he can't be Batman? Is he going to be something corny like Clark's blu blur on Smallville? Or will Gotham find a way to make the Adventures of Batkid actually interesting? Guess we'll find out this fall. Okay, bye!