Gotham’s final season is here. The city connections to the outside world have been sundered. The land carved up by gangs. The first moments of episode one open more than a year after the city has been turned into ‘No Man’s Land’. The Riddler and Penguin putting on their best threads join Jim, Harvey and the rest of the GCPD in an all-out gun battle.
This is a just glimpse into the future, as we’re taken back to day 81. The government is offering no help to Jim. When the bridges to the city blew, not everyone had been evacuated. The GCPD took in any civilians who didn’t escape. With people to protect and not enough food or ammo to do that they’re running out of options quickly.
Meanwhile, everyone else has been adjusting to life in the new Gotham. Penguin has made City Hall his seat of power and with a factory in his area is the only person producing more bullets. The Siren’s Club has become a safe haven for women, with men only allowed in if they bring information of worth to Barbara. Scarecrow, Firefly, Mr. Freeze, Zsasz and some other gangs have all claimed their own territories. The Riddler is alive and has been suffering from blackouts in his memory. He’s sure it’s the softer Ed who’s been taking control again. Still unaccounted for are Hugo Strange, Lee Thompkins and the enigma that is Jeremiah Valeska.
Selina wasn’t evacuated because of the bombs. Instead, she’s been at a clinic in the zone protected by the GCPD, paralyzed after her gunshot. Bruce and Alfred have been at her side. Even with surgery, Selina has no chance to walk again. For someone like her, defined by her independence and mobility, its soul-crushing. So much so she’s willing to kill herself. One nurse whispers to Bruce that doctors aren’t going to help Selina, but ‘the Witch’ can.
Scarecrow and his gang raid the GCPD and clinic for food and medicine, drastically cutting down their rations. With supplies in desperate need, Bruce makes his own arrangements for a drop. But the helicopter is a huge signal flare for everyone in the city. Within moments of entering the city limits, it’s shot down by an RPG. Penguin and his gang try to claim the supplies, but Tabitha still devastated over Oswald killing Butch shows up, looking for revenge. Oswald, however, turns her own blade back on her, stabbing her in the heart.
Jim and the GCPD are also trying to take the supplies. Bruce, having made his own way there, steals bullets from Penguin’s men giving the GCPD the extra firepower they need to turn the fight in their favour. They claim the supplies, buying themselves a few more weeks’ worth of time.
Fresh from the victory, Jim gets some more good news, in the form of a mysterious radio message from the mainland. They don’t say much beyond they are allies and help will be coming soon. The moment is uncut when he finds graffiti, a message from Jeremiah, on his desk.
Jim is still arguing with the government on the mainland as the second episode begins. He doesn’t have time to listen to their bureaucracy because he has to save kids from enslavement. After learning about a gang using kids for free labour, he goes to Barbara for transport. She’s raw after losing Tabitha, but she still gives Jim the vehicles he needs.
Their rescue goes well, until one of the vehicles gets a flat tire in the crossfire, forcing Jim, Harvey and three kids to escape on foot. They find refuge in an abandoned hotel. Their rest doesn’t last long when Jim and Harvey encounter a child and a strange masked woman, (aka Mother and Orphan who were teased in the season four finale). The streets aren’t safer since there’s a bounty on Jim’s head. Just when it seems like Jim and Harvey are outgunned, Barbara rides in on a four-wheeler like a vicious angle of death. Her good deeds aren’t out of the goodness of her heart. She’ll need allies if she’s going to take Penguin down. She wants Jim to be one of those allies.
The Riddler hasn’t figured out to stop his other half from taking over. His nightly escapades this time included kidnapping a biker. The Riddler beats the information his alter ego wanted from the biker the night before. The information, the location of the gang’s headquarters, leads Ed to find the gang leader slaughtered with the blame pointing to Penguin. He’s not sure what his alter ego end goal is yet, but it seems like he’s trying to start a gang war.
Meanwhile, Bruce, following the lead on ‘the witch’ finds her being guarded by men who are waiting on backup to kill this witch. The Witch is actually Ivy, who’s been residing in a park since the city was cut off from the world. Bruce convinces the men to let him talk to ‘the Witch’ with a lie about a missing brother.
He lets Ivy out and she kills the men, threatening to do the same to Bruce. He reveals he needs help for Selina. She’s reluctant to help at first. The last time she’d seen Selina, she’s destroyed the Lazarus water Ivy was using to enhance her plants. But Bruce convinces her to help. She gives him a seed that should heal Selina, but, she warns that taking it could change Selina.
He returns to the clinic. The seed sends Selina into a shock, but hours later she’s walking again. But, as Bruce hugs her, her eyes shift colour and shape to become more catlike.
Two episodes in, the final season is gearing up for an explosive ending. Gotham turned into this empty war zone takes the city to new lows. Gotham, both setting and show have always been defined by the criminals. ‘No Man’s Land’ creates the perfect opportunity for those criminals to wreak havoc to the full. But also creates the ideal conditions to give birth to the hero the city needs. Be that Bruce, or Jim, both men have grown into their roles as the city’s protectors. For Jim, that means being the face the people trust and respect. For Bruce, it’s being the one who works in the shadows without need or want for praise.
As for the criminals, the tease of the Riddler and Penguin months down the line is tantalizing. What draws them all together again? Jeremiah’s tease, though not as substantial still leaves one wanting more. Losing Tabitha was a devastating blow to establish to the stakes for the season. Gotham does have a tendency to bring characters back to life so I hope that tradition carries on at least one more time. Her death has pushed Barbara into action. Who’s to say where her character will stand when the smoke finally clears. She’s the one character I’m most curious to see since she’s the one major player in Gotham who doesn’t have a major legacy in the comics. I’m glad Selina’s recovery wasn’t drawn out. It was heart-breaking to see her so depressed and broken. But now she can join the final fight, as a fully realized Catwoman.
Mother and Orphan, on the other hand, didn’t have much of a presence. They were there and then the plot moved on. It seemed like it was going to be a compelling start to the characters, with a flash of Mother in the background of a shot that would make most horror movies jealous. It turned out to be underwhelming as Jim and Harvey escape before the pair could truly feel threatening.
But, there are still many things lurking the depths of Gotham, waiting for their moment to strike. These final episodes promise to be filling with new faces and old favourites as the series moves to its final curtain call.