Gotham ‘Mad City: Better to Reign in Hell…’ Review: “Penguins Eat Fish”

Season 3 of Gotham begins giving viewers precisely what they expected: utter chaos. The consequences of last season’s finale take the main focus in ‘Mad City: Better to Reign in Hell’.


It’s been 6 months since the Indian Hill breakout took place, enough for some smaller monster-villain groups to begin to form in the city of Gotham. We don’t know much about them except that it’s utter chaos, there’s now bounty hunters, and the villains are raiding pharmacies for some reason. The GCPD is having difficulty managing everything, especially the press since they refuse to give information on the escapees because they consider them “victims of Hugo Strange”. There’s actually no signs of Hugo Strange in the whole episode, and only the consequences of his acts remain: Fish is looking for him to help her control her ability, Bruce keeps investigating the people who hired him, and Peabody is now dead. All of this is symbolic that Strange was indeed just another pawn, and that the big bad of this season, aside from the monsters themselves, is the Court of Owls.

Harvey can barely manage the situation, and Jim’s actions are not helping either. Even though he claimed he would leave Gotham to find Lee, he’s already back in the premiere, so his words in the finale don’t really hold much meaning when it comes to his presence in the show. The only thing that we know for now is that Lee is with someone else, just in time for the introduction of Valerie Vale, played by Jamie Chung. Jim and Valerie’s relationship is quite odd, but already hints at some potential romance as they struggle to cooperate to find Fish Mooney. Valerie is the typical journalist who gets a bit too involved in the story she’s trying to tell, while Jim is driven by his negative emotions and seems to just not care anymore. Odd relationship, indeed.

Mad City: Better to Reign in Hell... - Gotham - The Daily Fandom
As I commented in the finale review, Fish’s new ability is way too OP. So much that it was fairly predictable that there would be some type of limitation or side-effect. That’s exactly why she was looking for Peabody. Peabody tells her that the only solution is to stop using the power, but she obviously won’t have that. Fish wants to find Strange to actually create an army of people with her same power. That seems odd, as having subordinates with her same power makes it very easy for them to betray her, something that would not be a first in this series. Fish is a character that has overstayed her welcome, and the fact that all her storylines seem to be repeating doesn’t quite help it. Perhaps the only interesting detail to come out of this storyline is Selina’s role in all this. She couldn’t possible have found a worse group of people to associate herself with, so hopefully Ivy being potentially dead will make her snap out of it.

And now for the man of the hour, Bruce Wayne himself. Bruce, who keeps getting more and more mature, meets with the Wayne Enterprise board to tell him about the evidence he found last season: Strange did not work alone and someone hired him. Furthermore, he says that person, or rather “those people” are in this room. It was badass, yes, but also quite a reckless move. I guess neither Bruce, nor Alfred thought that this enemy could be so dangerous. What followed is something that we have already seen plenty of times: someone breaks into the mansion (what’s up with their security system?), beats Alfred in a pretty cool fight, and ends up kidnapping Bruce.

As per the other characters (this cast keeps getting bigger and bigger), we still know nothing about the identity of long-haired Bruce, but we do find out that he doesn’t seem to know that much more either. Barbara and Tabitha are still as badass as usual and running the bar now, while Nygma is still locked up in Arkham, and proves once again that his relationship with Penguin was one of the best things to come out of Season 2.

If there is one conclusion that we can draw from this episode is that there are many different parties and everybody is playing everybody. While ‘Better to Reign in Hell…’ does an excellent job at showing the consequences of the Indian Hill breakout, the plot is still somewhat uncertain and confusing. Gotham keeps on repeating storylines (Jim’s back and forth with the GCPD, Fish vs Penguin, Alfred and Bruce’s situation…), but this time it seems like the stakes are higher than ever after properly establishing the Court of Owls. Season 2 was a great step up from Season 1, can FOX do the same thing for Season 3?


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24-year-old TV journalist. I especialize in fangirling over TV shows and anime. Currently fighting for fan studies to be recognized as a valid academic field.

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