The ladies of Gotham are back in action!
One of the many things I’ve been missing this season is the strong, complicated, and outspoken women that make up Gotham’s cast.
Fortunately, Season 3 Episode 9 “Time Bomb” seems to be making up for lost time, and the women of Gotham are reclaiming their power and not in the ostentatious way we’ve previously seen.
Let’s start with Barbara Keane.
My feelings towards Barbara have been mixed throughout the series. She started out as a wishy-washy character that grew into an off-the-rails villain, but when she awoke from her coma she started to regain her humanity and the reigns came in a bit.
There wasn’t an outlandish Barbara that needed to be told what was appropriate, she was able to function in society, and that is the kind of complicated female character that I love.
On this episode, we see Barbara fiercely take her place in Gotham’s criminal underbelly. She barges into a meeting with Penguin and demands to know where Tabitha is.
While Penguin tells her that the meeting is “adults-only,” she brilliantly shuts him down and makes her legitimate concerns known. When Penguin doesn’t give her any information, she is determined to find her missing friend, and through a combination of wiles and investigative smarts she does that.
So let’s review, Barbara 1) had an objective 2) found a way to achieve said objective and 3) accomplished that objective in a believable manner and still managed to put the pieces to a larger puzzle together along the way.
Yep, let’s put her on the list of women who accomplish goals.
This episode puts Barbara is back in action, but not in the unbelievable and myopic way she was in Season 2.
Her reform feels earned, and I am excited to see where her character goes, especially since she ends the episode ready to take action in a way only a villainess can, by starting a war. (But notice her wording, she’s not talking about going to war, just starting one.)
Another standout female character is Tabitha, Barbara’s friend. Like Barbara, she’s also experiencing a shift in her motivations. She’s now seeing Butch, and while the pair are held by Nygma in this episode, we see Tabitha ready to sacrifice her own well-being for his life.
Nygma sets up a timed contraption that will guillotine Tabitha’s hand if she doesn’t use a button that stops the timer, but delivers a fatal shock to Butch. Rather than leave Butch to die, she drops the trigger and lets the blade fall.
Why is this significant? Because the last time we saw Tabitha entangled with someone was Theo, her brother. When the choice came to save Silver or Theo, Tabitha betrayed her brother and left him to the GCPD.
Tabitha’s act of sacrifice may be fool hardy, but it isn’t the action that Nygma expected her to take and therefore throws off his plan. If Nygma can’t accurately predict these actions, Barbara and Tabitha could be the monkey wrench in the machine that is Gotham’s new criminal underground.
Barbara and Tabitha are friends, there is no denying that, and I have felt a void in this show for a while in regards to the female characters. Having them be at the center of this is really gratifying and I am hoping we get to see more of Barbara and Tabitha in the second half of this season.
Not every female character is one the rise though. This episode did do disservice to a few female characters.
My biggest critique is the Bruce and Selina relationship. I thought it was very cute watching Bruce and Selena’s budding romance, but face it–Selina has commitment issues, and rightfully so.
Bruce isn’t understanding that and although I try to remind myself that he is just a kid, I can’t get over the pressure Bruce feels towards her to define what they are.
She’s been alone most of her life. Put her with this billionaire child and of course they are going to butt heads a little bit on how to define what they are. So when Selena asks: “Why can’t we just be us?” I did a little cheer.
What might be interesting about his plot is that we seem to be viewing a Judy Blume novel with a role reversal. Instead of a girl trying to grow up and navigate the ways of love, it looks like Bruce is the one who is going to have to mature this way.
Let’s face it, Bruce behaves like a gentleman, but when it comes to emotion, he’s still a boy. We need to see some development on that scale before he and Selina can have the relationship they deserve.
Ivy is another character that feels a little unfocused. She appeared for about five minutes before disappearing into the night. Her function in this episode is to get kidnapped by Ukrainian smugglers, and therefore introduce Selena and Bruce to newfound allies.
What fascinates and frustrates me about Ivy’s character is that, although she’s grown up, she still thinks like a prepubescent. I am not entirely sure where the seduction knowledge comes in with her sudden aging, and I am dying for it to be explained, but at the moment she’s still a pawn in the game, like she basically has been all along.
Speaking of pawns, Lee Tompkins seems to have been shelved and regulated to a love object, meant only to be enjoyed when we see Jim and Mario show off their plumage.
Lee and Mario’s wedding is drawing near and from a narrative perspective; we all know that the wedding can’t happen. Mario’s sudden burst of anger at the very end seems to make this abundantly clear.
Plus, is anyone going to accept an ending to this storyline where Lee and Jim aren’t together?
What did you think of this episode of Gotham? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Gotham airs Mondays at 8/7c on FOX.