Gotham has a tradition - well, a two-year-long tradition - of poor season finales and great midseason finales. This is the third year in a row where they deliver a serialized two-parter for it. In season one, both episodes were equally good but the real payoff came in the second act. In season two, it was the setup that was truly brilliant while the conclusion shone a bit less brightly in comparison.
Can we hope for a reverse of second year's performance this time, please?
All things considered this is a passable installment which would probably be a lot stronger were it not for the writers' bizarre need to devote more than half the screentime to the pedestrian Jimleerio† love triangle. With Mario turning into a "green-eyed monster" from exposure to Alice Tetch's blood this debacle will probably end with Lee crying in Jim's arms by the end of the next episode.
The problem is just that Lee is a horrible person.
When Leslie Thompkins was introduced on the show in season one, Gotham fans were jubilant over her rescuing us from the stillborn Jim and Barbara romance. Then, Barbara went insane and quickly turned into one of the most entertaining people on the show. Now it's Jim and Lee we need rescuing from, and they haven't even happened yet.
Jim's told Lee, more or less, "I still love you but I screwed up and I wish you all the happiness in the world" - what, five, six times?! - and yet she keeps coming back for more, desperate for validation. Her behavior is outright sadistic, deliberately stirring up his feelings every single time they meet. Seeking out your ex-boyfriend in his home to kiss him the day before you get married to another man? Seriously, that's a new low.
The second plot of the episode is Edward torturing Butch and Tabitha. First I wrote "for information", but he's actually not after information at all, he just wants to torture them. Apparently his suspicions against Butch were not a ploy and he's convinced he killed Isabella. Simultaneously, Babs is playing detective to find out where her friends have disappeared to, finding out about Ozzie's love for Eddie and leading up to a climax where Ed realizes he's wrong, incidentally chopping off Tabs' hand in the process. (Don't worry, it'll be back on in no time, but damn, Gotham, do you know how to bring on the gore!) Then, adding two and two, Barbara figures out the most likely culprit for Izzie's assassination and we have our stage set for the big showdown between Edward and Oswald next week.
Eddie going on the wrong track after Butch has prompted a few Gotham fans to complain about him being "stupid." This has no merit. The bottom line here is that Ed is a bit of an emotional idiot, which sort of comes with the high-functioning autism spectrum.‡ He really doesn't get that Ozzie's into him, and he won't unless Ozzie screams it in his face. In fact he's a bit similar to Bruce in that regard; intellectualizing all his human contacts. The only reason Bruce figured out that "okay, Selina totally has to be in love with me" was that he'd been obsessing over their relationship for three years... but Bruce has an interest in stuff like that, and Eddie doesn't. "Evil Eddie" isn't someone who wants to get close to people. "Good Eddie" was - and that's who Isabella appealed to - but he failed miserably at it all the time.
So, when it comes to Eddie he really can't figure out what motive Oswald could possibly have to murder his girlfriend. Thus, the need for Barbara to give him the push.
The third story of the evening is about the Wayne kids, and as predicted the "mysterious key" from the last episode is used to refire the Court of Owls plot. Apparently, the key opens a lock to some sort of magic treasure to defeat the court. There's a whole lot of contrived plot here to steer our heroes on the right path - Ivy accidentally stealing the exact gem connected to the court, Ivy running off to get snatched up by the mysterious assassin club, the assassins being benevolent enough to explain the whole thing to Bruce and take him in instead of just grabbing the key for themselves, etc, etc - but I've realized if I bothered with stuff like that the show would give me an aneurysm. The important thing is that Bruce is given an opportunity to fight his parents' murderers, he jumps at it, and that's good enough for me. After all, this is really the "main" story of the season.
As for Ivy, it seems her only reason for existing on the show right now is to get into trouble and get other people into trouble. Seemingly, her age change came with a lobotomy. I confess, I thought Silver St. Cloud would be a bimbo, but it's Ivy who's the punchline of blonde jokes everywhere, drugging Alfred and escaping the house only to immediately get kidnapped and then whining at the Scooby-Doo gang for taking too long to rescue her. If the goal of the writers is turning her into Batcat's unruly and ungrateful little sister they're dead on. Pity they couldn't keep the actress who actually looks like she could be their little sister.
Looking back at this review I realize this sounds like a terrible episode. It isn't. While somewhat marred by the recent mistakes of the show, and somewhat failing to live up to my expectations, it features some great scenes - Eddie's interrogation session with Butch and Tabitha is the stand-out here, and Bruce and Selina are as adorable as ever - and it lays a lot of groundwork for setting up exciting times ahead. It also manages to tie several storylines together by having the Court be the ones trying to kill Mario and having Falcone figure it out. Let's just hope they don't devote twenty minutes of the next episode to the wedding.
†: Jim, Lee and Mario. Yes, I made up a ship name. Henceforth I'll refer to season 3A as the Age of Jimleerio.
‡: If anyone takes offense to that statement, please note that I'm speaking from first hand experience.