For three seasons now, FOX’s crime series Gotham has slowly revealed the untold story of how Batman’s hometown came to be populated with enough villains to warrant its own asylum. In this incarnation, while Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) grows up in Wayne Manor on his way to becoming the Dark Knight, out in the city Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) has been risking his life and reputation to fight crime and corruption wherever he finds it. A new villain is being born every week in Gotham, as the city that will eventually need Batman’s saving slowly takes shape.
One important villain, however, that hasn’t quite been revealed as of yet is the Joker. Former Arkham Asylum inmate Jerome Valeska was the leading contender for the role, until he was killed last season and his memory subsequently turned into a legacy. There are now a lot of copycats vying for that top spot, but so far the writers have remained silent and only teased at who will become Batman’s most formidable foe. Yet there is another very important villain who could soon be revealed: the Joker’s paramour Harley Quinn.
On the surface, it seems that Barbara Kean (Erin Richards), Jim Gordon’s ex-fiancee and a former member of Jerome’s group the Maniax, may be Gotham’s female version of the Joker. She’s already crazy and has her own version of the trademark grin. Yet it’s just as likely that she could instead become the Joker’s sidekick Harley Quinn. Indeed, Richards admits to CinemaBlend in that the idea has already been discussed:
“There have been conversations. I think something major would have to happen to Barbara for her to fully become Harley Quinn. Because Harley Quinn is kind of… she doesn’t, to me, have the motivation that Babs has. Harley Quinn seems to like destruction for destruction’s sake, and that’s wonderful, but I feel like Barbara has more of a plan. She’s a little bit more intellectual in her approach toward climbing the ladder and taking over the underworld. And I think if she was to then morph into Harley Quinn, there would have to be something that happened that sort of stripped away that kind of scheming side of her so that she would just become, I guess, unhinged in the world. That, to me, is what Harley Quinn represents. That madness and mayhem that comes along with The Joker, because obviously, they’re a team.”
According to Richards, Barbara isn’t quite unhinged enough to take on the mantle of Harley Quinn just yet, but its not like we haven’t seen her in that mindset before. Back in early season 2, the character lost some of her more rational behavior and succumbed to all the craziness. Richards agrees that would have been the best moment for the transition:
“I think Barbara had her moment of madness and mayhem early on in Season 2 after the Ogre, and then she went to Arkham and she sort of lost herself a little bit and just wanted to be this dark being. And then after she fell out of the church window and went into the coma and came back out and remembered her attachment to Jim as sort of a loving attachment, and didn’t really remember the murdering of her parents and that kind of stuff. So she’s like another being now, and I think that being is not so close to the Harley Quinn character, even though she’s still obviously a little crazy, but she now has more of a ruthless nature to her.”
That’s not to say that her falling out of reality couldn’t happen again, but for right now it appears that Barbara is really focused on trying to start a war between the Penguin and the Riddler. And she has a lot of cards up her sleeve (so to speak), with the Penguin’s love of the Riddler taking center stage lately and the recent death of Riddler’s girlfriend Isabella at the hands of the Penguin. For all we know, Barbara’s attempts to become the queen of Gotham’s underworld could fail, and she might end up even more fractured and broken than when she started this whole game. We can only know the truth in time.