As Gotham heads into season 3 this fall, the series’ legion of villains continues to grow and make trouble for Jim Gordon and the rest of the GCPD. The importance of villains to the series was made apparent in season 2, as it split the narrative between two major arcs, the Rise of the Villains and later the Wrath of the Villains, each one factoring in some familiar faces from Batman’s rouge’s gallery. By the time the season was out, it was clear the series had found its niche among the DC Comics TV series. Unlike its sort-of sister shows on The CW, all of which are headlined by a hero or team of heroes, Gotham made a name for itself by going in the opposite direction, and becoming the show where the Dark Knight’s soon-to-be greatest adversaries would be given a field on which the could hone their criminal skills and become the villains that will one day make the Batman more of a Gotham-wide necessity, than a thing of legend.
During the course of the first two seasons, Gotham has seen its fair share of villains come and go. Some, like Fish Mooney and proto-Joker Jerome Valeska, wound up going the way of the dodo – or so it seemed before Dr. Hugo Strange‘s experiments did the impossible: bring the dead back to life. Even though Gotham’s villain problem is now in a potentially never-ending loop, it’s time for some new blood — which officially comes as Australian actor Benedict Samuel has been cast as the lid-loving Mad Hatter.
Deadline reports the former Walking Dead villain has been cast in the role of Jervis Tetch, a hypnotist whose Alice in Wonderland fixation is not only the root of his moniker, but also his madness. This version of Tetch will reportedly come to Gotham in search of his sister, Alice (naturally), who disappeared in the dark urban wonderland several years prior. Though there’s no word yet on how Gotham‘s take on the villain will differ from his comic book persona, the manner in which most of the rogues have been presented on the series so far mean it will likely involve a darker take mixed with a healthy dose of camp.
That may be fitting, as the character is one of Batman’s lower-tiered adversaries, in part because of his slightly comical appearance, association with Lewis Caroll’s literary creation, and the fact that he’s physically an unimposing figure. Tetch was, however, recently granted a darker makeover in the Batman: Arkham City game. Though not canon, that iteration saw the character shift away from having a diminutive frame and slightly bulbous head in exchange for greasy locks and an even creepier smile. While Samuel makes for a more imposing figure that would be in keeping with the Hatter’s video game form, a large part of hypnotist’s appeal was in his ability to test the Dark Knight in more cerebral ways than, say, Bane, Two-Face, or Killer Croc.
Perhaps one of the best examples of the threat Tetch can pose to Batman and Bruce Wayne came in the Batman: The Animated Series episode ‘Perchance to Dream.’ The story involved Bruce recovering from a head injury to discover his parents alive and that he was not the Batman. Troubled by the revelation, Bruce’s investigations soon led him to discover the Mad Hatter created a dream world for his adversary in order to have a Batman-free world of his own. Throughout he story, Bruce never faced a truly significant physical threat, but the emotional and psychological harm done to him proved the Hatter wasn’t a villain to be taken too lightly.
That’s not to say, Gotham will go a similar route with its interpretation of the character, but if it did, the series would be well served by positioning Jervis Tetch as a manipulative villain with the power to cause tremendous psychological harm to Gordon, Bruce, or whomever he runs across.
Gotham season 3 premieres Monday, September 19 on FOX.