Last season, Gotham pinned its hopes and dreams of network television success on the Rise of the Villains storyline, turning the show’s main focus away from Jim Gordon’s early police career in a pre-Batman Gotham City and more towards the monstrous individuals who have gone to great lengths to make the Caped Crusader necessary in the first place. It was an interesting (albeit campy) exploration of “who created who?” – a comic book version of the chicken and the egg where the question was: Did Batman beget Gotham’s slew of crazy criminals or was it the other way around?
Season 2 took an everything-and-the-kitchen-sink approach to its storytelling, throwing in everything from proto-Joker Jerome Valeska to Azreal to Dr. Hugo Strange and even Mr. Freeze. Despite (or maybe because of) a sometimes-hectic pace, Gotham season 2 even had time to begin the resurrection process with many of its dead villains, and to introduce a relatively new (in terms of when it was created in the comics, of course) threat to the city in the Court of Owls, the clandestine society that secretly runs Gotham. Such a primer won’t go unfulfilled, as the marketing for season 3 has already begun to tease the Court’s influence on the season’s storyline and, inevitably, the development of a rapidly growing Bruce Wayne.
During an interview at Comic-Con 2016, series co-creator, executive producer, and director Danny Cannon offered up some details on what season 3 will bring to the city, and how the Court of Owls will push Bruce into developing an alter ego. Cannon began by touching directly on how the events of season 2 paved the way for the Court to appear and how their involvement with Hugo Strange and the Indian Hill research facility plays a part in their master plan and how that plan will affect each major character in the series.
“We touched last year on the Court of Owls, who actually run Gotham, so what happens is we saw Gotham go into chaos, we saw monsters spread into the streets. Now we’re going to find out who actually runs the place. And they draw the line. And this year, every single character of ours will be judged by them.
Professor Strange had a plan [he] was bought and paid for by the people who created Indian Hill. And they will take a front seat now. You will find out what their plan was, is, and will be.
Our writer’s room this year, very successfully I might say, had everybody’s stories all bumping into one another. It is one story about how everybody is surviving in Gotham, but everybody has their own time.”
The Court’s plan, as Cannon mentions, will sweep across Gotham season 3 and will touch on every character in its own way. The Court of Owls, then, will serve as the framework of the overarching narrative, which will include some major developments in the lives of certain characters like Bruce, Selina, and also Ivy Pepper, who underwent a casting change in the interim between seasons 2 and 3. Now that Maggie Geha has replaced Clare Foley, the question is: How will the series explain the rather noticeable change in appearance and, more to the point, maturity of the character? Well, Cannon says, the change in Ivy has to do with Strange’s effect on the city’s nastiest criminals and, without going into too much detail (or any at all, really), that effect has immense ramifications for Ivy.
“There’s a massive change that happens because of the evil that was let out by Professor Strange. What happens is Ivy gets… what’s the right word without giving too much away? She is caught up in that, and a massive change occurs. I can’t give too much away.”
So it might be safe to say that Gotham season 3 is about startling, rapid growth in the face of adversity – both in the literal and figurative sense. While Ivy will see that change in a specific way throughout the course of her narrative, the future guardian of the city will see change come differently. Cannon says that this is the year Bruce starts to understand the need for a schism between the person he is and the person who the rest of the city believes him to be. That split will have an enormous impact on his relationship with Alfred, who will have to overcome his unwillingness to see Bruce embark on his crusade in order to better protect him.
“We see that brat billionaire boy come out, the façade to protect his true identity. So for this year, Bruce Wayne gets to take on another personality, which adds again to him growing.
Alfred really helps Bruce create this new personality he needs to adapt in order to survive. And there’s a bonding this year, where Alfred has to get on board with Bruce’s mission. So he has to lead a secret life, which Alfred will be a part of. You’ll start to understand how Alfred is instrumental in creating a structure for [Bruce]. [He] has a team working for him now.”
As Bruce continues to develop and to walk down a path toward becoming the Batman, those on his “team” will continue to find ways to progress as well. Most notably, Chris Chalk (Homeland) who plays Lucius Fox. According to Chalk, Lucius will enter the fold by working with the Gotham City Police Department to lend a helping hand in the technology department.
“We’re going to see that Lucius is a bit out of sorts with the corruption at Wayne Enterprises and so he leans over to the GCPD side to try to help Bruce on another angle. And then at GCPD we start to see just his development into the Lucius that creates the gadgets, the Lucius that perhaps will be the CEO one day if we are blessed with that many seasons. And so we’re just starting to see the baby steps of Lucius becoming Lucius and getting better at being Lucius. “
Does that mean Lucius will supply young Bruce with some Batman-like gadgets of his own? Chalk offered up this response:
“I’m gonna give you a wink on that.”
It would seem Gotham season 3 aims to take its characters deeper into the personas fans know, but as Chalk mentions, the season will still have time to explore the little details that have the potential to make the transitional period more interesting.
“[I’m] looking forward to everybody becoming the terrifying and awesome versions of themselves, which is the awesome thing about Gotham: we’re in the middle. Nobody knows about the middle. You see them develop the skills to become [who they are], which is the fun of this show. We’re kind of fumbling around and lucking into victories, while the villains are really good at their job right now.”
Gotham season 3 premieres Monday, September 19 @8pm on FOX.