Fox’s Gotham comes to the end of its third season this week, and it looks like Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) is taking some big leaps toward the caped future that everyone is expecting. This season has already seen Ed Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) fully realize his destiny as The Riddler, and Ivy Pepper (Maggie Geha) go through a serious growth spurt to become a more traditional version of Poison Ivy, so it makes sense that Bruce’s evolution into Batman would be accelerated as well.
In the run-up to the finale, the Court of Owls was able to kidnap Bruce and replace him in the city with a clone (a.k.a. Emo Bruce), who fooled everyone for quite some time. While Emo Bruce was hanging out at Wayne Manor, Original Bruce was sent to a monastery in the mountains to be trained up by a vaguely creepy Shaman who is obsessed with removing Bruce’s pain. Now, however, Emo Bruce is dying, Alfred (Sean Pertwee) has discovered the truth, and Original Bruce is back in town… and completely brainwashed into becoming the Shaman’s tool. So what does this mysterious order of monks have planned for mini-Batman?
Who Is The Shaman?
Let’s start with the Shaman (Raymond J. Barry) himself. A mysterious (and nameless) older monk, the Shaman has been able to inveigle himself into Bruce’s mind, gaining his trust and the honorific Sensei. Using a combination of mystical and physical training in the monastery, he has managed to brainwash Bruce into ‘letting go’ of his emotional connections to his past. As a result, Bruce is a much better fighter, but also seems to be utterly disconnected to his past and his friends.
The Shaman is more than just a teacher, however. He has also been revealed as the power behind the Court of Owls, that shadowy organization that has been controlling Gotham from behind the scenes. He appeared as their leader in ‘Pretty Hate Machine’, and is committed to the Court’s plans to cleanse Gotham with the weaponized Tetch virus. However, he also has no compunction about slaughtering every last member of the Court, and has revealed that he is working for an even larger and more mysterious group. His part in the show is also finished, thanks to Alfred shooting him repeatedly in the last episode.
The League Of Shadows
Before his death, the Shaman reveals not only that there is another mysterious organization, but refers to its true leader: The Demon’s Head. At this point, the organization and its leader have not been officially named, but every DC Comics fan will know who it is: Ra’s Al Ghul and the League of Assassins.
Ra’s Al Ghul has already been confirmed to be appearing in the series, and will be portrayed by Game of Thrones‘ Alexander Siddig (pictured above). Known as the Demon’s Head in the comics, Ra’s is obviously the leader of the mysterious organization that has been slowly revealed over the course of the season. The monastery where Bruce was trained is also presumably Nanda Parbat, a location closely linked to Ra’s and the League. Ra’s has yet to make his first appearance in the show, but this is on its way in the finale – and he’s got plans for Bruce.
Bruce Wayne’s Destiny
The Court (and, by extension, the League) has gone through a lot in order to nab Bruce Wayne and turn him into a weapon – but why? From killing Bruce’s parents to cloning him and taking over his company, to their latest kidnapping and brainwashing escapades, why is this shadowy organization so concerned with what happens to young Master Wayne?
The simplest answer is that it’s because he is the protagonist of the show, but beyond that it is connected to Wayne enterprises and the wealth and power that Bruce could wield. In the shorter term, the Court wanted to run Wayne Enterprises because it gives them power over the city – and that’s a common goal of any evil organization: power.
Ra’s Al Ghul, meanwhile, also sees Bruce as someone with a foretold destiny – to be the protector of Gotham. In the comics, Ra’s wishes to cleanse the world of corruption, and has previously sought to make Bruce his successor (Batman is not a fan of this plan). It’s likely that the series is creating a version of this same storyline. Ra’s wants to purge the city using the virus, and train Bruce to be a new protector of the city and eventual Head of the Demon – but it looks like (just as in the comics), Bruce isn’t going to be too happy about the way that Ra’s feels he should be doing that ‘protecting’. Instead, it’s possible that this will be what pushes Bruce toward becoming Batman, and taking responsibility for the safety of his entire city.
While Batman is in Bruce Wayne’s long-term future, his short-term future is looking a little bit different. In the two-part finale of Gotham, we’re going to see the culmination of this Court/League storyline, and an internal battle between Bruce and Bruce. Having been told to seek out the Head of the Demon, Bruce is certainly going to go find Ra’s Al Ghul, and hear about his plans to make Bruce Gotham’s protector and the League’s future leader. However, we can assume that he’s going to end up struggling against himself, and finding his way back to himself in time to turn Ra’s down. Bruce’s pain and suffering is a huge motivator for the character as Batman, so he’s clearly going to overcome the brainwashing he’s gone through, although it’s not yet clear how that it going to happen.
Fans might even be treated to a face off between Emo Bruce and Original Bruce – a very literal version of his internal struggle between who Ra’s and the Court want him to be and who he really is. One thing is clear, especially from the trailer shots of Bruce on a rooftop: this is going to be the next big step in his journey to becoming Batman.