Bruce is back, as Gotham returned to the small screen this week with ‘A Dark Knight: Pax Penguina‘, giving fans a look at the young Wayne’s forays into heroics on the streets. Over the past four years, the show has seen Bruce (David Mazouz) grow and change – from the innocent young boy who saw his parents’ murder in the first episode, to a proto-Batman, determined to try and change his city for the better.
It seems that this fourth season is likely to see some actual Bat-antics, too, as it has been confirmed that Bruce will be operating as a masked vigilante, and the new season is being called ‘A Dark Knight’ (in the same way that earlier story arcs have been named ‘Mad City’, ‘Rise of the Villains’ etc). Many of Batman’s classic villains are now fully established, and most of the big players are recognizable as their comic counterparts… which begs the question: will Gotham end after this season, or become an all-out Batman live-action series?
Batman (Finally) Begins
Over the past three seasons, fans have seen Bruce Wayne go from a scared little boy to a trained vigilante – fleshing out Batman’s origins as the villains of Gotham rise. He has trained with Alfred (Sean Pertwee), who used his own Army training to help Bruce get fit and learn the basics of fighting. He went on to live on the streets with Selina (Camren Bicondova) for a time, learning the underworld and how to survive. Then, of course, he was kidnapped by Ra’s Al Ghul (Alexander Siddig), where his training became a little more mystical. He’s learned about the secrets of his company and the way that Gotham is controlled by shadowy figures behind the scenes, and he’s finally putting it all together.
The season premiere starts with Bruce leaping off a rooftop in a black mask to stop a mugging, and it’s been confirmed that there will be plenty more of this kind of vigilante justice in season 4. This episode saw Alfred questioning Bruce’s decision to get to work on low-level crime, and Bruce stating his commitment to the people of the city. He also showed that he is able to play the game, showing up to schmooze at Penguin’s (Robin Lord Taylor) club opening, and finding out the information he needs to start taking down Oswald’s ‘liscenced criminals’. There’s a bat-suit, a charged moment with Selina on a rooftop, and even a line from Alfred about balancing his vigilante activities with ‘being Bruce Wayne’. It seems that by the season’s end, there’ll be a fully-fledged Batman above Gotham City.
Where Does Gotham Go From Here?
While Bat-fans will be thrilled to see the show finally focusing on the Dark Knight, where does an origin story go once the origin is told? Originally pushed as a police procedural-style look at Gotham City, the show has moved further and further from its original focus on Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and the GCPD, and has been paying much more attention to Bruce and the villains that he will eventually face. Once he becomes Batman, thsi shift will be complete, and the show will have two options: become a straight-up Batman show, or call it quits.
With the direction that the show has been taking in the past two seasons, it’s likely that it will continue, and keep the focus on the villains of the city. Both Bruce and Jim then become the dual heroes of the show – one attempting to work within the law, and the other ignoring it. This is a far cry from the Batman-show-without-Batman that we saw in the first season, but makes a lot of sense – it keeps the dark (and slightly campy) tone, allows for Jim’s story to continue, and plays up on the best part of the series: the bad guys.
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