[SPOILERS for the rest of Gotham S1 ahead.]
Fox’s Batman-prequel series Gotham has settled into a pulpy, nervy groove as it heads into the final episodes of Season 1. As it stands, the choice to expand beyond the early days of future police commissioner James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) – and flesh out the backstories of as many Batman villains as possible – has proven (mostly) successful.
Gotham picks up again today, after a month-long hiatus with the episode “Beasts of Prey” – an adventure which will introduce a new bad guy in the form of serial killer Jason Lennon, A.K.A. the Ogre played by Milo Ventimiglia (Heroes). You’ll find a brief introduction to the Ogre’s calling card above.
Gotham‘s upcoming return will also have to keep the various other storylines going as well. As Alfred (Sean Pertwee) recovers after an attack by an old friend in Wayne Manor, young Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) looks into the corrupt elements in his family’s company; Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith) remains in the organ-harvesting island prison of Dr. Dulmacher/Dollmaker (Colm Feore); meanwhile, as Jim Gordon’s ex Barbara Kean enter the Ogre’s orbit, GCPD forensics expert Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) continues on his path to becoming the Riddler.
Gotham‘s creator and showrunner Bruno Heller recently spoke at length with TV Line about what fans can expect from Season 1’s end game, and confirmed what fans may been expecting all season: that Edward Nygma’s less-than-mutual affections for his GCPD co-worker Kristen Kringle (Chelsea Spack) will form the backbone of another supervillain’s creation. Or, as Heller puts it: “What we are going to see play out is the birth of The Riddler.”
Heller elaborated on this point, saying:
“She is the catalyst. And she’s an innocent one at that. That’s the tragedy of it — she doesn’t mean to break his heart.”
In the meantime, the newest, most immediate threat is the Ogre. It may seem contrived to put Gordon’s ex directly in a serial killer’s crosshairs, but this is Gotham – a show which has embraced its comic book roots by taking noir-ish storylines and pumping them full of the delightfully absurd.
Heller commented on this dynamic, saying:
“It’s really a kind of perverse love story, between [Jason] and Barbara (Erin Richards) — and Gordon is hot on their trail. We discover some very creepy things about [Jason] and Barbara, and Gordon is forced to make some very tough choices.”
With Gordon having seemingly moved on from Barbara Kean (or has he?), his personal involvement with the Ogre case is bound to spark some dormant feelings, all of which leading to what Heller calls a “shocking” reveal.
Meanwhile, Gordon has strong-armed the corrupt Commissioner Loeb (Peter Scolari) into endorsing him as president of the police officer’s union. Heller hints at some serious consequences for these actions, saying: “It’s a double-edged sword there, because the more power he gets there among the rank-and-file, the more he’s hated by his bosses.” As for Gordon’s partner Harvey Bullock, he’ll be “forced to choose between his friendship with Gordon and his sense of self preservation.”
And then there’s Fish Mooney. A character created for the show, Jada Pinkett Smith has played Fish as a vampish, vain but dangerously smart operator. Her attempt to take over the criminal enterprise run by her mentor Carmine Falcone (The Wire‘s John Doman) was stymied by her own protégé, the increasingly vicious Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor). Fish finds herself barely escaping the city with her life, only to wind up imprisoned by the Dollmaker.
Heller commented on Fish’s attempts current position as well, stating:
“It’s certainly about reinventing herself and coming back twice as strong, twice as ambitious. Every strong villain wants to be the queen or the king of the underworld, but it’s an ambition that trips up a lot of people — if you’re striving for ultimate power, you always run the risk of ultimate defeat. And that’s essentially whats playing out now: Can Fish take control or not? Because the consequences of failure are dire.”
And what of the reports that Pinkett Smith may not return for Gotham‘s second season? Heller only states that “Gotham is a crazy place, and anything can happen.” This is in line with the official statement from Gotham‘s producers on this issue: “Fish Mooney’s storyline takes a lot of interesting twists and turns into the finale of season one of ‘Gotham.’”
As for Bruce Wayne, his story has been one of the more shaky elements of Gotham, but has arguably found its purpose with Bruce’s realization that his family’s company is clearly up to no good. Heller addresses Bruce’s investigation into Wayne Enterprises, remarking that:
“As much as Alfred wants to stop that journey, Bruce is going to discover something about his family that is earth-shattering, really.”
The third act of Gotham‘s first season is likely to leave fans with far more questions than answers, but teasing the birth of the Riddler after keeping Edward Nygma essentially on the sidelines – save for his cringingly awkward attempts at pitching woo – is a clear signal that this singular Batman villain will begin to take form by the season’s end.
Still, the main issue with Gotham remains: is it wise to give us a batch of full-blown Batman villains with the hero himself barely a teenager? The origin stories for comic book character are nothing if not malleable, and we’ve seen a number of different Riddlers over the years.
In the recent New 52 origin story Batman: Year Zero, the Riddler emerges just as Batman does, but with Gotham clearly developing a different continuity, is it hard to imagine a Gotham City where an embattled Jim Gordon tries (and repeatedly fails) to go up against various supervillains? This would give the top cop a legitimate motivation for enlisting the help of a dangerous vigilante, even if meant swallowing his pride.
Gotham returns with ‘Beasts of Prey’ Monday, April 13th at 8/7 on Fox.
Source: TV Line