Gotham brought Baby-Batman and the Head of the Demon back together last week for one final showdown, and it came with more than one big twist. It’s a face-off that the show has been building up to for some time, since R’as (Alexander Siddig) was first revealed to be the ultimate mastermind behind the shadowy Court of Owls. The episode saw the final destruction of Ra’s Al Ghul, but more than that, it saw the apparent retirement of Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) as a masked vigilante.
This reveal had fans reeling – could Gotham really be booting Batman? Of course, from the start, the show has been more about the villains of Gotham City, and the rise of Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) to become the eventual Commissioner Gordon, but Bruce Wayne has been a huge part of that. From the first episode, when his parents were shot, the show has woven the Bruce Wayne story with that of the criminals who would become comic book villains… could the show really be ending that part of the tale?
The Dark Knight Rises
Bruce Wayne has certainly had an interesting path in the show so far. In the very early episodes he was just a little boy who had lost his parents, and was struggling to cope. In an attempt to overcome his fears, he started to test himself – first with only a candle flame. As a result, Alfred (Sean Pertwee) started to teach his young ward how to fight, and began his first training.
Since then, Bruce has gone through multiple different types of training. He has learned boxing and strategy from Alfred. He learned how to disguise himself and how to survive on the streets from Selena (Camren Bicondova). He learned how to use his power and his reputation, and started to unravel some of the power structures that control Gotham City from underneath. He was even kidnapped by the League and trained by the Sensei to shut out his emotions (as well as some more fight-training, of course). Finally, he combined all this, and started to work as a vigilante on the streets, wearing all black, and even getting a black cowl and a protective suit. He considered his vigilante activities training to face Ra’s Al Ghul, but also admitted that he felt responsible for Gotham, and wanted to help as the city’s protector.
The Blade’s Path
In “The Demon’s Head,” the thing that Bruce was training for finally happened, as Ra’s returned to Gotham in search of a very special knife. Despite Bruce’s best efforts, though, not only was Ra’s able to kill an innocent child, but it seemed that he would be set free from prison without so much as a trial. Furious, Bruce decided in “The Blade’s Path” that the knife was the only thing that would kill Ra’s, and that he needed to sneak into the prison and use it himself.
Of course, everyone who watched Ra’s smile to himself as he was led into prison knew that this was exactly what the Demon’s Head wanted. In a long speech under the prison, Ra’s told Bruce that he was right on one count – the knife would kill him. But he didn’t want it so that he could live forever; he wanted Bruce to get it, and to kill him. Ra’s is, in his heart, exhausted with living. This confession, and a previous long talk with Alfred, left Bruce torn. Should he give in to his instincts to kill a man, or should he do the ‘right’ thing and walk away? Baby-Bat decided that he would refuse to kill Ra’s, and it seemed as though he had decided to go down the no-killing path… until Ra’s made him a promise, to hunt him down and kill everyone he loved, throughout his life, unless Bruce stabbed him. Bruce obliged, but is haunted by his decision.
At the end of the episode, Bruce is planning to burn his bat-suit, saying that he can no longer be a vigilante. He was doing it to be ready for Ra’s, and now Ra’s is dead. More than that, he no longer has faith in himself, after he chose to kill a man. Alfred gently takes his things away, telling him that he will keep them until Young Master Bruce is ‘ready’ for them again.
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