Warning: Spoilers For Gotham Season 3 Finale
Gotham wrapped up its third season on Monday with an epic two-part finale that brought fans several giant leaps closer to seeing Batman on the small screen. The final two episodes brought R'as Al Ghul (Alexander Siddig) into the picture, killed off more than one character (while bringing more than one back), saw the conclusion of Penguin's (Robin Lord Taylor) feud with Riddler (Cory Michael Smith), brought Barbara's (Erin Richards) issues with Tabitha (Jessica Lucas) to the surface, and saw Jim (Ben McKenzie) win out over the darkness inside him.
On top of all that, it did something even bigger for Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz). By the end of 'HeavyDirtySoul', fans got their first look at Bruce as proto-Batman. After breaking free of the League's brainwashing, Alfred (Sean Pertwee) told Bruce to find his own path... and that path led to him dressed in black, masked, basically caped, and kicking the daylights out of a mugger before gazing down at the city from the top of a building. Guess we no longer need to wonder if Bruce would become Batman in the finale - and it's the best thing possible for the show.
Bruce Needs To Keep Pace With His Villains
It's about time that Bruce gets going on becoming Batman, seeing as the other villains in the series are well on their way to becoming comic book accurate. This season saw the Riddler come into his green-suited glory, and he is so much his comic self that the show has now literally frozen him in order to press pause on that story for a while. Selina Kyle (Camren Bicondova) has picked up her whip and moved beyond survival, Poison Ivy (Maggie Geha) is rocking a green dress and some plant-wizardry, the 'freaks' are out in force, and it looks like there's even some new villains for next season; Butch (Drew Powell) was revealed to be Solomon Grundy, and Scarecrow may be popping up next.
With all these villains evolving, Bruce needs to step up his own evolution in order to make sense as the savior of Gotham. Otherwise, the show will end up with hyper-powered bad guys up against a teenage boy who hasn't so much as stopped a bank robber.
The Next Logical Step
This is also the next logical step for the character himself. Bruce has now had plenty of training, and from lots of different angles. Initially, it was Alfred who stepped up to train Bruce in the basics - how to fight, how to react, how to use his fists, his physical skill... and how to maintain his own moral code. Alfred has also taught him how to maintain the front that he needs, to behave in social situations, and to keep his own vendettas private. Bruce has also spent time with Selina, learning cunning, how to live on the streets, and how to navigate the underworld. Finally, this season, Bruce got some League of Assassins training; a different fighting style, but also a look into how to control his emotions, and how to use them.
At this point, Alfred is right to tell Bruce that he needs to start finding his own way, and combining three years of training into something practical. Gotham needs Bruce to become Batman so that his personal story arc continue to progress in a way that makes sense.
A Shift In Focus
Bruce's evolution into Batman will also likely mean that more of the show focuses on him, rather than Jim Gordon. Again, this is a logical progression and one that is going to make the fans happy. One of the biggest complaints against the show is that it is a Batman show without Batman - and now that can start to change. The first three seasons have been all about the GCPD, the problems Gotham has as a city, and the villains it creates. It's time for this to shift and to see some good begin to rise and balance out the bad. The final scene of this week's episode was sure to get comic fans excited, and the eventual appearance of Batman and spotlight on the hero is going to be even more thrilling now that audiences have waited so long to get there.
The Big Mystery Solved
The final big reason that introducing proto-Batman makes sense is that Bruce needs a new central story. The first three seasons have seen him focused on learning the truth about his parents' murder - and now he's done that. He discovered the shooter himself, the people who hired him, the guys pulling the strings, and finally, the League that was behind it all. It's a hugely important part of the Batman mythos, and the show has truly done it justice, even using it to set up Ra's Al Ghul as his ultimate nemesis right from the start. Now, however, that story is done, and Bruce needs a new motivation. Becoming Gotham's protector is the perfect shift in focus for young Bruce, and watching him go from fighter teen to superhero is going to be a whole lot of fun to watch.
What's Next For Gotham?
Gotham is still a little way away from a full-on Dark Knight, but it looks like season 4 is going to see his very beginnings. Bruce is still a little too young, too inexperienced, and that's something that season 4 onward is going to deal with. His villains are also still evolving, it's going to be particularly interesting to see how proto-Batman decides to deal with them. Jim Gordon is also going to keep developing his relationship with Bruce, as is Selina, and it's likely that the show will revisit the idea of a secret space underneath Wayne Manor (to eventually become the Bat-cave).
There are a lot of other stories that are going to be playing out as the show moves forward, of course. Where's the promised Harley Quinn? Is Fish Mooney really dead this time? Is anyone? Is Bruce going to do anything about the newly discovered Lazarus Pit in Gotham? Will the Riddler defrost? It's a lot to play with when the show returns in the fall for season 4.