WARNING – Spoilers for the Gotham season 4 finale
The season 4 finale of Gotham was the show's biggest yet, radically shifting the status quo of the series, killing multiple characters, and introducing a new crop of villains to the city. Fans of Gotham have been waiting on tenterhooks for months, wondering if the series would be renewed given its slipping ratings. Not only was Gotham renewed for season 5, but the next batch of episodes will be treated as a soft reboot of the show. And from the events of the finale, it's easy to see how that will unfold.
The bad news is that Gotham's return for season 5 will mark the end of the show—and will only contain thirteen episodes. Luckily, however, that should make for some tight storytelling as the show embarks on its most audacious storyline yet. Thanks to R'as al Ghul and Jeremiah destroying all the bridges connecting Gotham to the outside world—mirroring the events of The Dark Knight Rises—the government has abandoned the city. Boats are escorting many of Gotham's citizens out, but the gangs and a number of other people are staying behind.
With the events of the finale, the popular Batman arc "No Man's Land" will be a big part of next season. That story debuted in 1999 and ran for most of the year across various books—while also spawning subsequent plots for the Dark Knight. The comic book version of "No Man's Land" involved an earthquake rather than bombs, but the result still saw Gotham abandoned and mostly evacuated. For the series, that means new and old villains will be carving up territory while a handful of police and Bruce Wayne work to stem the tide of crime and violence.
Gotham Thins Its Cast
Amidst the chaos, Barbara is finally able to kill R'as al Ghul by forcing Bruce to wield the seemingly-magical dagger—which this time disintegrates the immortal villain rather than just causing him to wither to an ancient corpse. R'as was always a periphery character on the show, often appearing only in a cameo as a vision to Barbara of Bruce. With him dead, however, Barbara and the other Sirens are taking a more militant approach to purging the city of its negative influence. In other words, they're killing the men of Gotham—starting with Penguin's goons.
Though Butch aka Solomon Grundy has technically been dead all season, the finale truly finishes him off. After surviving a bullet to the head (a recurring miracle in Gotham), Butch became the zombie-like Grundy. But Penguin finally orchestrated a plan to cure Butch using Hugo Strange. Unfortunately for both Butch and Tabitha, though, the rest of Penguin's plan was to murder the former in front of the latter as payback for Tabby killing Mrs. Cobblepot a couple of seasons ago.
Strange didn't appear until the end of the season, but it looks like the monster maker will be back in season 5. Along with Butch and R'as, Lee and Riddler were also finished off. Killing each other in a display of their atypical relationship, Penguin gifted their bodies to Strange, so naturally their deaths will soon be remedied. They may also come back with some other abilities, further distancing them from their comic book counterparts but adding even more enemies for Bruce and Gordon to contend with.
Gotham Introduces More Comic Book Villains
We heard recently that Gotham is adding Lady Shiva, Scarface, and other villains in season 5, but the finale of season 4 offered a tease of what's to come. The biggest shock was the quick reveal of a man with bat wings hanging from the rafters of a church. Most fans of the comics or the various Batman animated series will recognize the creature as Man-Bat. Assuming the show sticks with the basic backstory of the character, then Man-Bat will be Dr. Kirk Langstrom. A zoologist who happens to be losing his hearing, Langstrom develops a formula from bat DNA to give humans sonar. Instead, he's transformed into a bat-human hybrid and naturally becomes a twisted mirror version of Batman.
We also get what looks to be an adaptation of Mother, who we heard was coming along with the vigilante Orphan. We don't know if Orphan will be the heroic Cassandra Cain or tweaked to be the murderous child seen with Mother. Either way, the creepy masked woman and her little helper show Gotham will definitely be leaning into its horror elements.
That will be true even with the returning villains, as Scarecrow looks to continue playing a role. His look (and actor) have changed over the season, but we finally see him donning his iconic hat and wielding a brand-new scythe as he secures some territory. Meanwhile, Freeze, Firefly and some new minions, and the Penguin have also staked out areas of Gotham for themselves.
Gotham will have a limited time to tell one of its most intriguing and complex stories to date, but fans of the comics should be pleased with the slew of characters and arcs jumping over from the page. And with such a big change in the face and makeup of the city, the show will be even more packed with villains than normal. Luckily, that will provide plenty of space for Bruce to finally move towards becoming Batman and finishing the arc that Gotham started four years ago.