Gotham's latest big twist demonstrates a continuing pattern of The Dark Knight Rises influence in season 5. After Jeremiah Valeska took up his twin brother's mantle in season 4, it quickly became clear that Gotham was heading towards a No Man's Land-inspired storyline - a famous comic arc in which Gotham City becomes isolated from the outside world and descends into a criminal-controlled wasteland.
This particular story also formed the basis of Christopher Nolan's final entry into the Dark Knight trilogy. The 2012 movie saw Tom Hardy's Bane destroy Gotham's entry points and seize control of the city, rendering both Batman and the GCPD useless and opening up the doors of Blackgate prison to allow insane villains such as the Scarecrow to roam free. Gotham's season 4 finale ended with much the same setup, as Jeremiah detonated the city's bridges, leaving various criminal factions to claim turf as their own amid a post-apocalyptic and supply-starved landscape.
It's certainly not unusual for two separate live-action superhero projects to draw from the same source material, but Gotham season 5's Nolan influence runs far deeper than its comic origins. In a sign of things to come, the run-up to season 5 even saw showrunner John Stephens compare David Mazouz's final Batsuit to Christian Bale's in The Dark Knight Rises.
As Gotham season 5 has progressed, The Dark Knight Rises' influence has continued to grow, and with only two episodes remaining until Gotham bows out for good, that connection is becoming ever-more apparent. At the foundation of the two stories are the No Man's Land similarities. Like The Dark Knight Rises before it, Gotham season 5 is exploring how the city copes with being cut off and dominated by its impressive selection of insane supervillains and is doing so with a gritty, often bleak, tone.
However, it's the introduction of Bane that has really revealed the depth of Gotham's Nolan inspiration. In the comics, Bane's attack on Gotham City and its vigilante protector was entirely his own doing, rather than at the behest of another villain, and the al Ghul allegiance didn't develop until later. The Dark Knight Rises introduced its own spin on the character by revealing Marion Cotillard's Talia al Ghul as the mastermind behind Bane's invasion, merging several different comic book stories.
After Bane's Gotham debut and apparent "death" at the hands of Jim Gordon, it quickly became clear that the show had followed Nolan's example, adding the mysterious "Theresa Walker" as Bane's controller and introducing the same servant-master dynamic.
This week's episode took that influence to an entirely new level. Fans had previously speculated that Walker would eventually turn out to be Gotham's version of Talia al Ghul, but Gotham took a semi-swerve and revealed her to be Talia's sister Nyssa instead. Despite swapping sisters, Nyssa's role in Gotham is virtually identical to that of Talia in The Dark Knight Rises. Both women arrive in Gotham seeking to destroy the city and get revenge on Batman, both have a pet Bane to do their bidding, and both are following in the footsteps of their father - although Nyssa does appear more devoted to Ra's than Talia.
Looking ahead, it seems the similarities are only set to continue. Gotham's next installment will see Nyssa engineer a military strike on Gotham City that Bruce Wayne and Jim Gordon will be forced to stop - a remarkably similar scenario to the crescendo of The Dark Knight Rises, in which Talia engineers the release of a neutron bomb that Batman and Commissioner Gordon are forced to stop.
While the correlation between Gotham season 5 and the culmination of the Dark Knight trilogy is difficult to ignore, the plot proximity isn't necessarily a negative, with the TV series doing enough to distinguish itself from the movie. The inherent absence of a true Batman in Gotham puts a new GCPD-centric spin on the No Man's Land story and Bane's personal connection to Gordon gives him a previously unseen dimension, playing with the idea that Jim's old friend Eduardo is still alive somewhere within that lumbering masked mass of muscle. As long as Gotham doesn't end with Alfred watching Bruce and Selina dine out at a fancy restaurant, the show's Dark Knight Rises elements are still in the realm of inspiration rather than outright imitation.
Gotham season 5 continues with "They Did What?" April 18th on Fox.