Gotham's series finale finally introduces Batman! The last episode of the show is a greatest hits full of fun callbacks, classic characters and, of course, the Dark Knight himself. Over the span of five seasons, the Batman prequel series has morphed from a superhero-tinged detective show focused on the fledgling career of Jim Gordon to essentially a television adaptation of the Batman story, introducing unique interpretations of virtually every major villain in the canon. Nowhere was this more obvious the in Gotham season 5 - based heavily on the No Man's Land comic arc and Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises.
Gotham didn't always adhere to Batman canon and, in the case of the Joker, was supposedly even restricted from doing so by studio higher-ups, but recent episodes have moved to correct inconsistencies and tie up all loose plot threads ahead of the final episode. Viewers already knew that this swansong would be a flashforward to a more familiar period in the Batman timeline and the episode's marketing focused heavily on the ultimate appearances of both Batman and the Joker.
In the end, however, there was far more to Gotham's last stand that just those two mortal enemies, with the finale acting as an epilogue and a celebration of the both the show's history and the wider Batman franchise.
Jim Gordon's story was neatly wrapped up in last week's penultimate episode but the arrival of his mustache in the finale acts as the hairy icing on the cake. Unfortunately, the facial hair is short-lived and a quick remark from ex-lover Barbara Kean is all it takes for Jim to whip out the razor. Perhaps more surprisingly, the outset of the episode finds Jim attempting to retire from his position as Commissioner - and the Batman hasn't even arrived yet.
Kean herself, now a reformed citizen, is sporting a new set of ginger locks - a welcome reference to the Barbara of the comic books - and her daughter (the future Batgirl) has grown into a precocious and strong-willed young child.
Predictably, the good times don't last and Gotham soon catches up with its big villains. In last week's story, Penguin and Riddler committed to a life of criminality together, however that venture clearly didn't go to plan, as both men have been incarcerated for most of the ten-year time jump. The duo finds their way to freedom and Penguin immediately moves to take revenge on the man who put him there: Jim Gordon. The scene that follows in a brilliantly sentimental reference to Gotham's very first episode, with Gordon and Cobblepot in confrontation on the city's pier, their roles reversed.
That wouldn't be the only storyline revisited in the Gotham finale, as Riddler is manipulated into kidnapping Mayor James, just as he did back in season 3. Nygma himself even has the audacity to chime: "It's a callback!" when Barbara Kean questions the purpose of his scheme and actor Cory Michael-Smith manages to squeeze in one last nod to Jim Carrey's Batman Forever Riddler with a creepy monotone laugh. The scheme culminated in a classic "diffuse the bomb" moment, as Lee Thompkins managed to cut the right wire with one second left on the clock. Gotham really was pulling out the old favorites.
Despite the ten-year jump, most Gothamites looked like they had barely aged a day since last week's episode, but the show took a different approach with Catwoman, hiring an entirely new actress to play the twenty-something version of the character. While much was made about the authentic debuts of Batman and Joker, Gotham's final offering also introduced their most comic-accurate version of Selina Kyle, as the thief glided her way through a diamond theft with the classic red beam gymnastics and glass-cutting claws.
With so much chaos in Gotham City, it's hardly surprising that Jeremiah Valeska was the root cause. Recovered from the coma he entered earlier this season and patiently awaiting the return of Bruce Wayne, Gotham's Joker was quick to cause trouble, killing off Ecco and gunning straight for Jim Gordon's young daughter.
The kidnap scene was full of Batman references, with the future Batgirl putting up a valiant fight against Jeremiah and Barbara Kean taking a bullet to the stomach à la The Killing Joke. Naturally, this all set up a second showdown at Ace Chemicals where the Dark Knight finally made himself known, rescuing Jim and his daughter from falling into a vat of green sludge which, for some reason, still hasn't been made secure after all these years. Ultimately, the experience forces Jim to reconsider his retirement and serve the city a "little" longer.
Batman's time on screen was brief, most likely brief enough to disappoint some viewers, but the sense of omniscience and mystery created was very much in character with the vigilante's elusive nature. Eventually, Gotham revealed its Bat-suit in all its glory, the design falling somewhere in between Michael Keaton's era and Christian Bale's Dark Knight Rises getup. This image provided a powerful final shot in a show that has certainly experienced ups and downs, but that has also been brave, bold and unique.