After 88 episodes and 4 seasons I still don’t know if Gotham is a good show. It’s often poorly plotted, convoluted and tonally unbalanced and yet at times it feels totally self-aware of its own craziness and comes out the other side bearing gifts of genuine drama and comedy, all the while being one of the best-looking shows on television. At this point I no longer care about the series’ wild inconsistency because it’s so much fun to watch. Good or bad, it has been entertaining throughout it’s run, unlike other DC shows that started well but soon collapsed under their own self-seriousness, but Gotham’s run is coming to an end. On January 3rd the final season begins, although viewers in the UK like myself probably won’t be able to watch it until it arrives on Netflix in September, with 12 episodes to wrap everything up. So how should the wackiest show on television – a show that draws inspiration from 80 years of Batman comics and several film and television iterations – come to an end?
My main hope for Gotham’s conclusion is one unique to the show. The season needs to satisfyingly finish this series, not just set up another one that we’re never going to see. Gotham is a pseudo-prequel that is exploring the origins of Batman, his allies and his enemies but we’re never going to witness this fully-fledged Batman series the show has been aiming for since the pilot. Sure, we now know that the series finale will jump forward in time to show us Batman and his villains, but one single episode cannot successfully pay off so much set up. Therefore, the writers should be concerned with concluding the show they’ve made, not one that they never will. The final season needs to make big and bold choices and have a sense of finality. Characters should be killed off – for good this time – and conflicts should be resolved. Yes, we have to believe these characters will continue having adventures afterwards but the season should still be considered the end of a series, not the beginning of a new one.
Not every Batman villain needs to appear in the show as some proto-form of their later villainous selves – the show would be 20 seasons long if that were the case – but I will be disappointed if we don’t see the birth of Two Face in season 5. I love a good Two Face story, whether it be The Dark Knight, the Batman: The Animated Series two-parter, The Long Halloween (still my favourite Batman comic) or Batman Forever. Okay, maybe not Batman Forever, but that was my entry point to the character and so the film and Tommy Lee Jones’ portrayal retains a soft part of my now dark heart. For Gotham he’s the last major antagonist left to tackle and I have no idea why they haven’t yet done so. The character of Harvey Dent appeared in 8 episodes of the show over the first two seasons but then he disappeared entirely. Did the writers not want to have the character in the show? If so, why? Does actor Nicholas D’Agosto not want to return? If so, why not recast the role? I’ll be very disappointed if we don’t see Two Face’s transformation, or just a brief reprisal of Dent, in the upcoming season. Maybe they could wrap up some other loose ends while they are at it and bring back Barnes. Or even Montoya and Allen. Remember them?
And here’s where I completely contradict myself. It’s okay not to feature certain characters, even major characters from previous seasons. Not every character needs their own storyline and they can sit out of most of the season, only appearing in two or three episodes. Penguin pretty much reached his character’s endgame of criminal mastermind ‘King of the City’ in season 3 and has since had obstacles put in his way simplify to give the character something to do. He’s been buffering for seasons. He loses power and the he gains power again. Then he loses power again and then he gains power again. It’s the same with The Riddler too. He became that character fully in season 3 and then in season 4 they have him lose his mental ability to set him back again. If the writers don’t have interesting stories to tell with these characters then that’s okay. They should just leave them be and have them become recurring characters rather than main characters.
One of the things I love about the show and I hope continues in the final season is the surprising character pairings. Sure, the show’s run of 100 episodes means pretty much every character has bumped into every other character a few times but I like the unexpected alliances and conflicts in the show. Just in season 4 we had Barbara and Ra’s Al Ghul, The Riddler and Solomon Grundy and Sofia Falcone and Professor Pyg. I can’t believe we’ve actually seen characters like Grundy and The Pyg onscreen and long may it continue! At least for 12 more episodes. With all the love the writer’s room seemingly has for Batman Returns (the series is straight up Batman Returns meets 60’s Batman, at least tonally) then maybe Penguin and Selina could team up. Or there could be a cheeky Batman and Robin reference by having Ivy team up with Bane now that he’s coming to the show. Speaking of Bane, I want him to be the villain for a four-episode arc rather than the whole season.
And now for some quick hopes to finish:
- Give Gordon a moustache already. And not that thin one he has is Bruce’s vision in season 4. A proper Ron Burgundy-style stache.
- Redemption for Mr Freeze. I very much doubt this will happen but I really don’t like the show’s version of Mr Freeze. He was a casualty of the second season which was by far the worst season of the show. Freeze should be a sympathetic bad guy but the show turned him into a murderous henchman for Penguin. I doubt there’s anything they could do to change that but who knows. Maybe he’ll get some more characterisation.
- More Zsasz. No further explanation necessary.
- Man Bat. It’s unlikely but I would much prefer Kirk Langstrom as Man Bat – possibly being an inspiration for Batman – than The Ventriloquist, a villain we know is coming in the new season.
- More Selina! She didn’t get much to do last season.
- I have no doubt this will actually happen: the season will end with Bruce in full Batman costume, silhouetted against the Gotham skyline, saying “I’m Batman”.
So, there are my hopes for Gotham’s final season. What do you want to see from the last 12 episodes of the wackiest show on television? Let me know in the comments and geek out with me about TV, movies and video-games on Twitter @kylebrrtt.