Gotham’s final season has started with a bang, leaving us with a lot of questions about what to expect from the rest of the season. One thing’s for sure, we’re in for a hell of a ride!
After much conjecture, Gotham is back for one final, bat-tastic round. Season five, titled ‘No Man’s Land’, after the DC Comics Batman arc of the same name, is going to be very different from previous seasons. The characters are darker, more violent, closer to their comic origins, and all of Gotham City is in ruins. Think The Dark Knight Rises stretched over 12 episodes. The citizens of Gotham City have never had it worse.
Episode one of this season, ‘Legend of the Dark Knight: Year Zero’, has definitely left us with a number of burning questions, which will hopefully be resolved sooner rather than later on the show. Here are our top five questions after watching the premiere episode of Gotham season five. Major spoilers ahead!
1 – How is that Team-Up Going to Happen?
The episode opens 397 days into the ‘No Man’s Land’ arc. Gotham City is in a worse state than we ever expected — it’s practically destroyed. In Riddler’s (Cory Michael Smith) hideout, he puts a calling card in the pocket of his bright green suit. In City Hall, Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor) has his make-up applied before donning a pair of red glasses. Detective Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) has a drink in the bar he once worked at, now a trashed mess. And in GCPD, Captain Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) looks out at the empty offices.
All these characters have one similarity – they are each armed with powerful guns. And, much to our surprise, these four disparate characters come together and join a squad of GCPD officers above a very high barricade to shoot down approaching tanks. Talk about a grand opening!
But, how did they even team-up? As the episode rewinds back to day 87 of ‘No Man’s Land’, we see that there is very little love lost between the villains and the heroes. Not only is Penguin living it up as people all over Gotham City starve, but Gordon and Bullock are at their wit’s end trying to keep people safe and alive while desperately calling for help from a government that’s given up on them. And Riddler is once again at his loony best.
We can clearly expect some drastic changes to take place as the season wears on. At some point, driven by desperation, those holed up in GCPD, like Gordon and Bullock, are set to make a deal with the villains who have carved up Gotham City territory for themselves. Considering how bad the situation in the city is right now, one shudders to think how much worse things will have to get for such alliances to be forged. We can’t wait to see this!
2 – What’s Happening with Riddler?
In the finale of season four, Riddler and Lee Tompkins (Morena Baccarin) had begun a very ill-advised relationship. Initially it was quite sweet, but once Lee came into power in the Narrows, Riddler succumbed to his more vicious personality traits and made plans to murder Lee and take the Narrows for himself. That didn’t quite work out – Lee was onto him and stabbed him before he could stab her, but the Riddler managed to kill Lee anyway. The last we saw of them, Dr Hugo Strange (BD Wong) had somehow found their corpses and planned to experiment on them.
In this episode, we see Riddler up and about. He’s clearly fully-recovered by day 397, but when we travel back to day 87, Riddler is less in control. He wakes up in the middle of a street with no memory of how he got there. Later, he finds himself inside a dumpster. Ewww.
Once he gets back to his lair, we see a map detailing all the places Riddler has woken up in, with no memory of the preceding hours. He also taunts the mirror asking the other Edward Nygma to show himself. Oh, and Riddler’s suit is much more teal than green. Is that a clue to something?
If Riddler is up and about, albeit suffering dissociative memory loss, where is Lee Tompkins? Clearly Hugo Strange was able to save Riddler, then why not Lee? Or, are we not seeing the Riddler here at all, but some kind of hybrid version of Lee and Nygma? Strange was never beyond conducting outrageous experiments – could this amalgamation have been the result of his attempts to revive Lee and Nygma? It might explain the memory lapses and the toned-down colour of the suit. Either way, I really hope we see Lee again because she is an amazing character.
3 – Is this the end of Bat-Cat?
Speaking of female characters, poor Selina Kyle (Camren Bicondova)! In season four’s aptly named ‘One Bad Day’, Jeremiah Valeska (Cameron Monaghan) decided to show Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) how one bad day could change any good man. And he did so by pretending to torture Bruce’s butler, and best friend, Alfred Pennyworth (Sean Pertwee), and then shooting Selina through the spine.
When the government closed off access to Gotham City, Bruce tried to send Selina and Alfred off the island but, as we see in this episode, that plan did not succeed. The bridges had been destroyed before Alfred and Selina got out and now Selina is stuck in a Gotham hospital that can barely function. When the episode opens, Selina needs surgery to help heal her, a surgery that the hospital isn’t entirely equipped for. They manage to conduct the operation successfully, despite power outages and break-ins, but Selina Kyle will never walk again.
More heart-breakingly, Selina makes it clear that she doesn’t want to live like this, because after all she’s been through, it is because of her friendship with Bruce that she’s in this position. While talking to Bruce, she says she wishes Valeska had killed her, and later, she unsuccessfully attempts to take her own life. It comes to such a point that Bruce takes up the offer of a strange nurse at the hospital to visit a witch who could heal Selina.
Young Camren Bicondova deserves praise for how well she’s handled these scenes in this episode – she has been at par with David through Gotham and a joy to watch. However, the Selina we see in this episode is far from the infamous and unstoppable DC cat-burglar we all know and love. She is depressed and suicidal, and even if she regains her ability to walk, her psychological healing will take longer. We have seen the first seeds of discord sown between Bruce and Selina here, which may explain their future long-standing enmity. The promos for the season seem to suggest as much.
On the other hand, seeing as Gotham’s Barbara Keane has turned out to be absolutely nothing like any version of Barbara Gordon, could Selina be Gotham’s answer to Oracle? The ‘One Bad Day’ story arc was influenced by The Killing Joke, where Barbara Gordon was shot through the spine in the comic book, putting an end to her career as Batgirl and sparking her new life as the invaluable tech superhero Oracle. Superhero shows rarely ever represent alternately abled characters, and it would be a relief to see a character who doesn’t miraculously recover from a spinal injury, though this is likely the path Gotham has chosen to go.
Whichever way the show goes for Selina’s storyline, it’s going to be the source of some trepidation for fans.
4 – How is Bruce going to become Batman?
Bruce Wayne has had quite the journey to becoming a superhero, and in this first episode of season five, he showed that he’s more than ready to take on the mantle of Gotham City’s saviour. But he’s still a boy and a bit rough around the edges.
Bruce does a fair bit of fighting in this episode, taking down Scarecrow’s goons with the help of some infra-red tech from Lucius Fox. Unfortunately, Bruce doesn’t take into account that infra-red can be a real pain if the baddies simply turn on the lights. Ouch!
Later, Bruce organises a helicopter that brings food and medicines into Gotham City, only to watch it being shot down by an unseen force. The kid can’t catch a break. However, Bruce manages to steal some vital ammo that helps the GCPD turn the tables on Penguin and secure the resources from the downed helicopter.
This is great and all, but with the city in shambles and Bruce parading around in leather and punching people, how is he going to become the elusive dark knight, brooding on gargoryles and disappearing into the night without being seen? Young Bruce seems all about the light, and less about the night.
The promos for the second episode of Gotham’s season five hint at the arrival of Batman but one wonders how Bruce will be able to make the iconic costume with so few resources available to him. From what we understand, Lucius has been permitted to raid the Wayne R&D labs to help the Gotham citizens. Is he also using the tech for Bruce? It would take a great deal of planning, and buying, to get the suit, back-ups, the utility belt, the batmobile, and all the other tech in the as-yet-unnamed Batcave. Are we to assume that during the 87 days of ‘No Man’s Land’ that we haven’t seen on-screen, Bruce, Alfred and Lucius have managed to get the Bat-gig up and running? As much as we want to see Batman in Gotham, I do hope they haven’t rushed into it because of the limited timeframe the show has. We’ll have to wait and see.
5 – Where is Jeremiah Valeska?
The Valeskas – Jerome and Jeremiah – have been a nuisance since they first appeared on Gotham. They’ve wreaked havoc on the city and left a trail of fear in their wake. They have also been two of the most fascinating villains on the show (Jada Pinkett-Smith’s Fish Mooney will always lead the pack. Always). The Valeskas are the Joker in all but name and I really hope this season, they get the DC Comics moniker they so deserve.
Considering the roller-coaster plot featuring the Valeskas in season four, it was surprising not to see Jeremiah Valeska in the premiere episode. It is mentioned that he hasn’t been seen, which is a cause for concern because Jeremiah hiding out can only mean he’s up to something.
There are clues to Jeremiah being closer than anyone suspects. Jim finds his map of the city marked with a red grin and ‘Hahahaha’, Jeremiah’s calling card. And, since none of the other villains have claimed responsibility for the attack on the helicopter, Jeremiah might be the likely culprit behind it. Or it could be Bane, who is set to appear on the show next week, alongside Jeremiah.
So, where is Jeremiah hiding? Knowing him, he has probably been hiding in plain site. His minion certainly managed to get into the GCPD without being caught easily enough. Could Jeremiah have people in the GCPD? Or perhaps he has allied with one of the villains, like Scarecrow. Scarecrow seemed to have a vested interest in breaking into both the GCPD and sending his goons into the hospital to steal supplies. Might Jeremiah be the one pulling Scarecrow’s strings? We certainly can’t wait to see more of Jeremiah and find out what horrors he’s been cooking up for the people and heroes of Gotham City.
Season five of Gotham has started off well and promises to be very exciting, not to mention chockful of DC Comics references. The death of Tabitha Galavan (Jessica Lucas), one of the rare queer female characters of colour on the show, in just the first episode of the season, was a downer, and the likely erasure of Selina’s disability, which is on the cards, will be problematic, but the rest of the episode was tense and well-paced. If this episode is anything to go by, the final season will be a grand exit for the show.