Batman is on his way to Gotham. First, however, the Fox series named after the comic book metropolis has ten episodes left in its fifth and final season run before the hero arrives. And for Dark Knight to rise, Gotham must fall.
And fall it shall, based on the news to come out of last week’s Gotham panel at New York Comic Con. The biggest revelation was that the tenth and final episode would jump a decade into Gotham’s future, and feature Batman, as well as a portly Penguin in a top hat, with umbrella and monocle. It’s not the only instance the season will be playing with time.
“We pick up at the top of season five, at the conclusion of No Man’s Land, Day 365,” showrunner John Stephens told Den of Geek. “Then, we cycle backwards to day 87, three months into No Man’s Land where Jim has created his green zone and wants his reunification. We’re catching up, and for the first nine episodes, we’re always catching up to that first scene we see.”
“No Man’s Land” references the year-long 1999 DC Comics crossover event when Gotham City was wracked by a cataclysmic earthquake, and then isolated by the U.S. government. The city was likewise separated in Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises when Tom Hardy’s Bane blows up the bridges into, and out of, the city. On Gotham, it’s the proto-Joker Jeremiah (Cameron Monaghan) who did the deed last season.
“It’s complete anarchy at this point,” said Donal Logue, who plays Harvey Bullock. “It’s just warlordism in Gotham … You just cut your losses and you accept that there are certain territories within Gotham that you don’t go.”
And out of this chaos emerges a new character. It was confirmed on the panel that actor Shane West is appearing as Eduardo Dorrance, who will become Bane. But before he is known as Bane on the show, he is an old army buddy of Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie), and appears in the city on a mission.
“He’s integral to the resolution of No Man’s Land,” said Stephens who also described him as “very, very strong, and very angry … While keeping elements from the books like Peña Duro and Venom … we made him integral to the fact of coming in as a special ops government agent.”
Beyond Gordon, the character of Bane will ricochet off other Gothamites, such as Ed Nygma/The Riddler, played by Cory Michael Smith.
“I’m introduced to Eduardo, who becomes the Bane, by Gordon,” said Smith. “The two of them are working together and I end up in the middle of … what ends up being a fracturous conflict in [Gordon and Bane’s] relationship … I am kind of stuck in the middle of their story line, and I actually spend quite a bit of time either running from them, or being slammed in the middle.”
Meanwhile, Oswald Cobblepot/Penguin, played by Robin Lord Taylor, has his own issues with Bane.
“[Bane] throws a wrench into the dynamic that Penguin and Gordon have; all of a sudden there’s another person there that Gordon is also deferring to, and Penguin has no relationship to him … it’s very upsetting, and it’s going to be a huge obstacle for him.”
Stephens also revealed on the NYCC panel that Bane would break the back of Sean Pertwee’s Alfred (as opposed to breaking Batman’s back, as he did in the 1993-1994 “Knightfall” comic arc).
Bane isn’t the only familiar comic book rogue to be introduced in Gotham’s final season. Stephens announced Jeremiah would be matched with a Harley Quinn-esque “somewhat deranged girlfriend who dresses in a multicolored fashion” and is fond of roller skates (played by Francesca Root-Dodson, who was Echo last season).
Mother and Orphan, and Magpie, will also appear. But Stephens said in interviews not to expect Ventriloquist because he just couldn’t fit him in, even though he is referenced on the show. However, the showrunner did tease another “main big bad … who comes in and is so focused on Bruce in many ways” (It is not King Snake.)
The final season of Gotham will reference the 2013-14 “Zero Year” arc, where Riddler was the primary villain. And Smith suggested in interviews his character would be tied up in some bad business on the show — and perhaps working for someone else:
“He has his mind unlike season four … except he’s blacking out or losing consciousness for periods of time, and waking up in strange places, and having no idea how he got there. He’s just losing it, and he has no one to rely on or ally with, so he’s alone in the Gotham library, just completely devolving, losing his mind, and eventually going on a quest to figure out what’s actually happening to him … is this a confrontation with his alter ego? … Or is this someone outside of him that’s controlling him? Like Hugo Strange, or someone bigger than Hugo Strange.”
As far as where season five finds other characters, Stephens said on the panel Selina Kyle (Camren Bicondova) is on a rage path headed straight for Jeremiah after he shot her last season. Penguin, Ivy, and Zsasz each have their own territory in No Man’s Land, as does Barbra (Erin Richards), which is a literal “no men allowed” zone.
But Smith added that the main conflict in season five, similar to the “No Man’s Land” arc, is with the government itself.
“The main conflict being set up here is man versus state: citizens of Gotham, versus the government,” Smith said. “In order for Gotham to survive, and for everyone on the island to survive, it’s interesting who has to band together … weaponry is laid down, bad blood is pushed aside, and there’s some interesting bedfellows.”
Those bedfellows include Nygma working with Lucius Fox, said actor Chris Chalk.
“There’s a lot of moments where [Nygma and Lucius] are forced to deal with each other, and it’s fun to see … They’re coming back together because they really are inspired by one another, but rub each other the wrong way.”
Additionally, despite their constant desire to kill one another, Penguin and Barbra are forced to team up, said Taylor.
“Penguin needs to make an alliance with Barbra at some point even though they’re complete enemies, and then at some point he needs to make an alliance with Gordon, and then at some point the Riddler comes back into play, and we’re all like backstabbing and also cooperating all at once.”
And as bad as No Man’s Land may be, it will get worse. Smith said Gotham experiences a “really devastating incident for everybody” before it is all over.
And before it is all over, the Batman will rise. Audiences will have to wait until March 2019, when season five premieres, to see who will be left standing in Gotham.
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