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Gotham, the Fox TV series about a young James Gordon, an even younger Bruce Wayne, and the origin of Batman's rogues' gallery that debuted in 2014, has always faced an uphill climb. Whether it was something as complex and nebulous as the struggle to find its voice (and audience) or something as simple and specific as not being able to say the word "Joker," there were always challenges, both within the show's control and beyond its grasp.
But, after five seasons, over 100 episodes, a series of gang wars, an asylum that creates supervillains, countless shouts at the mirror, dead parents galore, rocket launchers, fear toxins, ice rays, flamethrowers, and a city under siege, that climb is ending.
Gotham makes its final run in 2019. The night after the last day of filming, the cast and crew, still processing their own feelings, assembled at New York's Paley Center to take the first of their last bows before a packed house of fans with feelings of their own after watching the season premiere, "Year Zero."
One of those feelings could most certainly be frustration. While Gotham wrapped production for the last time, The CW aired its Elseworlds series, which included, among other things, their own take on Gotham city. I mentioned this fact in passing to one of Gotham's producers (whom I'll spare from naming) who pointed out that, in fact, someone from the Arrowverse asked to borrow Gotham's bat signal for the Elseworlds three-night event.
The answer to that request, if you're curious, was "no."
The room above the theater where press, cast, and crew assembled before the episode screening was not filled with sadness or frustration, though. If anything, the more intimate affair mirrored more or less exactly the primary emotion fans saw a few hours later: gratitude.
While Chris Chalk (Lucius Fox) joked about his idea for a TV series about food tasters and David Mazouz (Bruce Wayne) showed off photos of a box the Gotham crew had assembled for him of his belongings (as though he'd been fired from an office job), there was an overwhelming feeling of gratefulness. The only sadness is that there won't be more.
I asked Robin Lord Taylor (Oswald Cobblepot) who he wished he'd had the chance to work with more during five seasons of Gotham and his answer, without skipping a beat, was "Sean Pertwee," who plays Alfred Pennyworth. Elaborating, Taylor said, "He's one of my best friends. It's like we couldn't be from more different places, and then you find each other in this weird circumstance. Yeah. So he's the one."
This is a feeling that you can see mirrored both specifically about Pertwee, but also in more generally. Camren Bicondova has utilized Instagram throughout her time on Gotham, sometimes speaking about how the family she found on the show got her through the highest and lowest times in her life. After the screening of "Year Zero," Bicondova spoke about how her show family was there for her in a way that she felt her actual family should have been but wasn't.
And you can see the tendrils of lasting friendships among team Gotham. Take it from someone who has stood in a lot of press lines to interview talent whose shows are ending. Sometimes you ask people for favorite memories and you get a blank stare. Gotham isn't like that.
I asked Cory Michael Smith (Edward Nygma) what stuck out in his mind as his best on-set moment, especially in this final year. There were many, he said, but he singled one out in particular: "Since Erin's standing next to me, Erin [Richards, who plays Barbara Kean] directed episode 512, which is not the last episode, but it is the last one we shot," he explained. "And I shot a short with her in March or early April, to kind of help her get ready. I worked for free, worked my ass off. It was a grueling experience, but we did this thing so she could get ready and prepare herself to take this on. And I'm really proud that I got to be a part of that journey for her and getting her to a place where she could present this thing and get an offer to direct an episode."
"Reunions will be very happy," he adds.
But first, there's Season 5 to contend with. It's hard to reveal more of what was said in interviews without giving things away, but, here are some spoiler-light tidbits.
Oswald has a dog this season. The dog's name is Edward. Taylor said he "loved every second of it and Smith acknowledged that the dog gives Penguin "loyalty that I couldn't."
Erin Richards has been hearing the same question from fans since the beginning: will Jim and Barbara have a child somehow despite their conflict. Richards said "we're definitely moving towards a situation," in our interview but both she and Ben McKenzie (Jim Gordon) admitted in the Q&A afterward that some mistakes will be made.
And, of course, you may have heard rumors that there will be death on the horizon. There's at least one major (likely permanent) death coming up very soon. Without giving it away, one of the cast members referred to the change as "really difficult" because of the tightness of the real-life friendship. But, for that cast member's character it is also a "helpful and necessary momentum change that will propel them towards what we see halfway through the season."
For the cast and crew of Gotham, the adventure is effectively over. But for those of us watching, the final chapter is just beginning. Gotham Season 5's premiere episode "Zero Year" debuts January 3 on Fox.