A lot can happen in 10 years, and with the end of Gotham fast approaching, fans who’ve stuck with the show over the past five seasons will have to use their imaginations to fill some pretty hefty gaps. But the cast and creative team are all but assuring us that we’ll at least get a glimpse at what that missing decade has done to Bruce Wayne before the curtain falls on Fox’s caped crusader spinoff.
Fox opened Gotham’s star-studded panel at the Television Critics Association this week with an audience-only trailer that gave an unmistakable look at something the show’s been building toward from the very start: an image of the Dark Knight, framed from behind, to set up a fresh round of speculation about how much we’ll see of Bruce Wayne’s final transformation.
Co-executive producer John Stephens was appropriately coy about what it all means, teasing that the actor in the suit might not even be David Mazouz, who plays young Bruce on the show. “David is a strapping young man, and our suit is for someone who’s 6’4,” said Stephens. “But the face and voice is David.”
Mazouz didn’t pour fuel on the fire, but reflected instead on how he’s grown up with Gotham — and how the show’s characters, in turn, have evolved along with its sprawling and talented cast. “Your formative years are your teenage years, and all of mine [have been] on this show. I'm back in school now for the first time since 7th grade — and I’m ridiculously bored! I’m grateful the years that shaped me most are these years that defined me around amazing role models.
“The one thing I learned from Bruce Wayne is that I can do anything I set my mind to, but [it’s] so true,” Mazouz continued. “Bruce is just a rich boy in an alley that has something bad happen to him. … The power of will is stronger than we believe. With challenges, I do think: ‘Bruce could do it.’”
Robin Lord Taylor gave a nod to just how character-focused Gotham has remained, saying it’s been a “dance” to step into the Penguin’s rotund personality and cross-pollinate his schemes with the show’s other villains.
“Keep your friends close and your enemies closer,” he said, describing the Penguin’s relationship with the Riddler (aka Edward Nygma). “It's a dance. To get Penguin's respect, you need that — and he finds that in Ed. It’s foolish not to maintain a connection to Ed, because together they can blow the others out of the water.”
Cory Michael Smith (Nygma) agreed. “The writers have thrown us wild curveballs — [but] the thrill is never knowing what can happen between these two, and knowing we can never have a better crime partnership than these two.”
At one point, the topic cropped up of whether Gotham’s themes (or even its characters) might one day reappear on the DC Universe streaming platform. But, in keeping with their spoiler-free talk of the series finale, no one would say whether we’ll be seeing more from the Gotham universe beyond its five-year run at Fox.
“[They’re] very good at saying, 'No because someone else is doing it,'” said co-executive producer Danny Cannon. “And then you don't want to back off, so you don't go to the same place. And then sometimes it's just [a matter of] waiting for a year until it's clear,” added Stephens.
Exploring an alternate backstory for the Joker has been one of the series’ highlights, and Cameron Monaghan, who plays the Valeska twins (Jerome and Jeremiah), said he’s had a blast teasing out the conflicting sides to the up-and-coming Joker’s persona.
“I like that the Joker is chameleon-like, and the finale version is crystallized in this form,” he said. “It’s not a new form, but distilled.”
However the series handles the long transition period that sees Bruce Wayne realize his DC Comics destiny, the creators know they enjoy an unusual amount of freedom in making some of their most ambitious ideas come true. In the past, there were “things we were holding back, like Bane,” said Stephens. “We didn't know if we'd get there with some things or characters, and we decided to do it now.”
Giving artistic license to explore Gotham City’s violent, gritty side has been a boon to the show’s operatic aspirations, and Cannon said that’s been one of the joys of working with Fox. “It should be violent,” he said. “[Violence] comes from the characters, like a play. There's nothing this cast can't do. The violence was very operatic. We treat it like watching Richard III or Game of Thrones.”
“It’s been so inspiring. Every single crew member was so dedicated to that vision,” added Erin Richards (Barbara Kean). “We’re so fortunate to be part of that family.”
And, just like Game of Thrones, it won’t be long before we know how the long and winding story will end. Season 5 of Gotham picks up again when the sixth episode airs on Feb. 14, hitting the midpoint on the way to the 12-episode season’s 10-year time jump conclusion.