Gotham's bad news Barnes: Michael Chiklis talks the police captain's transformation

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Oct 17, 2016

Poor, bloody Barnes. Ever since the good Captain Nathaniel Barnes, played by Michael Chiklis, joined Gotham last season as the cop with a strict moral code, things have not exactly been easy. While attempting to rid his own Gotham City Police Department of corruption, he constantly butted heads with his two good cops, James Gordon and Harvey Bullock. Then he was nearly killed by the resurrected Theo Galavan, aka Azrael.

But things have gotten better for Barnes since he returned, remarkably still alive, in Season 3, right? Not so much. No one listens to the poor guy despite him being in charge; his top cop, Gordon, has become a loose-cannon bounty hunter; monsters have roamed the streets; and a criminal kingpin was elected mayor by popular vote.

And, to make matters worse, a single drop of infected blood from Alice Tetch – the same blood that turns people into 28 Days Later, rage-virus-infected creatures – fell into Barnes’ eye in last week’s episode.

Sigh. This is why we can’t have nice things, Gotham. Arguably the most honest to the core character on the show, Barnes has been inscrutable. That’s about to change. Something is happening to the captain, and it ain’t good.

While I don’t yet know what happens next, Barnes is becoming something new, and ugly. My guess: That something “was born on a Monday.”

Although he doesn’t speak to my theory, in the following interview, actor Michael Chiklis does discuss Barnes’ weakened position – and how he might be about to transform into something stronger. 

Talk about Barnes’ physical state, and mental spirits, right now.

Well, when he first appeared in Episode 1 of Season 3, he was actually very diminished. He was badly, badly injured, and really hurt and weakened. He looked like he wasn’t going to survive, but he did, miraculously. But he’s not healed. He is not coming out of it. Things are spiraling out of his control around him. He really doesn’t have the authority he once had. He is trying desperately to hold onto it, but not able because he doesn’t have the strength. He is trying to stop Gordon from going in the direction he’s going, and he’s just ineffectual.

He is frustrated and weakened. And that’s going to change.

Go on ...

Well, I want to tease this without ruining it. Something changes the dynamic entirely in his own self, and his own body, and his own mind. And that changes everything for him, inexorably.

Is his whole worldview collapsing? The people he thought were good are no longer really good. The people that were villains are now absolved, or have even become mayor. How does this impact him?

That’s what I mean about him being completely and utterly frustrated, and dismayed [by Penguin as mayor].

But he’s elected by popular vote, so will the law-and-order captain going to try and stop the duly elected mayor?

He is going to take a lot into his own hands. Or he's going to try to. The interesting dichotomy is, in his zeal to maintain law and order, he just might lose sight of law and order, himself. 

At this point, is Barnes even shocked any more by the stuff that happens in Gotham, such as monsters, or the dead returning to life, people gaining powers, etc?

Where he is right now, he is pushing back. He is a grounded, reality-based guy. He can’t accept these crazy supernatural things are happening. Everything is explicable to him, but that changes because of changes within himself. He is forced to recognize it isn’t bulls***.

He may be the most tragic character of Gotham

Yeah, yeah, very much. But it is a very dark show.

What do you think is happening to Barnes? Let us know what you think, and check back for more coverage of Gotham, which airs Monday at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.

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