Gotham started as a soapy, gritty dramedy and slowly, episode by episode, got more bonkers as it unfolded. Villains got blown up with rocket launchers. Ancient cults kidnapped Bruce Wayne. Alfred (Sean Pertwee), television’s worst parent (seriously, not even The Mick comes close) beat up everybody. Rage viruses started spreading. It was, to crib a joke from the show’s fans, Goth ham. And in the third season, it was clear the series, which has solid but not great ratings, figured the writing was on the wall. No way they were getting renewed, right? So let’s just wrap this up with Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) finally in a mask beating up muggers. Perfect ending!
Then Fox went and gave them a fourth season. So now, they’re kinda sorta giving people what they complained the series never gave them: Teen Bat! Yes, Bruce Wayne is out there, beating ass, lighting henchmen on fire, and taking names. And so is Selina, who can do everything Bruce can do, but in heels.
But this being Gotham, a show that needs to have at least a dozen different plotlines going at all times, and also because it’s a comic book, nobody who’s supposed to be dead actually is dead. The long-suffering Butch (Drew Powell), who got shot in the face last season, turns out to be supervillain Solomon Grundy and thus will have more indignity visited on him. Barbara (Erin Richards), Jim’s former agoraphobic fiancee turned brainwashed murderer turned campy gangster, turns up with a new haircut and a big ol’ pile of guns. The Riddler (Cory Michael Smith) is frozen in a block of ice to remind the Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor) that he can never have love, because that’s healthy and also surely will not backfire. Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and Lee (Morena Baccarin) are still getting over their issues, which could be an entire series in of itself.
That’s the joy of Gotham, though. The series is, in the best way, a cheesy comic book: A sprawling saga that can veer across genres from Gothic horror to mob drama to pulp SF and then loop back in on itself. Superhero shows are common in a way that, a decade ago, fans were never expecting, but few capture the spirit of comics quite in the way Gotham does. That we might see Bruce in pointy ears before the end of the season is just a bonus. We’ll see how Teen Bat does tonight at 8pm ET. Weigh in below on tonight’s open thread!