Warning: Spoiler Alert
Normally a recap would be filling this space as the FOX network aired their final episode of “Gotham,” for 2015, as the show will go on hiatus and return with new episodes in February. Regular readers of these pages are well aware that I have a soft-spot for “Comic-Book Series” in general and I’ve written before that I believed that Gotham had the potential to be the best of the lot. Since the series is a prequel to Batman, the show’s creators and writers have been able to put their twist on a tale that first appeared in Detective Comics in 1939.
When you decide to reboot an iconic story, there’s certainly room for some flexibility in the new version. We’ve seen Jimmy Olsen morph from a freckle-faced ginger-haired photographer into a Black Man in the CBS show “Supergirl,” and the change got accepted eagerly by the fans. Jeri Hogarth is a shark in stilettos in the new Netflix series “Jessica Jones,” even though the character’s a man within the pages of Marvel Comics. These are minor changes that leave the big picture unchanged and even the staunchest traditionalist won’t be bothered by moves like that.
However over the last decade or so, we’ve seen the creative community expand their visions of familiar tales by breaking continuity with what should be hard and fast rules. You can set Robin Hood in ancient China populated by Shaolin Monks or in Alaska with a cast of Eskimos, as long as you stick to the constant. Robin Hood takes from the rich and gives to the poor, want to change those parameters then give your story and characters other names.
Back in 2013 director Zack Snyder released “Man Of Steel,” the reboot of the Superman series and broke continuity with every other version of the tale ever told. One of the changes was relatively minor and likely scoffed at by the casual fan, the fact that the Son Of Krypton grew a beard on Earth. Kal-El/Superman’s beard not growing on Earth’s been a constant through comic-books, Radio and TV shows and in movies since the character’s creation.
The second deviation from the “Superman Bible,” however altered the character and made this version of Kal-El different from all his predecessors. Kal-El broke the neck of his Kryptonian opponent General Zod, killing him and violating one of foundation blocks of tale of Superman. Superman Never Kills. There’s no room for negotiation in that statement. Zack Snyder’s creation can never truly be Superman in my eyes.
Which brings us back full-circle to the subject at hand, the final episode of Gotham for 2015. The creators of this series can play as hard and fast with the characters as they choose to, however when the series airs its final episode when ever that occurs certain paths have to remain unchanged. Selina Kyle will grow-up to become Catwoman, Alfred Pennyworth will live to see Bruce Wayne go deeply into his adult years. Of course Bruce will either be on his way or actually donning his cape and cowl in the series finale and Jim Gordon will become the Commissioner of the Gotham City Police Department.
Everything else is up for grabs, they can throw a fake Joker on the screen and the fans will accept it. They can give young Bruce a doomed romance that forever affects his heart. They can have Harvey Bullock turn on Gordon and fall back into the corrupt cesspool that Jim first found him floating in. However they can’t alter those four tent-pole storylines, otherwise it’s a different tale.
The majority of the episode entitled “Worse Than A Crime,” was fast paced, gripping and entertaining as it all came down to a battle between Theo Galavan and the Brothers from the Order Of The Dumas and Jim Gordon, Alfred, Harvey, Cat, Penguin and his crew to save Bruce Wayne from imminent execution. Galavan sneaks away as Team-Gordon takes out all their opponents, culminating in the death of Father Creel as Harvey finally reaches the battle after struggling with the stairs.
At this point the story turned sideways and though it seemed puzzling one could make sense out of it. The only ways out for Theo, his sister Tabitha and his niece Silver are by greeting the police or by parasailing out of their penthouse window. Problem’s they only have two chutes and three people who need to escape. Theo expresses his disappointment in his niece and goes to choke her but he’s stopped as Tabitha comes up from behind and knocks him out with a blow to the top of his skull. Suddenly a devoted sister turns on her benefactor brother, without any real indicators? Strange but acceptable.
However what came next was not as Gordon finds Galavan in his office and tells the Mayor that he’s under arrest and to cuff himself. Galavan smiles and says you scared me there for a minute I thought you were going to shoot me. Gordon says this time he’s not getting away and Theo asks the detective if he’d like to wager on that, as that’s what Jim thought the last time he arrested him. The detective glares at Theo and says maybe he’s right and perhaps he should guarantee that Galavan never sees freedom again and puts his service revolver against the billionaire’s head. Galavan goes into begging mode quickly saying he was just talking big.
Just then Gordon’s commander Captain Nathaniel Barnes arrives on the scene with a uniform and orders Gordon to step away from Galavan. Barnes earlier in the episode issued a warrant for Gordon’s arrest, not knowing where his detective was located and he’d been charged with assaulting Galavan, still the city’s mayor. Barnes tells Gordon to put his service revolver on the floor and to put his hands on his head until Barnes gets the stories straight. Seconds later Barnes hits the floor as Penguin’s snuck up from behind him and hit him in the head knocking him out.
Cobblepot tells Gordon they can’t just let Galavan go through the system again and once again get set free. He reminds Gordon that he’s got all the judges in his pocket and he’d soon be back in his penthouse and running the city. We then see Gordon opening the trunk of a car and helping Galavan to his feet. Theo says you’re a moral man Jim, you’ll regret this and Gordon says he has greater things to regret than him. Penguin raises a baseball bat over Galavan as he lies on the sand near the ocean and says this is for his mother and beats Theo until the mayor pleads for his death. Gordon lets Oswald hit him another couple of times and then screams enough. He then pulls out his service revolver and executes Theo Galavan.
Gordon meets Lee Thompkins in a park, he sent her out-of-town just before the gunfight. She told him she’s carrying his child and he was about to leave Gotham City with her when he found out Bruce Wayne got kidnapped by Galavan. She sits on a cement bench and he walks over to her and says it’s all over then asks her to marry him.
Do the creators of Gotham expect the audience to accept this brutal execution as part of the baptism by fire that helped shape James Gordon into the man who’ll become Commissioner of the GCPD. Gordon killed a man earlier in the season when he did a favor for Penguin to get reinstated on the force, but that was in self-defense. This was a premeditated act of execution and I don’t know how the character or the series recovers from this move.
I’m certain that there will be plenty of discussion from the creators of the series as well as from other observers. I’m hoping that there’s a rational explanation behind this event that allows us to forgive and to root once again for Jim Gordon.