Prenatal Robin to Appear on Gotham This Season, Harley Quinn to Arrive Later
With Harvey Dent's introduction in the latest episode of Gotham, Scarecrow's well on the way, and the DC villain count up to about a thousand, Gotham could really stand to cool it on the DC Easter eggs. Which is why it's mostly a relief that Robin will only appear this season in the most indirect of ways, and Harley Quinn will not show up until a later season.
When showrunner Bruno Heller told EW that they were planning a "prenatal origin story" for Robin later this season, the first image that popped into my head was an ultrasound. Luckily, Heller assured us, "There are no MRIs involved. There's an episode coming up where we learn how Robin's parents got together."
It shouldn't come as too much of a surprise that Robin won't appear as an actual human, since Bruce Wayne is only thirteen at this point and, according to the timeline of the comics, Batman's little protege shouldn't be born yet. However, Gotham has demonstrated its willingness to play with that timeline, as Bruce and Harvey Dent are the same age in the comics but are at least years apart in the show. But it makes sense that they would be more faithful when it comes to Robin, as their age difference is key to the mentor-mentee dynamic of their relationship.
Executive producer Danny Cannon seemed to kind of, sort of, maybe confirm that Harley Quinn would appear in Gotham at the NYCC Comic Con Gotham panel, and now Heller confirms her eventual appearance with more confidence, but is sure to clarify that she is not planned for this season. "That aspect of the show-which characters to use and when - is a source of constant discussion... We haven't got Harley Quinn in it. Riddler's girlfriend is coming up. And Harley Quinn is definitely planned for later on, but so far no." (Riddler doesn't actually have a particularly high-profile girlfriend in the comics, but he does have two female sidekicks named Query and Echo that he recruited from an S&M club, so it's likely one of them?)
Harley Quinn, the Joker's psychopathic sidekick, is a fan favorite and a fascinating character, with an upcoming appearance in the high-profile Suicide Squad, so under any other circumstances Gotham would do well to find a way to incorporate her. (She's also a friend of Poison Ivy's, so she would fit right into the plot of the show if they ever decide to re-introduce that character.) But since the show is stuffed to the gills with villains and DC references, waiting to introduce the character is likely the best move for now. Heller essentially cited the overstuffing as the reason for the delay: "You can't just keep pumping these characters into the show in a comic book sort of way, because you get the Super Friends effect-which isn't a bad effect, but then you have spaceships and need to go underwater and get wacky villains and the rest of it. You have to work as a character piece first. First it has to be real.
"We front-loaded [the show with iconic characters], which we had to do, both for story purposes and marketing purposes. We had to let people know it's not just a hum-drum police procedural, it's about these larger than life characters. If you do that you can't just say, 'Here's one larger-than-life character, now wait for next season.' Once we introduced those initial characters-Penguin, Riddler, Ivy, Selina-then we've slowed down with those aspects and we're bringing in those iconic D.C characters in a much more measured way, which was always the intention. You have to have that amount of spice in the show to make it pop and different. Once the wheels are turning, it's much easier to bring those characters in in subtle, organic ways. That's the plan, anyway."
Although Gotham has a long way to go before anyone would characterize it as "subtle," this attitude is encouraging. Most shows make a few creative concessions in their first season in order to rope viewers in and make the network happy, and then are able to navigate with more freedom and take more risks once they have a loyal fanbase. And if nothing else, it's encouraging that Heller seems to know exactly where Gotham's major flaws lie and what needs to be done to fix them.