Five Ways Gotham's Finale Could Clear a Path for a Better Second Season
They've trimmed some of the fat
Jada Pinkett-Smith has done a great job this season, and Lord knows we can't spare any strong female representation on this show, but overall it was a good idea for Gotham to streamline its cast. Fish and Maroni are dead, Falcone is retired, Penguin is finally top dog, and all is right in the world. It's fitting that the mob storyline saw the most logical ending, as it has been consistently the strongest narrative thread this season, but it was well past time to simplify things and give Penguin more to do. We've been saying for months that Gotham is overcrowded with villains, and getting rid of a few of them, in addition to finally scrapping the cumbersome case-of-the-week format, will give Penguin, Riddler, and Selina more time to shine.
Also, remember Ivy? She exists.
And although it's more than a little hypocritical for Gotham to make any claim to feminism now, the finale does get bonus points for Fish's awesome execution of Maroni. That's how any reasonable person would react in respond to the words, "It's a woman's lib thing."
We're finally supposed to hate Barbara
To be perfectly clear, the Barbara/Leslie storyline was a mess. First, there was the ridiculous contrivance that Leslie would ever be Barbara's trauma counselor. It's a conflict of interest, and Leslie is a medical doctor, not a counselor. (As far as I know she's not a psychiatrist? But even if she is, it's still ridiculous.) The scene in which Barbara tells Leslie about her relationship with her parents was surprisingly affecting, especially Leslie's line, "That's not kid stuff." But overall, there wasn't enough foundation laid for it to land, because the writers have forgotten to develop Barbara as a human being all season. So while it should have been shocking that Barbara killed her parents, it just felt like they were shoehorning in a descent into villainy because they don't know what else to do with her.
It doesn't help that Ben McKenzie pretty much admitted this. In an interview with Collider, McKenzie claimed that their relationship was always supposed to be "ill-fated," but that the decision to put the character through a nefarious psychotic break was "an adjustment on the fly. We needed to figure out how best to use Erin [Richards], who is a wonderful actress, and how best to take advantage of what people were connecting to in their relationship, or not connecting to, and we needed to infuse a different relationship into it, as well."
The Riddler stops teasing us
I was very conflicted about the Rise of the Riddler in this episode. The clue from last week was way too on-the-nose, and there wasn't nearly enough foundation laid for Nygma's very real psychotic break in order to make it believable. Two weeks ago, he killed someone out of jealousy and anger, and now he's showing symptoms of everything from schizophrenia to dissociative identity disorder.
But even so, the scene in which he loses his mind and seems to turn into a villain before our very eyes was pretty great. I especially loved the chilling line, "You'll probably do better with that one if she fears you a little bit." Cory Michael Smith's performance, in particular, was phenomenal, and I look forward to seeing more of that in the upcoming season.
And according to executive producer Danny Cannon, I won't be disappointed: "He is a split personality. There are two people inside of him. There's a great, intelligent, smart, nice guy, and then, there's this darkness inside of him that wants to come out. That battle between them is something that is going to be very much explored in Season 2."
The Fish is replaced by the Cat
Again, this is a development that was not at all developed beforehand, but it was interesting to see Selina team up with Fish Mooney. It was so intuitive that these characters would get along, in fact, that I wish they had had the foresight to introduce this mentor-mentee relationship earlier in the season. But after Selina killed Reggie, it makes perfect sense that she would become a little more villainous and a little less antiheroic, and half the fun of Catwoman is watching her bounce between those two tropes. Plus, any instance in which the Gotham writers linearly follow through on some character development should be encouraged.
The Batman prequel becomes a Batman prequel
The discovery of the Batcave was ultimately anticlimactic, especially after this teaser gave away the whole damn scene, but I'm relieved that we're going to get on with baby Batman's transformation into the World's Greatest Detective. David Mazouz has killed it this season, so if bringing him closer to being the Batman we all know and love will give him more substantive things to do, then I'm all for it. I also hope they'll further explore the relationship between Bruce and his dearly departed father, as the Waynes' iconic status in Gotham was one of the most interesting parts of the pilot that the writers let fall by the wayside.