Like any series in its first season, the Fox series Gotham has experimented and tried to find its sweet spot, undoubtedly having some growing pains along the way. But the key to its success will be the fact that not only the actors, but those behind the scenes as well, are paying attention, taking note and adapting.
While at WonderCon to talk about where they still have to go before the season is over, actors Ben McKenzie (“Detective Jim Gordon”), Robin Lord Taylor (“Oswald Cobblepot” / “The Penguin”) and Cory Michael Smith (“Edward Nygma”) were joined by executive producer John Stephens to talk about the upcoming three-episode arc with a serial killer called the Ogre, how not everybody will live through the finale, that the Penguin’s end goal is to be his own boss, that Edward Nygma will get darker and much more horrifying, the changes that were made to the season when the extra six episodes were ordered, arcing out all 22 episodes for Season 2, moving the focus away from the procedural and more towards villains from the mythology in multi-episode arcs, and the introduction of Lucius Fox. From those interviews, we’ve compiled 16 things you should know about Gotham.
According to EP John Stephens, when it comes to the various villains, they add characters by instinct and try to balance everything out. If one character has been focused on for a couple episodes, they’ll go to an arc of someone else. If they do a Falcone-Maroni mob story for two episodes, then they’ll focus on a super-villain story and do a Jonathan Crane or Red Hood episode.
- There will be a three-episode arc for Episodes 19 through 21, where Gordon investigates a serial killer that will impact him in a personal way and have repercussions through Season 2. The Ogre (played by Milo Ventimiglia) is a serial killer who seduces, tortures and kills women, and also targets any loved one of a cop that comes after him. Jim Gordon has to take on the case, knowing he will pay the price for that and that it will have some dire consequences.
- When asked about his reaction to reading the season finale script, Ben McKenzie said, “I was shocked at how far we went. It’s just jammed. The finale is almost chaos. Not everybody lives. Many people do not emerge, even if they do live, whole from the experience. There are guns blazin’. It’s crazy!”
- About the final episodes this season, Stephens said, “This season has been the rise of the Penguin, and that will come to a bloody and dark conclusion in the finale, as we see all of his plans and machinations erupt and start to rip Gotham apart.” You will also see other characters, like Selina Kyle, Edward Nygma and Bruce Wayne, come forward and take the evolutionary steps towards becoming the people that we all know they will turn into.
The Machiavellian moves that Jim Gordon is now capable of is a real evolution for him. At the beginning of the season, he was so moral that he was naive, and now he’s learned to play ball, which is going to continue. In regard to whether or not Gordon feels the ends justify the means, McKenzie said, “He’s getting dangerously close. I wouldn’t say he’s there yet. The ends justify is the end point of the journey. The journey is each step down the spiral staircase to hell.”
- When asked what to expect from The Penguin in the final episodes of this season, Robin Lord Taylor said, “He’s gradually, bit by bit, been asserting himself as his own man. His end goal is to not have to answer to anybody, and to be his own boss. What we’re going to see in the final four [episodes] is the final push. He sets some things in motion that affect everyone in the show. It really is his final assertion to being his own boss and to being his own man. It’s crazy!”
- Taylor loves playing the scenes between Oswald Cobblepot and Edward Nygma because they’re both so strange and coming at it from such different directions, but there’s electricity there.
- After getting shot done by his love interest, Edward Nygma gets very frustrated and it leads to darker things. “The man inside is quite horrifying, really,” said Cory Michael Smith. “He tries. There’s so much effort. Underneath that, what’s behind that is a pretty hurt guy.”
You’ll spend some time with Edward Nygma, alone in a room with no one else there, and it’s not a pretty place. You’ll hear his actual thoughts and see a human being fighting with himself, the good and evil. Both sides of his conscious are having a conversation, talking through an issue.
- To tell the origin stories of these characters, they’ve taken steps even further back. For example, for the Jonathan Crane origin story, they focused on the father, instead of Crane, himself, or for Red Hood, they just went further back than what would have been expected.
- In regard to whether Jada Pinkett Smith could return to the show, even though she’s said she’s done at the end of the season, Stephens said, “I don’t know if she’s going to come back or not. I feel like you guys have to watch the finale and see what happens. This is a world where characters can come back, frequently.”
- Some of the characters everyone expects to survive will not survive. They are not invulnerable, and that makes things exciting. Nobody is safe. That name could just get invented, later on, in another fashion.
- As far as major locations from the Batman lore, there are some that we’ll see this season. It will be connected to the big character steps forward.
- About the additional episode order, Stephens said, “We originally thought we were doing 16 episodes, so we had arced out the season to end at 16 episodes and we had to start building things out again. We actually weren’t going to do Jonathan
Crane, this year. We built in Fish getting kidnapped by the Dollmaker storyline. That had not existed before. We weren’t going to do a Red Hood story. We had not planned on doing The Flying Graysons. We brought in some of the characters that we were actually planning on saving for later. But the early pick-up has affected our stories. We’re arcing the whole 22 episodes, so that we know where we’re going and where we’re ending up. Hopefully, it will feel a little less panicked.”
- When asked how he felt about completing Season 1, McKenzie said that it’s been a real education for everyone involved. When they looked at what was working and what wasn’t working, he said, “From a super macro level, we made the mistake, early on, of becoming too procedural in our storylines. The pilot wasn’t, but then, all of a sudden, we became a little more weighted in that direction, and I just don’t think it worked. We also weren’t using as many characters from the mythology as we should have. We had villains-of-the-week, but they weren’t from the Batman universe. We’re not going to do that anymore. We’re focused on unspooling villains in multi-episode arcs, the vast majority will be from the mythology, and they will interact with each other. I think that’s a much deeper and more satisfying experience for the fans.”
- Lucius Fox, played by Chris Chalk, will be introduced with a small appearance this year, and then will have a much larger role next season. As Bruce investigates what is going on with his family’s company, that mystery will deepen next season, and Lucius will play a role. Bruce doesn’t know what he his yet or what his intentions are, as they find their way towards a relationship next season.
Gotham airs on Monday nights on Fox.