‘Gotham’ ends after gripping and grueling conflicts
It’s not surprising that the Batman prequel series “Gotham” ended relatively low-key, the comics-inspired show flying under the radar during the steady barrage of bigger and grander fantasy films and TV shows.
In the course of its five seasons, the recently concluded show was largely hit-and-miss, its protagonists’ stories of transformation often overpowered by the chaos provided by the crime-ridden city’s outrageous and outlandish bad guys.
So while Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie), the strait-laced cop who transferred to a predominantly corrupt police force, slowly became the main crusader in cleaning up that organization, teen billionaire Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) was transforming into the crimefighting hero who’s witnessing the festering caused by Gotham’s terrifying would-be conquerors.
Jim was “destined” to become a commissioner and a father, while the latter had to become the city’s ultimate protector and savior. This connected origin propped up the heroic cop as a staunch ally of the latter, serving as a huge influence to the hero-to-be, unlike in most of the stories from the comics.
Season 5, the final 12 episodes that recently aired on Warner TV, is much shorter. The last season had 22 episodes, but this tighter set left out “filler” arcs, which contributed to the show’s generally uneven nature. And while there are still parts that could’ve been ditched or improved, the show reached its long-awaited finale, although not as satisfyingly as one would’ve wanted.
After months of being cut off from the rest of the country, Gotham City is overrun by gangs carving their territories. Its remaining cops, led by Jim Gordon, barely manage to keep stranded civilians from harm’s way.
Bruce, his butler Alfred (Sean Pertwee) and friend Selina (Camren Bicondova), all reeling from lunatic Jeremiah Valeska’s (Cameron Monaghan) attack, find ways to survive in the urban war zone. Established villains Riddler (Cory Michael Smith), Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor) and the Sirens—Barbara Kean (Erin Richards) and Tabitha Galavan (Jessica Lucas)—take advantage of the insanity, but resort to shifting alliances to adapt to the city’s continuing disintegration.
New villains are introduced: Bane (Shane West) and Nyssa (Jaime Murray) add considerable terror to the mix, while Valeska embraces his new identity as the diabolical madman Joker.
It’s more of the same with the villains—the over-the-top, outrageous thugs give it a go one last time. By the end of the show, they’re campier, if more intriguing versions of themselves, which is inevitable. Too bad, we won’t see more of this particular cast, with their characters in their final gaudy costumes and matching wits with the Caped Crusader.
And the series finale finally introduces Batman and Catwoman after a time jump of 10 years in the last episode. It’s a quick, shadow-veiled reveal, both exciting and unsatisfying—we’re somewhat reminded of the “Smallville” finale—teasing faithful viewers with what could’ve been. Still, it’s a visually striking, if fragmentary, payoff after five years of both narratively good and grueling conflicts.
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