Gotham: The Beginning


And so my watch begins…

After five seasons, Gotham finally comes to an end. There was a lot of speculation about how it would end, and, among the fans, some worry. We didn’t need to worry. I think it was a perfect ending, and, for what they did, we couldn’t have had a better title. The major pieces of the Bat-mythos fall into place as things wrap up in “The Beginning.” Since it’s both a season and series finale, there will be spoilers in this review.

It begins in the timeframe last episode ended in, with young Bruce embarking on his travel around the world to get the intensive training he needs to become the legendary Dark Knight. Aboard a ship, he sends a letter to Alfred that he’s all right and will be out of touch, but he’ll be back. It’s a port I don’t recognize as he gets off the ship, but it doesn’t look anything like Gotham, and it’s a great place for his odyssey to start.


The story picks up ten years later. They don’t really age the cast, and I think that was a good call. It works the way they did it. The only major change is Selina Kyle, who has been Carmen Bicondova for the whole series, is now Lili Simmons. This could have been a contentious change, but according to everything I’ve read, it was Carmen’s idea. This, too, worked.


Gordon, now with his trademark moustache, is in Mayor James’ office. I don’t know how crazy you’d have to be to return to that job with all he went through, but it was a nice nod to the history of the series. Mayor James is trying to talk Gordon out of retiring, but Gordon seems determined. There’s a lot of talk about a big gala at the newly completed Wayne Tower, so you know where a lot of things will go wrong down the road. There’s also mention of some break-in at a Federal warehouse, and a few oddball cases, just to let us know that Gotham is still weird. Gordon is serenely determined to get out of office and let someone else take over.


He leaves to meet Barbara. Apparently, the whole shared custody thing is actually working, and Barbara has gone legit. Harvey provides some clues as to what she’s been up to, and she’s clearly successful in her new life. She also has red hair now, a good new look for her and a possible nod to her more famous daughter’s eventual appearance. Barbara II, or Barbara Lee as they call her a few times, clearly has a good relationship with both parents. They’ve come a long way.


Our check-in with the cast continues out at Arkham, where Riddler has apparently spent most of the last decade. We also see Jeremiah, who has been a vegetable for most of that time. Riddler sees a guard reading a newspaper article about Penguin being about to be released from Blackgate, where he’s apparently been for the ten years we missed. Jim and Lee have a nice quiet scene at home, with Lee checking on the sleeping Barbara, Jim getting rid of the facial hair, and both of them musing about his future and Bruce’s return home. Lee wonders what Bruce would think of Selina, which is a cue to a Catwoman jewel heist ala Entrapment scene. The twist is, someone is apparently watching our daring cat burglar from above.


At the GCPD, Harper brings word to Bullock that Nygma has escaped Arkham. Harvey goes alone to follow up on a clue and stumbles into something that shocks and horrifies him. Later, Harvey is in interrogation, not helping Gordon understand what happened, and saying things we the viewers know aren’t true. Puzzled, Gordon compares notes with Harper and checks the squad room for support for Harvey. Harper and Gordon go to do some follow up, which is kind of like the whole “Captain joins the away team” issue on Star Trek. Nygma, meanwhile, wakes up and takes stock of his new surroundings.


Penguin, free from Blackgate at last, deals with some reporters after dressing up in his more usual comic book attire. He then turns the tables on a reporter who wanted an exclusive. Gordon and Harper find some clues about an upcoming plot and have a shadowy run-in with a soon to be familiar figure, who gives them a warning on the way out. Later, the police bomb squad proves the warning was right and possibly saved Gordon and Harper’s lives. Gordon figures out what’s coming and goes to do some investigation on his own. He doesn’t get too far as he finds out he has company in the back seat of his car of the armed and annoyed kind. Gordon and his abductor exchange some words in a familiar location, and then history repeats itself after a fashion.


The Wayne Gala kicks off, with an elaborate model of the rebuilt Gotham shown prominently. Alfred is presiding over the festivities, and Selina shows up. She and Alfred have some words about Bruce, his sudden departure long ago, and what she wants out of him now. Alfred points out a logical flaw in Selina’s words. Selina sees Riddler at the edges of the party, although how everyone else misses the tall thin man in the green suit I’m not real clear on. Selina grabs her former partner in crime Barbara, and the two foil Riddler’s plan, which is something we’ve also seen before in Gotham. Alfred gives a speech, something he’s clearly not quite comfortable with, and Lee and Lucius Fox share some words before Jim comes in and orders the building evacuated. They figure out where the bomb is, and our main cast sticks around to defuse the bomb, offer advice, or just generally pose dramatically.


From one crisis to the next, Gordon is barely done with the bomb before he hears Harvey is being sent to Blackgate by the Mayor. Ignoring the many, many procedural things that are wrong with that, Gordon rushes off to intercept and we finally learn what’s going on and the depth of the conspiracy. This also proves to be the motivating factor to get Jeremiah to stop playing dead at Arkham as Ecco comes to get him out. Riddler and Penguin reunite just long enough to have their own first encounter with the man who will become Gotham’s most famous resident. Lucius and Alfred see the aftermath of the event, smile, and talk about Bruce’s future.


Barbara and her daughter have a run-in with Jeremiah and Ecco, which ends the story of yet another of the original characters created for the series and shows a hint of someone else’s future. Gordon gets there too late to prevent anything, but gets enough to go on to follow up and rush to the rescue. Jeremiah and Gordon have a confrontation at ACE Chemical which, in many ways, sets up a lot of what’s to come in Gotham City’s future. Jeremiah rants a lot about his motivation, and some of it just plain never has made sense, but then, that’s what happens when we get major pieces of a story out of order. In the aftermath of that, Gordon, Bullock, and Alfred gather on the GCPD roof.


Selina gets a conversation with Bruce, the latter mostly unseen, and their tumultuous future is set in motion. it’s a nice wrap up for their story from the show. Penguin and Riddler escape again, mostly due to some horrible transport security, and rant about the shadowy figure who caught them. They swear to get to the bottom of it… and then decide to put it off after seeing something. The show ends with Alfred thanking Gordon for what he did for Bruce all those years ago, and Alfred, Gordon, and Harvey getting their first look at the rising hero. The show ends with the Gotham title card, the usual police lights illuminating it, and the Bat logo added in the background.


What I liked: It’s a good ending to the series. We get to check in with the major characters that are left, and they set up the start of the Batman’s story, as the title hints. Penguin and Riddler get their more classic comic book looks, as did Selina when we saw her in action. We barely see Batman in this, but that works perfectly. I like what they did with both Barbaras.


What I didn’t: I’ve enjoyed the show, and am sorry to see it go. Riddler and Penguin’s escape near the end was ridiculous, but I get they were condensing things for time. I am never going to like some of the changes they made to major characters, especially Joker, on this show.


It was a good ending to a good series. I’ll give this finale a 4.5 out of 5. Farewell, Gotham.