by Julian Spivey
“Gotham” finished its five year run on Fox on Thursday, April 25 with the series finale “In the Beginning…” and ultimately tried to cram far too much into a one-hour finale.
Before I get into the meat of my review, I feel like I must state – as I have before with this series – that I’m not a superhero guy. I don’t/never have read comic books and I can count the number of superhero movies I’ve seen in my lifetime on one hand. “Avengers: Endgame” hit theaters the same night as the “Gotham” finale and honestly, I don’t care. Prior to “Gotham” I had almost no experience with the characters of the city or Batman in general.
The fact that I became a fan of “Gotham” is probably something of a miracle because all of this, but on the side of it being a superhero show based off a comic book character I thought it also worked as a good cop procedural thanks to the good character of Ben McKenzie’s Det. Jim Gordon with comic book style villains filling in as the bad guys.
It’s probably because of this that “Gotham” has always been a bit hit or miss with me – frequently I’d roll my eyes at stuff like the fact that the Gotham P.D. seemingly had one million officers killed during the show’s five seasons and yet somehow always seemed to be completely staffed and sometimes the comic book villains just were too corny or hokey for me – but that’s the way the genre goes.
The final season of “Gotham” had the subtitle “Legend of the Dark Knight,” so we knew all along that we were finally going to see Bruce Wayne’s (played by David Mazouz) transformation into Batman – though this was something we didn’t get until the season finale.
I’m sure most fans of the series wanted to see the transformation, but as a prequel to Batman it’s not something that I really needed. “Gotham” was always more the story of Jim Gordon to me, more so than Bruce Wayne’s. Maybe I’m in the minority in that?
Had the series ended on the high note of the defeat of Bane, played by Shane West, the saving of Gotham, etc. that we saw in the penultimate episode last week it would have been a better ending for me than the rushed series finale turned out to be.
The series finale takes place 10 years after the penultimate episode in which Bruce Wayne left Gotham and is now set to return a decade later. Gordon is ready to retire as police commissioner, Barbara, played by Eric Richards, is now a mogul, Oswald “Penguin” Cobblepot, played by Robin Lord Taylor, is about to be released after nearly a decade in prison and Ed “The Riddler” Nygma has been in Arkham Asylum all this time, with a seemingly brain dead Jeremiah Valeska, played by Cameron Monaghan.
Penguin and The Riddler have been the show’s main villains its entire run and are basically thrown by the wayside in the finale with their only service essentially being a comic relief bit paying tribute to the original “Batman” TV series of the ‘60s.
We knew based on promos after last week’s episode that we’d see Bruce Wayne’s transformation into Batman, but we also get Jeremiah’s transition (finally!!) into The Joker, but it’s done in such an incredibly rushed moment that it’s basically over right as it begins and because of this just isn’t that much fun. That being said, Monaghan performance as Jerome/Jeremiah/Joker over the years has been the best portrayal of a villain on the series.
Other than the general trying to do way too much in the finale another thing about “In the Beginning…” that was annoying was the recasting of Selina Kyle for the finale. The character has been performed aptly by Camren Bicondova for five seasons and because the character ages 10 years they felt the need to recast it for Lili Simmons in the finale episode? None of the other characters had that happen despite 10 years passing. If NBC’s “This Is Us” can make Mandy Moore look decades older flawlessly I think “Gotham” could’ve done that with Bicondova. Or maybe the series just wanted to shamelessly sex Selina up for the finale like it did a couple seasons back with the Poison Ivy character?
I understand why “Gotham” felt the need to go full Dark Knight by the end of the series, but it shouldn’t have been done in one hour-long episode. If they were going to try this, they should’ve spread it out more throughout the season. It kind of leaves a blackmark on the finish of the show.