Will Gotham Even Get A Third Season?


First off, I’d like to apologize to anyone feeling that the title of this article was “clickbaity.”  There really was no other way to write the headline.  After the very lackluster season opener of Gotham, the biggest question in my mind has nothing to do with the story or the characters … it has to do with the fate of the overall show.  And it seems that I’m not the only one with this sentiment.

When Gotham premiered last year, it attracted over 8 million viewers.  That number slowly dwindled and hovered at 4.7 million for the show’s last few weeks of Season 1.  This Monday, the season premiere only garnered 4.57 million — which made it one of the lowest watched episodes for the series to-date.  Has the world gotten too much Batman and his lore?  Is Spielberg the ultimate film-Nostradamus in predicting the oversaturation of superhero properties?  No and no.  I can tell you exactly what’s going on: badly developed characters, and writing that’s basically all over the place.

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My biggest gripe for “Damned If You Do …” is the portrayal of Jim Gordon.  I can see how in Season 1, the character may be played inconsistently.  Everyone knows that the first season of every show is pretty much experimental — actors trying to get a feel for their characters, and writers seeing what resonates with the audience.  Gordon was set up as a white knight from the start, pretty much like the comics.  There is no wavering from that.  He’s Gotham City’s hope before Batman comes into existence.  But what happened on Monday night’s episode is just plain lazy writing and something that does (pardon the pun) an injustice to the character.

We saw Gordon resign from his post and then regret it.  This regret leads to a deal proposal with Penguin.  Now, why would he do that?  He’s already seen, first-hand, that Penguin always has a hidden agenda.  He then goes around getting advice from friends and colleagues.  The one that resonates the most with Gordon is the advice from Bruce Wayne.  He tells Gordon that sometimes you have to do what’s “ugly” in order for things to move forward (this is another complaint I’ll get into later).  Gordon takes this advice — basically initiating the deal with Penguin — and commits a crime to get his badge back.

These actions are not consistent with a smart, moral cop who’s here to save Gotham City.  It’s also a sign of lazy writing.  The writers basically said, “Hey, Gordon’s in a pickle.  Oh wait, we’ll just have him make a deal with Penguin again and all will be fine and dandy.”  The thing that makes film and television interesting is seeing a protagonist get out of situations himself — using his own ingenuity.  Gordon could’ve used his years of investigative experience to find a loophole.  Show us why Gordon would one day deserve to be Gotham City’s top cop.

Getting back to my complaint about Bruce Wayne, the character would never tell someone to do what’s “ugly.”  That’s why Batman is such a great character.  He approaches the line, but never crosses it.  Now, we can give the excuse that these are the words of a young teen with an undeveloped brain who’s still a bit angry and frustrated.  However, we’ve seen in the first season that he’s quite mature, and has a strong moral compass.  These words to Gordon were just convenient to move the story forward, an attempt to make the audience okay with what Gordon was about to do.

Referencing one of the best portrayals of Batman’s world — The Dark Knight Trilogy — the reason Christopher Nolan’s interpretation worked so well was due to Gordon and Batman never crossing the line.  Batman could’ve easily killed The Joker twice — once when Batman was driving towards him with his Batpod, and the second time when The Joker fell from a building.  But Batman didn’t resort to that.  Gordon also used his ingenuity to draw The Joker out.  Gordon never once broke the law.  He never went to the mob for help.  Even at the end of The Dark Knight — where he and Batman agreed to use Batman as a scapegoat instead of Harvey — Gordon’s actions are not as bad as the actions of Gordon from Gotham.

Like I said in my review for “Damned If You Do …,” Penguin has become Gotham‘s deus ex machina.  Every problem seems to be solved by going to Penguin.  Gordon doesn’t to do a lot of work in getting himself out of trouble.

I understand that the creators intended Gotham to be its own thing, but it has deviated so far from the material that it’s almost unrecognizable: Barbara Kean is now a murdering villain?  Penguin as a powerful mob boss?  A young Joker?  Contrary to what that creators of the series think, comic book fans will not be bored if you stick to the source material.  Even though we know the history, we’re interested in the stories that were never told — which means you don’t need established villains.  Tell us the story of Gordon before Batman and his rogues gallery existed in Gotham City.  The reason your viewership is dwindling is because your characters have no real conflict and are always choosing the easy way out.

Fox’s Gotham airs on Mondays at 8:00PM EST.

Next: Catch up on Gotham with a review of Damned If You Do ...

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