If you thought Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight feature trilogy elevated the gravitas of Batman, WBTV’s Gotham series on Fox just takes the show to a higher state of human drama. The series follows the early days of James Gordon in the wake of Bruce Wayne’s parents, before the detective becomes the city’s police commissioner and crusades against crime alongside Batman.

The show’s creator Bruno Heller and EPs Danny Cannon and John Stephens gathered at the Awardsline Emmy screening on Tuesday night for the show’s season finale “All Happy Families Are Alike” along with a plethora of cast members Ben McKenzie (James Gordon), Jada Pinkett Smith (Fish Mooney), David Mazouz (Bruce Wayne), Robin Lord Taylor (Oswald Cobblepot), Camren Bicondova (Selina Kyle) and Cory Michael Smith (Edward Nygma) to discuss the complexity of their dark alter egos onscreen. Deadline’s Dominic Patten moderated the post screening Q&A.

Gotham Awardsline screeningFor Smith who plays the future Riddler villain, the actor grappled with the psychology of how an ordinary human can just go bad.  “What does it mean to be a villain? Is it destiny? Is it something you awake to? Or is it someone who has well intentions to be alive with good people, such as the police, and circumstances are such that one finds himself a bit lost, upstream with no one to rely on?” explained the actor to the Landmark Theatre audience.

Building on Smith’s deconstruction of a Batman villian, Cannon, who directed the finale, said “We talk a lot about the noir heart in Gotham. When you look into the darkness, what will it take to save the city of darkness? It’s that sense of how far you can play the characters as they step over the line.”  The EPs spoke extensively about how they were inspired by the crime-filled, corrupt ’70s cop world of New York City. “It’s like calling the show ‘New York’, you don’t run out of good stories,” added Cannon about the creative well.

Gotham Awardsline screeningFor Heller, the dramatis personae in Gotham are more than just kooky comic book characters on the page. And when it came to adapting them, there were high stakes: “These are real people that audiences have loved and known for years.  It’s like you’re telling stories about people’s families. You have be respectful and honor them.”

While details of the season finale which airs on Monday, May 4 at 8PM cannot be revealed at this time, it’s fair to say that the series moving forward obviously and continually unpeels Wayne’s transformation into the Dark Knight.  Observing his own character’s future, McKenzie explained that it will come at a severe cost. Said the actor, “Gordon’s ascendance in the hierarchy of the GCPD is marked by Gotham’s descent into chaos. He’s gaining power as he’s falling apart morally and as the city is falling apart literally. It becomes anarchy. That’s a fascinating premise for a series.”