SPOILER ALERT: This story contains details of tonight’s Gotham Season 1 finale.
What began with water also ended in the water on Gotham tonight. The city has a new boss of a sort in the Season 1 finale and a lot of laughter is coming in Season 2, says executive producer Bruno Heller.
Bookending Oswald Cobblepot AKA Penguin rising from the murky waters of the bay at the end of the Batman backstory’s highly rated September 22 pilot, Jada Pinkett Smith’s villainous queen bee Fish Mooney was thrown to her apparent death in the city waters in tonight’s Gotham season finale All Happy Families Are Alike. To top that off, Robin Taylor Lord’s Penguin yells to the skyline that he’s now the king of the criminals. Not only did the packed finale drop Fish in the sea, but mob chief Carmine Falcone is retiring from ruling Gotham, fellow gangster Sal Maroni is now dead and the Ben McKenzie portrayed GCPD Detective James Gordon has been given power he doesn’t really desire.
— Gotham (@Gotham) May 5, 2015
While Smith announced earlier that she’s not returning to Gotham for Season 2, series creator and EP Heller explains that Fish’s murder was vital to the end of Season 1.”She’s such a domineering, powerful, imperious person that Penguin can’t possibly be the crime lord in Gotham while Fish is around, especially if she has anything to say about it,” he says. However, as Heller hints, this may not be the last we’ve seen of Fish Mooney. “This is Gotham, and death isn’t a barrier to return (for its characters),” the EP teases. “I’m not saying that she’ll definitely return.”
The end of the Falcone-Maroni rivalry tonight in sum marked the end of an era for the Caped Crusader show, which was renewed for second season on January 17. “Mobsters were the first stage of Gotham‘s criminal history. They gradually die out and have their places taken by the more spectacular villains,” explains Heller about setting the stage for Season 2. However, when it comes to ruling the city’s underworld, “that’s a very specific job description” says Heller that isn’t cut out for every colorful lunatic in the Batman dramatis personae. The creator/EP indicates that Edward Nygma AKA The Riddler “will be a larger, more villainous character in Season 2” but as far as running a gang or having sway over political power, that’s not his alter-ego’s approach. “Sometimes it’s about a villain just satisfying their own perverted lusts and urges,” adds Heller. As far as how long Penguin can rule Gotham, “that’s the big question” says Heller.
“That said, there will be a very big villain arriving in Season 2, one who doesn’t want to run Gotham, but destroy it,” teases Heller. That villain almost seems certain to be The Joker, who the creator/EP mentioned at Deadline’s Awardsline screening of the Gotham finale on April 29. “We’re going to answer a lot of questions about The Joker that were raised this season,” says Heller referring to The Blind Fortune Teller episode which introduced the cackling character of Jerome, who confesses to Gordon that he killed his mother. The Joker according to Batman comic lore can’t fully come into play as himself until his cowled rival is himself in costume, and we are far away from that happening on Gotham, this storyline is more of an origins one. “There’s so much revealed in the first three episodes,” says Heller, “Jerome contains the DNA of The Joker, but if he isn’t him than how does someone else appear to be the Joker? How does The Joker’s identity transfer into somebody else’s body?”
As villains come into their own in Season 2, tonight’s episode also opened the door on a passageway down to a dark, damp cellar; one which young Bruce Wayne is certain to enter, accessed via a bookcase in his family mansion’s library. It’s arguably the Bat Cave. “In the writers’ room we’re calling it his Dad’s office,” specifies Heller. In terms of how this discovery will impact young Wayne next season, Heller continues, “he’ll learn that his parents are more complicated than he imagined. When you’re a young kid, parents tend to be either heroes or villains; mostly heroes. It’s hard to imagine just before Bruce’s age when your parents can do no wrong. You can’t imagine them having secret lives. Bruce will learn that his father was a complex, tortured person, but also heroic. His father was leading a double life and this leads to the creation of an alter ego. It’s hard for anyone to present the fullness of themselves to the general public. If you have dark secrets to keep, you have to create an alter ego. That is the essence of what the Batcave means.”
At the Gotham Awardsline screening last week, Heller and his EPs John Stephens and Danny Cannon, who directed tonight’s episode, told Deadline that they began working on Season 2’s story line exactly a week ago. Production starts on June 22 at the Brooklyn Navy Yards, the same production locale for HBO’s Boardwalk Empire.
In extending the Batman prequel universe in Gotham, Heller consults DC Comics chief creative officer Geoff Johns when hammering out plot. And given the melange of evil doers who’ve been introduced thus far, there are some that will never see the light of day, read Australian baddie Captain Boomerang, who has a specialty for throwing and making, well, boomerangs. “Some characters work well in comic strips, but then you can’t imagine someone wearing that costume and going to work in it,” says Heller. Despite what the Gotham EP says, the Captain Boomerang character is still coming to a screen near you. Played by Jai Courtney, Captain Boomerang is one of the gang of supervillians in the David Ayer directed Suicide Squad. Set to come out on August 5, 2016, the Warner Bros flick also stars Jared Leto as The Joker and Will Smith as Deadshot among other baddies.
Nonetheless, Heller has his own favorite tacky evil doer: King Tut. The character is a former Yale professor who, after hitting his head, thinks he’s the Egyptian ruler and aims to takeover Gotham – which he calls “Thebes.’ Confesses Heller, “I’m fascinated by him. You know everyone has a soft spot for a character who shouldn’t be on the screen. What’s his power?”
Watch for the Bat signal and you might find out.