GOTHAM: Untold origins


    The latest and last season of “Gotham” already has hit the small screen, and despite the previous lengthy seasons, this one will be a short 12 episodes. What’s that? You haven’t watched the show? Never fear. All the old episodes are available on a variety of layouts, including Hulu and Netflix.

    Why would you want to start now? How else are you going to explore the origins of the most popular and revered heroes and villains? How did the Penguin become who he was? The Riddler? The Joker? Cat-Woman? Poison Ivy? Mr. Freeze? They’re all told in this show and with an often-surgical skill. All except for perhaps Ra’s al Ghul.

    Creator Bruno Heller has developed a new mythos in the history of Batman and his many opponents. In the comics and most of the movies, the Batman origin is simple: When a boy loses his parents before his very eyes to a thief, he vows to rid the city of crime. In “Batman Begins,” director Christopher Nolan gave us an origin of “the Bat” that’s perhaps the most grounded in reality, but it still lacked the finer details of his childhood.

    This is where “Gotham” takes over, providing a rich history of how a young Bruce Wayne (played by David Mazouz of “Touch”) becomes — over the course of many years — our favorite caped crusader. In the span of five years, we watch the boy become a man with all the emotional turmoil that comes with preteen and teenage years.

    And yet, if you ask “Gothan” producer Heller, the show is not about Bruce Wayne or Batman, it’s about how James Gordon (played by Ben McKenzie) becomes commissioner and how he mentors a young Bruce without ever knowing what he will eventually become. You will see a much younger and savvier Alfred Pennyworth (played by Sean Pertwee, of “Dog Soldiers” and “Event Horizon”) help train and mentor Bruce as he becomes the hero who takes on the criminal element of the city of Gotham.

    The show does its level best to marry newer characters such as Lucius Fox (played by Chris Chalk) from the Nolan movie franchise to the series as well as the introduction of brand-new characters Fish Mooney (played by Jada Pinkett Smith) and Leslie Thompkins (played by Morena Baccarin, “Deadpool” and “V”), the police department’s replacement for the forensics expert.

    So much acting talent is attached to the series that it’s difficult to mention all who deserve praise. Veteran actors like Donal Logue, Robin Lord Taylor and even Michael Chiklis support the show as well as bright newcomers such as Camren Bicondova, Cory Michael Smith, Erin Richards, Jessica Lucas and much more.

    There are three surprise story arcs that deftly give us the origins of the Penguin, the Riddler and the Joker.

    It should be noted that the origin of the Joker (played to perfection by Cameron Monaghan) has been shrouded in mystery for at least 70 years until “The Killing Joke” became the definitive background story. What “Gotham” does is carry on the tradition of the mystery of Batman’s ultimate nemesis without being completely forthright in the telling. The creator and writers of the show even give him a proper name, Jerome Valeska.

    It is unknown if this incarnation is, more or less, an inspiration for the eventual villainous character or not. This final season may give us the answers but don’t be surprised if the mystery continues beyond the show itself.

    The ongoing metamorphosis of Edward Nygma (played by Cory Michael Smith) into the Riddler has been a fun ride — ripe with mental illness and split personalities, it’s truly a fantastically drawn out and highly entertaining story arc.

    And, of course, there is the Penguin (played by Robin Lord Taylor). The grounding of the character as part of the mob is perhaps the most realistic of the group. The angst and emotional upheaval of the character make for some great television.

    Another surprise is the origins of Solomon Grundy, the “undead monster.” The origin won’t be revealed here, but it will make perfect sense. While the character

    is short lived in the show, how he becomes the pasty white zombie of death makes the character a standout in the series.

    For the past four seasons, the show has been inventive and honorable to the legacy of Batman and the supporting characters. One thing missing is Robin, but if you are familiar with the legend, then you are aware that Robin appears much later in Batman’s history.

    So, if you are looking for a good show to watch that adds to the ongoing mythos of Batman, there isn’t much better. That’s not to say the writing doesn’t wander into dead-ends, but the show on a whole gives us a plethora of untold origins and it’s a fun ride regardless.

    To reach Brian Fitz-Gerald email him at

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