The fifth and final season of Fox's Gotham begins in five months, and it will - finally, for some fans - take David Mazouz's Bruce Wayne into his first steps as Batman. In an set visit earlier this month, Newsarama spoke with the cast and crew about 2019's ten-episode final season and the finale to the story of Bruce Wayne, James Gordon, Oswald Cobblepot, and more.
The set visit began at Gotham's Sirens Club, with Donal Logue (who plays Harvey Bullock) talking about his character's moral compass and how it's changed (or hasn't) in the past five years.
"The most important thing to me is that the idea of moral relativism is this notion of black and white," Logue told Newsarama. "Jim Gordon is all good, Harvey Bullock is all bad or crooked, but we’ve seen Jim do some dark, shadowy type stuff and we’ve seen it go both ways. I think that’s an imperative moment you hit on."
When cast, Logue became the first live-action iteration of the decades-old character, bringing life to one of Gotham P.D.’s most controversial characters and someone who defined what kind of people Gotham could turn them into. The veteran actor opened up about the challenge to bring this character to the screen and putting his own personal stamp on Bullock.
"You know, I think it would have been very difficult - it was beautiful in the animated series - but it would have been difficult to have played somebody who was so misogynistic and possible homophobic," he explained. "I think that I had to make this guy more empathetic and to see the humanity in him in all the way he had to play the comic relief for a while, too."
Gotham's final season is only scheduled to run 10 episodes - less than half of the previous four seasons. Logue admits that he wish he had more episodes - or more seasons even - to continue this story.
"I wish we had twenty more seasons for our stories to tell. There’s part of me that misses Gotham Central with the sense of the noirish sort of police department, I liked that kind of stuff in the comics," he said. "The internalized conflict within the department itself, I liked the politics of the precinct and I don’t know if we got the time to tell that as much I would have liked."
After that, actor Cameron Monaghan - who plays the Joker-ish twins Jerome and Jeremiah Valeska - stepped up to talk to the press. The twin sons of a snake dancer and fortune teller, Jerome was the manic and explosive twin while Jeremiah more collected one, but still very dangerous. Monaghan explained what it was like being able to make this version of the Joker his own not once, but twice during the show.
“I think what’s awesome was it allowed so much freedom for a performance and it could have gone in so many directions with someone who isn’t constrained by social conventions, his behaviour is defined by what he wants to do," he said about these proto-Joker characters.
“Which means as an actor you can bring it any way you want. With Jerome, I wanted it to be heightened and sort of cartoony, but with [Jeremiah] I wanted him to be a bit more chilling and internal with his mania," Monaghan continued. "That being said this year, he’s sort of gained an ego and started to lose some of the plot and go off the deep end in the fact he was successful for causing so much destruction."
The actor continued praising the show’s creators for letting him to be able to play characters like these two.
"It’s just an amazing opportunity as a performer to have gotten to do this."
Monaghan went on to explain that there are definite highlights in these upcoming episodes for his character that allow them to use classic Batman/Joker moments.
"I have a couple moments this season, especially deeper towards the end where the character gets to play with some iconic imagery that I love that we’re bringing from the history of the character and there’s moments that are huge for people who are fans of the comics," he said.
"I will say that the final episode of the season there’s some stuff that I’m really excited for. I’m champing at the bit to get to that."
In Gotham's fourth season, Monaghan-as-Jerome said that Bruce was his only friend - hinting at the conflicted dynamic that the Joker and Batman have had in comic books. The actor says that they will "absolutely" explore that more in these last episodes.
"That’s sort of Jeremiah’s main plot point this season, he’s relating into Bruce," he replied. "I think the main difference between Jerome and Jeremiah was that Jerome was destructive and most of his anarchy came from the fact that he wanted to destroy things and didn’t have much of a plan. What’s interesting with Jeremiah is that he’s this strange craftsman. He gets his joy from engineering these things that tend to hurt a lot of people. So most of his amusement is coming from his influence on Bruce and I think the reason he’s so obsessed with Bruce is this strange sense of love."
He went on to say that for Jeremiah, Bruce is the only person he felt connected to emotionally, intellectually, and he’s coming from this place of almost admiration.
"I do think there is this weird sense of appreciation for each other in this strange way. Jerome wanted to kill Bruce since he didn’t care for him that much, but Jeremiah very much does and that it is emblematic of the Batman/Joker relationship and I don’t know if it’s been really explored enough in live-action yet so I wanted to push that if we could."
Following that, the assembled press were taken to several sets including the Riddler's and Bruce Wayne's libraries, the new City Hall, and Penguin's newest base of operations. After that, we were circled back to Siren's to find Ben McKenzie (who plays James Gordon) "tending bar," in his own words.
The first question McKenzie was asked concerned Jim Gordon’s trajectory at the beginning of the season with No Man’s Land in effect.
"Gordon is literally and figuratively on an island so he’s not in a great place when we first see him...and it gets worse."
McKenzie said that Gotham's final season will be teasing the adult relationship between Gordon and Batman down the road.
"I think we are definitely leaning in to giving the fans those iconic moments between Gordon and eventually adult Bruce," said McKenzie. "There will be more of those to come but it’s been such a rewarding thing to watch, and of course it mirrors real life over the course of over five years, to see him grow from a boy into a man."
He went on to say how there is a certain pressure to say everything that they’ve wanted to say and get it said in the final episodes, but also it’s a "certain blessing" to know the end is near.
"So many shows get cancelled at the last minute based on things outside their control so they don’t get time to ramp up towards the conclusion or sense of closure and we are absolutely trying to give the fans a lot of these iconic moments that everyone is thirsty for," McKenzie explained. "Everyone is going out of their way to take time and appreciate each other."
At the end of Gotham's fourth season, Gordon stays behind in the ruined and isolated city - something that affects the character coming into the new season.
"Well he’s the last guy to go down with the ship, and the pressure becomes more and more intense, almost like Atlas carrying the weight of the world," said McKenzie. "It’s interesting because then it leads him to make decisions he otherwise wouldn’t make which there’s a big one in the middle of the season in the heat of passion that will have serious ramifications for himself and others."
These last ten episodes are packed with Easter eggs according to the actor - something he, the cast, and the crew wanted to make sure to include.
"All the questions we got at Comic-Con International: San Diego were ‘When are you going to do this’ and the answer is right d*** now! We don’t have any more time so might as well throw it in here, though, you know, in a well-constructed way. John Stevens and the writers have created a plan to sprinkle in things they want to see that doesn’t come across as lip service, but actually part of the 98 episodes that we made."
With things winding down, McKenzie talked about whether or not Gotham’s version of Gordon has reached his apex and finalization.
"I hope that with each season new layers are discovered and explored, but some of the events in season five are things that we’ve never seen Jim go through before and I would imagine we would see new sides of him."
Lastly, he talked about his relationship with Bullock and how it’s evolved from the beginning when Gordon joined the ranks of the GCPD.
"I think that their friendship was at the core of the show and I always appreciated how it never devolved into the classic this guy says blue, the other guy says red...I always felt it was more nuanced than that and as we get into this apocalypse, staring down the face of Death in season five, we can watch these two men who started out with a huge distrust and almost animosity towards one another to a true friendship."
After that, David Mazouz stepped in to talk about his final season as Bruce Wayne - a role the 17-year-old actor started when he was just 13. Is he ready for it to end? Not remotely.
"No, not at all. 70% not ready," he said shaking his head.
Mazouz is also one of the youngest actors to ever play Bruce Wayne in a setting that allowed some time to show his point of view of Gotham and his surroundings. The actor said he enjoyed showing a side of Bruce that isn’t explored in live action media, saying it’s all about making sure he gets to do the character justice, first and foremost.
"I get a lot of fan letters around my age and a lot of them say the same kind of thing and that is it’s great to see a hero that’s our age and somebody we can identify with," said Mazouz. "Seeing Bruce take on this mantle was such an inspiration for me. We just had a scene with all the good guys and discussed their game plan and realized I’m the only kid in the room and it’s cool."
Expanding on what McKenzie said about trying to cram so much material from a full-length season into a half length episode order, Mazouz emphasized that yes, it is a lot, but completely worth the wait.
"It’s so action-packed and we really do cram into the action from twenty-two episodes into ten which makes it a fascinated read when you’re looking over the scripts. It makes me think how the hell are they going to get the money to do that. Every episode is huge and almost its own finale and as an actor the hard part is keeping up with it and knowing what’s going on."
Circling back to Monaghan’s comment about some "iconic" imagery with his fight with Bruce, Mazouz said it’s incredibly special to him and so glad they included it.
"I won’t say much about it, but it’s very reminiscent of other incarnations of the Joker."
Playing Bruce’s faithful butler and father figure Alfred Pennyworth, Sean Pertwee added a level of toughness to his usual olden characteristics.
"Bruno and I had this conversation about why is Alfred there and who is he and what is he to this young Master Bruce, and that’s been the biggest thrill, to give him this difficult journey," said Pertwee. "He had no experience with children, he never asked to be a father, he has PTSD and he’s a disaster himself but through the darkness they find each other.”
Gotham’s Alfred also wasn’t afraid to take out any and all threats to young Master Bruce, but Pertwee himself is a bit more sensitive. When we sat down, he talked about how he just learned he had filmed the final scenes in Wayne Manor and the emotions he felt when he wrapped.
"Yeah, I didn’t know until [series writer] John Stevens told me last night. It was very emotional for David and I as it seems like only yesterday and he was a young boy that I could pick up with one hand and now in that scene he could look me in the eye."
Pertwee went on to explain how Alfred and Bruce’s relationship has strained but also grown and matured as the series has gone on.
"Their dysfunctionality is their reality. The boy needs the man just as much as the man needs the boy."
As for the show being allowed these last ten episodes, Pertwee feels lucky that they get to still end with a bit of closure.
"It feels like we’ve been lucky enough by Fox and Warner Bros. to grant us to finish with dignity. It feels like we can exhale and let Batman rise. We’ve earned it. I wish we would have had more time in the proper cave. I mean, we’ll get there, but I wanted more to that point of their true relationship. I never wanted it to stop really."
Pertwee went on to say how he hopes people will look back at this iteration of Batman and how it has defined the world for generation.
"There are so many versions, ours is our generation’s. Ours is Taxi Driver meets Brothers Grimm. People have accepted it and I think people will now reference us. I think people will look back at this for future iterations."
Following Pertwee was Robin Lord Taylor, whose breakout role as Oswald Cobblepot helped define Gotham early on - even before he amassed his criminal empire and obtained his trick umbrellas. The actor began by reflecting upon his time in the tuxedo and prosthetic nose.
"It’s one of the things I’m most proud of in my career. Just to take a piece of American pop culture and bring it into today and especially that it’s so dynamic and brilliantly layered and sketched out, but to bring it to now and something that’s never been done before feels incredible. It’s exhilarating."
Shane West was announced earlier this year to be joining Gotham as Eduardo Dorrance, the father of Bane in comic books, and Taylor talked about interacting with the new addition.
"Yeah we just had a scene but we’ll have more in the future. It’s interesting because as you know Penguin and Jim have this interesting dynamic, there is this weird sense of trust there but Eduardo knows Gordon very well, but he sort of comes in the beginning and disrupts that connection and no, it’s not good for anybody."
Taylor offered his own thoughts about whether or not ten episodes is enough to give this world and these characters a proper ending, saying he has faith in the writing team to bring everything to a close with a nice superhero landing.
"I mean, I think there’s a lot to cram into 100 more episodes, you know what I mean? We’ve shown in previous seasons this story, this city, these characters...there’s so many of them and they can go in so many ways. I think the way it’s coming down it’s very concentrated. We’re bringing storylines to a close, relationships to a close, and it feels like a rush."
When asked about what he wished he had more time for, he thought about it before coming to an answer.
"I wish we had time to take a closer look at these individuals’ lives. I wish we could spend a day in Alfred’s shoes and see Gotham through his eyes. Or Selina. To really solidify who these characters are."
The last question for Taylor was if his character will get an ending that the actor felt he deserved.
"Absolutely," Taylor replied with a laugh. "I mean we’ll see, but I’ve said before the ending I want for Penguin is that he becomes the classic supervillain we know. Somebody devoid of humanity and somebody who has done so much damage not only to himself, but to so many people. I want to get that point and ultimately, we’ll be seeing that."