Five years, five seasons and one hundred episodes. Gotham has a weird, unpredictable and entertaining run. As for its finale… it was fine. Things happened. Conflicts were resolved and we saw the Bat. It was fine. Just fine.
The episode opens with Bruce in some distant country, gazing upon icy mountains that will likely serve as his training grounds. When we cut back to Gotham, its ten years later. The talk of the town is Bruce’s return and the reopening of Wayne Enterprises. We catch up with everyone. Jim is talking of retirement and has grown a moustache. Or at least he had until Barbara calls it out, prompting him to shave it. Barbara’s a redhead now. She and Jim seem to be happily co-parenting little Barabara Lee, along with Lee.
Oswald has been in prison for most of the past ten years and is about to be released. Ed is in Arkham along with Jeremiah who’s in a vegetative state. Selina, all grown up now (i.e. being played by a different actress, Lili Simmons), is a cat burglar, pulling off jewellery heists.
Oswald’s release is suspiciously timed with a break out from Arkham where Ed escapes. Or more accurately, he’s taken from Arkham, waking up with a note addressed from Oswald and a box filled with C4. The GCPD also discover stolen explosives and Harvey claims he shot an unarmed suspect when the audience knows the suspect shot himself. All the while a shadowy figure lurks just out of sight.
All too happy to remind Gotham of the Riddler, Ed dons his signature jacket and hat and kidnaps the Mayor the reopening of Wayne Industries. Unfortunately for him, he catches the eye of Selina. Taking Barbara as backup the duo subdue him before he can execute his plan.
Meanwhile, Oswald’s first task after getting out of jail is reconnecting with Jim. At gunpoint. Holding him hostage, he takes Jim to the dock they were both on in the pilot. In his monologueing, Jim realizes Oswald isn’t behind the Arkham escape or the explosives. He jumps into the river to escape, heading to Wayne Industries.
There they discover explosives ridged for the building to explode. Lee disarms it and Jim puts the final pieces together as to who’s behind it all. Jeremiah makes his move, revealing he wasn’t vegetative all this time. He kidnaps Barbara Lee, taking her to Ace chemicals.
Suspending her above a vat of the chemicals, Jeremiah reveals this plan was all for Bruce’s return. For the thing he loved the most, that was ripped away from him, as he put it. Jim stops Barbara Lee from falling to the chemicals, and something that’s unmistakably a Batarang stops Jeremiah.
Oswald and Ed reunite, truly the Penguin and Riddler now. Their reunion, however, is cut short by the caped vigilante who leaves them all wrapped up from the GCPD to find. They do escape custody, vowing that no one in a mask and cape will take their city from them. But when they the caped figure, flitting between buildings, they decide their plans can wait until the next day.
Selina gets a visit from Bruce but does turn around to face him. She’s still hurt by how he left things, leaving her because he left the need to protect her. They don’t know how to move forward from here, but one thing is for certain, Selina isn’t stopping her criminal ways just because Bruce asked.
On the roof of the GCPD, Jim pulls out the spotlight, turning it on ‘for old time’s sake’. He, Harvey and Alfred watch as the light illuminates the sky and as, for the first time, Batman appears.
A lot happened and yet a lot didn’t happen. There never really felt like there were any stakes to the events going down. Last week episode, ‘They Did What?’ felt like more of a wrap up than Gotham’s actual finale. ‘The Beginning…’ is more of an epilogue. As the title suggests, it’s more of the start of something rather than a closing note for Gotham.
The saving grace of the episode was the characters, which is always the ace up Gotham’s sleeve. Seeing them all interact one last time, their history together and their growth on full display. It was the smaller subtleties, like Penguin and Jim on that dock again, now fully realized versions of their comic book counterparts. Or when it was Selina asked Barbara to come with her after Ed, a small call back to the kinship they started all the way back in season one.
I loved the glimpse we got into Gordon/Kean family unit. Between having parents Barbara, Jim and Lee and witnessing Batman save the day, it’s no wonder little Barbara Lee will one day grow up to be Batgirl. Barbara Sr. was a shining light in this episode. More than any character I was worried she wouldn’t make it to the finale. Yet here she stands, arguably the best evolution Gotham has given to a character.
While part of me can’t help but want to have seen Camren Bicondova one last time in the role of Selina. But Simmons is a dead ringer for an older Bicondova and she nailed the snark and wit of the character. That final scene between Bruce and Selina was a touching encapsulation for the relationship between them. It’s also charming that Selina knows it Bruce running around dressed like a bat without even seeing him properly.
As for the Joker and the Batman, not that they were ever called that, their confrontation here was more a tease for the journey that will come. Their relationship will forever be linked and it’s made perfectly clear here.
Gotham was far from perfect, but it made its imperfections work for it. It leaned into the strength of its characters and the insanity of its premise making a Batman mythos that’s uniquely it’s own.