Gotham’s penultimate episode wraps up the ‘No Man’s Land’ arc and paves the way for the final episode, the future of the city, and the Batman. Kicking off right where the last episode left off, Gotham has been invaded under the ordered of the mind-controlled General. Nyssa Al Ghul has Barbara and baby girl Gordon-Kean. Bane is leading the attack on the city. All in all, things aren’t looking good for the city.
Oswald and Ed are preparing to leave in their sub, but at the last moment, Oswald has a change of heart. He can’t abandon the city in its time of need. Ed calls him a fool for following his heart, but Oswald still returns to the city.
He goes to Jim at the GCPD, offering his support. They share a moment to reminisce of their shared history, going back to that moment on the docks way back in the pilot. Harvey comes in, warning that the army is on the move with hundreds of men coming their way. They number thirty on their side. Ed appears, joining their ranks. Thirty-one against an army doesn’t seem like good odds, but their plan isn’t to win but to stall until they can find the General and free him of his mind control.
It’s a full circle moment, as we’re finally at the moment teased at the very start of this season. Oswald and Ed, united with Jim, Harvey and Bruce, ready to defend their city. Selena goes to the Siren’s to find Barbara, the baby, and Lee, but Nyssa is long gone with mother and child. At the front lines, Bane’s forces and firepower overwhelm the barricade, forcing everyone to retreat. In the chaos, Oswald loses an eye to a grenade when he protects Ed.
They fall back to the GCPD, where Jim learns Barbara was kidnapped. He goes alone to Nyssa at the Mayor’s office. Sneaking in, he gets the drop on the guards watching Barbara. Barbara herself dispatches one of the guards while still cuffed.
Nyssa confronts them, using their baby as a bargaining chip. She forces them to drop their guns, taking on Jim in a fist fight. At first, she has the upper hand but using quick thinking and a set of cuffs to handicap Nyssa, Jim and Barbara stab her with the same knife that killed Ra’s. Wounded and defeated, Nyssa orders the General to kill himself before making her escape. With the General dead there’s no way to stop the army, but for the moment, Jim, Barbara, and their baby are safe.
Meanwhile, Bruce and Lucius have an idea to stop the army, taking inspiration from a surprising place: Jeremiah Valeska. Jeremiah planned to use energy generators converted into bombs to collapse key buildings in the city, turning it into a maze of his design. Lucius had previously converted the bomb back into a generator, which they’re currently using to power the GCPD. Their plan now is to turn it back into the bomb, collapsing a building to hinder the army’s advance. It’s a crazy plan, made crazier by the fact the building they need to destroy is Wayne Industries.
Lucius outfits Bruce with some experimental Wayne tech, including a cloaking device with a glitch that makes it a beacon for ‘certain species of animals’. Bruce and Selina go to Wayne Industries with the improvised bomb. Bruce takes a moment to reminisce on his memories growing up there with his parents. But he knows his parents would have risk anything for Gotham, even their legacy, so that’s what he does. Wayne Industries falls, stopping the army in their path.
On their return to GCPD, Bruce and Selina encounter Bane. Even though they put up a good fight, he overpowers them, almost killing Selina. Bruce uses the glitched device Lucius gave him. The species of animal the device attracts are a certain winged mammal: bats. They swarm Bane, attacking him. Bruce watches on as they fly around him. He looks up, watching as a bat is silhouetted against the moon.
Back at the GCPD, they’re preparing for their final stand. The plan is to get the civilians out of the green zone using tunnels under the GCPD. Jim asks Lee and Barbara to escape with them. A few people stay behind as a last defense. Jim, Harvey, Harper, Bruce, Selina, Oswald, and Ed stand outside the GCPD, the last line between Bane and the people of the city. Lee returns, joining their line.
Bane, with the army behind him, is ready to gun them down. But just before they do, the civilians return, Barbara with them. The soldiers realize these people aren’t the corrupt criminals they’d been lead to believe. They turn their guns on Bane instead, taking him captive.
With Bane and Nyssa gone, the assault comes to an end. Word of Nyssa’s plans reach back to the mainland and the General’s orders are reversed. Reunification with the mainland begins, the city and its people just barely surviving.
In the aftermath, Barbara finally reveals the name she’s chosen for their daughter, Barbara Lee Gordon, after the three people she’ll always be able to rely on.
Oswald and Ed reflect on everything that happened. After it all, they’re still viewed as common criminals. They swear to each other that they’ll become criminals who are anything but common. In a tense moment, they face each other, both with knives hidden behind their backs. Both with the intention of killing someone they see as a powerful enemy. But, as they embrace, their hug changes, from a moment of backstabbing to a moment of genuine acceptance between the two. They may never be able to be friends again, but their connection will always be there. They part ways, not really as enemies, but not as allies either.
Bruce reflects on the events of the past few days, how Gotham was attacked again, because of him. How he almost lost Selina. He comes to the decision to leave Gotham. But he does stay long enough to see Jim named the Commissioner. An honor that has been a long time coming for Jim. Bruce says his goodbyes to Alfred, who’s staying in Gotham to oversee the rebuilding of Wayne Manor and Wayne industries. Bruce departs his city, his journey to become the Batman truly beginning.
This wasn’t the craziest climax Gotham has ever had. Far from it. But what it lacks in spectacle it makes up for in character moments. The episode took the time to reflect on the characters’ relationships and their journeys until this point. Oswald, Ed, and Barbara especially. The evolution of those three has been the most surprising throughout the series.
Take Jim choosing to defy the corruption of Gotham and let Oswald live. As much as that a defining moment for Jim then, it has shaped the course of the whole series. Of course, the Penguin wasn’t going to be killed in the first episode, but who could have guessed then how Oswald would rise up over the course of this series. Ed says himself this episode, he started off as a submissive lackey in the GCPD. He grew to become one of Gotham’s greatest masterminds. Those two are a testament to how well Gotham developed its villains. This series is truly as much theirs as it is Bruce’s and Jim’s.
Barbara’s arc these past five seasons has been a personal favorite to watch. From someone blindly following Jim getting caught up in his fights to a crime lord of Gotham and now to a mother on her own terms. There’s something charming and somewhat funny about the place Barbara, Jim, and Lee have in each other’s lives at the end. After all the pain they’ve caused each other, literal and emotional, it’s weird that they’d decide to raise this child together, as Barbara put it. But it’s also heart-warming in a way that only Gotham can be. Besides, who would have thought that Barbara Kean, crime lord, Lee Thompkins, once Queen of the Narrows, and James Gordon, Captain and Commissioner of Police, would raise the woman who’ll eventually become Batgirl.
With the finale being a jump forward a decade into Gotham’s future, this episode is an ending in its own way. For ‘No Man’s Land’ but also for the journey of all these characters. When we next return to the city, for the last time we’ll see who they’d become, how they’ve shaped Gotham, and how Gotham shaped them.