‘Gotham’ Ends Its Run With the Finale We Really Didn’t Need–Surprisingly, It’s Not Half Bad

Gotham s5e12 "the beginning" recap, season finale

Have you ever been to a concert where the music’s pretty good (but not great), and you’re really just ready for it to be over? The band plays the last song, and they walk off stage, and everyone claps politely and starts heading for the exits because nobody really wants to hear an encore. But then the band comes back, and they’re like, “We’re gonna do one more song!”

Nah, that’s okay—we’re good. 

“Aw, c’mon, man. Let us play one more.”

Okay, fine. But make it quick—we’ve got stuff to do tomorrow.

That’s kind of the way I felt about the Gotham series finale. Last week’s episode basically wrapped up the season’s major storylines and set the stage for the appearance of Batman. But since we’ve known (or at least assumed) for quite some time now that we’d see a grown-up version of the Dark Knight before the show ended its run, there had to be one more installment to make that happen.

But since this is a prequel, I would argue that we really don’t need to see the actual Batman for Gotham’s story to feel complete. We know what comes next. We’ve seen it and/or read about it a million times in other media. So the best thing for Gotham would have been to end things on last week’s high note and just stay in the dressing room, because there was always a really good chance the encore would just make things worse.

Surprisingly, “The Beginning…” isn’t half bad. I still say it’s unnecessary, and it feels out-of-place with the rest of the season, but it has its moments. I’m not a big fan of multi-year time jumps in general, but this one does allow a reasonable time for Bruce to have completed all of his bat-training and developed into a full-fledged superhero. And if the major selling point of the episode is to showcase the star of the franchise, then that’s probably the best way to handle it.

Unfortunately, the time jump doesn’t make as much sense for some of the other characters. Apparently Oswald, Ed, and Jeremiah have spent the majority of that time in Blackgate and Arkham, and we’re supposed to believe that Jeremiah feigned a vegetative state for an entire decade just to blow up the new Wayne Tower for Bruce’s arrival. I know he’s an evil genius, but that’s a bit much. And I get that Jim’s locking up of Oswald and Ed sets up the revenge angle and the callback scene at the pier, but couldn’t you have had two of Gotham’s most prolific bad guys doing something more interesting for ten years than sitting in prison and/or an insane asylum? It just feels lazy.

The women, on the other hand, have been doing quite well. Barbara bought up half the city after reunification, so she doesn’t have to kill people anymore to maintain her power base (although I’m sure she still could if she needed to). And Lee seems happy enough with Jim, although I wonder if she can legally practice medicine after all that shady stuff she did in the Narrows? My guess is yes; if Jim can be police commissioner after what he’s done, then I doubt the medical board would be a problem.

From a professional standpoint, Selina’s great. She’s in full Catwoman mode, and her stealing game has only gotten better. But she’s still pissed off at Bruce for leaving her, which is completely understandable. But it really doesn’t get resolved. Sure, Bruce shows up (sort of), and they talk (kind of), but Bruce really doesn’t acknowledge the fact that he mishandled the whole situation ten years ago. He’s Batman now, so I guess he gets a pass on being an actual human when it comes to relationships.

Of course, the big news is that we finally see the big guy himself. He saves some people, captures some people, you know–typical Batman stuff. I still say we didn’t need all that, but I guess it does provide some closure.

And with that, we say goodbye to Gotham. It wasn’t great television, by any means. In fact, it could be downright stupid at times. But sometimes stupid can be fun. And if you lower your expectations and just look for the fun parts, it’s pretty entertaining.

Or you could just save yourself the aggravation and watch something really good instead. That’s probably a better idea.

Random thoughts:

  • This one’s about as random as they get: we know from Batman Begins that, when Bruce goes into the Himalayas, he’s trained by Ra’s al Ghul and the League of Shadows. But if Bruce and Barbara have already killed Ra’s, then who trains Bruce in this version of the Batman universe? Maybe he’s not dead after all…
  • I still say Cameron Monaghan’s been drastically underused this season, but that could have been an availability issue. The new Jeremiah Valeska (or whatever he chooses to call himself now) may look hideous, but he’s a damn good stand-in for the Joker. We could have used more of that this season.
  • Was anyone else thrown by the fact that they got an entirely different actor to play Selina for the finale? I guess they didn’t think Carmen Bicondova would be believable enough as a twenty-something. They probably would have had the same issue with David Mazouz if they’d had to show Bruce without the cowl.
  • Speaking of aging, very few of the adults looked like they’d aged much at all. But I do like the fact that they put some weight on Robin Lord Taylor to give him that authentic Penguin look.
  • It didn’t dawn on me last week that Barbara Lee Gordon will most likely grow up to be Batgirl. I apologize for missing that one.
  • Any explosions this week? NO–thanks a lot, Lee Thompkins!
  • “I didn’t want to be protected. I wanted you.”

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