Gotham series finale recap: The Beginning…


Gotham wraps its five-year run with a ten-year time jump that finally introduces Batman but doesn’t entirely justify the city’s need for his heroics.

Admittedly, Gotham‘s writers were faced with a dilemma when crafting the season five finale — the final episode of a series that has been successful in large part because it’s operated outside the scope of traditional Batman lore. It’s told the story no one else did: the beginning… of the beginning.

So, how would the show in its final act tell the story that has been told before? Unfortunately, the writers opted for a rather low-stakes approach, which felt especially jarring for a series in which chaos and suspense have reigned supreme, especially in season finales.

Batman is meant to bring Gotham out of its darkest hour, but he’s never given the chance because the citizens of Gotham already did that… ten years earlier. By the time Bruce finally steps up to be “a light in the darkness,” Gotham isn’t as dark anymore.

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On the one hand, Jim (who briefly sports a mustache!) is planning to step down as commissioner, disappointed that he never was never able to make Gotham the utopia he envisioned. But, on the other hand, Gotham is still reunited with the Mainland; and Penguin, Riddler and a brain dead Jeremiah have been behind bars for the past decade. So, clearly, the city is better off than it has been for most of the series.

Admittedly, things do heat up when Penguin is released from Black Gate, Riddler is broken out of Arkham, Jeremiah (who only pretended to be brain dead) escapes Arkham and Harvey claims to have murdered an Arkham guard in cold blood. But even still, the suspense remains relatively low.

GOTHAM: L-R: Robin Lord Taylor and Cory Michael Smith in the “The Beginning…” series finale episode of GOTHAM airing Thursday, April 25 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2019 Fox Media LLC Cr: FOX

In a callback to the series premiere, Penguin tries to kill Jim (who locked him up six months after reunification) at the same dock where Jim faked Penguin’s death all those years ago. Jim takes a page out of his own playback and dives into the harbor. Penguin shoots at him and into the water multiple times but misses.

Meanwhile, Riddler receives a note and a box of C4 from “Oswald,” and in another callback, he tries to blow up Mayor James again. This time, it’s at the grand opening of Wayne Tower, and Riddler makes the mistake of waiting on Bruce, who never shows. Selina (now five inches taller and played Lili Simmons) teams up with Barbara (who’s now a ginger), and they defeat Riddler quite easily.

A larger threat looms, though, when Jim discovers the table exhibiting Bruce’s new model of Gotham is packed with C4 and the trigger is inside the clock tower. Fortunately, Lee and her steady “doctor’s hands” save the day with one second to spare. However, when Lucius points out that the clock tower was modeled after an old design rather than the new one, Jim realizes Jeremiah is the culprit behind the bombing attempt and Riddler’s break out.

Jim confronts Harvey about Jeremiah framing him, and their conversation is picked by the mic one of Jeremiah’s cop minion is wearing. Knowing his cover has been blown, Jeremiah sports his most comics-accurate Joker look to date and, assisted by Ecco, ambushes Barbara, who is at The Sirens Club with her daughter.

Babs had told ten-year-old Barbara Lee to stay hidden, but being her parents’ daughter and future Batgirl, she immediately jumps into action. She throws a candle holder at Ecco, allowing Babs to escape Ecco’s grip and stab her. When Jeremiah then shoots Babs, Barbara Lee starts hitting him. But, of course, being a ten-year-old, she can’t overpower him.

Jeremiah kidnaps her, but not before giving Babs a message for Jim. (He needs to meet Jeremiah at the place where he was “born again,” aka Ace Chemicals, or Barbara Lee will die.)

Frustratingly, Babs doesn’t put up a fight when Jeremiah kidnaps her daughter, which feels very much for the sake of the plot and not in line with how Babs would actually react, even with a gunshot wound.

GOTHAM: L-R: Erin Richards and Ben Mckenzie in the “The Beginning…” series finale episode of GOTHAM airing Thursday, April 25 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2019 Fox Media LLC Cr: FOX

Over at Ace Chemicals, Jeremiah (who feels that Jeremiah isn’t the right name anymore but doesn’t know what to call himself) explains to Jim that he was waiting for Bruce (the only thing he’s ever loved) to return to Gotham before making his own grand reentrance into society. Barbara Lee, meanwhile, is suspended over a vat of chemicals, and Jeremiah suddenly lets go.

Jim catches the rope just in time, and Jeremiah stabs him in the back. Fortunately, Jeremiah gets the reunion he’d been hoping for when Batman swoops in and incapacitates him.

The End of the Beginning

Fittingly, Selina and Bruce’s first interaction in ten years takes place on a rooftop. Selina calls out Bruce for watching her steal a diamond earlier in the episode (she knows he’s Batman) and for leaving Gotham — “I didn’t want to be protected. I wanted you!”

Bruce says he didn’t have a choice but won’t leave Gotham again. He also tells her to return the diamond, to which she aptly responds, “Like, hell.” While it would have been nice to see Bruce and Selina interact more, it’s at least a consolation to know she figured out he was Batman from the get-go. Furthermore, Camren Bicondova was definitely missed, but Lili Simmons did a good job of adopting Selina’s mannerisms and attitude.

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Jim, for his part, also seems to realize Batman’s identity, calling him “a friend,” as he watches Batman step into the fresh-out-of-storage GCPD spotlight.

Meanwhile, Penguin and Riddler escape after being caught and tied up by Batman, but decide to take a day off from scheming, having acquired a genuine fear of the Caped Crusader.

What did you think you Gotham‘s series finale? Was it what you expected? Let us know in the comments section below.