Tuesday, April 30, 2019

'Gotham' Recap: "The Beginning" (5x12)

Welcome back to the final recap of Gotham—or, as I like to call it, the show that sparked a Batman obsession that has slowly been consuming my life over the past three years.

Just kidding.


The show's 100th and final episode, "The Beginning," is a glimpse into the future of Gotham City and the first days of its caped crusader as he strikes terror into the hearts of some of the city's deadliest villains.

Warning: this episode contains some heavy violence and an on-screen suicide. This episode also contains some big SPOILERS. So if you want to go into the episode with no expectations or preconceived notions, it might be best to turn away now.

Plot A: Batman Begins.

Plot A: Batman Returns.

Plot A: Holy Finale, Batman!

The episode opens with a young, teenage Bruce staring out the icy window of a ship. On a nearby table sits a passport and a letter to Alfred.

As Bruce steps out of the ship and onto the docks, we hear the contents of said letter in a voice-over. Bruce tells Alfred that he's doing all right. He promises that, although Alfred won't hear from him for a while, Bruce will return when he's capable of protecting the people he loves—and when the city needs him.

Bruce then looks up at a snowy mountain in the distance. The location resembles the unnamed locale where the Shaman took him to train in season 3 (which may possibly have been Nanda Parbat, home of the League of Shadows).

The scene then shifts to Gotham—ten years after Bruce left. At City Hall, Harvey Bullock and a mustached Commissioner Gordon inform Mayor Aubrey James about a mysterious figure who's been terrorizing Gotham's criminals but hasn't killed anyone yet. (Sidenote: I can't believe that Mayor James is still alive and that the people of Gotham elected him as mayor again. Will they never learn?)

Harvey tells Mayor James that while no one gave a description for the figure, they mentioned a "growling," though Gordon says this is merely a rumor. Gordon then tells Mayor James that Penguin gets out of Blackgate Penitentiary soon, so some cops have theorized that he's hired someone to strike fear into rival gangs.

Mayor James complains that, given all of this information, it's not a great time for Gordon to resign. Gordon points out that he turned in his resignation months ago. Mayor James insists that Gordon can't quit, especially since Bruce Wayne is returning to Gotham. He adds that the newly-finished Wayne Tower represents hope, as does Gordon. Gordon replies that his promise—to stay until the Wayne Tower opening—remains unchanged.

After the mayor leaves, Gordon tells Harvey that he's tried running the police department for ten years; now it's time to give someone else a chance with it. Harvey remarks that it's an interesting coincidence that Gordon plans to leave the job just as Bruce returns.

Gordon changes the subject by saying that he's late for a meeting with Barbara (who is now a real estate tycoon, thanks to her decision to buy up about half of Gotham's real estate after reunification, when it was still cheap). Harvey tells Gordon to give his kid a kiss from her Uncle Harv.

Gordon meets Barbara Kean (who now has red hair) and his ten-year-old daughter (hereafter referred to as Barbara Lee) in a tall building with a nice view of Wayne Tower.

Barbara Kean asks if Gordon has heard from Bruce yet. When he replies that he hasn't, she remarks that it's weird that Bruce went ten years without saying a word to Gordon. She wonders if, at the gala, Bruce will recognize Gordon with the "caterpillar" above his lip and laughs. She then leaves Barbara Lee with Gordon after giving him instructions to take good care of her and make sure she doesn't stay up too late.

Over in Arkham, a messy-haired Riddler reads the newspaper over a guard's shoulder. He sees that Bruce is coming back to Gotham.

"Big deal," he mutters. "I knew him, back in the day. We helped save the city together." (You also made him play a quiz show in season 2 where you threatened to kill him with poison gas, Ed. So don't act like it was all buddy-buddy.)

Riddler then sees an article about Penguin being freed. When he expresses his surprise aloud, the guard rattles his baton against the bars. Riddler yells that after being in Arkham for 10 years, he deserves to read the newspaper.

Before he can argue this point further, however, Riddler sees an inmate approach Jeremiah Valeska and start to dab paint on his head.

(Side note: falling into a vat of acid and being stuck in Arkham for ten years has NOT treated Jeremiah well. He sits in a wheelchair, seemingly unresponsive to everything around him. His face is deformed from the chemicals, and his head is mostly bald, except for a few pathetic wisps of hair.)

Riddler stops the other inmate. He asks if he knows who he's dealing with and replies that Jeremiah Valeska is a legend.

"And if you're gonna screw with a legend," Riddler says, stabbing Jeremiah in the leg, "do it properly." Jeremiah does not respond or react at all. Riddler laughs and remarks that messing with him never gets old.

Suddenly, an alarm rings. Guards rush in, grab Riddler, and shove a bag over his head. At the same time, a nurse wearing a red, black, and white outfit rolls Jeremiah's wheelchair away (real subtle, Gotham).

Meanwhile, Gordon goes home to his and Lee's apartment. Lee notices that his mustache is gone. He replies that he was trying something new, but it didn't work.

Lee claims to have liked the 'stache but says that now, at least, Bruce will be able to recognize Gordon. As they wonder how much Bruce has changed over the past decade, Lee remarks that the two of them haven't; they're still both a doctor and a cop. Gordon remarks that he won't be a cop for much longer.

Lee asks if he's having second thoughts about leaving Gotham. She says that while she's all for leaving, she knows how much the job means to him and how much the city looks to him for leadership.

"Well, that's just it," Gordon says. "I was hoping Gotham would outgrow me. But it hasn't exactly happened." When he adds that no one stepped in to lead, Lee says that maybe someone will when he steps down.

"Ten years," she muses. "I wonder what Bruce will think of Selina. She's become quite the 'it girl' around town."

Elsewhere, a security guard locks up some kind of vault room. After he leaves, a masked woman in a leather bodysuit enters. She rolls a gadget across the floor, and it sprays smoke, revealing red lasers all over the room. She flips over and under them with dexterity, before approaching a glass case that holds a blue diamond. She then (for no apparent reason) removes her mask, revealing herself to be an older Selina Kyle.

(Side note: While most of the show's actors reprised their roles for the finale, Gotham cast an older actress, Lili Simmons, to play Selina Kyle in the finale. Camren Bicondova played her in previous seasons. Both are fantastic.)

Selina then uses the claws on her gloves to open a hole in the glass. As she reaches in to grab the jewel, the lights flicker briefly. She turns her head and frowns. Then she pockets the diamond and goes back the way she came.

However, someone watches her from the window, and we hear a cape whirl as this mysterious and unseen figure turns away.

Over at the GCPD bullpen, Harvey asks Harper if Arkham has any idea how the Riddler escaped. She replies that no one knows how he did it or when, but they gave her the address of a guard who didn't show up for work the day he disappeared.

Harvey goes to the address (alone, unfortunately). When he enters, the guard (who looks visibly frightened and agitated) punches him and pulls a gun out. He hands Harvey a phone and tells him to talk to the caller.

Harvey answers the phone. Though we can't hear who he's talking to, we see Harvey become terrified and shocked. The guard then says that Harvey knows what he has to do, as does the guard himself. The guard shoots himself in the head and blood splatters against a nearby wall.

Back at the GCPD, Harvey sits in an interrogation room. Gordon enters and asks what happened. Harvey says he went to check out the guard's address and shot him after he entered. A skeptical Gordon states that Harvey is confessing to cold-blooded murder of an unarmed suspect. Harvey tells Gordon that it's the truth and that he needs to let it go.

Gordon says that, no matter who Harvey is trying to protect, he'll end up in Blackgate if he doesn't change his story. He reminds Harvey that they both know what happens to cops who end up in prison (Gordon, of course, has firsthand experience from season 2). Harvey again tells Gordon to let it go.

After Gordon exits the interrogation room, he sees the other cops looking at him. He tells them that anyone who thinks Harvey's guilty can leave. No one does. Harper asks if the Riddler might be behind the murder. Gordon says it's possible, but the Riddler would've needed help to escape Arkham, so he isn't working alone.

When a cop mentions Penguin's imminent release from Blackgate, Gordon agrees that he's likely behind Riddler's escape. He orders his officers to put a tail on Penguin while everyone else looks for the Riddler.

Harper then tells Gordon that the dead Arkham guard used to be associated with a gang and that she's found an address for said gang.

Elsewhere, Riddler pulls the bag off of his head and stands up. He's in a room we haven't seen before. On the floor sits a crate with an envelope on top. Riddler opens it and reads a letter from Penguin.

The letter says that half of Gotham thinks the Riddler is a madman and the other half has forgotten him; now it's time to remind them of who the Riddler is. It also says that the crate has everything Riddler needs; he just has to follow the instructions.

Riddler opens the case and finds stacks of C-4 explosives. He laughs aloud and wonders what his old friend is planning.

Over at Blackgate Penitentiary, Penguin gets dressed for his release. He puts on leather gloves and a top hat over a fancy suit with a purple jacket. He also sets a monocle over a new blue eye where his old one used to be. (This is a nice visual callback to Fish Mooney's odd, unmatching eyes after she also lost one and got a replacement in season 1. Well, "lost" is a misleading term. She pulled it out with a spoon.)

Penguin then exits the prison, looking a bit plumper than he used to. Reporters swarm him as he steps outside. One reporter asks what he'll do first; he replies that he plans to lay flowers on his mother's grave. Another asks if he has any plans for revenge against Gordon for putting him in Blackgate.

"The best revenge against Jim Gordon will be a life spent serving the city I love," Penguin says.

He then spots two men watching him from across the street. He turns to a young reporter and asks if he wants an exclusive. The man agrees and enters Penguin's limo. Once they're inside, Penguin orders the reporter to give up his jacket and hat.

Elsewhere, someone looks down at building schematics in an abandoned warehouse. We don't see his face but simply hands and arms clad in black leather.

Suddenly, Gordon and Harper enter the building, and the figure goes into the shadows. The two cops then spot several dead bodies on the ground, which Harper's source didn't mention. Gordon says that someone must be trying to cover their tracks. He recalls Mayor James mentioning that someone broke into a government facility last week and points out that nearby crates have army markings.

The conversation is interrupted when the two of them hear a noise. Gordon orders Harper to go up the back stairs while he takes the front. As he does so, gun drawn, he orders whoever's in the warehouse to come out.

The unseen figure replies in a distorted, modulated voice (with a bit of Bruce in it) that he's not Gordon's enemy. As Gordon and Harper reach the top floor, the figure tells them not to touch the dead bodies.

The figure then throws a smoke grenade and uses it as cover to jump out a nearby window. As he does so, we see the back of a cape and a pointy-eared cowl.

After the smoke clears, Gordon rushes over to the window and stares at the ground, only to see that the figure has vanished.

A little bit later, other cops examine the warehouse. Harper tells Gordon that the corpses were rigged with C-4, so the figure they saw saved their lives and probably wasn't behind the murders. Gordon agrees and says the person is probably hunting the same culprit as the GCPD and might be on their side.

He then tells Harper that a lot of C-4 was recently stolen from a government facility. While some of it was on the bodies, most is still missing.

The bad news piles on when a cop tells Gordon that the mayor has disappeared and their tail has lost sight of penguin. Gordon, though frustrated, says they need to keep it simple. He remembers how much C-4 is missing and asks Harper to think about what the biggest target in Gotham is. They both look out the window and see Wayne Tower in the distance. Gordon tells Harper to double security for the gala while he tries to get in touch with Bruce and Alfred.

However, when Gordon enters his car, he sees an unwelcome surprise: Penguin in the back seat with a gun. He tells Gordon to drive and keep quiet. But where does Penguin want to go?

The pier. The pier where so many people have been taken to die, right from the first episode when Gordon faked Penguin's demise.

Penguin reminds Gordon of this and says the cop probably wishes he'd shot him back when he had the chance. Gordon points out that everyone will know Penguin killed him, but Penguin says he doesn't care and that Gordon's death "has been a long time coming."

Gordon says Penguin can kill him, but he doesn't need to attack the Wayne Gala. When Penguin asks what he's talking about, Gordon mentions Nygma's breakout and the attacks on gang members.

Penguin replies that he wasn't involved with any of that and returns to his regularly scheduled monologue. He says that even though he and Gordon stood together, ready to die for Gotham, the cop locked him up in Blackgate six months after reunification.

"This begins and ends with you and me," Penguin says. "Goodbye, Jim." He forces Gordon to turn around.

Gordon replies that it was a mistake to bring him to the pier—and promptly jumps into the water before Penguin can get a clean shot at him.

Some time later, the Wayne Gala is in full swing. One section of the party features a scale model of plans to rebuild and renovate different parts of Gotham.

"So this is Bruce's new Gotham," Selina says to Alfred. "I like the old one."

Alfred greets her warmly and says it's been too long since they last saw each other. Selina, however, isn't in the mood for niceties. She asks where Bruce is. Alfred replies that Bruce's travels have "not increased his respect for punctuality."

Selina says that Alfred needs to tell Bruce to stop spying on her. She says that when she was out the other night, she felt someone watching her and she knows it was him. Alfred snarkily replies that Selina's approach makes perfect sense; she showed up to the gala, dressed to the nines, for the sole purpose of telling Bruce she wants nothing to do with him.

Selina retorts that Bruce left her, after everything they went through together.

"He doesn't get to come back after ten years and act like nothing's happened," she says. Alfred agrees but says she needs to tell him that herself. Selina replies that Bruce needs to stay away from her.

As she walks off, she sees Riddler (in a bowler hat, green glasses, and a green suit and coat with question marks on it) walk down a hallway. Selina then runs into Barbara Kean and tells her old friend to follow her.

In the kitchens of Wayne Tower, Riddler watches the event from a television while the mayor sits next to him, tied-up and rigged with C-4. Riddler says that once Bruce arrives, he can get started.

Inside the gala, Lee runs into Lucius. He says he heard about what's going on with Harvey and asks how Gordon and his old partner are holding up (which seems to imply that Lucius left the GCPD and returned to working at Wayne Enterprises). Lee replies that she isn't sure and that she expected Gordon to be at the gala.

Before the conversation can continue, Alfred takes the stage. He introduces himself and welcomes everyone, on behalf of Bruce Wayne and his company, "to the future of Gotham."

As the Riddler watches Alfred's speech on the TV and waits for Bruce to arrive, Barbara appears. Riddler pulls a gun on her. He asks if she's here to stop him and laments at how much she's changed.

"Do you even remember how amazing you used to be?" he asks.

"Honey, I'm still amazing," she fires back. "I just made a choice."

Riddler replies that not everyone gets to make choices and adds that, after he blows up Mayor James, Gotham will remember who the Riddler is.

He says that he was waiting for Bruce to arrive so that he could interrupt and toss out a riddle or two. But since Bruce is a no-show, he'll have to come up with a plan. Before he can do this, however, Selina knocks him out from behind.

At the same time, Gordon and the GCPD enter the gala and give the order to evacuate the building. Barbara and Selina then enter with the mayor and Riddler. Gordon tells his men to take away Mayor James and disarm the C-4. He then turns to the Riddler and says that four crates of C-4 were stolen, so there's more left.

Riddler replies that it's all Penguin gave him, but Gordon says that Penguin isn't the mastermind here. The police then drag Riddler away. Gordon says that since Nygma wasn't the real threat, there must be something else going on. He sees the scale model of a redesigned Gotham and looks under the table, only to see a C-4 bomb counting down from five minutes.

Gordon tells the others that if the bomb goes off, the tower will fall and destroy other buildings and people. He says they need to leave, but Lee doesn't want to, and Barbara points out that they don't have time to get far enough away.

Lucius tells Gordon how to defuse the bomb. They need to find the detonator wiring of the bomb, which seems to run through one of the model buildings. Gordon remembers the building schematics from the warehouse and says that one was of the Gotham clock tower, which is part of the scale model.

Meanwhile, two cops take Riddler into the elevator. As soon as the door shuts, one of the cops punches out the other.

Back in the main room, Gordon lifts up the tower and finds the bomb's wiring. Lucius says that the core has to be held steady while someone detaches the wires from below. Lee volunteers to work with the wires, as she has "doctor's hands." Gordon reluctantly agrees, and Lucius tells her to cut the green wire. However, there are two green wires, and the first one she cuts accelerates the countdown. (Which just goes to show that even with 13 years to learn, Lucius's bomb-defusing skills are still super rough).

After she cuts the second green wire, the clock stops, and the day is saved.

Lucius then remarks that something doesn't make sense; he and Bruce designed a new clock tower, but this is the old one. Gordon then realizes that the tower is a clue to the culprit but says that the person he's thinking of can't have done it.

(And while he doesn't say the man's name right away, you might recall someone blowing up the old Gotham clock tower in season 4.)

Harper then tells Gordon that the Riddler has disappeared and that the Mayor has ordered Harvey to be sent to Blackgate.

Gordon rushes to stop the transfer. He asks Harvey if the person he's thinking of is the one behind the murder and the bombs. He asks if this person has been "faking it." Harvey begs Gordon not to say the name aloud.

"Is it Jeremiah Valeska?" Gordon asks. The cop carrying Harvey immediately draws his gun, but Harvey knocks him out and tells Gordon to check him for explosives.

Gordon unbuttons the man's shirt. The good news? The cop isn't rigged with C-4. The bad news? He's had a mic under his clothes the whole time. Harvey says that now Jeremiah knows Gordon is on to him, there's no telling what he'll do.

Back in Arkham, the nurse from earlier knifes two prisoners in a cell with Jeremiah. She tells him that their cover is blown. Jeremiah laughs and grabs her by the throat. We then see the nurse's face—and, of course, it's Ecco.

Elsewhere, Riddler is thrown into a limo. Sitting next to him is Penguin. The two friends greet each other. Penguin says that while he wasn't behind the breakout or the C-4, he thought Riddler could use a hand getting away from the GCPD.

But before they can celebrate their freedom, something (or, rather, someone) crashes onto the roof of the limo, leaving a large dent. The chauffeur freaks out and crashes into a nearby wall. The figure who jumped onto the limo flips away.

When Penguin and Riddler exit the car, they scream in terror as the figure (still unseen to the audience) dives toward them from above.

A little bit later, Alfred and Lucius walk through the street together. Lucius says that when Bruce returned to Gotham and told him what he was planning, Lucius didn't hesitate to aid his efforts. He says that he believes in what Bruce is doing, but the man will need more help. He asks Alfred if Bruce has thought about confiding in Gordon. Alfred replies that telling Gordon is Bruce's decision; their job is to serve.

The two men then smile as they see Riddler and Penguin hanging, tied up, from a lamppost.

At the (closed and empty) Sirens' Club, Barbara Lee asks her mother what happened at the gala and why she won't talk about it. Barbara Kean replies that everything turned out fine and she just needs to get something from her old club. She grabs a gun from her old desk.

Suddenly, music sounds from inside the bar. Barbara Kean tells her daughter to wait at her desk. She then enters the bar alone and sees Ecco from the back. Barbara Kean tells Ecco to turn around. Suddenly, Jeremiah approaches BK from behind and forces her backward towards Ecco, who puts a knife to BK's throat.

Jeremiah says he's just throwing a "surprise party" for the queen of Gotham. He then recalls that Barbara was another person once, as was he.

Before he can expound on this, Barbara Lee throws something at Ecco, making her lose grip on Barbara Kean. Barbara Kean then hurts Ecco with her own knife, while Barbara Lee tries to hit Jeremiah (with little success). Jeremiah, in turn, shoots Barbara Kean.

"Cute," Jeremiah mutters. "She has your eyes, for now."

Ecco then looks down at her bloody wound and says it looks like she might be done for.

"Oh dear me, my sweet Ecco, no longer my Ecco," he tells her. "There will never be another one like you."

"Really?" Ecco asks. He responds by shooting her, and she dies with a bloody grin on her face. Jeremiah then says that there are other fish in the sea.

(This is likely a reference to a scene in Batman: Death of the Family, where Joker tells Harley Quinn, "You thought you were the first one? I can tell you this: you won't even be the last."

He then hits Barbara Kean and grabs her daughter. He tells BK that when Gordon arrives, she has to give him Jeremiah's message.

Some time later, Gordon and Harvey enter the club and find Barbara Kean, still hurt from the fight and on the floor. Harvey goes to get an ambulance for her. Barbara says that Jeremiah took their daughter and that if Gordon doesn't go to him, he'll kill her. Gordon asks where he went. Barbara replies that Jeremiah said he was going back to "the place where he was born again."

Gordon says he must mean Ace Chemicals (which is fair, but I was kind of hoping that maybe Jeremiah meant his underground maze, since that's where he got sprayed with insanity gas). He promises to bring Barbara Lee back and heads to the factory.

When Gordon reaches said factory, he finds that Jeremiah is holding a rope. Attached to the rope is Barbara Lee, who hangs over a vat of green chemicals. Jeremiah says that it's funny being back at Ace Chemicals and that he can still feel his flesh burn and melt.

"What do you want, Jeremiah?" Gordon asks.

"There a Jeremiah here?" he replies.

"So what do I call you?" Gordon says.

"I don't know. Call me . . . Jack? Mmm, no, no, that's not right. Joseph? John? J?" Jeremiah replies. " "I don't know, I just . . . I feel something new crawling from the primordial ooze that was me. Something beautiful."

(I now feel justified in hereafter referring to Jeremiah Valeska as the Joker, even if the show isn't allowed to do it.)

Gordon asks why Joker pretended to be a vegetable for so long.

Joker replies that he was waiting for "him [Bruce] to come home." He says that the two of them are bound together.

"And then he just abandoned us," Joker says. "Do you know how it feels to have the one, the only thing you love ripped away from you? It feels like this." He then lets go of the rope. Gordon jumps and grabs it before his daughter can fall into the chemicals.

Joker then tackles Gordon and stabs him. Before he can kill the cop, however, something comes flying through the air and knocks the knife out of Jeremiah's hand. What is it? A sharp, black batarang.

Joker gets up and yells for his attacker to show himself. A mysterious figure watches Joker from above. Joker spots this person and simply says, "You?", which implies that he knows exactly who's behind the mask.

Another batarang flies through the air, lodging itself in Joker's hand and knocking the gun from his grasp.

Joker laughs in delight. A final batarang lands in his head, and he falls to the ground.

Gordon pulls Barbara Lee to safety as the mysterious figure watches from above. As the father and daughter embrace, Gordon looks up at the ceiling, trying to see if his rescuer is still there.

A little bit later, Gordon and Harvey stand on the roof of the GCPD. Harvey asks if Gordon thinks the person who attacked Joker and saved Gordon is on their side. Gordon replies that it seems to be true.

The two of them look at the old searchlight which is covered up by a cloth. Harvey says he thought they packed it away after reunification, and Gordon says he got it out for old time's sake and sent a note to Wayne Manor so that Bruce could be there to see it lit.

Bruce, however, doesn't come. Alfred arrives in his stead, apologizing for his master's absence and saying that Bruce is "otherwise engaged." Gordon observes that Bruce has been busy since he returned to Gotham.

Alfred asks if Gordon's retiring. Gordon replies that he might stick around a little bit longer and pulls the cover off of the searchlight.

Elsewhere, Selina stands on a rooftop, unmasked and in a black leather suit. Someone else stands behind her, also dressed in black.

"You're there, aren't you?" she asks. "Do you have any idea what you did, just leaving? You were all I had. And I know you wanted to protect me, but I didn't want to be protected. I wanted you. Say something. Say something."

Bruce replies (in a deep but unmodulated voice) that there was no other way.

"So what happens now?" she asks.

"I don't know," he replies. "But I'll never leave Gotham again. Return the diamond."

Selina turns around, only to see that Bruce is gone, and smiles in spite of herself as their game continues.

Meanwhile, inside a prison transport van, Penguin rants about the figure who attacked them and how he said, "Gotham is mine."

"I was there, Oswald," Riddler replies wearily.

The two of them then manage to get free of their restraints and jump out the back of the van. Penguin tells Riddler that they need to find out who this person is and show him that the city belongs to them. Riddler agrees.

However, when the two men see a familiar figure jumping across rooftops, they quickly decide to call it a night and deal with him later.

Back at the GCPD, Gordon turns on the searchlight. Alfred reminds him of how he once told Bruce that in the darkness, there would be light. He says that Gordon saved Bruce and gave him hope.

Suddenly, Harvey sees something and points it out to the others. They turn and see a dark figure looking down at them from a nearby building.

"Who is he?" Harvey asks.

"A friend," Gordon replies.

And then, in the final shot of the series, we finally see Batman.

(Note: while the face is David Mazouz, the person wearing the suit is actually a body double, Mikhail Mudrik. This way, David finally gets to be Batman, but the overall effect is that Bruce is all grown up, since David himself is only 18.)

We then see the Gotham logo one final time, with the symbol of a bat behind it.

The Verdict

In some ways, the end of Gotham always seemed inevitable. Predictable, even. The show was always meant to end with the rise of Batman. And that's a lot of expectation to carry into a final episode, especially after parts of this season have been somewhat rushed. So part of me wondered if "The Beginning" could ever measure up to all the endings I'd written in my head.

It. Absolutely. Did.

There's so much in this episode that I could write about it for days. Weeks, even.

I'll try to focus on the highlights.

First of all, I want to applaud Gotham on an excellent casting choice of Lili Simmons. She not only resembles Camren Bicondova, but she's also fantastic in the role of Selina. She's so compelling in the role that the final scene between her and Batman is just . . . beautiful. In the hands of a different actress, the dialogue could have come off cliche or stilted, but it didn't.

It felt heartbreakingly real, and it was a harsh reminder of Selina's tragic arc. She tried to shut other people out and act like she only cared about herself for five seasons. Then, when she finally became vulnerable enough to admit how much she needed Bruce (and how much she cared about him), he left her without saying goodbye. And the pain of that is evident in Simmons's performance.

Another interesting aspect of the episode is Bruce himself. We never see the adult Bruce unmasked and only see him as Batman in the final scene, but he was present throughout the episode, lurking in the shadows. And while I would've liked to see an older Bruce unmasked, or have had more Batman screen time, I think the writers and directors for this episode made the right choice.

Seeing Batman is the natural endpoint of Gotham's story. So if they'd shown him onscreen near the beginning of the episode, it might have felt unearned or too early. There's something satisfying and climactic about having Batman be the final image of the show.

And, as I said last week, Bruce isn't the main character of Gotham (although he is my favorite). If this were the pilot to a Batman series or the conclusion to a series more centered on Bruce, it would be natural to spend more time on him in this episode. But since Gotham is more of an ensemble show, it made sense that Batman's presence should be seen and felt throughout "The Beginning" while other characters were given more focus (so we could see how far they'd come over the past ten years).

I'd also be remiss if I didn't touch on Gordon's final words: "A friend." To me, this line is perfect. It hints that Gordon might know who Batman is but leaves room for interpretation.

When asked what the words meant, executive producer John Stephens replied, "I'm going to leave that up to the audience. In my mind, however, the answer is clear."

I think Gordon A) is smart enough to put two and two together about Bruce being conspicuously busy over the past few days and B) knows Bruce well enough to guess that he's Batman. And if that's the case, I don't mind it. I think it would be out of character for Gordon not to know.

But that's just my interpretation. Either way, the line is great.

Also, a shout-out to my new favorite Gordon: little Barbara Lee. She might not be Batgirl yet, but I enjoyed the spunk that she brought to the episode. Kudos to her for trying to stop Jeremiah and Ecco from hurting her mother, even if her efforts didn't do much.

Moving on to the episode's villains, I enjoyed them. They all had great costumes and great scenes. The Joker, in particular, had a fantastically creepy character design, and it was perfect. Falling into a vat of acid and/or chemicals? Yeah, that'll mess you up. And, once again, Cameron Monaghan gave a fantastic performance as the clown prince of crime (and kudos to Gotham's hair and makeup team for making him look not only deformed but also a lot older).

In general, I appreciated how action-packed this finale was. There weren't really any scenes where I was bored. And honestly? "The Beginning" is, I would argue, a great example of why Gotham is the best live-action adaptation of Batman in terms of tone, style, and genre.

In spite of all its changes to comic book mythology, Gotham feels like a classic Batman comic book (like The Long Halloween). It's a mix of menacing and wacky and dramatic and funny and clever and retro and new all at once. And all of this is on display in "The Beginning."

Penguin and Riddler hanging from a lamppost? Classic Batman. Joker threatening to dunk Barbara Gordon in acid? Classic Batman. Bruce not showing up for his own party? Classic Batman.

In conclusion, I loved "The Beginning." I think one of the reasons I appreciate it so much is this: I just saw a sort of ending to another series (which shall remain unnamed). And that ending didn't feel right. It felt convoluted. Overstuffed. Confusing. And the tone of it didn't match the rest of the series at all. It just . . . overloaded me.

Seeing that series end at the same time as Gotham made me appreciate "The Beginning." It feels right. It's an episode with some twists and turns, but it doesn't come off confusing or overly complicated. In the end, it feels simple and elegant. It feels like a fitting end to a series that I love.

While I'll miss the show, I don't feel sad. I feel happy, because I know what comes next. I know that there are 80 years' worth of Batman stories out there and many more to come.

So this isn't the end. It's the beginning. It's a triumphant note for Gotham to go out on.


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