Batman is just a proper mask and cape away from being a real presence on Gotham.
The superhero prequel series set itself up as the story of Gotham City and how it turned Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) into one of the most notorious comic book characters of all time, so it was inevitable to see Bruce put on the black garb and begin to fight crime on his own. It just felt like that moment would always be a series ending scene, to signal that the prequel journey was complete.
However, the very last sequence of Gotham's Season 3 finale was Bruce taking a down a mugger about to shoot a wealthy couple in front of their daughter (parallels!) and then Bruce standing sulkily on a rooftop in a black wool mask and his coat billowing behind him like a cape. There were no obvious bat references, but it's clear that Bruce has found the Dark Knight path and is committed to sticking to it. Is it too soon for Bruce to be this far into the Batman mythos though?
The early episodes of the show took their time with Bruce's Batman future, focusing primarily on Jim Gordon's (Ben McKenzie) career and Gotham's emerging villains rather than Bruce's trajectory. It started with his parents' murder. Grief consumed the young boy as he struggled to figure out his place in the world as the wealthiest orphan you've ever seen. He took self-defense classes from Alfred (Sean Pertwee), but it was clear there was a very long way between wide-eyed orphan Bruce and the shadowy, menacing figure he's fated to become.
Then in Season 3, Gotham slammed on the gas pedal toward turning Bruce into his darker alter ego. In the midseason finale he got into a near-fatal altercation with Jerome (Cameron Monaghan) that led to the declaration that he'd never kill anyone — Batman's core principle. It only sped up from there. In the second half of the season, the show sprinted through Bruce's abduction by the Court of Owls, his brainwashing by Ra's al Guhl's (Alexander Siddig) second in command and even Bruce's first introduction to the leader of the League of Assassins himself.
Bruce and Ra's have a two-minute conversation in which Ra's says that Bruce has already proven to be the man in the prophecy — the fighter in the shadows — and gives Bruce a whirlwind course on the healing powers of the Lazarus Pits. Then he disappears, Bruce returns to Gotham with an injured Alfred and the sudden gumption to personally start cleaning up his hometown.
The decision to put Bruce in all black and officially kick off his vigilante tenure before the very end of the series may not have been entirely in Gotham's control. The show scored a last-minute Season 4 renewal, meaning that the finale script was approved and under way before the show knew it would be coming back next year. For a good period of time, it looked like the Season 3 finale would be the last shot of the series. The ending would have allowed fans to fill in the blanks for themselves and have a good idea of how he fully transformed into the famed hero.
The show does have a Season 4 though, and it will have to deal with the decision to push this far down the Batman path. Let's face it, no one is going to complain about more Batman in a Batman show, but this turn of events put Bruce pretty close to the ultimate goal, and backs the show into a corner when it comes to spinning story. What does Gotham have to say if the prequel catches up to the original story?
The series could, and should, end with Bruce officially dawning the iconic costume, but if he's already got the rough prototype figured out, there isn't much more he needs to learn before he makes the final leap into being Batman. We'll have to see what Season 4 has in store for its young Batman.
Gotham returns on Thursdays this fall at 8/7c on Fox.