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Gotham Postmortem: Has Jim Gordon Gone Too Far?

See how Jim's life-altering choice might affect his future with Lee

Adam Bryant

[WARNING: The following story contains spoilers from Monday's midseason finale of Gotham. Read at your own risk.]

Gotham's midseason finale presented our hero Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) with a whole host of life-changing situations!

For starters, Gordon's main squeeze Lee Tompkins (Morena Baccarin) begged Jim not to pursue Theo Galavan (James Frain), who was moments away from murdering Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) in a ritualistic killing meant to purge Gotham. But when Jim insisted it was his duty -- even if it involved working with Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor) -- Lee dropped a bombshell: She, like Baccarin in real life, is pregnant!

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Although Gordon then agrees to sit this one out, he eventually gets sucked back in and, with Lee's blessing, manages to stop Galavan's plan. However, when Gordon tries to arrest Galavan, Penguin makes a convincing case that he will once again slip the charge and will continue to torment Gordon and Gotham. Convinced, Gordon allows Penguin to take Galavan to a remote location where Penguin beats Galavan silly for killing Penguin's mother.
However, when Gordon finally stops the beating, it's not out of mercy. Instead, he shoots Galavan several times at point-blank range and kills him. Finally, the episode ends with Gordon asking for Lee's hand in marriage and Galavan's body ending up at the laboratory of one Hugo Strange, who will be played by BD Wong. But is Jim's proposal to Lee motivated by his own guilt over what he's done? And has Gordon finally gone too far? TVGuide.com chatted with McKenzie to break down the finale and find out what's coming in the second half of the season.

What's going through Gordon's head when he shoots Galavan?
Ben McKenzie:
I think he has been agonizing over how to handle Galavan since he escapes from his clutches and was cleared of all charges in Episode 10. When faced with letting him go again or taking extreme action, he gives into Penguin's fairly logical argument, which is: How can you be assured that if you arrest him again, he doesn't just escape again? So he goes down that path. ... He's really just done with it all, just over the feeling. He's surpassed the point of feeling guilt and remorse. He's simply going to do what he's got to do, and if that's killing a man in cold blood who deserves it, then that's what he'll do.

BD Wong joins Gotham as Hugo Strange

Is part of Jim also thinking of the goon he spared who then went on to kill a fellow cop a couple episodes back?
McKenzie: That's exactly right. The accumulative total of Season 1 and Season 2 bear down on him to a point where [he does this]. What we're trying to allow the audience to track is that it's not a quick descent into the muck for Jim Gordon. But it does have its sharp moments, and this is a sharp, defining moment for him. In the past [when Jim has killed], it's either been self-defense or sort of a random act. But in this case, there's a man on his knees pleading for his life. Jim Gordon stops him from being beaten to death but then shoots him three times in the chest. That's not an act of self-defense, that's cold-blooded murder. He'll pay for the repercussions of that in the second half of the season in many different ways -- not just literally, but psychologically. He'll deal with coming to terms with who he's become.

Do you think Jim has gone too far? We usually think of the Commissioner Gordon we know as a generally upstanding guy. Does this alter the mythology and make him more of a true antihero?
That's a really interesting question. I do think it alters the mythology a little, although I would argue that every new incarnation of Batman has altered the mythology in some way. We're exploring the origins of Gotham, and the way that we're exploring the city paints it as such a violent and corrupt and chaotic place that it's hard to imagine a law man like Jim Gordon surviving and much less rising to the top of our hierarchy without getting blood on his hands. He quite literally, has blood on his hands right now, so to that extent, we are changing it a little bit, what he is. But he's not Vic Mackey. He's a far cry removed from that. He's a burdened hero, out there in a lawless town trying to maintain order. If it means he has to walk into a saloon and kill all the bad guys point blank without the other guy even pulling his gun, then that's what he has to do.

You mentioned the consequences of this choice. What does this mean for his relationship with Capt. Barnes?
McKenzie: He obviously can't be open about what he's done, so that level of deceit and manipulation is a new wrinkle for Jim, and an unpleasant one. As you can imagine, it will burden him looking forward, because in the past he's always felt like, even if he did something that was bending the law, he was never explicitly violating it, at least not quite as openly and as severely, Now he has to protect his ass, basically. That will sow the seed of discontent between him and Barnes. Barnes may not be able to prove it, but he most likely will suspect that something's fishy here, no pun and they'll be at loggerheads.

As for the psychological consequences, how does making this choice impact Jim after he's just learned he's going to become a father?
It's not Disney's circle of life, as one bad man dies, there's the opportunity for rebirth and growth with the child. But maybe in its own Gotham dark way, there's a hint of that. Certainly Jim is digging his fingernails into whatever last vestiges of humanity he can kind of hold onto, and Lee is definitely a guiding light for him. He's trying to hold onto his life, and he's trying to hold onto some identity that he's created for himself. That's why I tried to show a hopefulness but a brokenness in the proposal. It's not as sweet and romantic as it might be because it's sort of clouded by all these evil deeds around it.

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I saw a sense of desperation in the proposal. We've seen Lee try to convince him to let some of this darker stuff go, but he doesn't. Does he propose partly because he's worried about how long she'll stand by him?
I think that's exactly right. I think he's terrified that at some point he's going to have to be honest with her. I don't think he's told her yet as we leave that episode, probably because neither one of them want to have that conversation right now. But he is worried that he's going to lose her and lose the only good thing left in his life. So, that's a pretty dark walk down that aisle for the two of them.

Have we seen the last of Galavan or is one of Hugo Strange's experiments bringing people back from the dead?
[Laughs] Your curiosity is well placed. You can always have second lives for characters in Gotham! There's always the opportunity in Gotham for characters to re-emerge. But seriously, Hugo Strange is obviously in the mythology. His laboratory is really the breeding ground for the supervillains, as people who are already predisposed to crime of some nature become enhanced through his experimentation. They're allowed to flourish in a new Gotham, and that will be a big part of the second half of this second season.
We also got a sneak peek at Mr. Freeze. What can you say about his character?
McKenzie: He's a terrific villain. I think fans are really going to enjoy him, and he's yet another sympathetic villain, a villain who only gets into doing wrong for the right reasons. It's going to be a great, compelling series of episodes, and it'll bring us back with a nice little bang for the second part of the season.

Finally, it seems Gordon just can't get away from Penguin. Are they inextricably linked now?
McKenzie: Yeah, and their relationship will just continue to metastasize. It's a cancer that will keep spreading. Penguin argues in the middle of the episode to not turn in Galavan but allow Penguin and Jim to take matters into their own hands. You see Penguin actually getting inside of Jim metaphorically. That spirit, that way of looking at the world is starting to infect Jim. So at this point, whether or not they're tied together plotline, that philosophy is starting to infect Jim and they'll be forever intertwined.

What did you think of the midseason finale?