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The Gotham Finale Sets Up a "Mad Maxian" Final Season

Showrunner John Stephens talks the impending development of The Joker and Batman

Megan Vick

[Warning: The following contains spoilers from the Gotham Season 4 finale. Read at your own risk!]

It turns out that Jeremiah's (Cameron Monaghan) plan to destroy the city on Gotham was nothing compared to Ra's al Ghul's (Alexander Siddig) idea. The two villains were working together and kidnapped Bruce (David Mazouz) to watch the final act of their plan together take place. The leader of the League of Assassins set off the rest of Jeremiah's battery bombs in the Season 4 finale, destroying the rest of Gotham City's bridges and turning the villain haven into an isolated island once more.

Now Gotham's darkest villains, including Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor) and the Sirens, will have their pieces of the city that Jim (Ben McKenzie), Bruce and the GCPD must win back block by block. The episode ended with Jim using a searchlight to call Bruce to the roof of the police department -- taking one more big step towards Bruce's Batman destiny.

TV Guide talked to Gotham boss John Stephens about what's next for Bruce and Gotham City in the show's final season.

Cameron Monaghan and David Mazouz, Gotham​

Cameron Monaghan and David Mazouz, Gotham


What does Season 5 look like in your mind? It feels like we're almost going back to Season 2 with "Villains Rise." Is this going to be similar?
John Stephens: We're taking our inspiration from a run of the Batman Comics called "No Man's Land," where the city had been basically declared off limits by the federal government. So, there were no services going on into Gotham. There was no electricity. There was no fresh water. There were no food services or anything like that, and so the city itself is almost carved out into all these tiny systems, each one of which is run by a different gang or warlord, be it Penguin, Nygma, Poison Ivy controls the park but no one really knows that because nobody who goes in there ever actually comes out alive.

Jim and the GCPD have their own small quarter and week by week, they go by and try to take back one block after another block after another block, so it really is much more of a Mad-Maxian type world than we've ever lived in before.

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We have Jeremiah in the season and he's going to be our Joker, but he hasn't fully made that evolution yet. What does Jeremiah need to do to make the transition into the villain we know he's going to become?
Stephens: Well, he's never going to be exactly the Joker. What we wanted to carry out is different elements of the Joker...If Jerome really was the anarchist wildness that the Joker frequently has, with Jeremiah, we want him to have a different sort of controlled insanity and a level of genius planning that we sometimes see in different comics. Also, his look is going to be much more Joker-esque, as you began to see at the end of Episode 20 where we saw his white face...That's going to be carried even further as we step into the last few episodes. Adding to which, his particular obsession with Bruce Wayne is going to feel very, very Joker-esque.

The Nygma, Jim and Lee triangle ends in a bloody fashion with Nygma and Lee stabbing each other. What made you want to end it in that way rather than keep it going?
Most of our love stories end in some bloody fashion, you know? It also felt like the Lee and Nygma relationship was never going to have like, driving off in the sunset. That Nygma, as well, has kind of a history of getting close to women and then kind of murdering them, you know? And, so the question is like, is Lee being an intelligent person and knowing that's going to happen sooner or later. Once she sees the writing on the walls, how's she going to deal with that fact, you know? And we wanted, frankly, a bit more of a Romeo and Juliet ending to it.

How close is Bruce to becoming the hero we know he's going to be now?
Stephens: He's still going to have a long way to go, you know? He gets closer in the sense that he makes one more choice about what he believes his ultimate mission is in terms of like, protecting Gotham from the dark forces that he sees aligned against it. We [saw] another very physical tangible piece of the Batman mythology in place in the last scene of the season, which I think [is] really exciting. And also, it's just about you see him growing up again, and becoming much much more of a man. Certainly, next season will see Bruce struggling and adopting different little different identities next year which will, again, be one more big piece of the Batman mythology.

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What are you most excited to get to explore in a next season?
I'm excited to explore a lot of the different villains that we've never really thought up before. A lot of times we've been so obsessed with like, not obsessed but focused on, a big bad. We haven't brought in a lot of the lesser-known villains like this year, I thought we had a lot of success with Professor Pig, the character Michael Severus played. And, getting to bring in some of those lesser-known characters next year, whether it's The Ventriloquist, or Mother and Orphan or Lady Shiva and doing a new take, and getting great actors to play them, I think we'll show the audiences, again, just how rich the mythology is.

Can we expect any of these villains as they control their separate parts of Gotham to start teaming up and working together or is it going to be every villain for themselves?
Oh yeah, some of them will end up having to work together. Yeah. It's got kind of like a feudal state construct where they'll all be offered their own best interest, but sometimes they need to ally with others in order to protect against the largest foe.

Gotham returns to Fox in 2019.