8:15am PT by Sydney Bucksbaum
DC TV Watch: Erin Richards Reveals 'Gotham' Series Finale Redemption Arc
Welcome back to The Hollywood Reporter's weekly DC TV Watch, a rundown of all things DC Comics on the small screen. Every Saturday, we round up the major twists, epic fights, new mysteries and anything else that goes down on The CW's Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, Supergirl and Black Lightning and Fox's Gotham. This week, Gotham's Erin Richards speaks with THR about the upcoming series finale. Note: Arrow, The Flash and Gotham did not air new episodes this week.
The big news: Gotham's Erin Richards spoke with THR about the final two episodes of the series and how her character Barbara actually comes full circle with a redemption arc. It may seem impossible, but it's happening.
What it means: "It's madness," Richards tells THR with a laugh. "We pack so much into these last two episodes that I remember getting the scripts and thinking, 'How are we going to be able to shoot all this?' But it's such a great ending. Epic, exciting and satisfying. It's a really beautiful way to end Barbara's story."
Barbara's redemption comes just after she gave birth to her and Jim Gordon's (Ben McKenzie) child, and Richards reveals that motherhood is exactly what Barbara has been searching for all this time.
"In the final episode, we jump 10 years and that's going to be a very different person because we all change a lot in 10 years," says the actress. "The way I played her in that final episode was to take elements of who she was right when we first met her and just advance them and make her more grounded and a more full version of herself by the end. In a way, I felt like it came full circle to something I began with."
While Richards can't reveal too much about how Barbara has changed in those 10 years, she does say the former gangster has gone legit. "She has a 10-year-old child, she's now a businesswoman in Gotham and she got everything that she deserved," she says. "It's nice to end in this place where she's a strong, fully independent businesswoman after everything she's gone through. And there might be a change of hair color."
While fans have long speculated that Barbara was an early version of a Batman supervillain, be it Harley Quinn or even a female Joker, Richards confirms that she's never actually been anyone other than Barbara. "I like that Barbara got to be her own person and never actually became one of the supervillains from the comics. She held her own," Richards says. "She rose to the top of Gotham. She ran the underworld. She's her own woman running a large company and being successful in Gotham at the end. She never had to be anyone but herself."
Even when Barbara got pregnant and everyone on the show questioned whether she could be a good mother, Barbara refused to listen to her haters, and Richards is glad the character is able to prove them all wrong in the final two episodes.
"There's been a lot of questioning of her and her abilities to be a mother and deep down, she was scared of that herself — but how dare anyone else bring that up," says the actress. "It's my body, my choice, my world, you don't really have a say in it. When she finally has the baby, it's a real moment of conclusion of everything she had been working towards: her journey has always been finding herself and her place in the world. She just wanted a thing or a person to love unconditionally because she never felt unconditionally loved by anyone, not her parents, not Jim, not anybody in Gotham. Feeling that unconditional love for another human has completely grounded her and made her happy."
Barbara's decision to become a mother in her own way dovetailed kind of perfectly with her entire journey over the course of the series as Gotham's biggest feminist, which is what Richards is most proud of from her time on the show. "Gotham by its own admission is quite a male-dominated world," she says. "Batman and a lot of comic book worlds are very male-dominated but moving forward, we're seeing a lot more female characters and influences coming into the comic book world, and that's really great for everybody, men and women alike."
Continues Richards, "So to be able to tell that very feminine story and show a strong woman supporting other women and being able to play all the different sides of Barbara, showing that a woman can be everything, strong and vulnerable, in love, having a baby, all these different aspects of being a woman has been a real honor to me and a real asset to the program."
Other noteworthy moments: Richards recently pulled double duty on Gotham and stepped behind the camera to direct an episode during the final season during a time when gender equality at every level in Hollywood has become an important conversation. There is still so much room for improvement when it comes to the amount of female directors, and getting the chance to helm an episode changed Richard's perspective on the industry.
"It's made me incredibly positive about the future — there are so many incredible female voices coming up through the ranks of directing and writing now," she says. "It needed to happen a long time ago and I'm so happy it's happening now. The more female voices we have in the industry the better, because women's stories are so interesting, they need to be told. We've had lots of male-driven stories but we're repeating the same stories now whereas if we have more female writers, more female directors coming up through the ranks, we'll see a lot more diversity in terms of the stories and messages we're sending out there."
And Richards has some ideas on how to help push the needle forward on gender equality behind the camera.
"I'd love to see more shows implementing a 50/50 female and male directing policy in their shows," she says. "That in turn will lead to more younger women seeing that as a career option. When I was younger, there were barely any big-name female directors that I could aspire to whereas men had all the big-name directors. So when men went into the industry, they were like, 'Of course I could direct because that man does it, that man does it and that man does it.' Whereas a woman, I didn't have that."
She continues, "My energy went into acting but had I had that early on constant reminder that I could be a director as a female, I could have gone straight into directing. Now I hope there will be more of that and young females who want to be directors will see much more of that and know it is a viable career path for them which is just brilliant."
The big news: Team Arrow is losing a key member for its shortened final season, as Emily Bett Rickards is exiting the series after this season.
What it means: The Arrow star, who has been with the show since the third episode, revealed via a poem posted to her Instagram that she won't be returning for season eight. That means the final 10 episodes of the series, including the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover, will happen without Felicity Smoak. While that's interesting on its own, taking into account THR's speculation of what is going to happen in the crossover and Arrow's final season, it seems as if the writers have their work cut out for them to make everything fall into place and make sense. Remember: The current season has already confirmed that Felicity is alive and well and fighting crime in the year 2040. She's in contact with her old team and her now-grown son and daughter. So when Felicity is written off the show at the most crucial moment of the series, she can't be killed off and she can't be sent anywhere that wouldn't make sense for her not to return when life-altering moments, as in Oliver's (Stephen Amell) likely death, happen.
Legends of Tomorrow
The big news: The wackiest Arrow-verse series returned with a jam-packed spring premiere that revealed a conspiracy within the Time Bureau leading to heartbreak for the show's most solid couple.
What it means: While the Legends had been trying as hard as they could to work with the Time Bureau, Hank's (Tom Wilson) coverup of the men in black torturing the magical creatures in custody was too much. Sara (Caity Lotz) couldn't blindly trust Ava's (Jes Macallan) boss like Ava did. Their argument and difference of opinions led to them breaking up, which was honestly the biggest blow the series could have dealt. Sara and Ava's stable relationship was one of the rare positive LGBTQ relationships on TV between two women, and they had finally got to a good place. For it to be ripped away so soon feels like a mistake. Hopefully the show rectifies it soon.
Other noteworthy moments: New Legend Mona (Ramona Young) has a bit of a magical issue. Not only did she witness the Time Bureau shoot and kill her Kaupe boyfriend, but she angrily hulked out and became a Kaupe herself. It's likely from the scratch she got in the midseason finale, but the character finally has some real gravitas after a season of not really finding her place. It's ironic that becoming a monster is what finally grounds the character.
Somehow Nate (Nick Zano) and Zari (Tala Ashe) are now a couple to ship? Before this episode, that would have seemed impossible, but after pretending to date while investigating Nate's father, real sparks are flying. Give it a couple episodes and they'll definitely be hot and heavy.
The big news: Lex's (Jon Cryer) plan continued to work perfectly, while Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) became public enemy No. 1.
What it means: In an episode that continued to unpack just how deep Lex's machinations really go, Red Daughter (dressed as Supergirl) attacked the White House in a chilling display of just how much potential for destruction Kara has had in her all this time. Kara now knows about the existence of Red Daughter but has no idea of how that came to be. And now she'll have to go into hiding as the POTUS (Bruce Boxleitner) denounced her as a villain to the entire country. At least Alex (Chyler Leigh) (who still doesn't remember that Supergirl is her own sister) and Lena (Katie McGrath) know that the real Supergirl couldn't have done the attack on the White House and are ready to help clear her name. It's been a while since this trio worked together, and it's honestly about time that they're finally reunited. It only took the biggest catastrophe and the ultimate villain to get them there.
Other noteworthy moments: James may be physically healed from his gunshot wound, but he's definitely not okay mentally and emotionally. Despite all the attempts Lex made on his life before, it looks like he now has PTSD from this attempt. Luckily his sister Kelly (Azie Tesfai) is a trauma counselor, and Supergirl made her a series regular for next season.
Gotham revealed the first look at the real Joker (Cameron Monaghan's fourth version? Fifth?) in a teaser trailer released on April Fool's Day, but it isn't a joke. Check out that final shot of the Joker getting a batarang lodged in his hand. Who wants to bet that's from the 10-year time jump?
Note: Supergirl airs Sundays, Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow air Mondays, The Flash airs Tuesdays and Black Lightning will return for season three on The CW. Gotham airs Thursdays on Fox.