8:15am PT by Sydney Bucksbaum
DC TV Watch: 'Gotham's' Ben McKenzie Hints at New Joker, 'Arrow' Says Farewell to a Star
Welcome back to The Hollywood Reporter's weekly DC TV Watch, a rundown of all things DC Comics on the small screen. Every Friday, 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. Note: The Flash and Supergirl did not air new episodes this week.
Another new face | Between Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger and now Jared Leto, there are numerous iconic and infamous portrayals of fan-favorite Batman villain The Joker in pop culture. And over the past four seasons, Gotham's Jerome Valeska (Cameron Monaghan) has cemented his name among the greats with his new iteration of a young Joker. But while producers have always been hesitant to confirm that Jerome is Gotham's version of The Joker, each new appearance from the disfigured ex-carnival performer-turned-serial killer seemed to provide confirmation on its own. His disturbing laugh, slashed smile and penchant for theatrics, plus his obsession with Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) all pointed to him being a prequel version of The Joker. But Gotham star Ben McKenzie just hinted that a new potential Joker is going to be introduced as soon as the end of this season. When THR asked McKenzie after a screening of this week's episode if Jerome would be the main villain for the rest of this season, he replied, "He, or someone very much like him, is definitely one of the [main] villains." Sounds like Gotham is finally going full speed towards The Joker mythology, but after four seasons of a perfect performance by Monaghan, could a new version of The Joker measure up? Why not just make Jerome the official Joker?
Sympathy for the devil | But before Gotham introduces another potential Joker, the Batman prequel is going to dive much deeper into Jerome's story first. McKenzie, who directed this week's episode, revealed that the producers realized there was much more that Monaghan could do with the character and much more that Gotham could mine from his background before saying goodbye. "The end of the season kicks it off and it becomes even more a story of his Machiavellian plans to either take over Gotham or destroy it trying," McKenzie says. "Cameron came in at the middle of season one as what we all originally thought was supposed to be a one-off, the precursor to a Joker but not necessarily the Joker. He was so magnetic and so unbelievably committed that it just felt like we had to go further." And that's why Gotham is now revealing more about Jerome's childhood and history, like with the introduction and murder of his abusive uncle. "I think the more interesting exploration of that is to push it as sympathetic as you can and see what people react to," McKenzie says. "They know he's a psychopath, they know he's a villain, but you know that old saying, 'hurt people hurt people?' Here is the perfect example. He was tortured by his uncle brutally and yet the way he's chosen to handle that is to push that pain out on everybody else now. Does that make what he's doing right? No, of course not, but we can understand him a little bit better."
They're with her | Gotham revealed quite a prescient twist with Barbara (Erin Richards) in this week's episode, as she took over the League of Shadows and faced opposition from the male members refusing to follow a female Demon's Head. Despite having been given the responsibility of leadership from the previous Demon's Head, Babs was almost forced to fight all the "weak" men who wouldn't bow down ... until all the other female members did the work for her and killed all the men. The "sisters" of the League were ready to burn down the traditional patriarchy and start fresh with all females, and it was a surprisingly strong twist to what was initially a lukewarm storyline regarding confusing mysticism. The overt political commentary is impossible to miss, but McKenzie is careful to focus on the individual character arc Gotham is telling for Barbara over any real-world gender politics. "There is a female empowerment story in there but it's masked by a power struggle, an acknowledgment that Barbara is a sick, sick person," McKenzie says. "She has a journey and a responsibility and that responsibility is to kill a lot of people. She's up for that."
Nothing's out of the question | Even though Gotham's proto-Harley Quinn has become the new Ra's al Ghul and has taken over a league of assassins, McKenzie still isn't ruling out a potential reunion for Jim Gordon and Barbara, especially since she was introduced as his future wife. "We flirted and we talked about [how] Jim and Barbara are supposed to have a baby at some point," McKenzie says. "It became very difficult to see how we would be able to do that for obvious reasons. I would never say anything is completely off the table and to the degree that this show departs from a lot of the mythology or times it departs from the mythology, it does. Maybe we don't have to tell Jim and Barbara having a baby in this, in the run of Gotham. That could happen five years from now when Barbara's even crazier. But you never know." Now wouldn't that be the real jaw-dropping twist of the series?
Good things come to those who wait | Black Lightning (Cress Williams) and Thunder (Nafessa Williams) are already so far along in their training that the father-daughter duo are taking out full squads of ASA government black ops agents. Watching them combine their different powers in creative ways is a total thrill, but don't expect to see the younger Pierce daughter join the fight anytime soon. While Jennifer (China Anne McClain) has started to manifest her Lightning powers straight out the comic book (by generating electricity in her body instead of taking from the source like her father), she won't suit up before the season is over. With only three episodes left in the first season, and the introduction of Vice Principal Fowdy (Skye Marshall) as yet another villain as the ASA's new metahuman scout, plus Jefferson outing himself as Black Lightning to the ASA, there are too many balls in the air to see Lightning suit up. And that's not even counting the impending return of Tobias Whale (Marvin "Krondon" Jones III). Now that's not to say that Jennifer won't use her powers to help her father and sister in the inevitable big fight that's coming, but she won't do it suited up as Lightning.
Legends of Tomorrow
Real casualty means real stakes | With nothing but some telekinetic powers and a deep, foreboding voice, the demon Mallus hasn't really shown why he's such a formidable threat to the Legends yet. But this week's episode finally proved how serious of a threat he is. After Kuasa (Tracy Ifeachor) helped Amaya (Maisie Richardson-Sellers) get her Vixen totem back, Mallus literally ripped Kuasa's water totem out of her chest, killing her. It was one of the most brutal deaths on Legends of Tomorrow and finally raised the stakes of the season-long arc. Mallus has proven that he'll kill any totem bearer with a flick of the wrist, and that means Amaya, Sara (Caity Lotz), Mick (Dominic Purcell) and Zari (Tala Ashe) are all in real danger as new totem bearers. With the high turnover of teammembers aboard the Waverider each season and the additions of Wally (Keiynan Lonsdale) and John Constantine (Matt Ryan), it's highly likely Legends will kill off one or more of the current members before the fight against Mallus is over. It's not a question of if, just a matter of who.
End of an era | While Thea (Willa Holland) left Star City on a hopeful note with Roy (Colton Haynes) and Nyssa (Katrina Law) to find and destroy the three Lazarus Pits that Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) discovered, this is actually the end of her time on Arrow. THR previously revealed that Holland has exited The CW's first Arrow-verse series, and this week's episode was her last. One of the only four remaining original Arrow series regulars (along with Stephen Amell, David Ramsey and Paul Blackthorne), Holland made the decision to "pursue other creative opportunities," according to executive producer Marc Guggenheim. This shouldn't come as a surprise to fans, as Thea has largely been out of the action on Arrow for the past two seasons. Her storyline constantly got sidelined and she even spent a majority of this season in a coma. While certainly sad to see Arrow lose one of the few original castmembers remaining, her send-off made sense and honored the legacy of her character, finally giving her the purpose she'd been missing for the past few seasons.
Gotham airs Thursdays on Fox. Legends of Tomorrow airs Mondays; The Flash and Black Lightning air Tuesdays; Arrow airs Thursdays; and Supergirl returns Monday, April 16, all on The CW.