[Warning: This story contains spoilers from Monday’s season three premiere of Gotham.]
The Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) from seasons past is gone on Gotham.
Although the former Golden Boy of the GCPD ended season two on a hopeful note, planning on finding his ex-fiancée Lee Thompkins (Morena Baccarin) and reuniting with her, season three opened on quite an unhappy ending to that story. Gordon was about to knock on her door, flowers in hand, only to see her on a date with another man. Heartbroken, he left without knocking, and the Fox drama smash cut to six months later back in Gotham, with Gordon a much darker, angrier man than he used to be. He refused to rejoin the GCPD, instead earning money as a bounty hunter, bringing in Hugo Strange’s (BD Wong) escaped Indian Hill experiments to the precinct for cash rewards.
But he might not have that job for much longer, as it was revealed in the premiere, “Mad City: Better to Reign in Hell …,” that Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith), along with the rest of the escaped monsters, are currently dying. Their bodies are rejecting the changes from the Indian Hill experiments, and the currently locked-up Strange is the only one who can help them. Other cliffhangers left dangling by episode’s end was Bruce (David Mazouz) getting kidnapped by the shadowy organization in control of Wayne Enterprises after he threatened to expose them, and Selina’s (Camren Bicondova) friend Ivy (Clare Foley) was touched by a monster with speed aging powers.
The Hollywood Reporter spoke with Gotham executive producer Ken Woodruff about Gordon’s heartbreak and what that means for him going forward, Fish Mooney’s fate and more.
It certainly looks like Gordon and Lee are done, romantically speaking. But when are we going to see Lee return to Gotham?
She’ll be back very, very soon. I wrote the second episode and she’s going to be coming back very, very shortly. For us, the juice of the two of them at odds, that heartbreak, is best portrayed when she’s there. She’s definitely going to be coming back to Gotham and she’s going to be in Gordon’s life. It’s going to be challenging for both of them. How do they make this work? Are they dating other people? Are they available? Is he going to tell her that he went down there and didn’t knock on the door? This is a really fun character story that we’re telling over the first 11 episodes.
I’m really excited about this love story we’re telling between Gordon and Lee. We broke them up and every time I watch their scenes, Ben and Morena obviously have chemistry together and they make each scene pop. It’s heartbreaking where they’re at right now. Lee doesn’t know Gordon went to see her. We take that and we run with it and really complicate things.
However, it does seem like you are setting Valerie Vale (Jamie Chung) up as Gordon’s new romantic interest/sparring partner, much like Lee was back in the early stages of their relationship. Is that a safe assumption to make?
Yeah, they’re two really attractive, capable people who are going to be thrust into each other’s lives. You’ll see that really pick up in the second episode. There’s a certain engine and chemistry there, a lot of sparks. Vale is a much different character than Lee and a much different entity. The dynamic between her and Gordon is going to feel completely different from the dynamic between Lee and Gordon last season. She’s sharp. She’s tough. She’s a beat reporter and is perfectly capable of compartmentalizing her life in a way that a lot of people aren’t. Pleasure is pleasure and business is business, that’s her motto.
Bruce’s Indian Hill doppelganger genuinely seemed to have no idea that he had a twin, and he actually seems to be a normal kid unlike the other escapees who are monsters. How is his story going to evolve this season?
Bruce Wayne always had this party boy exterior persona that he was able to use and hide behind so people wouldn’t assume he was Batman. You saw it really well in the movies, when he pulls up in a Lamborghini with two supermodels. It’s not who he is but it’s such a convincing mask that he’s able to wear in public. One of the things we wanted to do is use this Bruce doppelganger to show Bruce that there’s a whole other way of behaving out there that’s not what you expect. You can actually enjoy this. Imagine a kid who grew up in a cell in Indian Hill for 10 years and all of a sudden gets out, and there’s all the money and resources in the world and all the toys he can have. So why isn’t Bruce? He forces Bruce to be happier, be more grateful that he’s a rich kid, take advantage of it.
The other thing with Bruce Two is that there’s a real mystery there and a much bigger story that’s going to unfold over the course of the entire season around the central question of why was Hugo Strange, or the people who were behind Indian Hill, creating an exact double of Bruce Wayne? Is it about replacing Bruce Wayne? How were they planning to use this doppelganger? It’s a mystery to both Bruce and his double. Neither of them know why he was created, but there is an inherent danger in just his existence, even if the character himself isn’t scary or dangerous on the surface. He’s a threat to Bruce.
And Bruce was kidnapped in the final moments of the premiere by that same organization. Why did they kidnap him instead of just outright killing him when they put a hit out on him?
The whole next episode will answer that and deal with that. The short answer is that Bruce is a really powerful symbol and the Wayne name is really powerful. They don’t want to kill him because they want to use him or potentially turn him to their side and recruit him. Or maybe they do want to kill him but they’re just not ready yet. Their plan isn’t ready and they need to buy some time. There’s a ton of clarity coming in the next episode, but there are some questions that stretch this mystery over the course of the season.
When it comes to Ivy’s attack, the audience already knows that an older actress has been cast to play her for this season. How will her attack at the end of the premiere play into that?
We made the change for two reasons: The character Ivy in the comics, one of her greatest powers is the power of seduction. Everyone was much more comfortable with that with an older actress as opposed to a teenager. We want to explore that classic, canonical power of Ivy. And we didn’t just make her older with that attack. When she’s changed and transformed, there’s a real character change as well. She’ll still have some of the same traits, but she’ll be much darker, more manipulative than the Ivy we’ve seen so far. There’s a more evil quality to her as well. It’s more than just physical.
All of the Indian Hill escapees are rejecting the changes Strange performed on them, and it looks like it’s killing them. That essentially puts a ticking clock on their story, yes?
It’s really about Fish Mooney rejecting these changes. That’s the real focus, that she’s having these problems. We’re dealing with the escapees, the monsters of Indian Hill, in the first two episodes. Fish Mooney’s existence will always permeate Gotham, but we deal with that story in the first two episodes and then we move on to allow for the [Mad] Hatter and some of the other characters and storylines we wanted to tell. The short answer is that it puts an end date, a finite timeline on the story. We didn’t want to spend the entire season with the monsters. They were better serviced in a shorter timeframe.
New club owners Barbara (Erin Richards) and Tabitha (Jessica Lucas) really proved their independence, killing all those male mobsters who were trying to pressure them into paying for their “protection.” Plus, Barbara showed that she feels no loyalty to Penguin (Oswald Cobblepot) or anyone. What are we going to see from their story moving forward?
They’re so much fun, right? She’s so much fun to write for and making her a villain was one of the genius moves of [showrunner] Bruno Heller. They’re an extra force out there. The great thing about Barbara is she has a relationship with Jim Gordon. She is legally sane now. So she can really play and work with both sides. She can help Penguin or Nygma or any of the villains, but she can also help Gordon. There’s a real wild card element to Barbara and Tabitha. They remind me of Omar from The Wire where they can play both sides if they need to. They definitely want to make a go of it on their own, and they definitely don’t need a man telling them what to do or to protect them.
Gotham airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on Fox.