The Beginning in the End
This was never going to be a show where the final season took us full-circle like Alias or brought back a series of familiar faces as departed characters made return appearances like Smallville or, again, Alias… y’all shouldn’t have missed out on Alias, but that’s a digression…
Sure, a few of the more notable minor villains turn up in the final season. Scarecrow attempts a raid on the GCPD. Jervis Tetch (who I never cared for) aids Jeremiah with his idiotic “Hey Bruce remember your parents?” scheme. The third iteration of Poison Ivy (yes, they did that age/glow-up thing twice) makes a play. And thankfully, Zsasz takes two parting shots at our… “heroes” seems pretty strong… protagonists, I guess.
But those are all recurring characters who’ve been part of the show for three to five seasons. They never technically left. Bringing back properly departed familiar faces from the past would be difficult for a few reasons. First off, because Gotham tended to toss aside characters they grew bored with, even if they were contracted as series regulars for the season. Examples? Oh, I got examples.
- Detectives Renee Montoya and Crispus Allen, two of the star detectives of beloved comic series Gotham Central, were detectives in the Major Crimes Unit in season one, their main purpose being trying to prove Jim Gordon was dirty so that Montoya could bang Barbara (Allen may not have known that bit). It was terrible and I hated it and it was such a disservice to both Montoya and Allen (and Barbara, frankly). They were credited in all 22 episodes of season one, but turned up in seven and six episodes respectively, because once they found out Gordon was on the level, the writers couldn’t think of anything to do with them, and we never saw or heard from them or the very concept of a Major Crimes Unit ever again.
- Nicholas D’Agosto played Harvey Dent in a couple of episodes in season one. In season two, he was promoted to series regular. He was credited in 21 episodes. He appeared in three. Never saw or heard from him again.
- Captain Barnes was a regular for two years, but his arc did not go to a happy place. By the end, he was long past being a character worth bringing back. He faded into the background in late season three, did some stupid villain stuff, and was never mentioned again.
- Sofia Falcone, daughter of Gotham’s OG mob boss Carmine, was a major player for the first half of season four, then they put her in a coma because it was time for another ride on the Jerome train and there wasn’t room for both of them. Jerome derailed everything. She never woke up but did take a gig on Swamp Thing, which has a decent chance of being a better show.
- And Fish Mooney had died a couple too many times to bring back for the final season.
Most notably… any character not cut for being dead got cut because the writers couldn’t figure out anything else to do with them. Nicholas D’Agosto didn’t get a better gig, they just suddenly noticed that they couldn’t think of a way to fit Harvey Dent into season two. So when a character is so irrelevant that they get tossed and forgotten, there’s no real motivation to bring them back for the big finale.
But they do find a couple of ways to bring the show full circle.
The most obvious is, of course, Baby Bruce. Bruce’s parents die in the pilot… and can this be the last time we see the Waynes shot dead in Crime Alley? We get it. And in the finale, after the ten-year time jump, Gordon and company meet Batman for the first time. (We don’t get a clear look at Batman until the final shot, and dear lord his costume sucks. Is that the best they could find?)
The second is not that in the pilot and finale, Jim rushes off to confront a villain by himself with no backup and it doesn’t go well. That happened all the time. Jim Gordon getting disarmed/captured because he didn’t bring backup is the rough equivalent of the gang at Cheers yelling “Norm!”
The actual second? The pilot involved Jim Gordon being made to drive Oswald Cobblepot out to a spot I call Scenic Murder Pier to execute him as a sign of loyalty to the Falcones. And in the finale, Penguin marches Jim right back there, angry about spending the last decade in Blackgate prison– wait, Penguin spent the entire time jump in prison? That brings us to the next thing…
Next page: When you hate your own source material