The Batman origin story continues on the TV series “Gotham,” and the stakes are higher than ever, as Super Villains more ambitious and depraved are introduced, and a realignment of alliances shakes up the fight for power in Gotham City. Detective Jim Gordon (played by Ben McKenzie) and the ethically questionable veteran detective Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) remain at the forefront of the fight against crime in this dangerously corrupt city. While confronting Gotham’s most notorious criminals, Gordon’s moral compass begins to waver. But he is taken under the wing of Nathaniel Barnes (Michael Chiklis), a law-and-order zealot who is unafraid of making enemies. Meanwhile, Gordon continues his quest to gain the trust of the young Bruce Wayne (played by David Mazouz), who is on a clear path towards the man he is destined to become, after discovering his father’s deepest secrets, with the help of his trusted butler and mentor, Alfred Pennyworth (played by Sean Pertwee) and newfound ally at Wayne Enterprises, Lucius Fox (played by Chris Chalk).
In the epic turf war that occurred at the conclusion of Season 1, Oswald Cobblepot/The Penguin (played by Robin Lord Taylor) battled his way into power over Gotham’s underworld. Heading into Season 2, “Gotham: Rise of the Villains” will continue to follow the evolving stories of the city’s most malevolent villains: Edward Nygma/The Riddler (played by Cory Michael Smith), whose transformation from Gotham PD’s forensic expert to psychologically unhinged villain continues; Selina Kyle/the future Catwoman (played by Camren Bicondova), whose hard-knock existence propels her into a life of crime; and the increasingly unstable Barbara Kean (played by Erin Richards), who is out for Gordon and his girlfriend, Dr. Leslie Thompkins (played by Morena Baccarin). Also hoping to leave his mark on the city is Theo Galavan (played by James Frain), the billionaire industrialist, who appears to be the savior for whom Gotham has been waiting. Theo, along with his sister and lead enforcer, Tabitha Galavan aka Tigress (played by Jessica Lucas), keep their centuries-old vendetta hidden, as they manipulate their way to power. Here is what McKenzie and Frain said in a roundtable interview with me and other journalists at 2015 New York Comic-Con in New York City.
What does Jim Gordon think about Nathaniel Barnes?
McKenzie: I think he’s shocked that an honest-to-goodness lawman walked into GCPD and actually wants to do good. And he’s distrustful of it for a minute. Barnes shows he’s the real deal. I think that forms a great partnership, but also you can see from the beginning possible competition. The seeds of distrust are sown.
Barnes is such a law-and-order man that new Jim — Jim 2.0 — is not sure that’s how you get things done in Gotham. You can see how they may eventually come into conflict. Right now, they’re fast friends, and Jim welcomes an ally.
Season 2 of Gotham is called “Rise of the Villains.” Can you talk about what we can expect from the villains who’ve taken over Gotham?
McKenzie: They’ve absolutely taken over. What we’re doing this season is serializing the whole thing, so we can have long, drawn-out arcs that really develop the relationships between the characters. We’re introducing this seemingly upstanding citizen in Theo Galavan … but knowing all along as an audience member that he’s up to something else will pay dividends down the line.
Frain: The rise of the villains is the biggest arc of the story because it’s all of us. We’re looking to develop the world to go from something quite real to on the verge of people adopting characters and costumes and a hyper-real situation. In order for that to happen, the chaos and corruption of Gotham has to get much more extreme. And that’s what I [as Theo Galavan] bring. And that happens in the story, but for a while, my character is able to fool enough people to get a position of power. And that becomes problematic.
In Season 2 of “Gotham,” since there is so much going on with the rise of the villains, is finding the murderer of Bruce Wayne’s parents going to be on the backburner, or will is still be a major part of the storyline?
McKenzie: It will continue to be [a part of the storyline] throughout the series. It doesn’t go away. We hope the series goes for a long time. And in order for it to do that, Bruce can’t come to the answer easily. There will be a lot of twists and turns, and Theo may be involved in that. But it’s the case that lingers in the background for many of these episodes.
Can you talk about the rumor that Theo and Tabitha Galavan have a connection to the villain group Court of Owls that’s in the Batman comics?
Frain: I don’t know about that, honestly. That might happen. That will have to come out of the writers’ room.
“Gotham” executive producer Bruno Heller said in interviews that the Court of Owls may appear eventually.
Frain: It hasn’t happened yet.
What can you say about the magic-show scene when Theo ends up killing Jerome Valeska?
Frain: It surprised all of us when the script came in and said [Theo] was going to kill him. I thought, “This is pretty interesting how this all goes down. I may have some hostile tweets.”
[Cameron Monaghan, who played Jerome Valeska] did such an amazing job. Even when you see it on camera, it’s so full of range and vigor. He was a real force. It’s fun to play that stuff when you know you’re surprising the audience. Setting that up has some fun to it.
For more info: “Gotham” website