Gotham City has lived to see another day. The warring chaos caused by Nyssa al Ghul and Bane finally got quashed during Gotham’s penultimate episode. Their plan to turn Gotham City into a steaming crater of nothingness imploded after the citizens – both good and evil – banded together to stand up against the military opposition. The unity was an awe-inspiring moment that took five seasons to achieve and it delivered all the feels we’d need as the series nears its end. But, this is Gotham after all and the darkness only subsides until one of its supervillains strikes again.
James Gordon, Harvey Bullock, and the GCPD made a valiant effort against the military forces. With the Riddler and the Penguin by their side, the police force was able to stand against a shootout at such close distances, which I found a tad implausible. How is it none of the main characters got shot and died during this battle? The familiar faces stood up plenty of times, exposing themselves to attacks from the military. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy that they survived, but realistically there should’ve been more damage beyond Penguin getting shot in the eye. Also, Bane shot a rocket launcher (yes, a ROCKET LAUNCHER!) at a close distance – the explosion would’ve been serious.
What I loved about “They Did What?” was that the conflict ultimately got resolved by teamwork and not firepower. Bane and his forces dominated in that category, but they couldn’t measure up by earning the trust or the will of the people. The citizens of Gotham City were fed up of being the victims and the military didn’t want to be turned into murderers against their will. Instead of hiding or fleeing, everyone found the courage to fight. Gotham choosing this ending showed that the citizens have the power inside of them to be heroes. They don’t need someone like Batman or the GCPD to do it. The city is a strong metropolis and they’ll persevere through anything if given the chance.
The same goes for James, Barbara Kean, and Lee Thompkins. Their relationship has been a chaotic roller coaster of romances, obsessions, and murder plots that nearly killed all. But, they’ve now reached a point of becoming a stable, yet dysfunctional family. Barbara truly cared about what happened to Lee’s life – their hug under the GCPD was a touching and surprising moment if we think back to Gotham’s second season. Her partly naming her daughter after Lee was a cute tribute to the woman who grew into becoming her closest frenemy.
Regarding the fight at City Hall, I didn’t for once think that Nyssa al Ghul would defeat Barbara or James. While I had feared that Barbara could’ve been killed during Gotham’s final season, her redemption arc with Lee and James squashed any certainty. Nyssa made a point of stating that she wanted to kill her other enemies first before killing Barbara, so the barrier preventing this outcome became obvious to the viewers. And with her motivation to raise Barbara Lee Gordon as an al Ghul out of spite, that clinched it for me. For Gotham’s/Batman’s story progression, Barbara Lee had to be in Gotham City to eventually become Batgirl (and later The Oracle).
In an action TV series like Gotham, confrontation scenes fall into the same bad trope often. In this case, it’s when the heroes, who are clearly outnumbered, are able to easily disarm and defeat all the nameless criminals without getting harmed themselves. Barbara and James killed all of Nyssa’s security guards in less than five minutes without trouble. Plus, Barbara got a good revenge stab in there against the woman who tried to take her baby. The action sequence was well-choreographed but a tad predictable.
The most visually stunning scene, on the other hand, happened when Bruce Wayne unleashed the bats against Bane. Once Lucius revealed the sonar weapon, I knew that it would be used during “They Did What?” and that it would be bats. Of course, it would be bats! The moment when the bats emerged from the subways and swarmed Bane brought back all the nostalgia from the comics. Though, when Bruce looked up at the sky as the bats flew past him, he exuded so much Dark Knight energy that it made me sadder that Gotham’s ending is coming up so soon. He has progressed nicely into his dark hero persona.
Bruce and Selina’s destruction of the Wayne Enterprise building also provided an iconic moment. The building crashing down on Gotham City left its mark and a strong attack against Bane’s forces. But, the bats … how could you not go with the bats?
It’s heartbreaking that Bruce left Gotham City and didn’t tell Selina about it face-to-face beforehand. The pair overcame so much during their friendship to become a stable romantic relationship that it felt confusing that he didn’t give her the respect for an in-person goodbye. I thought Bruce was bigger than ghosting her; a letter basically amounted to a more formalized version of a text message. Selina looked so heartbroken seeing his plane leave Gotham City. If they meet up during the series finale, she will have a lot of animosity towards him.
Regarding the Riddler and the Penguin, their animosity seemed to be directed toward the people of Gotham City. Gotham choosing to keep them as supervillians was a smart decision. Sure, characters have changed and Gotham established new rules, but these two characters were some of the most consistently nefarious on the show. They will eventually be two of Batman’s biggest enemies – we can’t have them turning good. You could feel the Riddler’s anger when he wanted to seek revenge against the city. I can’t wait to see what he and the Penguin do next to get their justice.
“They Did What?” ended the current timeline on a high note as Gotham City returned back to normal. Gotham’s penultimate episode established new beginnings for the characters while also setting them up for the future people we all know and love. With the series finale coming up, everything seems too sweet and easy – something big could be happening to close the book once and for all. Let’s hope that Gotham goes out with a bang.