‘Gotham’ Almost Killed A Main Character (And Should Have)
On this week’s episode of “Gotham,” everything you thought you knew about the Batman prequel almost got thrown out the window… It was a thing of beauty, a shocking moment that literally made this viewer gasp out loud, and points to how the show can shake things up in season two.
Spoilers for “Gotham” past this point.
One of the joys of “Gotham” is seeing how the villains and heroes of Batman mythology get to their destinies. And on “The Anvil Or The Hammer” the villains, in particular, took a big step forward. Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor) made a huge move to take out rival crime bosses Falcone and Maroni, so Mr. Cobblepot could take their place. Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) successfully covered up his first murder — and left his first real riddle clue to said crime.
But it was in a new villain’s plotline where we almost got the moment that broke my brain. Barbara (Erin Richards) has been taken hostage and essentially brainwashed by The Ogre (Milo Ventimiglia), a Christian Grey clone with a penchant for disfiguring and murdering women. She’s watched him murder her parents after the Ogre gave her a choice between choosing someone else’s lives, or her own. And when Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) came to rescue her, she just tells him to leave.
Enter Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue), who distracts the Ogre for the split second needed for Jim to shoot the baddie in the head. Only before the Ogre heads off to a little swamp called Hell, he slits Barbara’s throat.
In case you aren’t steeped in DC Comics lore, in the comics, Barbara goes on to marry Gordon, giving birth to a kid or two (and in some continuities the other Barbara Gordon, who becomes Batgirl), before ultimately leaving her sadsack Commissioner husband.
But she definitely doesn’t die years earlier from a slit throat. And in the show at least, she didn’t either, because it was just a very light throat-slitting. A flesh wound, really, that will most likely play out as the beautiful Barbara having to deal with her “disfigurement.”
(Too bad they didn’t introduce an incredible new plastic surgery technique two episodes ago that makes any wound or disfigurement look like new, but I digress, because DRAMA.)
But imagine if she had died of a slit throat, like it seemed she might for a brief moment? We essentially would be in uncharted territory for the Bat-mythos, something that show creator Bruno Heller and others have teased since the show premiered.
Similarly, Heller has also discussed how you don’t need to kill characters to create drama or change their paths. But nothing rocks a continuity nerds sense of assurance like killing a character who should survive for decades.
This isn’t to knock Richards’ performance as Barbara, which is great. And her descent into darkness this season has been one of the show’s most interesting plotlines. But having her suddenly die before the end of the season would have thrown everything out of whack in the best way.
If she’s gone, what happens to Gordon? What happens to Ivy and Selina, who are both living in her apartment right now? And most importantly, if Barbara can be killed off, who else could go?
Like Heller has stated, killing a character isn’t the only way of introducing unpredictability, but it’s certainly a good one.
We’re glad Richards will still be around come season two — but if “Gotham” wants to continue to amp up the excitement, they might consider breaking a few of the toys in the process.