Ahead of “Gotham” returning tonight from midseason hiatus, members of the cast gathered at an event in New York City, attended by CBR, to screen the “How the Riddler Got His Name” episode and answer questions from press. Cast members in attendances included Ben McKenzie, Cory Michael Smith, Robin Lord Taylor, Camren Bicondova, Erin Richards, Jessica Lucas, Drew Powell, Chris Chalk and Maggie Geha.
The Q&A started with a question about whether or not anyone was still waiting for answers about their characters’ past — and if they are, if they might be answered soon. Cory Michael Smith jokingly responded by saying, “all questions are answered, I’m done” when it comes to his character Edward Nygma before expanding on the new answers the character is looking for in this part of the season.
“Now that he’s finally claimed an identity, it doesn’t necessarily answer any deep questions about his identity,” Smith said. “He’s called himself something, but now begins the journey of finding out what that actually means to him. Who is this new person? This is someone who constantly struggles with identity.”
Smith continued by stating this struggle was manifested literally in season two when Ed started to see two of himself.
“He’s constantly searching for himself, but now it’s like, well he has this outfit, what does that mean? How does he behave now? How does he walk into a room or interact with people? How does he expect people to respond to him? So now begins a whole new journey of a new identity for him so I feel like it’s kind of a new beginning,” he said.
For these characters that we know so much about, are there any surprises for the audience, or a lot more that we haven’t seen yet? Camren Bicondova, who plays Selina Kyle, replied that Selina “always packs a good surprise.” For her, she always sees Selina going one way — and then she goes the complete opposite.
“I’ve gotten used to just letting her be and just go with the flow,” Bicondova said. “The way that she lives is survival and that’s how she lives her life is just doing what she needs to do to survive and throughout the rest of the season we’re going to see how she’s struggling to survive for the first time in a really long time because she’s dealing with teenage girl issues that she’s never dealt with before… by the end of the season she’s going to figure out that she wants something else and I’m excited for everyone to see that.”
While viewers may know the ultimate fates of many of the characters on the show based on the classic Batman stories, others aren’t quite as clear — such as Erin Richards’ character, Barbara Kean. There’s been quite a bit of speculation about whether or not Barbara might be Gotham’s version of Harley Quinn. Richards was asked if those comparisons to Harley are frustrating to her, and she said no, because she can understand it.
“I’ve sort of seen and been playing a little bit of that,” Richards replied. “Not as Harley Quinn, but in her own right the kind of madness. The thing about Harley Quinn I feel is that her madness, her crazy, is kind of joyous which Barbara has but Barbara is a lot more focused, especially in this part of the season. We’re going to see her really getting her teeth into kind of being the queen of Gotham which is what she wants and using the characters around her to get there and I think that she maybe has left behind that part of her that was the Harley Quinn type where it was just kind of madness for madness sake. Crazy and outlandish because that’s fabulous.”
“Now she’s got her mind set on this thing,” Richards continued. “The thing about Barbara is she’s always looking for her place in the world and she’s certainly found it. She’s like, ‘Oh my god I can run this thing!’ But then there might be a kind of very interesting thing happening at the end of the season.”
Barbara’s rise to the top may put her in the crosshairs of some characters, but maybe not Ed. When asked about everyone having a grudge against Ed and if they might align against him, Smith pointed out that Ed is not interested in running the underworld.
“He’s interested in finding his own identity,” Smith explained. “He’s on a journey of self so in terms of being in charge of things, he never wanted to be the mayor. He has no interest in taking the role which he easily could have done if he really wanted a power structure that way so it’s interesting.”
Smith did say alliances will be made though, and that Ed will run into Barbara, which will cause problems since he tortured Tabitha and Butch. Jessica Lucas, who plays Tabitha Galavan, added that it all brings her character and Butch much closer together and “stirs up a lot of trouble between Barbara and Tabitha.”
“That will get more and more intense as the season goes on,” Lucas said.
Robin Lord Taylor, who plays Penguin, agreed when Smith said Ed is not interested in running the world or being powerful.
“He’s interested in finding himself and weirdly that makes him all the more terrifying because that is unpredictable,” Taylor said. “He doesn’t even know who he is. We don’t even know the depravity where this character can go and that’s what’s motivating him. Whereas someone like the Penguin [is about] order, structure, king of Gotham, and let’s go. But that makes the Riddler all the more dangerous.”
When the cast was asked about potentially taking on Batman or a Gotham version of the hero one day, Bicondova said she loves the journey.
“Everybody knows Nygma becomes the Riddler. Everyone knows Oswald becomes Penguin. Everybody knows Selina Kyle becomes Catwoman and I think that’s what makes Gotham so fun and interesting is that nobody’s seen the journey so I feel like that cheesy saying ‘it’s the journey not the destination’ but really it is for me at least,” she explained.
Ben McKenzie, the actor behind Det. Jim Gordon, thinks that “as Bruce evolves the people around him are obviously evolving as well.” Smith later on added that there are a lot of stories to tell before Batman becomes Batman.
As for the cast’s favorite scene or storyline from this season, when asked the answers varied, though Taylor and Smith agreed the relationship between Riddler and Penguin was a highlight.
“I have to say the fact that we introduced a queer element to a traditional villain storyline, something that’s been around for a very long time, I thought that was very brave,” Taylor said. “I thought that even though it’s not the traditional trajectory that things tend to go I thought that really what we brought to it both Cory and I was a place of emotional honesty and the fact that that was embraced by both Warner Bros. and Fox I think is something that should be applauded and I’m really happy about that.”
Smith saw this season as an “embarrassment of riches” and that in addition to loving the queer storyline, he liked the fact that Chelsea Spack, who had played Kristin Kringle, returned to play Isabella. For Chris Chalk, who plays Lucius Fox, his favorite part was how fun it was working with McKenzie and Donal Logue who plays Det. Harvey Bullock while for Drew Powell, who portrays Butch Gilzean, it was the scene where Ed was torturing Butch and Tabitha.
“Getting my hand cut off was definitely a highlight, and reattached” Lucas added. “And working with the lovely Erin Richards all season long has been a treat I have to say.”
Richards revealed that one of her favorite scenes was one they shot the day before the Q&A and said it was “pretty epic,” taking about six hours and breaking a wall.
“Gotham” airs at 8 tonight on Fox.