“Gotham” executive producer and frequent director Danny Cannon isn’t just the person responsible for the visual look of the stylized pre-superhero series. As one of the show’s’ regular writers, he also has a strong hand in the series’ overall vision.
With “Gotham” returning Monday, April 24 to close out its third season, Cannon joined a small group of press to reveal some of the secrets of the remaining episodes – and to hold tightly onto a few bombshells to be dropped along the way.
On the evolution and endgame of the current season:
Danny Cannon: At the beginning, we had two agendas. We had Bruce Wayne really needing to confront his parents’ death, and where that leads him, and the rabbit hole we went down in the Court of Owls, which plays out completely at the end of the season – and then turns into something else.
Then the other one was Ed Nygma, finally. Right from the pilot to this point, we’ve been adding to him. He’s been evolving gradually, whether it’s wardrobe, hair, makeup, glasses, props — but more than anything, what Cory was really good at doing was body language. You find this man’s confidence, do you know what I mean? And his confidence to say, like so many villains in the DC [Comics] canon, “I shall not be ignored. I shall be brave enough to be more than human.”
I think that’s what the theme of the season was. It was like metamorphosis. Bruce Wayne is metamorphosing into an adult now, and so is Ed Nygma… it’s just Ed Nygma is more psychotic and violent.
On the reveals that Ra’s al Ghul is coming to Gotham:
It’s a shame. We wanted Ra’s to be really a big surprise, because it’s a great intro, but these things get out. But the idea of like, how does the journey with the Court of Owls end? With ancient mysticism. They are such a political party, a Machiavellian, Borgia kind of world, that we wanted to go more mystic, and go back centuries and talk about history and stuff like that – which is the next evolution of our villain; which Ra’s is really good for that.
So that’s where that comes in, and that — really, the end of the season is about, just when you thought you found the bottom of the rabbit hole, just when you know what’s in the shadows, comes guys who live in the shadows.
On possible plans for more Jerome:
Jerome – oh, I don’t know! He didn’t die, though, did he? I just can’t get enough of Cameron [Monaghan].
What happened was, I did an episode — I wanted to do a comedy, except people thought they didn’t think I was funny. But John Wells did, and I said, “I like ‘Shameless.’” He said, do an episode of “Shameless.” I did an episode of “Shameless.” I love that show, and I love that cast — it’s the only episode of something I’ve done where I’ve haven’t written it or done the pilot. I met Cameron on that. I walked in and somebody said that they liked this idea of this character from a circus. I was like, “Dude, I know the guy. I know the guy!”
That’s happened twice on the show for me. Anthony [Carrigan], who plays Victor Zsasz, was the other guy. “I’ve got the guy. We’ve got him.” That’s a nice feeling.
On the rumored evolution of Barbara Kean – possibly into Harley Quinn:
I can’t. I can’t. All I can tell you is, the great thing, the joy of working with Erin is the range. The reason we changed her character, [is] because we knew what she could do. We’re like, “We can’t keep you in one place. You’ve got to keep evolving.” So she’s going to evolve again. That’s all I can tell you.
On walking a tonal line between the dark and macabre and the intentionally humorous:
We all feel like we’re on that line. When you read the scripts, you all feel like you’re on the same page. You all feel like you’re doing that. It’s just a tiny, little shove. When you’re dealing with a world that you want to be real, but it’s an alternative reality, it’s lost in time, any little shove that way or that way takes you – it’s really hard to tread that.
It’s very hard to get writers who completely get that world, directors who get that world, and to get day players who can come in and play the scene with these guys who have really embraced the world as well. Just sometimes, if you have a dark scene with a director who’s dark, and a dark line, in a dark work, just one little tip that way, sometimes in the cutting room we’ve gone, ooh, whoa. It’s weird. It’s like playing in a band, and somebody just plays a riff along with you, they’re playing exactly the same chords, but he plays it like Twiggy in Manson’s band.
I wrote that Mad Hatter episode. It was good to go down that path for a little while, because when you think about what this guy does for a living, it’s creepy as hell. But at the same time, that was definitely in the cutting room going, “Ooh….”
So hence you’ve got, later on, you’ve got him using rhyme a lot more, and being in a different balance. It’s not like a movie where you can spend six months in the cutting room, or six months writing, or two years writing. We write these things, and it’s barely dry, and people are saying it on set. Then the writer walks by the cutting room, and they’re saying his words in a scene, and it’s been cut, and two weeks later it’s on the air. So walking that thin line of what is “Gotham,” it only takes one little shove one way or the other and the tone shifts.
Set in Batman’s home city back before the Dark Knight Detective started his nocturnal patrols, “Gotham” also stars Sean Pertwee as Alfred Pennyworth and Morena Baccarin as Leslie Tompkins. The show resumes its third season on Monday, April 24, at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Fox.