Heading into Season 5, every episode where Bruce fights in a desperate Gotham City will lead him closer to the mantle. This is why choosing to base some of the upcoming season's story on Zero Year is perfect.
The third arc of the year-long comic book story, subtitled "Savage City," saw The Riddler unleash a cataclysm upon Gotham by blowing up the city's reservoir and flooding its streets. In the following months, the question mark-covered villain ruled the barren city, as Gordon and the authorities tried to restore order in the streets. This event took place shortly after Bruce had become the Batman, and it was his first real, massive mission to save Gotham.
While some of the beats are different, there are actually many similarities between "Savage City" and what we know of Gotham's fifth season. The city is now left on its own, powerless and cut off from the rest of the country, and it will be these next few weeks that will shape Bruce into the hero that he needs to be. Unlike in the comic book storyarc, Bruce isn't Batman yet -- but he's close. He already tried his hand at vigilante crime-fighting, and he has already put on a mask. Now, all that's left for him to do is realize what he must do to save his city, and become a symbol of strength.
When you add in the fact that Edward Nygma, who has been a part of the series ever since its pilot, has now embraced villainy as the Riddler, it's also possible that the character will have an even bigger presence in the lawless city. In the New 52 continuity, Nygma was the first real supervillain Batman faced. Perhaps this means that, in retrospect, Nygma was always the ultimate villain of the television series, an overarching presence that, like Bruce, had a 5-year origin story that would culminate with him becoming the fan-favorite Riddler we all know.
Over five years, Bruce prepared to become Batman, and Nygma prepared to become the Riddler. Now the two are all but set to face each other in a battle for the fate of Gotham's citizens, and for the soul of the city itself. Now that we think about it, it looks like Zero Year was where Gotham was always headed, right from the start.
Gotham stars Ben McKenzie as James Gordon, Donal Logue as Harvey Bullock, David Mazouz as Bruce Wayne, Robin Lord Taylor as Penguin, Camren Bicondova as Selina Kyle, Erin Richards as Barbara Kean and Sean Pertwee as Alfred Pennyworth. The series will return next season.