It was a difficult weekend for fans of Fox's Gotham, who could do nothing but wait as the network mulled over the series' fate.
First, it was reported that the show would be renewed only if Fox failed to find a new lead actor for Lethal Weapon. But lo and behold, at the eleventh hour, both series were confirmed to return. However, Gotham's Season 5 renewal came with a caveat: It will be the series' final season. An official number of episodes has not yet been confirmed, though rumors are floating around that fans should prepare for a truncated order of 13 episodes.
Over the past four years, Gotham has taken its time in telling the stories of Bruce Wayne's rise to vigilante crime-fighter, the descent into madness of the city's underworld, and James Gordon's ultimate failure to save Gotham through conventional means. Each season has taken steps to reach these ends, but there have been some detours along the way. Now, with a final endgame in sight and a finite number of episodes, the series no longer has to take things slowly. Now, Gotham can give fans everything they've ever wanted, and in the process, make Season 5 the series' best.
Becoming The Batman
In its fourth season, Gotham took Bruce Wayne closer than ever to the mantle of Batman... before leading him even further away from it when it explored his dark downward spiral into self-doubt. Now, however, Bruce has a brand new proto-Batmobile, and an intimidating psuedo-costume to wear when fighting the city's criminals. And yet, Bruce is still a far cry from becoming the ever-prepared caped crusader. He's still young, still learning, and he isn't exactly the deadliest fighter in the world. Sure, he's picked up a few tricks along the way (He's developed some street smarts thanks to Selina Kyle, and has picked up some fighting skills courtesy of Alfred), but he's no Batman... yet.
The final season is the perfect time to take Bruce on the most important part of his journey to becoming the city's savior by sending him far, far away from Gotham. We don't know where the Season 4 finale will leave us, but with rumors that the episode will take some inspiration from the "No Man's Land" comic book storyline, the city could be facing its worst cataclysm yet. Whatever happens to Gotham in the wake of this upcoming event, the series would do well to see Bruce leave his home city as the season closes. It's a well-known fact that Bruce Wayne spent some time abroad to learn how to fight -- among other things -- before returning to don the cape and cowl of the Dark Knight.
Since we already know that Gotham's return will be held off until mid-season, the series would do well to kick things off with a time-jump. A year in-between seasons would be more than enough to show us that Bruce has been traveling to other countries, learning to get by on his own. While he is away, this would be a great opportunity to showcase a Gotham City that is increasingly falling apart. Gordon, Bullock and the rest of the GCPD need to have their hands more than full, and the situation has to grow more dire with each new episode.
As Season 5 progresses, we need to sense that Gotham is in peril, that it is in need of a savior. For that to come across, Bruce Wayne needs to be missing. The series doesn't have to write Bruce Wayne out of the show -- it can simply keep doing what it's always done, featuring separate story threads that eventually connect to one another. The duality of Bruce Wayne training far away juxtaposed with a Gotham City whose condition appears to worsen every day will only make Bruce's return all the more satisfying.