WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for the Season 5 premiere of Gotham, "Year Zero," which aired Thursday on Fox.
When Gotham's fourth season concluded in May, the city's bridges were destroyed, cutting off its residents from the rest of the mainland. Those who didn't escape in time were trapped within a war zone, where criminals like Penguin, Scarecrow and Mr. Freeze established their own territories.
One of the bigger questions viewers had going into Gotham's fifth and final season was how much time would have elapsed since the May finale, appropriately titled "No Man's Land," after the DC comics storyline from which it drew influence. The real answer is nearly three months -- or 87 days, to be exact. But Season 5 of Gotham doesn't begin there. Instead, the opening minutes of the premiere, "Year Zero," flash forward a full year ahead, and reveal a shocking alliance, and a fateful battle for the soul of Gotham City.
As "Year Zero" begins, a bold message appears on screen that reads "No Man's Land - Day 391." We first see Edward Nygma, donning the iconic green suit of the Riddler, and arming himself with a rifle. Then, it's on to Oswald Cobblepot, aka the Penguin, who puts on his best suit before grabbing a gun. Next, Harvey Bullock grabs what appears to be a final drink at his favorite bar before walking out, shotgun in hand. Finally, James Gordon puts on his GCPD gear, armed to the teeth and ready for battle.
There's a sense of purpose to each character as they perform a ritual, of sorts, that's both defining and foreboding. The real surprise, however, comes when all four men are revealed walking side by side, weapons in hand, flanked by the Gotham City Police Department. They stand atop makeshift battlements, and Gordon instructs everyone -- Penguin and Riddler included -- to fire on his command. "For Gotham," he proclaims, before his troops begin to repel an attacking army.
But then the scene stops, and we are taken back to "Day 87" of No Man's Land, with all of these characters scattered, both physically and ideologically. However, we now know that, a little more than 300 days into the future, everything will change, and Gordon, Bullock and Penguin and Riddler will unite to save the city.
Right now, it's difficult to say which army this alliance will face: Which enemy can pose such a threat to force those characters to put aside their differences? We can only guess at this point, but given what we know of Season 5, and which major Batman villain will be introduced, Bane seems a likely candidate.
Oh, and where is Bruce Wayne in all of this?
Obviously, this flash forward raises a lot of questions, and imbues this final season of Gotham with a greater sense of purpose.
Airing Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Fox, 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 fifth and final season premiered on Jan. 3, and will run for 12 episodes.