SDCC: "Gotham" Cast, Producers Tease Court of Owls, Cult of the Joker in S3

The cast and executive producers of Fox's pre-Batman series "Gotham" gave away some secrets from Season Three -- and for one lucky fan, a trip to visit the set -- during their panel at Comic-Con International in San Diego. The networked kicked things off with a sizzle reel that recapped the important changes from Season Two and provided a preview of major plot points in Season Three, before Executive Producers Danny Cannon and John Stephens joined members of the cast to answer questions about the coming season. Morena Baccarin (Lee Thompkins), Camren Bicondova (Selina Kyle), Chris Chalk (Lucius Fox), Jessica Lucas (Tabitha Galavan), David Mazouz (Bruce Wayne), Ben McKenzie (Jim Gordon), Erin Richards (Barbara Kean), Cory Michael Smith (Edward Nygma), Sean Pertwee (Alfred Pennyworth), Drew Powell (Butch Gilzean) and Robin Lord Taylor (Oswald Cobblepot) were all on hand to preview their characters' upcoming arcs.

At the end of Season Two, Hugo Strange's monsters -- along with a mysterious doppelganger for Bruce Wayne -- were released into the city. Gotham only descends further into chaos this season, as the Court of Owls and a Joker cult begin to rise. "We're all building up to a place that needs Batman as a masked vigilante," said Cannon, "Gotham is going to keep spiraling out of control -- otherwise, that masked vigilante isn't going to be necessary."

Season Three opens six months after the events of Season Two. "The monsters that have been unleashed on Gotham at the end of Season Two are turning the city into utter, total anarchy," said McKenzie, "and Jim Gordon is a bounty hunter, taking out the monsters and getting paid."

Meanwhile, Gordon's one-time lover, Leslie "Lee" Thompkins, is moving on after her and Jim's struggles last season. "She's had to piece herself back together," said Morena Baccarin, "The way we start the season is with Lee not with Jim -- and perhaps with a new love interest."

Meanwhile, Bruce Wayne, Alfred and Lucius will have to contend with the appearance of Bruce's doppelganger, and what his arrival might mean. The producers promised that the new Bruce has a purpose to discover. Said Stephens: "He was created for a reason, and he has a mission, which becomes clear to him over the course of the season. He's going to have a huge impact on Bruce's life and Selina's life as well."

Meanwhile, Bruce will progress in other ways with the help of his mentors. "I always think of myself and Alfred as the left brain and right brain of Bruce," said Chris Chalk of his role as Lucius Fox. "He gets to pick between us."

Barbara and Tabitha are also off on a new adventure. They've spent the past six months building a new club, called The Sirens (perhaps a nod to DC Comics' "Gotham City Sirens"). "All of the naughty characters from Gotham will be passing through our club this season," said Erin Richards. "For me, it's a moment for Barbara to come into her own."

Gotham's villains are also going through some big changes. Edward Nygma finds himself ready to start anew -- but will it be as Nygma or the Riddler? "It's kind of this clean slate," explained Cory Michael Smith. "I will be a free person in Gotham, with no alliance to the GCPD, and I've now embraced this darker side of me -- I just get to begin again. As a man, not as a boy anymore. As a man, I get to decide who I want to be, and I don't have to worry about anything that I've done in the past."

There is one piece of Nygma's past he may need to reckon with: Oswald Cobblepot. "The first thing that has to happen is a reckoning here, because the last time we saw each other, I dismissed Oswald," said Smith. "So in Oswald style, will he seek retribution or will he be willing to be friends again?"

For his part, Robin Lord Taylor said Oswald can't necessarily afford to have enemies this season. "In light of what happened with Penguin last year, he needs people to trust. His relationship with Jim is strained at the moment, and he knows that to be powerful, he needs allies, he needs people on his side, and I think the connection he has with Nygma just falls right into that."

Future Catwoman Camren Bicondova had to keep coy about what will happen between Selina Kyle and the new Ivy, but she hinted at some upcoming tension. "The roles will change," she said. "Selina's older than [Ivy], so she automatically feels this older sister connection to Ivy. She calls her 'kid'; she tells her what to do, basically. When the new Ivy arrives, she's older than Selina, and I don't think that's going to go very well for Selina."

As for porto-joker Jerome, he was ostensibly killed mid-way through Season Two, but Stephens said, "I know Jerome died at the end of his run last year, but as we've seen in 'Gotham,' death is not really a barrier. In 'Gotham,' you can't keep a bad man down."

Even if Jerome doesn't physically survive, Sean Pertwee hinted that his legacy would live on. "It's almost the cult of the Joker -- the idea of anarchy and chaos. On the sets, you'll start to see graffiti, you'll start to see the 'Ha, ha, ha' everywhere. It's the idea of the Joker that has spread through Gotham."

Many of the audience questions centered around which villains will join the series next, after the series bolstered its villain ranks in Season Two and confirmed the Mad Hatter will be coming to town. Bicondova said she would like to see Harley Quinn on the show, while Drew Powell wanted to see Bane. Ra's al Ghul will not be joining Gotham's other heavy hitters in Season Three. Stephens said the character has come up in "conversations," but nothing concrete has been nailed down. "It's a big maybe out there," he said.

To cap off the panel, Fox gave away a trip to visit the set in New York City. Fans who had stood up to ask question were entered into a raffle, and Ben McKenzie drew the winning ticket from a "fish bowl."

"Gotham" Season Three premieres Monday, September 19 at 8 PM on Fox.

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