[Gotham](series:1127075) returns tonight after its mid-season finale, and main character James Gordon will probably need a shrink pretty soon. The show’s still in its first season, but poor James’s already been nearly killed multiple times, deserted by allies more than once, and his girlfriend’s left him and hooked up with another woman. He doesn’t have many real friends, so he’s often the odd man out. It’s not easy fighting evil under any circumstances, but it’s even worse when you feel all alone.
The show, based on Gotham City’s early, pre-Batman days, features James fighting crime as a rookie detective in one of the most chaotic and deadly cities in all of genre entertainment. Gotham City will one-day become home to many of the most famous villains in sci-fi and fantasy entertainment, people who terrorize citizens with superpowers, bizarre weapons, and psychotic plots that the authorities can't contain. By the time Batman comes around, James’s a harrowed veteran and one of the few good cops in a police force filled with officers who are either corrupt or cowardly.
Gotham’s James Gordon is much younger than we’re used to seeing him in the DC comics and movies, and he often stands his ground alone amid co-workers and associates who are either too scared to back him up, or they’re his adversaries. Jim finds out the hard way that only the strong survive in Gotham City, but courageous people can’t fight wars without getting scars.
Here are a few big reasons why James Gordon may have a nervous breakdown sometime before the season ends.
He’s a lone wolf at work
James has few people he can depend on when things get tough, which means he’s alone mentally and emotionally on the frontlines. He can’t even rely on fellow cops for support, people who are supposed to be loyal to their own kind. In “Penguin’s Umbrella,” officers at Gotham PD headquarters turn tail and run, leaving James to face serial killer Victor Zsasz by himself, and after James survives, he has to return to work and play nice with dozens of people who basically left him to die on his own. That’s ten times worse than being sabotaged out of a promotion or being excluded from office parties. He got screwed over by nearly all of his co-workers in a severe incident, a situation that could turn even the best of us into bitter assholes at the office.
His girlfriend’s a chump
His lover Barbara Kean's not much better. She knows her man’s got a stressful job, but she’s stunningly unsympathetic. James’s a cop who’s got to keep the details of his cases secret because the legal system demands it and because innocent people's lives would be threatened if they knew criminals’ activities. Barbara knows police officers are supposed to be tightlipped about work—everyone does—but she doesn’t care. She demands that James tell her the details of his work or she’ll leave him, so he has to compromise his job and livelihood just to keep her happy. She puts up a front about how it’s all about her sharing his pain and all that crap in “Spirit of the Goat.” Barbara comes face to face with James’s life as a cop when Falcone and Zsasz kidnap her in “Penguin’s Umbrella,” so in a way, she gets her wish. It’s too much for her to process after she’s rescued, so she leaves town—and James in the process—and cheats on him with her ex-girlfriend Montoya, the woman who’s tried to have him tossed in jail for a murder he didn’t commit. That’s not a knife in the back; it’s a damn sword.
His allies aren’t really his friends
James has allies, but they may not be enough to keep him off the psychiatrist’s couch. Alfred and Bruce will help him out, for instance, but they’re not exactly people he can confide in when he’s scared or hurt. Let’s say, for example, that James has such a bad day that he feels like crying or something—seriously—but could you picture him bawling his eyes out to Alfred at Wayne Manor? And sure, he can trust Bullock with his life, but you just know that Bullock would ridicule the hell out of him for whining or crying about personal problems. And, well… Barbara’s out, since she left town. Let’s just hope James is close to his mother and calls her frequently… because she may be all he’s got in the tender love and care department.
Enough issues for his own subscription
By the time Gotham leaves TV, James will have gone through enough drama for three or four people's lifetimes. He'll be strong, but he'll be weatherbeaten physically as well as mentally. Good men often walk alone, because it's often easier to sit and do nothing when things get tense, so the steel in James's moral compass is going to be forged in some severe fires.
Check out a discussion of James Gordon, Barbara, Gotham, and other DC TV shows in the video below.