When The Dark Knight was released, few were prepared for how good the movie was. While Heath Ledger's performance won the plaudits and the Oscar, the true star was the writing itself. The movie delivered several killer lines that entered the public consciousness, even outside of the movie's viewers.
How often have you heard someone adapt Bale's "Live Long Enough To See Yourself As The Villain" quote? or the iconic final speech given by Jim Gordon to his son that "He is the hero Gotham deserves, but not the hero it needs right now..."?
When season 2 of Gotham started, how themes like this would be incorporated into the show without retreading them. Ahead be spoilers, so if you want to avoid them... LEAVE NOW!
Season Two is only three episodes in, after a lukewarm general response from casual viewers in the first season and either love or hate from fans of the Bat, hopes were not high.
However in just those three episodes, the series has made massive leaps in not only how it tells its version of the world but has managed to not only reference the Nolan-verse, but turn it completely on its own head to awesome effect.
In the first episode of the season, Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) was the guy who saw himself become the villain. Fired for going too far with Chief Loeb, he found himself turning to the "dark side" in making a deal with new king(Pen)guin, Oswald Cobblepot. Oswald would take care of Loeb, allowing Jim back on the force without further interference, but it would cost Jim. He became a debt collector and after it went sour shot and presumably killed the mark.
Jim Gordon, Gotham's hero had become a villain, as both TDK's Bruce and Harvey both had, but without a mask or whitewash to hide behind, Jim in the TV show has been forced to become a zealot in many ways, all the time knowing that the truth is likely to come out eventually, undoing all the good he did.
He has to become that gruff, ruthless bastard now that would put his family through a faked death, he can never be the hero of Gotham's story.
Where the show has really twisted Nolan's idea though is of using symbols and being "the hero Gotham needs", the third episode saw several potential twists on that mantra emerge.
Theo Galvan made reference to giving Gotham a hero and 'courageously' stood up to Jerome Velaska's crazed threats before...we'll get there in a moment, however was he the hero he referred to?
It could be Bruce Wayne, who made his "public debut" at the same event. Some of his shyness disappeared, he engaged in the magic act, without of course knowing it's true nature, but that side of the older Bruce, the playful, playboy side that the city worships as a hero equal to Batman was born that night. When he had the chance to run, he didn't, he put himself in harms way to save Alfred and Gotham again would have seen that.
While it's unlikely Galavan's plan is for Bruce's benefit as he feels the Wayne's usurped his families legacy, Bruce could actually be the hero Gotham deserves in his eyes, a child who will get them doe eyed and not looking at what is REALLY going on.
With all Bruce's crusading at Wayne Enterprises, it's not inconceivable that he very quickly now takes a seat on the board, even as a child so to the citizens he could be that diversionary hero and realizing that later could inform his decision to don a mask. How much of Batman canon is about Bruce Wayne "keeping up appearances", gives to charity and sets an example in Gotham, even if it's to divert suspicion?
We saw that Bruce for the first time in this episode.
The true hero however is most likely.... Jerome Velaska.
Viewers gasped just as much as the hostages when Galavan stabbed Jerome, seemingly fatally in the neck. Galavan seemed to relish betraying him but also seemed to whisper something too. The final shot of Jerome, with full rictus grin and ruby lips showed the Joker at last as a symbol to the city.
He clearly had an impact on Gotham, as the disturbing epilogue of children laughing and others murdering their friends showed.
The Joker was the hero Galavan created, the idea that is now planted in the head of the sick, mentally ill and children who saw a funny guy, albeit doing heinous things. To Galavan, that is the hero that Gotham deserves for stealing his families legacy and he gave it to them. Even Jerome's father, predicted it before he died.
Of course there will be many who hate what happened. In some ways this may be Gotham's "Jon Snow" moment. If the outcry is strong enough, Jerome will not only be back, but he will be the Joker for real. If that happens then the child who saw him on TV and laughed, the crazy young man on the street could all be future disciples. After all, Joker has henchmen who dress like him, wear make up like him or masks and always have done.
The series runners have been very clever in taking a Nolan idea and twisting it to their purpose. Even if he remains dead, Jerome is that symbol/hero that will create a chaos so strong that eventually Batman will be needed.
By making Gordon SO flawed so early in his career, they have in one move explained why he would never actually stop or turn on Batman. HE wanted to be that hero for Gotham, but saw himself the villain early in his life, before the madness really began.
Gotham continues to not only improve, but to become must see TV and it's in no small part to these two basic ideas they have "borrowed". We never really saw the payoff for those in Nolan's series. It jumped 8 years into the future. With Gotham, we're going to see the real consequences and know that it's still a LONG time before the first sighting of "The Bat".