You could tell Gotham star Robin Lord Taylor wasn’t putting on airs when he giddily asked scribe John Stephens if he could reveal who’d be playing his TV dad. Taylor, who shines as Oswald “Penguin” Cobblepot, is one of Gotham’s breakout stars, so it was a pleasure to see him do everything but squee aloud when he announced Paul Reubens got the job (the character’s mom is played by Carol Kane). Reubens has previously played the older Cobblepot in the Tim Burton–helmed Batman Returns, as Taylor was quick to point out, so there’s reason to be excited.
Vulture attended the show’s New York Comic Con panel, and though the Penguin announcement was the biggest revelation, here are five other can’t-miss Gotham tidbits, including the undecided fate of Jerome “the Joker” Valeska, as well as a possible reunion for Jim Gordon and his insane ex-fiancée Barbara Kean, we learned.
(Warning: If you’re not caught up with Gotham, spoilers follow.)
1. There’s a Fair Chance Michael Chiklis’s Character Is Going to Stick Around
When asked to describe Captain Nathaniel Barnes, the Gotham City Police Department’s new, army-trained hard-ass leader, Michael Chiklis chuckled and said, “Oh, he’s a real wallflower.” Chiklis’s first scene as the character was greeted by gasps and applause during a pre-panel sizzle reel. Chiklis’s straightforward, earnest comments also suggest Barnes might not be going away at the season’s end. “Barnes comes in as a countermeasure to the villainy that is running amok in Gotham,” Chiklis said. “And he serves as a mentor to [Gordon]. He’s trying to pull [Gordon] out of the muck of ends-justifies-the-means law enforcement.”
Even if you don’t trust show-runner Bruno Heller to keep Barnes alive by the season’s end and/or reveal that Barnes is working for evil philanthropist and mayoral candidate Theo Galavan (James Frain), Chiklis’s enthusiasm is refreshing. When asked by a fan what his character would be doing if the show’s narrative sped up to ten years in the future, Chiklis joked, “Oh, what leapt into my mind was ‘Not dead!’” He added that while Barnes and Gordon do see eye-to-eye on many issues, as Gotham fans will see, Barnes will also butt heads with Gordon. “And as you can see, I have a rather large head.”
2. There Will Be More Edward Nygma/Oswald Cobblepot Encounters
One of the more surprising teases from today’s panel is Stephens’s claim that last season’s brief police-station meeting between Edward “the Riddler” Nygma and Oswald Cobblepot was one of the show’s most popular. According to Stephens, Wonder Con attendants would not stop mentioning that scene. They also couldn’t stop asking Stephens when there would be more where that came from. Actor Cory Michael Smith played coy, and said that Nygma is “clearly obsessed by Cobblepot.” Stephens added “[Nygma and Cobblepot] have a rather large story together [coming up].”
3. Barbara Kean and Jim Gordon Might Get Back Together
One of the more unexpected twists that Stephens and actress Erin Richards hinted at is that there’s a chance Jim Gordon and ex-fiancée Barbara Kean could potentially get back together. Stephens characterized Jim and Barbara’s relationship as having a central “attraction/repulsion” element to it. “Jim feels somewhat responsible for the monster Barbara has become,” Stephens said. “That will never go away. Can they find themselves in a non-adversarial relationship? Possibly.”
Richards added she loved the “repulsion” aspect to her character, saying that she could tell that was the direction the character was headed in based on Barbara’s drinking and drug dependency in season one. “It was such a genius thing to do [with Barbara] because it released her from all of the shackles of her previous self,” Richards said. A Barbara-Jim reunion would certainly be surprising given Barbara had an escaped mental patient beat the snot out of Gordon two weeks ago, and chloroformed/publicly tortured Jim’s girlfriend Leslie Thompkins at a Thompkins-organized charity event one week ago.
4. The Proto-Joker Might Not Be Dead
Stephens confirmed that “no comment” can often speak volumes when a fan asked him if Jerome Valeska, the Joker-like villain who was murdered at the end of last week’s episode, is really dead. “If you watch this season’s episodes closely, you’ll see seeds of that story growing,” Stephens added. “Valeska’s death seemed pretty final in last week’s episode, what with his corpse winding up in a police morgue after Galavan stabs Valeska in the neck. Still, while teasing is Stephens’s job, the fact that he evaded his fan’s question did suggest that something is up with Valeska, the man who viewers were led to believe would become the Joker. Valeska did look genuinely shocked when Galavan turned on him last week, and the knife that Galavan used didn’t look like a prop.
5. Batman’s (Still) Not Becoming Batman Anytime Soon
During the audience Q&A session, Stephens was asked what might happen to the show if its narrative were to launch ahead ten years. Stephens bristled at the suggestion, and made it seem as if that would run counter to what he and Heller were trying to do. “The thing that’s so exciting for us on the show is the origin of these people,” Stephens said. “That’s the story that we’re telling. [Skipping ahead ten years] is kind of skipping over what we like most about characters [in the show].” Stephens also squelched fans’ speculation that we will, at some point, see Bruce Wayne become Batman since, according to him, Wayne would already be Batman in ten years’ time.