While Gotham creator Bruno Heller has made it clear he doesn't think highly of certain kinds of comic book narratives on TV, his Fox drama has embraced the comic-ish use of subtitling its seasons. Season 3 is being dubbed Mad City, but that wasn't always the case, as it was originally conceived as Heroes Will Fall. And it turns out the entire scope of the season took a major shift all because of actor Benedict Samuel's version of The Mad Hatter, whose mental approach to villainy inspired the narrative redirect. Here's how executive producer Ken Woodruff put it.
As we got into the first 11 episodes -- because that's the first half of the season -- we started falling in love with a character that's going to be appearing in Episode 3. We started diving into the character of the Mad Hatter and the actor that we cast, and we wanted to spend more time with him. We were really intrigued with how he's not just a villain who blows stuff up. He's a villain who can actually needle into the psyche and the emotional space of our heroes. . . . The theme and title because much more accurate once we started seeing these later episodes develop like 6,7,8,9 and the repercussions this big character was having. That's why it changed.
See, that's exactly the kind of thing I love hearing about from Gotham. Don't get me wrong, I do love when Butch is able to pull out a bazooka and blow shit up, but I prefer the way the drama dishes out its psychological trauma to characters. And few in the Batman mythos have a better grip on other people's brains than Mad Hatter, and limiting him to just a one-off appearance would have been a crime worthy of Arkham-level punishment. Well done, guys.
Benedict Samuel, who is possibly better known to TV fans as the Alpha Wolf from The Walking Dead, was an interesting choice to play The Mad Hatter, and apparently he's hitting all the right buttons if Ken Woodruff & Co. are jazzed about opening up his story more and more as it goes on. I'm hoping that Mad Hatter is the Hannibal Lecter kind of quietly sadistic as a balance to Jerome/Joker's all-eyes-on-me style of chaos, and I'm also hoping they get to light Gotham City up at the same time, assuming the latter returns soon.
Of course, just because Gotham is bringing in another devious antagonist to bring on the Mad City doesn't mean that the series completely abandoned the Heroes Will Fall angle. As Woodruff also told THR, that heroism theme still holds true for the season as a whole, while this first half is structured around the madness. Bruce Wayne is on the rise to finding his inner Batman, but that won't be an easy road no matter how dedicated he is. Jim Gordon is a bounty hunter when Season 3 kicks off, and though he'll presumably make his way back to GCPD before too long, his recklessness and take-all-prisoners bravado will undoubtedly cripple him in the future. And...well, that's basically all of Gotham's heroes, I guess.
With even more bizarre villains (and different versions of existing ones) yet to come, Gotham Season 3 start tonight, September 19, on Fox at 8:00 p.m. ET. To see when all your other favorite shows involving hats and villains are coming, check out our fall premiere schedule.