Why Barbara Just Changed Everything On Gotham, According To Erin Richards

barbara gotham

Spoiler warning for anyone who hasn't yet seen the latest episode of Gotham.

Last week, Gotham threw an interesting wrench into the works when it came to the ever-broadening relationship between Penguin and Riddler, and it appeared as if sorta-loyal henchman Butch was being put on the chopping block. As tonight's episode showed us, however, Butch will live to see another day, but the same might not be said for everyone who gets in the path of one Barbara Kean, who stepped up tonight in a magnificent way. Babs portrayer Erin Richards recently spoke with CinemaBlend about her character's actions in "Time Bomb," and she explained to me how she will use this situation to climb the ranks of Gotham City's dark side.

She has influence, but I think now in this episode, she sees her moment that she could use to start a potential war between Penguin and Nygma to rise up and take over the underworld to become the queen of Gotham, if you will. . . . She sees this as a way that she can gain power in Gotham and hold onto it. Because right now, they have the Siren, but she's not really a part of the head table with Penguin, as you see in the beginning of the episode.

Hells to the yeah, I say. Of all Gotham's many characters, I think Barbara now has the most potential to become a true standout going forward, now that she has become a more stable person in her villainy. Even if it's just as a short-term arc like Hugo Strange got. There are few ways that she could conceivably make her mark on Gotham City's underworld any bigger than by setting in motion a Battle of the Bat-Baddies, and she has all the right parts to do just such a thing.

For one, she knows that Oswald is in love with Ed, and though she wasn't immediately sure where that card could be played, it became apparent later on when she discovered Butch had been falsely blamed for the death of Riddler's new(ish) lady Isabella. She surmised that Penguin was responsible, giving her the perfect ammunition to indirectly to take him down, which she already had the motivation to do, given how dismissive he is.

And Nygma is the perfect person to take on that job from Barbara's perspective, since he was responsible for chopping Tabitha's hand off and repeatedly shocking Butch. There's no one who has better access to the Penguin's...goods...as Nygma, so he has all the advantages there. As well, his newbness in the villain department means he wouldn't be hard for Penguin to put down, should it come to that. (I have no idea how Penguin would feel about doing such a thing, though.)

gotham riddler tabitha

Now, you might be thinking the episode already presented Barbara with an easier path to Gotham City queendom. I asked Erin Richards why Barbara didn't just kill Riddler after she walked into the room and saw what he'd done, and here's her sensible answer.

She's a very smart person and she reads people incredibly well. So when she walks in on that situation, Nygma, she can see, is in some distress. And so she takes a minute, and lets him walk out, and then goes to rescue Tabitha; obviously, she's had her hand cut off. But she then uses the information that Nygma has given to Tabitha and Butch to then turn Nygma and Penguin against each other. Because she's always thinking three steps ahead, so she knows just killing Nygma would be dangerous because Penguin's in love with him. So she has to think strategically, and to have Nygma as an ally for however long that's useful to her is more powerful in terms of what she can do.

Not too shabs, Babs. Any kind of direct revenge on the brain-weary Nygma would just draw more ire from Penguin, which Barbara doesn't really need right now. (Tabitha needs it even less.) But by siccing Riddler on Penguin, who doesn't seem to have many duties as mayor keeping him busy, Barbara gives herself an advantage from a distance that she can use however she sees fit, at least until Penguin realizes she's the one pulling strings. But if Barbara is still three steps ahead of everyone else, then she'll already be anticipating his revenge. May the better villain win.

Gotham airs Monday nights on Fox, and unlike years past, we won't be dealing with a gigantic winter hiatus this time. To see what else is coming to the small screen during the holidays and beyond, check out our fall premiere schedule and our midseason debut schedule.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.