Spoiler warning if you're not caught up with Gotham's latest episode.
As Barbara Kean, actress Erin Richards plays one of the most transformative characters on Gotham, a drama that has literally resurrected dead people and given them different personalities. On the opposite end of the spectrum from where she was in Season 1, Babs has sparked a lot of comparisons to Harley Quinn, the gum-chewing cataclysm whose Suicide Squad inclusion was one of 2016's biggest pop culture bullet points. Richards spoke with CinemaBlend recently about the latest episode of Gotham, and when I asked what was happening with the Barbara/Harley angle, here's what she told me.
I'm sure everyone waiting to see a legit live-action Harley Quinn on TV is holding up pitchforks and baseball bats, chanting "Make something major happen to Barbara that strips away her scheming side," before realizing that's a terrible chant. While Erin Richards obviously isn't saying the door is closed on spinning a Harley-esque story out of things, the timing doesn't make it seem likely. Barbara is just too contained and sure of herself at this point to pop her hair into pigtails and go on demolition-heavy joyrides.
Currently, Barbara is on what could be her most notable narrative path yet, as she is setting up Gotham City's chess board to start a war between Penguin and Riddler, with the death of Isabella and Oswald's love of Nygma as her biggest weapons. That kind of efficient plotting doesn't take up much room in Harley Quinn's bag of tricks, and Barbara's goal of becoming the queen of Gotham's underworld doesn't sound like the kind of thing that meshes well with Harley's anarchic nature.
But it's not like Barbara hasn't already been down a similar road already on Gotham, which is basically how the Harley Quinn comparisons and rumors came up in the first place. Erin Richards brought that up in our conversation as well.
Makes absolute sense. Perhaps if we'd lived in a world where Suicide Squad didn't happen when it did, Gotham would have gone the Harley Quinn route with Barbara already. (Or maybe Arrow would have kept using her.) John Stephens, executive producer on the Fox drama, did say relatively recently that a precursor for Harley Quinn will show up on Gotham at some point, but perhaps we would be wise to look for her influences showing up with someone else.
Of course, it's supremely likely that neither Penguin nor the Riddler are going to suffer too badly from all of this, since they'll likely be around for the show's entire run. So Barbara's plan to ascend Gotham's seedy ranks could backfire and blow up in her face, possibly making her lose Sirens and her loved ones (again), which could then inspire a more damning sense of self, and enter Harley Quinn's psyche. It probably won't happen that way, but it looks like that could be one of the only ways it could happen for Barbara.