Few TV shows have ever gotten as bizarre as Gotham did during its first three seasons, with its fabulously over-the-top criminal underworld, full of larger-than-life characters and performances. Having watched how Season 4 kicks off, I can say viewers should absolutely expect the Fox drama to keep the atmosphere as dark and demented as ever. Not all characters will return, of course (even though this is Gotham), but the ones that are sticking around are making up for any absences. As are the ones making big returns.
Without delving into any episode spoilers beyond what the trailers and episode synopses have told us, here are 5 big things that Gotham fans can expect when Season 4 begins.
Bruce Wayne, Batman-In-Training
Bruce Wayne had it rough in the back half of Gotham Season 3, basically losing his humanity to The Shaman and Ra's al Ghul, but he's mentally snapped back into place when Season 4 begins. (For the most part, anyway.) His ascent to fear-inspiring vigilantism -- or descent, if you're asking Alfred -- is not something that gets underway without some complications. After all, we know that Bruce knows how to fight, but can he possibly take down Gotham City thugs who are seemingly all armed with guns?
Fans will get to see the initial ups and downs of Bruce's life-changing decision, which means we'll get to see a bit more from his new clothing choices that will eventually lead to a proper crimefighting costume. This Bruce Wayne is a million miles away from the sobbing chap we were first introduced to, and we're right alongside Alfred in lamenting the unavoidable problems that will occur in his future; problems on both sides of the law.
The Penguin's New Plan
As strangely enjoyable as Penguin's story got during Season 3, what with his relationship with Ed Nygma going from loving to destroyed-beyond-all-means, the hobbling criminal didn't exactly have the strongest hold over Gotham City's underworld. But that definitely changes in Season 4, as Penguin got himself a new haircut, a sharp new set of outfits and a new sense of purpose. He's also got a new plan to keep himself untouched by both Gotham's unlawful elements and the GCPD itself.
Without getting into details, Penguin's big plan involves licensing out crime within Gotham City, which is completely ridiculous by any stretch of the imagination, although fans will find that it actually makes total sense within Gotham's bizarro field of logic. Does that mean that things will keep moving forward in Penguin's favor forever? It's not likely, but he certainly knows how to present a compelling argument to all involved.
Jim's Struggles With The GCPD
Has any police department on TV been quite as troubled as Gotham City's Finest has been over the past few years? It's doubtful, since the police squad has seen so many of its officers, detectives and higher-ups get taken out by bad guys, not to mention all the destruction (and rapid rebuilding) the actual GCPD building has gone through. (So much financial hell for taxpayers here, both crime-related and otherwise.) And The Penguin's aforementioned new lease on leadership via "crime licensing" does not make things easier for the GCPD's more valiant members.
As one might have imagined, Jim Gordon is one such valiant member, and he'll absolutely have his hands full when Season 4 lifts off. This is where the previously teased Jim Vs. Penguin storyline is heading, and even though this whole ordeal will be hell on Jim, it's possibly paving the way for a promotion somewhere down the road.
The Scarecrow 2.0
Of all the villains that have terrorized Gotham City, few bring the terror in such a hard, fast and punishing way than The Scarecrow, and it doesn't take very long for things to get freaky when Season 4 kicks off. Some might wonder how The Scarecrow can rise again after Gerald Crane was killed off back in Season 1, but let's not forget that his toxin-tainted son Jonathan is still alive and around. He's not exactly the most sane and put-together citizen in the city, but he's there.
Maybe don't expect the lad to immediately strike fear in the heart of Gotham's main characters, even if a certain fear toxin will already be making its way into people's eyeballs and lungs. Suffice to say that the excellent fear-based moments Gotham offers up are as frightening as this show gets -- points for Gotham adding to the recent spooky-clown-splosion, too -- and they almost don't even need a villain attached. But then that would mean we wouldn't get the awesome Scarecrow costume, so we're good with it.
A New Babs
Gotham's shock-a-minute Season 3 finale threw viewers for a loop when Tabitha seemingly ended the Babs 'n' Tabs partnership for good by causing Barbara's electrocution. But it takes more than an untold number of volts to really kill off a Gotham City villain, and even though Erin Richards' formerly psychotic baddie won't be turning into Harley Quinn on the show, she will be returning to Gotham as a much-changed person.
As it was teased during San Diego Comic-Con, the Barbara we meet in Season 4 will be a much more subdued version of the character, and she's seemingly more serene and in control of herself as she was back in Season 1 before her life went completely haywire. But she won't exactly be looking to revert back to a life of non-crime, as the photo above makes fairly clear. And she won't really be interested in working alone, either.
Selina Kyle, Catwoman-In-Training
Speaking of Barbara's all-new outlook on life in Gotham City, we'll soon see Selina deepening her ties with the criminal underworld, with Tabitha being unofficially employed as her quasi-mentor and trainer. And that duo may soon find themselves making a decision about whether to just accept Babs' return, or if they should do something about it, with the "something" there referring to "get revenge" for what happened to Tabitha and Butch, or something else entirely.
Selina already has quite a few talents up her generally fashionable sleeves, such as surviving long falls from high windows, and she'll only get more dangerous and vicious with someone like Tabitha offering life advice. So it's a good thing that viewers can also expect to see her relationship with the less morally repugnant Bruce take an upward swing after all their unfriendly meet-ups last season (some of which were the fault of Bruce's double). But what'll happen when she finds out about his new crimefighting nightlife?
Gotham Season 4 will bring the madness to TV audiences on Fox for its new night on Thursday, September 21, at 8:00 p.m. ET, just before the time slot premiere of Seth MacFarlane's hit sci-fi dramedy The Orville. To see everything else that's coming to the small screen soon, head to our fall premiere schedule. No capes and/or cowls are necessary.