Gotham was promoted as the story of city before Batman, and yes, I suppose it’s mostly been that. It’s not a prequel to the usual canon, more of a, “Make it up as we go along, throw in everything we can think of and blend it together” type thing. Sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn’t. One of the times it does is with Bruce. He’s arguably the third most important character. If the show is primarily about Gordon and his rise to prominence (to the point that some random kid that Tetch once threatened to hit with a truck knew who he was – what was with that?), and secondarily about Penguin and everything that goes down in the underworld (why the hell is everyone so obsessed with controlling the underworld, anyway?), it’s tertiarily (is that a word?) about Bruce and how he got to the point where he felt the need to become Batman.
Somehow, season one Bruce whose parents just died was a happier, more emotionally stable person than season four Bruce. This show has not been very nice to him.
- Watched his parents be murdered. Duh, he’s Bruce Wayne, that was a foregone conclusion.
- Decided that he needed to teach himself to conquer fear. This involved jumping into the pool and seeing how long he could hold his breath, holding his hand to fire and burning himself, and learning how to fight. Alfred, you’re a terrible guardian. Get this kid some therapy, damn.
- Beat up Tommy Elliot for making fun of his mother.
- Demonstrated his terrible aim by throwing things at the hired killers that came after Selina.
- Invited Selina to a fundraiser and got her to steal Bunderslaw’s key. It managed to be both super awkward and really cute.
- In a spectacular shot, found out that the fireplace in his father’s study slides back to reveal the Batcave. Very Flashpoint, Thomas Wayne Batman, I like it.
Season one Bruce didn’t get all that much to do, mainly because his storyline revolved around looking into the murder of his parents, which got tossed aside somewhere midseason. It got picked up again in season two, and he got much more involved in the show and all the nonsense that happens in it.
- Freaked out Alfred by building a bomb when he couldn’t figure out the password Thomas had set. Spoiler alert: it was his name.
- Met Silver St Cloud, Theo and Tabitha Galavan’s niece, who I don’t think ever came back after Tabitha shoved her out a window with a parachute that one time.
- Turned down Theo’s offer to buy his shares in Wayne Enterprises and give him information as to who killed his parents.
- Tried to con Silver into giving him the information Theo claimed to have on his parents’ killer.
- Successfully pulled off the trope named after his future self for the first time, along with Selina, and gets Silver to tell them that it was an M Malone that killed Thomas and Martha.
- Galavan attempts to sacrifice him.
- Claimed he had everything under control when he got rescued. Wow, Bruce, way to be ungrateful.
- Tracked down Matches Malone and held him at gunpoint, intending to kill him, but realized Malone wanted him to do that, so didn’t. Malone ended up killing himself.
- Left to live with Selina on the streets because apparently, that’s the way to better understand Gotham. Eh, seems reasonable.
- Decided he doesn’t have a problem with stealing from criminals, and helped Selina rob some people.
- Went home because he was worried the whole investigation into who ordered the hit on his parents would be dangerous for Selina.
- Fought crime with money – provided a bag of cash to distract a prisoner transport driver.
- Started investigating Hugo Strange’s experiments.
- Recruited Selina to sneak into Arkham and figure out what was going on.
- Hit Azrael with a car. Not as amazing as Butch blowing him up a few minutes later, but still, pretty good!
- Went off with Gordon and Lucius Fox to rescue Selina.
- Wound up locked in a room with Lucius with Nygma taunting them with riddles over a loudspeaker.
…Look, I love Gotham, and seasons three and four have a lot of weird, fun stuff happening, but let’s be real – season two? That might well be my favourite.
- Got stalked by, and eventually met, his clone.
- Agreed to stop his investigation into the Court of Owls, provided they leave him and his loved ones alone.
- Got jealous that Selina kissed his clone, irritated Alfred by obsessing over it, then concluded she must have thought it was him.
- After however many episodes of being present at an absurd number of the weird events that happen in the city, managed to miss all the chaos Nygma and Butch were wreaking by hanging out on the roof with Selina. He confessed his feelings for her and got a kiss out of it, so that’s probably better than being around for all the people shooting at each other.
- Made Selina dinner, then spent hours waiting for her.
- Helps Ivy who got in way over her head when she stole a necklace containing a key.
- Went on a heist with Selina, demonstrating that he’s progressed enough that he can hold a rope tightly enough for Selina to walk across and break into a safe belonging to the Court of Owls. Well done, Bruce.
- Met Selina’s mom!
- Lied to Selina by avoiding telling her that her mother didn’t actually want to get to know her, resulting in Selina getting mad and storming out. Ouch.
- Beat in Jerome’s stapled on face (Jim got the final punch). On the one hand, gross. On the other, he really had it coming.
- Gets stabbed with a syringe by his clone, after which the clone takes his place while he’s kidnapped and taken…somewhere with mountains.
- Trained with the Shaman who told him he’s been manipulating the Court to control Gotham. So…we’re talking the man behind the man behind the man? I don’t even remember how many layers to the whole “person giving orders to the other person” this thing has. And this is before the reveal that Ra’s al Ghul is the one behind the Shaman.
- Met Ra’s! Stabbed Alfred! Brainwashed Bruce does not have a nice time.
- Got offered the position as head of the League of Shadows. Hey, Barbara, how does it feel to be second choice when the first one is a sixteen year old?
- Saved a family from being mugged in a proto-Batsuit for his first attempt at crime fighting. Have I said before that season three’s finale could have been a series finale? Yeah? Good. (It really could have been, while I love getting more episodes, I have to admit that the fact that it wasn’t meant season four had to do some backtracking.)
Season three could be where I started losing track of the plots that lasted more than an episode…
- Went to an auction to buy the knife Ra’s wanted, and outbid Barbara – who is, just as a reminder, a known killer – twice by a dollar and once by a penny. Apparently, annoying villains is a lifelong trait.
- Refused to give Ra’s said knife, resulting in Ra’s killing Alex.
- Killed Ra’s, making him half disintegrate. Huh? That can’t be right.
- Decided to embrace life as a billionaire brat. Can’t blame him for that. Gotham is a cesspool, bad things happen every time he tries to do something constructive, and he has a lot of money – might as well enjoy his life.
- Abandoned Alfred in the woods and threw a party.
- Fired Alfred. Well, that wasn’t very nice.
- Spent an episode not actually doing anything plot relevant, but hanging around at the Sirens club, leaning into the spoiled brat thing, and making mildly annoying comments everyone ignores because they’re actually doing stuff.
- Hallucinated meeting Batman while wandering around without a face after being poisoned by Ivy. So…this universe’s Bruce Wayne decides he needs to become Batman because he was majorly tripping? You do you, Bruce.
- Had Selina break into an office in the police station to steal Jerome’s file and burst into fake tears to keep Detective what’s her name from catching her. Buddy, if you want to be Batman, you’re going to have to become a better actor than that.
- Stopped both Jerome’s uncle and Selina from killing Jerome. Uh, Bruce, you know I appreciate your code and sense of honour and all, but damn, you dumb.
David Mazouz started off good and has only gotten better throughout the seasons. Colour me impressed. And Bruce’s character arc? A+. Gotham may be a mess that’s filled with villains and people that are kind of unlikable, and it may treat its female characters really poorly, but the way they handle Bruce is so good, I’m sticking around.