Jeff Neumann/FOX
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February 28, 2018 at 12:52 PM EST

Jim Gordon is not a quitter. Four seasons into Gotham, he has been knocked down — oftentimes literally — more times than fans can count. The latest beating? Sofia Falcone revealing that she’s been pulling the strings, even having her own father killed in order to gain control of Gotham. “The arc of the first half of the season was a wonderful long game where you could sense that Jim was getting caught up in all this stuff that was ultimately outside of his control,” star Ben McKenzie tells EW. “The fact that Sofia ultimately betrays him is kind of the ultimate justice for Jim in a way — that he has to pay the sins of needing to do what he has to do to defeat Penguin.”

But don’t expect this latest betrayal to keep Jim down, either. Rather, McKenzie sees every setback as another building block. One day, all of Jim’s trials will come together to form the man that comic book fans have been reading about for years. “He has an almost never-ending supply of resilience,” McKenzie says of Jim. “The character that I always imagined him to be from the comics, the elder Jim Gordon, is one of those guys who’s been hardened to the point of becoming steel. So he wills himself through the day each and every day, but around him, the city starts to crumble and his internal life is in shambles. His ability to trust anyone, to form any meaningful relationships outside of work, is completely decimated. That’s how the elder Gordon always read to me in the comics so that’s what we’re trying to presage with what we’re doing here.”

And Jim’s already got his next test lined up for him… even if he doesn’t know it yet. As was revealed in the final moment’s of Gotham‘s mid-season finale, Jerome is back, and this time, he’s making friends. “Jerome is one of our most beloved characters. The idea here was to really give the audience more time to enjoy and savor [Cameron Monaghan’s] performance,” McKenzie says, pausing before he adds, “Or performances?” The answer to that will remain a secret for now, but there’s one aspect of Jerome’s return that McKenzie can talk about. “He teams up with Scarecrow and Mad Hatter. You get a lot of villainous bang for your buck here at the end of season 4.” 

Speaking of bang for your buck, Gotham‘s fourth season has offered some of its strongest hours to date. With each year, the show seems to better understand its identity and grow more comfortable playing in the world it’s built. “We’ve learned a lot over the four years. There were so many cooks in the kitchen initially, from the studio to DC to people on the ground making the show, that I think we struggled for a little bit to wrap our heads around what it is and what it isn’t,” McKenzie says. “The characters are deeply rooted in the world that we’re portraying, so now they can interact in all these interesting and unexpected ways. We understand now that the audience seems to enjoy those relationships at their core. Gotham tells a uniquely, humorously dark tale. It’s a truly wild and dystopian version of the Batman saga that is more like the Tim Burton version — it has that kind of wink and glean in its eye, as opposed to the colder but brilliant Nolan version. It’s not camp, but it’s also not afraid of being quite large and over the top with performances. I’m proud of where it’s gone.”

Gotham airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.

Ben McKenzie and Jada Pinkett Smith star in a dramatic look at what Gotham City looked like before Bruce Wayne became Batman.
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