‘Gotham’ Season 4: John Stephens on Batman, Scarecrow, and New Families

Gotham executive producer John Stephens
Executive Producer John Stephens during the ‘Gotham’ panel at Comic Con. (Photo by Frank Micelotta © 2017 Fox)

During our roundtable interview with Gotham executive producer John Stephens at the 2017 San Diego Comic Con, Stephens revealed his favorite part of creating an episode is watching what the cast does with the material. The cast always elevates the material, and Stephens says it makes him feel like he’s doing theatre in a way. Stephens also discussed the evolution of the show’s Batman, the central theme of season four, that Harley Quinn rumor, Jerome’s possible return, and Gotham’s Scarecrow.

Fox’s Gotham season four premieres on September 21, 2017.

Is next season going to seriously explore the Bruce Wayne to Batman evolution? Are we getting into it more with season four?

John Stephens: “Oh yeah. I mean, I would make the argument we kind of do that every year. But I would say visually when you look at what Bruce is going to be doing this next season, it’s sort of far closer to what our conception of Batman is going to be. You’re also going to get to see him do very specific things, like certain elements when you watch Bruce Wayne pretend to be a playboy, you kind of ask the question, ‘Well, how did he learn to do that?’ So, well, maybe there was a time when he wasn’t pretending to be that. And we’re actually playing a little bit of Bruce kind of having like a little bit of a teenage spiral where he enjoys the playboy elements of being a billionaire with no parents in Gotham, so he can draw from that later on when he becomes the fake playboy.”

What kind of new sets do you have? Will we be seeing a fully realized Iceberg Lounge?

John Stephens: “We’ve got a full set Iceberg Lounge which has a frozen Ed Nygma in the center of it, like Han Solo in carbonite which is awesome. Sofia Falcone is coming on this season as a new series regular, so we have a new Falcone mansion which is cool and awesome. We have a new Sirens Lair, a new place which is sort of like a Soho house of crime. And we have a new place in the Narrows where some of our characters are going to congregate.”

Now that you’re going into the fourth season, have you stayed on course from the first season?

John Stephens: (Laughing) “That implies we have a plan. Yes and no, to a degree. We knew we wanted to bring in Ra’s al Ghul at a certain point. We knew we wanted to have Bruce have his teenage wildling years. We knew we wanted to have a traumatic event that would send him on that journey. So, I would say in our big picture scheme, like the story movements we’re doing are very much on track. But the actual events – a lot of those are surprising us.”

Are there going to be any unusual pairings this season that we should look out for?

John Stephens: “Yes. We have all these like families that are being created this year. One of the families is going to be a brand new, very different Lee Thompkins together with Ed Nygma and Solomon Grundy. When Butch becomes Solomon Grundy, he doesn’t remember his former life. So, when he runs into Ed Nygma, he doesn’t remember that he wants to rip his head off. And Ed, who has suffered the effects of being frozen for three months, needs Grundy’s help to get strong again. The three of them form this kind of weird little family. It should be fun.”

How does Scarecrow fit into the overall story?

John Stephens: “He comes in…at the very beginning of the season Penguin has solidified his control over Gotham. He’s kind of unionized crime, and Scarecrow comes in to reintroduce fear to Gotham and to remind people that basically the dark is still scary out there. He really kind of fashions, especially episode two, almost a horror movie episode where we really get to see Scarecrow just purely terrifying. If you can imagine rather than all the other versions of Scarecrow that are out there – because there are a lot of different versions – what if we really tell Scarecrow as a horror movie.”

David Mazouz did an interview before the season three finale and he said Gotham would be introducing Harley Quinn in the finale. Where was she?

John Stephens: “It was my fault, totally. What I had said in an earlier interview was that there would be a Harley Quinn-esque character, and I think the ‘esque’ part got left off a little bit. Our feeling was that Barbara and a lot of her insanity and larger-than-life qualities and theatricality was modeled along the spirit of Harley Quinn. But, it’s not Harley Quinn and we’re not bringing in Harley Quinn.”

What’s the plan for Jerome?

John Stephens: “Well, what I would say about Jerome is Jerome is in Arkham right now. And when you think about Arkham’s record of keeping people locked up, we will probably see him again before the end of the year.”

More on Gotham Season 4: Erin Richards Interview / Cory Michael Smith Interview / Jessica Lucas Interview

Watch the full John Stephens Gotham interview: