Robin Lord Taylor talks Gotham season five, and the future beyond.
Robin Lord Taylor has redefined Batman supervillain the Penguin, with his scene-stealing performance in Fox’s Gotham. During his Q&A at Fan Expo Canada, Taylor let on what fans can expect from season five of the show, what Penguin means to him, and what he has planned next.
New Characters Confirmed
Taylor was expectedly circumspect with details of the final season of Gotham but he did confirm that the show will conclude in 2019 with a curtailed run of 10 episodes. Four episodes had already been shot by the time of Taylor’s appearance at the Expo. Shooting for the season will wrap in mid-November.
“We wish it had been more but the fact that we have at least 10 episodes to bring the show to a satisfying conclusion is just such a blessing,” Taylor said, adding, “We are pulling out all of the stops. Everything is going down. We started this season at 10 and we are just going higher and higher.”
Taylor confirmed that season five would feature DC villains Bane and Magpie and that at least one existing character would not make it past episode four. Speaking of the rest of the characters, he said, “We’re launching these characters into the place where you all know them from – what you all think of when you think of these people. I’m really excited about it.”
Taylor gave a tentative hint about Penguin and Riddler’s partnership, saying his favourite Penguin-Riddler scene would feature in episode five of the coming season. Following a fraught season four, the characters came to a reconciliation on Gotham pier, a scene that Taylor pointed out as his favourite NigmObblepot moment of the show thus far. He also mentioned that the scene was cathartic for him and Riddler actor Cory Michael Smith, as the pier is uncomfortable to shoot on during the winter.
When asked by a young fan about Penguin falling in love with The Riddler in season three, Taylor said he had been “really excited about it”. He felt that it “made sense that that was where the character was going” because Penguin is someone “who loses love” throughout his life. “It was a really natural, human place for Oswald to go.” Speaking of the disastrous end to the relationship, Taylor spoke of Penguin’s emotional “damage”, saying Oswald did not know how to deal with his affections for the Riddler and ended up sabotaging the relationship entirely.
Taylor stressed that despite the Penguin being a supervillain, “any sort of queer representation out there, especially on network television, is really important these days”, which received a resounding round of applause from the audience.
He also said that Penguin’s feelings for the Riddler were too complicated to be classified by a single word, but “just the fact that we took the character in that direction, for me, it made a lot of sense, it didn’t feel exploitative, and I’m really proud of that”.
Taylor did not confirm whether the season five scene would be romantic in nature, but one can presume it will not be as the characters have been purely platonic since the events of season three.
On Saying Goodbye to Gotham
Speaking about Gotham’s impact on fans, Taylor did emphasise his annoyance with a subsection of fans who cannot accept reinterpretations of canon characters and stories. “If it weren’t for people who change it [canon stories], I highly doubt that Batman would have a place in our lives to this day. It’s very hard for a story to hang on for 80 years; the only way it does is if it gets reinterpreted by each subsequent generation. Everyone gets the Batman of their childhood.”
When prompted by the audience about what was to come next in Gotham, Taylor said he was trying to live in the present during shooting the show’s final episodes. “I don’t want to read ahead. I just want to stay in the moment, just absorb every second that I can with these amazing people, and this incredible character.”
Taylor was clearly emotional about the end of a show that had launched his career. “It’s an emotional experience, coming to the end of this ride… You’ve made these friends; you’ve made these relationships. You go to the same building every day… all of that is going to change come November.”
The emotion was not limited to Taylor, he added, saying “There’s so much heart going into these episodes. We’ve carried the story with us for five years and, to give it the justice it needs, we’re all putting all of our spirit into every moment…The last season is going to be probably the most special.”
What Next for Taylor
Talking about what roles he has planned next, Taylor said he had “no expectations, except I want it to be different [than the Penguin]; I want to show a different human being to the world, and hopefully I will have a chance to do that”.
He was sure about what he will do on a personal level, however: “Turn on the clippers and shave my head”, and then “get back to blond”, because the black hair dye and the hairstyle for Penguin has been a chore to maintain.
Taylor ended the session by sharing a heartfelt thank you to fans at Fan Expo Canada, and around the world, who have supported the show. “I could only be so fortunate to play such a dynamic character… but also to play a character that brings me into the lives of people like you guys, to be able to meet you, and thank you, and just geek out with you. It has been such a blessing and I hope it never ends. I love all of you, I can’t thank you enough. I speak for my entire cast and crew: thank you so much!”