(Spoiler alert. Plot details from the entire run of “Gotham” are below.)
For a brief stretch late in season 2, after her stint at Arkham Asylum, it appeared that “Gotham” might be turning Barbara Kean (Erin Richards) back into her old self. That maybe she could begin repairing her relationship with Jim Gordon and move back toward the Barbara we know from the comics. But that moment, it would seem, was fleeting.
As season 3 opens, Barbara instead remains in her gleefully violent mode that began when Theo Galavan freed her and several other Arkham inmates, who collectively formed a group called the Maniax, and had them go on a spree of bloody mayhem. That mayhem ended up putting Barbara in a coma, and after she woke up she helped out her old beau Jim Gordon with an errand — but he then promptly spurned her.
Barbara’s arc has been one of the most intriguing on “Gotham” because her comic book version is far more vanilla, marrying Jim and having a couple kids with him, one of whom would grow up to become Batgirl (in some stories Batgirl is Barbara and Jim’s niece, but the New 52 continuity, from which Gotham draws much of its basic lore, has them as her parents). But it’s hard to imagine that sequence of events playing out on “Gotham” after everything Barbara’s gone through so far.
But what if one big divergence is leading toward another? What if Barbara ends up becoming Harley Quinn?
“Gotham” showrunners have said that some version of Harley Quinn will come up on the show, and there’s a big clue in the season premiere that may be a clue as to her true identity.
Woodruff: “You may have already seen Harley as a person that you thought you had met and known for a long time. So we always reserve the right to sort of do that as well.”
Stephens: “We don’t want to give too much away but it will definitely be someone connected to the Joker cult world that we have set up. But it’s down the road, later in Season 3 right now.”
So, when Harley is introduced down the line, we can expect it to be a character we know, and that character will have a connection to the “Joker cult world” of the show. In case you’ve forgotten, we’ve seen a character, Jerome Valeska, that has been described as a sort of “proto-Joker” — he never wore the makeup or called himself the Joker, but he did have all the hallmarks otherwise. Valeska was leader of the Maniax, and Barbara was the only woman in the group.
Valeska was killed by Theo Galavan, yes, but his Joker-esque maniacal laugh could clearly be heard in the season 2 finale as Fish Mooney and the monsters from Indian Hill were exiting their escape bus.
Meanwhile, in season 3, Barbara is back together with Tabitha Galavan and has opened a club called The Sirens. That name could very well be an Easter egg that points to Barbara becoming Harley — there was a comic series that ran from 2009 to 2011 called “Gotham City Sirens” that focused on Harley Quinn, Catwoman and Poison Ivy banding together. We absolutely already know that Selina Kyle will be Catwoman, and that Ivy Pepper’s transformation into Poison Ivy is imminent. It seems unlikely that the name of the club would be a coincidence, especially considering FOX put the club name in the official plot synopsis for the episode.
Of course, Tabitha could also be a candidate, since she’s co-owner of The Sirens. But Tabitha has long been expected to become the DC villain Tigress, and in fact when Jessica Lucas was cast in the part they actually referred to her as Tigress. She hasn’t been called Tigress on “Gotham” yet, though, and things can certainly change over time on TV.
There aren’t many other possibilities. The only overt member of the “Joker cult” we’ve met would be Jeri (Lori Petty), the woman who told Bruce Wayne where to find Matches Malone in season 2 — but that would probably be too obvious and her demeanor doesn’t seem correct anyway (they definitely should bring her back, though). Silver St. Cloud would be a possibility, as she was certainly “connected” to the Maniax as another part of Galavan’s grand plan to take Gotham, and we haven’t seen her since she and Tabitha jumped out a window midway through season 2.
Though we’ve certainly not met anyone named Dr. Harleen Quinnzel, there is, obviously, a prominent female doctor who worked at Arkham who we know well: Lee Tompkins (Morena Baccarin). But it seems really far fetched to think Lee would become a villain — though you never know with “Gotham,” I guess. There’s also Dr. Marks, the hypnotherapist who in season 1 hypnotized her patients into becoming serial killers, but she was only a one-off character, not somebody we know well.
So for now Barbara seems like the best bet. And since it would further complicate an already complicated timeline that loves to depart from the DC Comics norm, I’m all for it.