Ben McKenzie on Directing Gotham’s “A Dark Knight: One of My Three Soups”
WARNING: Spoilers for Gotham
GothamÂ star Ben McKenzie dons another hat in tonight’s episode, “One of My Three Soups,” when he takes on the role of director in addition to his day job playing Jim Gordon.
While it’s not his first time behind the camera, it is one of the more ambitious episodes in recent memory and so he had his work cut out for him. TV Goodness took part in a Q&A with McKenzie where he talked about the directing process for the episode, as well as how he crafted particular moments with Bruce and Selina as well as with the many delightful villains that take to the streets this week.
The biggest shift for him when tacklingÂ GothamÂ as a director rather than as an actor was understanding what a small part of a larger process he is. “It definitely affects your understanding of your place in the cosmos in a very humbling way,” McKenzie explains. But precisely because he deals with these characters on a weekly basis, he had more experience with exactly what they needed.
“No one knows the show better than me. Well, Danny Cannon, and after that me,” he jokes. “I know the tone, I know the characters. I know where we are in the story in terms of their evolution.” One way in which he differs from journeyman directors is that he had the room to work more one-on-one with them. “[I] give them a lot more feedback than I think theyâ€™re used to hearing.Â I know what traps not to get into, and how to talk to people.”
One moment in “One of My Three Soups” that required special attention was an intense moment between Bruce (David Mazouz) and Selina (Camren Bicondova) that McKenzie is particularly proud of in retrospect. “I specifically wanted to lean into how much we as an audience want them to figure it out,” he recalls. “We want them to be able to have these tender moments of affection. [That scene] was very important to me… And they were game for it. They have grown a lot in four years, and to watch them come into themselves and be able to use that to bounce off of each other was really rewarding.”
But there’s a lot more violence this week than romance, and much of McKenzie’s directorial work involved balancing the gore with the grounded nature of the show. “I prefer when the violence is rooted [in reality],” he shares.
For example, the opening sequence is one that is shocking but still manages not to feel gratuitous. “Charlie, the writer, wrote a sequence that was obviously brutal and incredibly violent but spoke to the control and power that Mad Hatter had.”
And it’s not just the Mad Hatter who’s wreaking havoc, asÂ Cameron Monaghan’s Jerome Velaska plays a major role in the proceedings. “The end of the season sort of kicks it off, but it becomes even more a story of his Machiavellian plans to either take over Gotham or destroy it trying,” McKenzie teases. “And it was really fun to work with him.”
Barbara Kean (Erin Richards) is also on an interesting and evil journey of her own that was teased at the end ofÂ Gotham last week, involving Ra’s Al Ghul and the Demon’s Head. “There is a female empowerment story in there,” McKenzie ventures, “But itâ€™s masked by a power struggle and acknowledgement that Barbara is a sick, sick person. She has a journey sheâ€™s going to be on, and she has a responsibility to kill a lot of people. Sheâ€™s up for that.”
One villain who may not be as up for it is Tabitha (Jessica Lucas), whose loyalty to Barbara may be stretched too thin once once more. “Tabby is somewhat playing the role of the Bullock to [Barbaraâ€™s] Gordon,” Mckenzie hints. Questioning her boss and friend can only lead to tension in the weeks to come, but if anyone can handle themselves in a catfight it’s those two.
Beyond the array of villains, “One of My Three Soups” also relies heavily on special effects in a way that McKenzie’s previous directorial effort did not. “The first script that I got was a more introverted story, much more of a slow burn,” he remembers. “This one was much bigger, obviously. A lot of action, a lot of green screen work, a lot of big set pieces. We had several hundred background performers in several scenes.”
Thankfully, he was less afraid of tackling such a challenge this time and instead focused on making sure the post-production team had everything they needed from him as a director. “This is a lot of work that a lot of people are doing, they need to have the tools to be able to do their job. They can always fix a lot of it, but your goal is to make it as easy as possible for them.”
Looking towards the future ofÂ Gotham, McKenzie admits that he has no idea if there will be a fifth season or not. But if there is, might Barbara and Jim ever become romantic again? “I would never say anything is completely off the table,” he acknowledges. “Maybe we donâ€™t have to tell Jim and Barbara having a baby in the run of Gotham. That could happen five years from now when Barbaraâ€™s even crazier.”
Jim may not be as off-the-wall as Barbara is, but heÂ hasÂ gotten a little dirtier by necessity in the last few years just as young Bruce has become more steadfast in his beliefs. “Bruce coming into his own at the same time as Jim has sort of meandered in his journey because he canâ€™t help but do so helps equalize them a little bit more,” McKenzie explains, likening the new dynamic to one that’s similar to Jim and Harvey’s. “It makes it a more well-rounded relationship. Jim could try to lecture Bruce again, but Bruce probably wouldnâ€™t take it as fact.”
At the end of the day, McKenzie’s favorite thing about bothÂ Gotham and Jim as a character is precisely that weathered and jaded aspect. “Thereâ€™s always been a sadness to Gordon,” he muses. “What I like is actually to watch the world beat him down and knock him to shreds [while he has] to get up in the morning and pick himself up every day.” His summation of Jim Gordon is actually rather poetic: “[He’s] this everyman hero keeping the wolves at bay as best he can until they ultimately need a guy dressed as a bat to save them.”
Gotham “A Dark Knight: One of My Three Soups” airs tonight at 8/7c on Fox.
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.
Dennis Heaton Talks The Imperfects
Longtime readers at TV Goodness will know that Motive is one of my ride-or-die series, and as such, I am fiercely loyal to its creator, Dennis Heaton. He followed up that fantastic reverse procedural with Netflix’s The Order and is back on our streaming screens with The Imperfects, which dropped…
Kelly McCormack Talks Favorite Moments in A League of Their Own
[Warning: Mild spoilers for season 1.] Now that you’ve had a chance to watch A League of Their Own, here’s the rest of my chat with Kelly McCormack about her favorite moments of the season. Seeing the iconic Peaches uniforms for the first time wasn’t just a goosebump moment for…
John Griffin and Harold Perrineau Talk From on EPIX Season 1 Finale
[Warning: General spoilers ahead.] How are we doing, #FROMily? In case you missed it this morning, the very good news is that that cliffhanger will be followed by a second season, which was gifted this morning ahead of the linear broadcast of the finale. I always legitimately appreciate when we…
Elizabeth Saunders Talks EPIX’s From
[Warning: General spoilers ahead.] One of the things that makes EPIX’s From such a fun ride is the abundance of Canadian cast members. Elizabeth Saunders, who plays Donna, is a favorite from her turn on the third season of Mary Kills People [streaming on Global TV in Canada and Roku…
Corteon Moore Talks From “Broken Windows, Open Doors”
[Warning: Spoilers for tonight’s episode.] Tonight’s episode of From had us all in our feels as we learned through flashbacks about the Sophie’s Choice Boyd had to make to save his son, and back in the present as Boyd said his piece with Ellis before heading into the woods with…
Pegah Ghafoori Talks From “All Good Things…”
[Warning: Spoilers for tonight’s episode] Tonight on From, Fatima’s anniversary celebration turned into a Colony House of horrors when a misguided Kevin let his monster bae in and she promptly killed him and left the window open for her crew. While the party devolved into terror and sent everyone running,…
Shaun Majumder Talks From “Book 74”
[Warning: Spoilers for tonight’s episode.] Tonight on EPIX’s From, Father Khatri made a bold move, kidnapping Sara instead of turning her in, and then recognizing her as a vessel for some big messages. That startling realization speaks to him on multiple levels–as a man of faith, a man trapped in…
Avery Konrad Talks About Sara’s Struggle in From “Silhouettes”
[Warning: Spoilers for tonight’s episode.] Over the course of the season so far on From, we’ve witnessed Sara’s battle against the voices telling her to to do terrible things, and tonight we saw her unravel further, threatening the Matthews and lashing out in a moment of terror with horrifying results….
Hannah Cheramy Talks From “Choosing Day”
[Warning: Spoilers for tonight’s episode.] Tonight, on EPIX’s From, the Matthews participate in the show’s version of the sorting hat, choosing where to call home–the town or Colony House. At the end of the episode, Julie makes the decision to split from her family and instead settle in with Fatima…
Ricky He Talks From “The Way Things Are Now”
[Warning: Spoilers for episode 102 of EPIX’s From.] Epix’s new series From is two episodes in and it’s already laying the groundwork for a seriously spooky season. Tonight’s episode demonstrated the careful balance of relief and horror that the show hits, with our characters’ worst fears realized, just not when…
What They Said: Three Revealing Conversations from Survivor’s Remorse “Closure”
WARNING: Spoilers for Survivor’s Remorse “Closure” The latest episode of Starz’s Survivor’s Remorse featured conversations that showed characters really digging deep into their thoughts, emotions and motivations.
Two Takes: The Catch “The Knock-Off”
Who can you trust? If this episode of The Catch was any indication, the answer is just about nobody. Betrayal was running rampant as Felicity (Shivani Ghai) arose from the dead to seduce-con Margot, Gretchen (Maria Thayer, Gotham, The Mindy Project) played gold-hearted Alice 2.0 before swindling Ethan, Tessa jumped…
What They Said: Top 3 Quotable Moments from Preacher “El Valero”
Both Quincannon and Jesse refuse to give up on what they each think is rightfully theirs. While Jesse is struggling to face the consequences of his actions, Quincannon has laid his past demons to rest and is hellbent on moving forward and putting Annville on the map again. Despite a…
What They Said: Favorite Quotes from Supergirl “Worlds Finest”
Oh, Supergirl. That ending was cold. But I can’t hate on you because the latest episode has quickly become one of my favorites.
What They Said: Top 4 Quotable Moments from Black Sails “XXIII”
The dialogue in “XXIII” is phenomenal. It’s always a fun ride when Black Sails carries its viewers along without giving them the chance to catch their breath. When an episode moves at this unforgiving pace, there is no chance for a breather nor is there a respite from the information…
What Lucifer Said: Favorite quotes from Supernatural “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”
Supernatural episodes are almost always funny but thanks to the dialogue and a certain man speaking said dialogue, I laughed a lot during “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” You know, when I wasn’t busy fearing for Sam’s life or wondering what in the world was going on with Dean and…
What They Said: The Flash, “Legends Of Today” and Arrow, “Legends Of Yesterday”
Two nights of Arrow +Â The Flash = what more could we ask for?! I don’t know what it is about blending these shows, but I canâ€™t help but feel that every time they come together, they somehow become greater than the sum of their parts. And thatâ€™s saying a lot…
What they Said: Top 4 Quotable Moments from Graceland “Little Bo Bleep”
Shoot outs. Fake outs. And long-awaited revelations. “Little Bo Bleep” was a jam-packed episode that wrapped up some loose ends and totally frayed others. Â It finally gave us one Sarkissian in jail and pulled back the curtain on Briggs’ master plan, but it also set up Jakes for a world…
What They Said: Favorite Quotes from Poldark “Part 4”
â€œWhat have I told you, I don’t require my wife to crochet and sip tea, but I do require her to remember she’s not a beast of burden.â€ No, Iâ€™m not talking about The Rolling Stones! I have to admit though, just for a second, the lyrics popped into my…
3 Moments of Goodness from Brooklyn Nine-Nine “Johnny and Dora”
The most satisfying part of this season’s finale has to the Jake and Amy kiss. Well, they kiss three times but the last one is the best one — and it means something. The Charles and Rosa dynamic was also great. I love how she’s convinced he doesn’t know anything…