Gotham’s fourth season was a season of change. Bruce Wayne began his transformation into Batman. Penguin took over as the underworld’s new head honcho. Butch became Solomon Grundy, Barbara became a slave to Ra’s al-Ghul and the Riddler became an idiot. Even good old Jim Gordon dropped his morals and reached out to criminal mastermind Carmine Falcone for help.
The most drastic change had to be that of Dr. Lee Thompkins.
The former GCPD medical examiner left the city in the wake of her newlywed husband being killed by Gordon, her ex-boyfriend. Her journey did not end up taking her too far, though. Lee reappears in “The Narrows”, a more dangerous, poorer, neighborhood in Gotham.
Lee finds a home as a doctor for an underground fight club. She works for the fighting ring, and as a trade-off is given the space and resources to run a clinic for the underprivileged residents of The Narrows.
She inadvertently becomes the queen of The Narrows after the previous leader is killed. The people choose her to guide them as she is a universally loved figure who heals their children and protected them from one of the Penguin’s assassins. “The Doc”, as she is affectionately referred to, tries to use her role to better the lives of the people.
As a leader, she tries to convince the residents of The Narrows to work with each other instead of against each other. In a rousing speech, she tells them to avoid committing crimes in their community and instead turn their attention towards Gotham’s elite. Lee reminds them that the cities powerful have intentionally left them behind in order to further their own wealth. Instead of robbing each other, she wants them to practice class solidarity and work together for the greater good. Steal from the rich who have stolen from them for decades.
Whether the Gotham writers mean it or not, not only are they correct, they are also making a pretty good argument for communism here. The United States has left its poorest citizens behind, and many are living in absolute poverty. To make things worse, some of the nation’s poorest, most dangerous, neighborhoods fall within the shadows of the richest cities in the country. The Anacostia neighborhoods in Southeast D.C. are only a few minutes away from the luxury of our nation’s capital. The lavish New York skyline reigns over the city’s poorer neighborhoods. Driving from northside to southside Chicago is almost like entering a new country. The city of Gotham is the same, with the Wayne enterprise headquarters being within earshot of the deadliest neighborhoods.
The idea that the working class people could all work together to overthrow our nation’s elite rules is one of the central tenants of Marxist theory. If we stop allowing those in charge to pit us against each other and instead realize that we all have the same common interest, we can get anything we want. While Gotham never tackles the racial dynamics of the DC Universes stand-in for New York City, in real life racial divides have been used to defend against class solidarity for centuries. Right now in the United States, President Donald Trump pushes the blame for many of the issues working class people face — food insecurity, lack of health care, stagnant wages — on immigrants while simultaneously giving handouts to the richest Americans. All working class people have a common enemy in their class struggle, and once that is realized real change can happen.
Lee’s main goal is to bring The Narrow’s together and protect them from outside threats. She protects the residents from a nearby street gang leader who attempts to siphon protection money from the local business’. Unlike previous leaders, she does not use her power to run a protection racket of her own for personal profit.
Similar to a few real life examples of leftist leadership taking over in poorer countries, things start looking up for The Narrows under “The Doc”. Unfortunately, also similar to real life examples of leftist leadership, the ruling class violently swooped in to end Lee’s reign.
Sophia Falcone, an heir to the wealthy Falcone crime family, attempts to run a protection racket in the neighborhood. When Lee refuses, defending her own people, Sophia goes on to violently kill some of Lee’s men, destroy one of her Lee’s hands, and overthrow her. Lee is replaced by the same gang leader she fended of earlier, who instills a violent regime in the neighborhood. He even publicly executes a business owner in front of his family for coming up short on protection money. Suddenly, the residents of The Narrows are right back where they started, as a violent coup from the wealthy have destroyed what they were trying to build.
Rich western countries funding coup’s against leftist leaders and instilling violent, capitalist, dictators to take their place is an all too familiar story. The United States has famously destroyed many Latin American nations after they attempted to nationalize their resources. There was Augusto Pinochet in Chile, Roberto Micheletti in Honduras and recently Bolivia was the victim of a coup as well. Leaders like Pinochet were responsible for the deaths of hundreds during their rule.
While the situation in Gotham was obviously on a much smaller scale, the ruling class swooping in to violently rid of a working class leader working for the good of the people is an uncanny sequence of events. Whether or not they wanted to, the writers of Gotham showed exactly how the ruling class stays in power by any means necessary. Just like in many Latin American and African Countries, Lee was the democratically elected leader. She refused to submit to the powers that be, though, and instead of allowing the people of The Narrows — or any of these other developing nations — choose their own fate, they are stripped of their autonomy by foreign billionaires.