|“||Everyone does the Court's bidding. Some of us just know it...||„|
|~ Carmine Falcone|
The Court of Owls is a mysterious group that serves as the main antagonistic faction of the third season in the television series Gotham. They (or at least their leader Shaman) serve as the force behind Hugo Strange.
The secret council of Gotham City, the Court rules the city from the shadows. They employed Hugo Strange to find a way to reanimate the dead, caring only for one thing - results. Although their true influence and power is merely implied as of yet, it must be noted that the thought of failing them causes Strange to go as far as risking Gotham's annihilation and that he would rather face death than disappointing them.
The Court of Owls is a secret society that has been founded by Gotham's most influential families to control the city to the benefit of the people. During their time controlling Gotham, the Court laid waste to the city twice because they believed it needed to be reborn in order to truly "live".
The Court once proposed a partnership to the Whisper Gang, only to betray them eventually. This resulted in a deep hate for the court in the members of the Whisperers.
Carmine Falcone is a recurring business partner of the Court. He delivered Indian Hill to them when Salvatore Maroni refused to sell.
The court employed Hugo Strange to find a way to reanimate the dead.
Billionaire Dick Lovecraft appeared to have some sort of awareness of the Court - or at least knowledge to the truth behind the murders of Thomas and Martha Wayne. This resulted in assassins being sent to kill him before he could disclose what was going on to detective James Gordon, although he did make reference to a higher power running Gotham City.
After news from Theo Galavan's return from the dead are on the news, a mysterious female member of the Court decides that Strange has failed and makes a phone call, telling an other person that the Court must be gathered. The woman later contacts Strange, claiming that Strange lost sight of his mission, referring to his failure with Freeze and Azrael. Strange stands up to the woman, revealing that he succeeded to bring a person back completely. The woman asks whether Strange can repeat the process and Strange claims that he thinks he can. The woman grants him additional time and tells him to find out what Bruce and his companions know. She also orders Strange to destroy Indian Hill and every one of his experiments.
After interrogating Bruce, Lucius and Gordon, Strange contacts the owl-masked woman to assure her that none of them know about the Court. The woman then tells him that each and every of his experiments need to be destroyed, and Bruce, Jim and Lucius with them. She also stresses the point that none of Strange's experiments can be seen in Gotham City. Despite her pressure and Strange's best efforts, many of the experiments are eventually able to break free. Though Strange is arrested for his crimes in the end, Bruce vows to find the Court of Owls, aware of the fact that they are Strange's employers and the ones behind the murder of his parents.
Investigated by Bruce
Six months later, the woman is called by an unknown ally who informs her, that Bruce Wayne spoke to the Wayne Enterprises board members and threatened to expose evidence of their involvement with the Courl. The woman claims that Bruce leaves them no choice, then, and hangs up the phone. The woman then turns to one of the Court's agents, a man clad in black with a mask on his face, gives him Bruce's name and tells him to do "it" silently.
The agent later arrives at Wayne Manor at night, where he is confronted by Alfred. He attacks Alfred and knocks him out after a fight. When Bruce arrives, alerted by the noise, the agent hides in the shadow and waits until Bruce rushes to Alfred's side. He then grabs Bruce from behind, throttles him unconscious and takes Bruce with him, leaving Alfred behind. Bruce is brought before the woman who removes her mask. Bruce recognizes the woman and claims that he knows her, he has seen her at events of Wayne Enterprises. The woman tells Bruce that her name is Kathryn and that she represents the group Bruce asked to speak with. Bruce asks Kathryn who exactly this group is, but Kathryn tells him that their name is not important. She then reminds Bruce of his threat to go public with what he knows about her organization. She demands to know how much Bruce knows but he reveals that he did not know anything certain until know.
Bruce then tries to make a deal with Kathryn, attempting to ensure the safety of himself and his friends. Kathryn wants to know what Bruce is offering and shrugs off when Bruce mentions Wayne enterprises, claiming Bruce cannot offer her what she already possesses. Bruce tells her that he wasn't finished and tells her that in case of his death, every aspect and file of Wayne Enterprises would be searched and that the existance of Kathryn's group would thus becume public. Kathryn claims that this indeed would be unfortunate, but that the group would weather the storm. Kathryn calls Bruce an extraordinary man but tells him that Bruce does not offer enough. Kathryn tells him that the court also requires that Bruce stops investigating her group's involvement in Wayne Enterprises and in his parent's murders and that any tiny attempt to do so would nullify their agreement. Although he is quite unhappy with this deal, Bruce agrees. Kathryn claims that she is content with their agreement and that Bruce will not see her again. Bruce is then again knocked unconscious by the Talon and returned to Wayne Manor.
Dealing with the Whisperers
When Ivy Pepper steals a necklace and is hunted for it, she brings it to Bruce and Selina. They ultimately find out that the necklace contains a key engraved with the face of an owl. Both Bruce and Alfred are shocked as the Court might take this as breaking the agreement. Bruce wants to make contact with the Court to sort out the misunderstanding but before this can happen, he is called by a man who has captured Ivy, demanding the necklace in return for her safety. During the exchange, Bruce finds out that the man who wants the necklace does not work for the Court but intends to destroy it, as he has once been betrayed by the court. From the man, who reveals himself as the leader of the Whisper Gang, Bruce learns the name of the organization Kathryn is connected to - the Court of Owls. The leader reveals to Bruce that the key is one of the two keys which can open a safe in the headquarter of the Owls which might contain something with the ability to bring down the Court. Although Bruce decides to side with the Whisperers and thus not to honor his agreement with Kathryn, the three Whisperers are later slain by a Talon sent by the Court.
The Court sends assassins after Carmine Falcone's son Mario who fail in assassinating their target. One of them is killed by Mario and the other one is arrested. While in custody, the assassin has his tongue cut out by Carmine Falcone who later meets with Kathryn. He demands to know why the Court is attacking his son despite his loyalty but Kathryn refuses to give him any information. Falcone threatens Kathryn, telling her that he will fight war against the Court should his son be harmed. Kathryn tells Falcone that she is neither impressed nor afraid. She further explains that Gotham is at the brink of chaos and that Falcone's son is safe as long as he proves loyal when called upon.
With the last remaining Whisperer, Bruce, Selina and Alfred decide to break into the Court's headquarter to find whatever the Court is protecting in their safe. As Bruce and Selina enter through the roof, Alfred knocks out the two guards watching the front entrance. While Bruce and Selina are busy crossing a lazer alarm grid, Alfred ventures through the headquarter where he is followed by the Talon.
Selina manages to open the safe, only to find the safe containing a diamond owl. The Talon then appears in the safe room, hitting Bruce which causes Selina to fall off the rope. As the alarm sounds, the Talon approaches Selina who is saved when Bruce stops the Talon with a smoke grenade. Bruce, Selina and Alfred attempt to flee but are forced to fight when the Talon emerges again. Together, they are able to overpower him and Alfred kills the Talon. After the Talon's death, Bruce, Alfred and Selina flee the building with the owl statue.
During Jerome Valeska's episode of chaos in Gotham, the Court decides to intervene should the matter escalates further. As Jerome is arrested shortly afterwards, they do not take that step. Using Bruce Wayne's body-double, they also intend to take their plan - which also involves James Gordon - to the next level. They do so by capturing Bruce Wayne and replacing him with the clone who has now been groomed to take Bruce's place.
In a meeting of high-ranking members of the Court, Kathryn claims that Gotham has fallen ill and that it is up to the Court to save the city. She reveals that a weapon is being built which will cleanse Gotham so that the Court can reshape it and lead it into the right direction. She further claims that the leader of the Court has demanded that the decision is made in unison. Kathryn thus leaves the ultimate decision to the members, who all hold up a black feather to show that they consent. With the decision made, Kathyn claims that the judgement has passed and that Gotham must fall. Frank Gordon later reveals to Jim that not the entire Court is evil and that the plan to destroy Gotham is limited to a group of high-ranking fanatics inside the Court.
The Court later learns from Carmine Falcone that Gordon is starting to look into the murder of his father. Kathryn questions Frank about it and he states that while Jim knows that Frank ordered Peter Gordon's death, he has no idea that the Court has been involved. However, he adds now that Jim has started investigating he will not stop until either he or Frank are dead. Kathryn states that this is unfortunate, as Jim could have been a valuable ally to the Court. She then orders Jim Gordon's assassination.
After Frank's suicide, Kathryn eventually calls at Frank's flat in order to find out whether Frank has killed Gordon. It is Jim who picks up the phone. According to what Frank ordered him before his death, Jim reveals that he killed Frank, to which Kathryn replies that she understands. Jim proposes a meeting and Kathryn agrees, revealing that she had already sent a car to pick up Gordon.
Investigated from within
After proving himself to Kathryn by delivering Edward Nygma to her, Jim Gordon is initiated into the Court of Owls.
After a meeting of the Court, Gordon stays to check Kathryn's mask for fingerprints. While he does so, another member of the Court's council walks into the room and asks Jim what he is doing. Jim remembers that Kathryn earlier said something about all members of the council being supposed to hand in a list. The man reveals to Gordon that the members are supposed to list love ones who are supposed to be spared from the Court's grand plan. Using the chance for cover, Jim writes some names on the list.
After Hugo Strange weaponizes the Tetch virus for the Court, Kathryn has a bomb containing it delivered to a party of young socialites. She orders Gordon to watch in order to prove himself. However, Gordon is not able to watch two hundred people ripping each other apart. Although Gordon is able to stop the explosion with help from Penguin, he is now known to be a traitor to the Court.
Kathryn has Barnes capture Gordon and allows him the pleasure of executing him. As Barnes is about to do so, Gordon sets off one of his grenades. As Barnes throws it off, the GCPD storm in and Barnes is forced to escape. With new information on Kathryn and her house, she is arrested and interrogated on the Bomb (which she denies knowing about) and the plans (also denies), and Gordon claims that the Court will have no choice without their leader. She scoffs at Gordon foolishly thinking that she is really the leader, after which Alfred enters and stabs a knife through her hand to attempt to get her to talk.
Barnes returns to the Department and attacks the other officers while Gordon, Harvey, and Alfred bring Kathryn with them. She yells at Barnes to get her out of here and stop this madness. Barnes is enraged that she considers his goal to be "madness"; believing her to now be his enemy, he axes her through the neck and sends her head flying. As he prepares to do the same to Gordon, his opponent blasts his axe-arm off with a shotgun before striking him over the head with it.
Minutes after Barnes' arrest, he escapes yet again. Gordon and Harvey discuss the fact that the Court will be even more determined to succeed with Kathryn gone, and that their true leader is still a mystery.
Destruction of the Court
With Bruce, the Shaman arrives at the main headquarter of the Court of Owls where its council is in session. While Bruce remains in the shadows, the Shaman asserts his rightful place as the Court's leader and addresses his fellow councilmen. He claims that three years ago, a great wrong was dealt by the Court's hands in the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne. One of the Court members accuses the Shaman of having left Gotham for years despite being the organization's leader and states that choices had to be made. After listening to the man's arguments, the Shaman asks Bruce to come forward. Reminding him that it were his parents who were killed, the Shaman tells Bruce to pass the judgement. However, he also urges Bruce to have the Court executed and when Bruce nods, the Shaman claps in his hands which causes a group of Talons to emerge from the shadows and slaughter the leaders, after which the Shaman and Bruce take their leave.
Jim and the GCPD enter the headquarter and find one leader still breathing, although heavily wounded, after which he tells them what the Shaman has done and what he plans to do with Bruce and the Virus Bomb. The remaining leader either dies from blood loss or is arrested offscreen.
- Ra's al Ghul (benefactor)
- Shaman (leader, deceased)
- Kathryn (deceased)
- Frank Gordon (deceased)
- Talon (deceased)
- Talon II (deceased)
- Leading Council (deceased)
- Whisper Gang (betrayed)
- Luka Volk (deceased)
- Jacob Volk (deceased)
- Dimitri (deceased)
- Peter Gordon (deceased)
- James Gordon (ousted as traitor)
- Nathaniel Barnes (traitor)
- Executive producer John Stephens said about the Court: "The Court of Owls is like an Illuminati. They are a shadowy group of powerful people who have controlled Gotham for centuries. They might, or might not, be behind the Wayne murders. They have financed and directed Indian Hill and Hugo Strange's research. We will not learn all that much about them in the finale, save for the fact they are the people behind Hugo Strange and are most likely the culprits behind Martha and Thomas Wayne's murders. Bruce will learn of their existence, but not necessarily their name. That will obviously push him forward."
- The Court of Owls appear to be alluded to a couple of times in the first season as an unseen power. In the episode "Lovecraft", assassins are sent after Selina Kyle and Dick Lovecraft as they "know too much". When Jim Gordon confronts Lovecraft believing he called out the hit, Lovecraft makes a reference to bigger people who run the city, and that he himself is a nobody. Before Lovecraft could elaborate further though, he was killed by Copperhead.
- The Court's motivation to destroy Gotham City and cleanse it of the crime and corruption is very similar to that of the League of Assassins (or League of Shadows) in the DC Comics. Ironically, in Season 3 finale, it was revealed that Ra's al Ghul and the League of Assassins were the true masterminds that controlled the Court and the entire Gotham.
- Whilst the Court of Owls exist during Bruce Wayne's time as Batman, in the series they are destroyed years prior to him becoming the Dark Knight but its unknown if there will be any members who survived or recreate the Court of Owls in the future when Bruce becomes the Batman.