Title: Gotham: “Red Queen”
Air Date: October 31, 2016
Genre: Crime, Drama, Action
After getting back on my good graces with Follow The White Rabbit, I was eager to see where The Mad Hatter (Benedict Samuel) would take his road to vengeance next. With that said, Red Queen isn’t necessarily better than Follow The White Rabbit, but it comes really close. The character development given to James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) in this episode is nothing short of masterful. It examines his fears, his desires and his willingness to hold on to things that he can never have. Red Queen is a brilliant character study of our main hero, giving us an episode that is as tragic as it is heartfelt and meaningful.
The Mad Hatter obtained a toxin known as Red Queen. He dosed Jim Gordon, sending him into a deep hallucinogenic state. On the outside, he was comatose and near death. However, on the inside, he found himself on a one-way express elevator to hell, guided by Barbara Kean (Erin Richards). And yes, she’s as psychotic as you’d expect her to be. Furthermore, The Mad Hatter also obtained his sister’s body from the morgue, with plans to extract her blood. Bruce (David Mazouz) made dinner for Selina because, why not and Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) even began a new relationship with Isabella (Chelsea Spack) much to Oswald’s (Robin Lord Taylor) dismay.
Given how Follow The White Rabbit left off, it made sense that Red Queen would begin by resolving its cliffhanger. Just for an update, Valerie Vale (Jamie Chung) was shot by The Mad Hatter at the end of last week’s episode. When she woke up in the opening of Red Queen, she almost immediately told Jim Gordon that they were are done. I guess not every woman can be with a guy who’s obviously still in love with someone else, no matter how much he denies it. Personally, this was fine with me for two reasons. I honestly never cared for Valerie Vale as a character. Granted, Follow The White Rabbit did more with her than previous episodes. However, she’s just not that interesting as a character so seeing her go was okay with me. The second reason is what it leads into.
As Gordon’s relationship with Vale ended, a new relationship blossomed between Edward Nygma and Isabella. Isabella, as I pointed out in last week’s review, looks just like Ms. Kringle, the woman Nygma accidentally killed last season. I still maintain that Indian Hill was involved with this somehow but only time will tell. However, while Edward’s heart was all the twitter, Oswald’s heart was broken. Obviously, he wants Edward all to himself (in more ways than one) and even tries to get Isabella to leave by disclosing Edward’s past. This does little to sway Isabella though, as she comes to accept his past and love him anyway.
Either way, Oswald had bigger problems. He came face to face with the mysterious Kathryn (Leslie Hendrix) of The Court Of Owls, who informed him that he’d be called upon when the time came. Whatever that means, we’ll hopefully discover soon enough. On top of this, Oswald, along with the officials of Gotham, almost found themselves the victims of Tetch’s diabolical scheme. By using the blood from his sister’s dead body, Tetch created a virus that he intended to use on Oswald and the officials at the Founders Dinner.
The GCPD took him down (a little too easily if you ask me) before this could happen, however not in time to save Gordon who had been poisoned back at the hospital with the Red Queen toxin. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. The Mad Hatter is one of the best villains of this entire series thus far, if not the best. Benedict Samuel brought his A-Game once again and showed us why his character is a force to be reckoned with. That’s why I found it a bit lame to see such a wonderful villain simply be “arrested” at the end. It didn’t bring down the episode or anything, it just felt a bit weak compared to everything else. At the very least, I expected him to put up more of a fight when he was caught.
That being said, everything evens out with Jim Gordon. Red Queen delved deep into Jim Gordon’s psyche, giving him significant character development that we had yet to see. The entire sequence in general was like a cross between It’s A Wonderful Life and a Christmas Carol. Only instead of ghosts we have Barbara Kean guiding Jim Gordon on an elevator to madness that he must escape. For the record, Erin Richards is beyond amazing in this episode as Barbara Kean. In the deepest recesses of Gordon’s mind we saw his desires and fears. We witnessed his allies, as well as enemies, guiding him back to where he needed to be. This all culminates in a solid lead-up to Jim Gordon taking a ride with his father, while Mario (James Carpinello) attempts to revive him on the outside.
This whole scene is one of the best Gotham has ever given us. I absolutely loved the conversation between Jim and his father. They actually address the issue that I had with Jim Gordon going into this season. That issue being why he would just randomly become a bounty hunter and just give up on being cop. Jim’s father is the whole reason he became a cop in the first place. With that said, Jim couldn’t take being a cop anymore after everything that happened. After years of people telling him what a hero his father was, he felt as though he’d failed the very man he tried to live up to. Of course, Jim is revived and after some soul searching, rejoins the GCPD at the end of the episode. For the bumpy ride we had with Jim as a bounty hunter, it was worth it for this.
Overall, Red Queen represents one of the most original and intriguing episodes that Gotham has to offer. Sure, The Mad Hatter getting caught the way he did is a bit lame. Sure, they gave Bruce and Selina a subplot in this episode and didn’t do anything with them. I mean, if you think these two are cliff-note in my review, don’t worry because they are a cliff-note in the episode too. However, everything else it did was so good that overlooking those small details is not a hard task. Red Queen is truly a remarkable episode, despite its faults.
- The Mad Hatter
- Jim Gordon's Mind-Trip
- Edward Nygma & Isabella
- Oswald "Threatening" Isabella
- Possibly Erin Richards' Best Performance As Barbara Kean Thus Far
- How The Mad Hatter Was Captured
- Bruce & Selina's Boring Subplot
A graduate of Full Sail University with a Bachelors Degree in Creative Writing, Adam is a Writer and Film Critic, looking to make his mark on the world. When he isn’t at the movies, writing for The Nerd Stash, playing Duck Hunt (respect the classics) or delivering pizzas to his neighbors, he is back at school earning his Masters Degree in Film Production.