Release Date: April 24, 2017
Genre: Crime, Action, Drama
It’s finally here. Gotham officially returned after a long 3-month hiatus. So let’s waste no time and dive right into How The Riddler Got His Name. When we last left the show, Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) had shot Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor). Cobblepot fell off the docks and seemingly drowned. However, let’s be honest, you and I both know they can’t kill him (at least not yet). He’s The Penguin and Bruce (David Mazouz) isn’t Batman yet so killing him off would be too big a risk, especially this early in the series. Edward on the other hand, believing Oswald is truly dead, has been having visions of his old friend, with the help of pills. In these visions, Oswald is covered in water and seaweed with a bullet wound to complete the image per Edward’s warped imagination. There’s even a dance number (I’m serious).
Ever since he shot Oswald, Edward has been trying to find someone to complete him; a mentor of sorts, if you will. He’s been doing this by kidnapping smart officials (scientists/doctors) and putting them through classic Riddler-esque games. But if these officials don’t answer his riddles correctly, they die. As the GCPD pursues who could be doing this, Edward discovers that he may have found his perfect mentor in Lucius Fox (Chris Chalk), which ultimately puts Bullock’s (Donal Logue) life on the line as Fox plays The Riddler for Bullock’s life. Meanwhile, Bruce has a not so pleasant encounter with his doppelgänger, who is working with The Court Of Owls. Speaking of which, Gordon reconnects with his uncle only to discover some secrets he wished had stayed buried.
Much like The Gentle Art Of Making Enemies, this episode is pretty much perfect. It’s beautifully paced, sets a good tone for the remainder of season 3 and throws curveballs at you left and right to keep you watching. The show just came back from its midseason finale and I’m already counting the minutes to next Monday. As the title of the episode would suggest, it’s Edward Nygma, The Riddler, who ultimately steals the show here. Cory Michael Smith is in top form once again and he’s never been better in my opinion. Most of How The Riddler Got His Name focuses on Edward Nygma and where he feels his destiny lies after killing his closest friend.
But even after killing Oswald, Nygma willingly takes pills to hallucinate about him. He did what he did out of vengeance but even so, its still tearing him up inside. He can’t let Oswald go until he finds a new way to move forward and the scenes of Oswald talking to him, exclaiming that “There is no Edward Nygma without The Penguin”, are both tragic and heartbreaking. Ultimately, after Lucius Fox gives him what he wants, Nygma chooses his own path and knows where his future lies, leading him to put Oswald in the past and set forth on a new path; the path of The Riddler. Not only is the dynamic between The Riddler & The Penguin brought full circle but it may lead to some interesting drama down the line.
As you’ve probably guessed, Oswald survives his gunshot. Evidently, Ivy Pepper fished him out of the river and nursed him back to health. Now, Oswald does say “I need to kill an old friend.” However, this makes me wonder if he will ultimately spare Nygma. Keep in mind, he refused to give up Nygma in the previous episode, risking his own life. But even though Nygma ultimately shot him, let us not forget why Fish Mooney once spared Oswald. She couldn’t kill Oswald because she made him who he is. She “brought The Penguin into being” and couldn’t kill him. Therefore, it’s safe to assume that Oswald may extend Nygma the same courtesy. As Oswald has said, “There is no Edward Nygma without The Penguin.”
Meanwhile, Bruce tries to work things out with Selena (Camren Bicondova). However, Selena wants nothing to do with him and leaves him to be jumped by a local gang. Don’t worry though, Bruce’s training with Alfred seems to be paying off as Bruce easily gets the upper hand and beats them all down. It was actually kind of funny watching this young kid beat up about five adults on his own. I’m glad the writers are finally giving Bruce more of a heroic and defensive side. In the past, we saw him trying to uncover clues and discovering puberty but season three, for the most part, has made Bruce look better than ever. Let’s be honest, the character was pretty boring and tame in the first two seasons. That is certainly not the case with this one.
But even Bruce still couldn’t get away from the age old cliche of being captured. In his defense, he was caught off guard by his doppelgänger but still, this happens entirely too often. Bruce has been kidnapped so many times on this show, you might as well change his name to Princess Peach. However, as I said, this season is making him more of a fighter so I’ll suck it up for now. But now we have Bruce Wayne being held a prisoner in the mountains somewhere while his doppelgänger takes his place. We can only wonder how long it will take Alfred (Sean Pertwee) to realize it’s not really Bruce.
Lastly, James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) is on leave from the GCPD, reconnecting with his long lost uncle, Frank Gordon (James Remar). As we came to discover in a previous episode, Frank Gordon works for The Court Of Owls. This is taken a step further in this episode. Frank revealed that The Court had his brother (James’ Father) killed and that Frank was sent overseas to prove his loyalty. He only came back to Gotham when The Court wanted to induct James into their ranks. Frank apparently wants James’ help in bringing The Court down. James is, of course, suspicious of his uncle and finds himself in a state of inner conflict.
The episode shows Frank meeting with Kathryn (Leslie Hendrix), talking about how everything is going according to their plan. The question I had from all of this was whether Frank was lying to Kathryn or to James. The episode doesn’t reveal a straight answer to this which is perfect. It leaves us with the mystery of which side Frank will ultimately choose. Is he really trying to protect his nephew or simply using him to further The Court’s agenda? For all we know, Frank could have had a hand in his brother’s death. Then again, maybe he didn’t and he’s truly a good man in deep cover. We shall see.
Overall, How The Riddler Got His Name is a strong midseason start for the show. It explored its characters in deep, thought-provoking ways and left us with plenty of mystery to cover the remainder of season three. Cory Michael Smith’s performance is a personal best for him and the dynamic between him and Penguin is spot on as always. It’s great to finally hear Edward Nygma call himself The Riddler and enter the next phase of his legacy. Even Fox and Bullock manage to get some good scenes with Nygma. Bruce gets captured again but they make up for it by having him go classic Batman on a group of thugs, as only Batman can. In the end, How The Riddler Got His Name sets a perfect stage for things to come. I only hope the payoff is as good as the buildup.