Release Date: May 8, 2017
Genre: Crime, Drama, Action
What is The Primal Riddle? Very simple, really; Who controls Gotham? At least that’s what The Riddler (Cory Michael Smith) tried to uncover on this week’s episode. If you recall, this was the same question he had asked Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) at the end of the last season, during Bruce’s Indian Hill imprisonment. So naturally, The Riddler wants his question answered by any means necessary. Meanwhile, Bruce’s clone received rather distressing news about his condition. Lee (Morena Baccarin) was hellbent on proving Jim (Ben Mackenzie) killed his uncle (James Remar) and Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor) & Ivy (Maggie Geha) recruited Mr. Freeze (Nathan Darrow) and Firefly (Camilla Perez) for their freak army.
First and foremost, is this episode better than the last? Sadly, no. That isn’t to say the episode was bad. Both were rather on par with each other in the end. Both The Primal Riddle and These Delicate And Dark Obsessions have their high and low points and neither one tops How The Riddler Got His Name. I will, however, give kudos that this was definitely one of the better Riddler episodes. Now that Nygma has adopted the persona of The Riddler full-time, actor Cory Michael Smith is able to give more showmanship as the beloved villain. As I’ve pointed out many times in the past, Cory Michael Smith is absolutely perfect in this role, especially when he’s able to have fun with it. He’s got the wit and charm of Jim Carrey and the intellect of John Glover. Perfect combo in my opinion.
As I said, The Riddler found himself hell-bent on solving the mystery of who truly runs Gotham. Of course, we know it’s The Court Of Owls. However, the question remained, what would they do to The Riddler once he found out? In true Riddler fashion, Nygma gassed an entire theater after interrupting a performance, putting Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) hot on his tail. This is obviously what Nygma wanted as he seems to get joy out of outsmarting and humiliating Jim Gordon. It finally culminates in The Riddler holding Mayor Aubrey James (Richard Kind) hostage at the GCPD to get his answer. However, Jim managed to apprehend him and turn him over to The Court with some help.
Who was that help? Tabitha (Jessica Lucas), of course. It’s so great to see this villain screw over The Riddler after all he’s done to her and Butch (Drew Powell). It makes sense given the context of events early in the season. The Riddler did take her hand and tortured both her and Butch after all. So it’s perfectly understandable that the alliance Nygma created with her and Barbara (Erin Richards) would finally crumble. Another great thing to come out of this was the interactions between The Riddler and Jim Gordon. Don’t forget, these two have a dark history as well and so it’s always treated to see them interact. Before Jim hands him over, they even reminisce about times before they were enemies. It was actually quite refreshing to see that side of these characters again.
The rest of the episode was okay. Lee, of course, is now hellbent on proving that Jim actually killed his uncle and that Harvey is covering for him. Not a whole lot was done with this in The Primal Riddle and it honestly felt like they were reaching for more reasons for Lee to hate Jim. It wasn’t as big a stretch as say Mario turning evil right the hell out of nowhere, but it felt a bit forced regardless. I don’t mind the fact that Lee is suspicious of Jim. The guy hasn’t been that honest with her over the course of the last two seasons. However, it feels as though the series is pushing for something to happen with this character later on. I just hope it’s something worth sitting through all the filler.
Penguin and Ivy’s team-up is actually pretty cool. As I said in my review for These Delicate And Dark Obsessions, these two are an odd yet strangely satisfying pairing. It was also interesting to see The Penguin’s transition from the beginning of the season until now. Remember that this character tried running all the freaks out of Gotham when he ran for Mayor. Now, he’s bringing them back to Gotham, recruiting them and trusting them to help him with a certain “Nygma Problem”. Personally, I think the character development works well here. He had it all, lost it all and was willing to put aside his differences with those he shunned for a shot at getting it all back.
Speaking of which, after next to mention of them all season, Mr. Freeze and Firefly are finally back. Well, they’re sort of back. Mr. Freeze was still portrayed by Nathan Darrow and somehow managed to get to the Arctic after his exile from Gotham without his suit. Um… okay, how? He can’t survive more than an hour or two without that suit so did he swim there? Come to think of it, if Ivy and The Penguin are in hiding… how did they get there? And how did they acquire Mr. Freeze’s suit? Yeah, this suit that they seem to acquire the heck out of nowhere? Ya know what, it was enough to have Freeze back, so I’ll try not to think too hard about this.
However, for Firefly, there was a painfully noticeable change in cast. Firefly is now being played by actress Camilla Perez, not Michelle Veintimilla. Camilla Perez wasn’t bad or anything but I was accustomed to Veintimilla in the role so it was a bit jarring for me. They gave Perez the same scars and outfit and yet it was still incredibly obvious that this was not the same Firefly. I sincerely hope Perez grows on me as time goes on but we’ll have to wait and see. Again, not bad, just distracting.
Another nice touch to The Primal Riddle was yet another callback to Batman Returns. For the record, Batman Returns remains my favorite Batman film and it’s always nice to see a show call back to early versions of its source material. We’d already had a nice callback with The Penguin running for Mayor Of Gotham early on in the season. However, The Primal Riddle found Selina Kyle pushed out a window, surrounded by cats after hitting the ground. Not unlike what happened to Michelle Pfeiffer in Batman Returns. The question is if this is just a simple reference or if they actually plan to go with the same crazy and off the wall Catwoman that Pfeiffer was? I doubt they will but it would be cool to see.
Verdict: The Primal Riddle did a great job of furthering the story set up in the last two episodes. Everything done with The Riddler was perfect. The Court Of Owls storyline seemed to catch fire. However, there were a few bonehead writing mistakes in regards to the formation of The Penguin’s army. I’m still wondering how they got to The Arctic or how Freeze even got there without his suit. Furthermore, when did Firefly forget her whole “I’m A Goddess” phase? Is it just something we just need to accept? Because they never really explain it. However, while these things were problematic, they didn’t really bring down the episode. In the end, The Primal Riddle was a well-paced entry to the third season of Gotham.
- Batman Returns Homage Made For A Great Cliffhanger
- The Riddler's Theatrical Antics
- Good Emotional Moments
- Gordon's Search For Answers
- Awesome Performances
- The Return Of Mr. Freeze And Firefly Was Welcome And Long Overdue
- How Did Penguin And Ivy Get To The Arctic?
- Lee's New Vendetta Seems A Bit Forced
- How Did Mr. Freeze Get To The Arctic Without His Suit?
- Change In Cast For Firefly Was Distracting
- When Did Firefly Suddenly Not Believe She Was A Fire Goddess?
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.