This Gotham review contains spoilers.
Gotham Season 3, Episode 15
Gotham is back! The midseason premiere is a strong start for the second half of Season 3, showing the further evolution of Ed into the Riddler. In terms of plot, it was less successful than some of the other Riddler-centric episodes we’ve gotten in the past, but nothing matched its insight into Ed’s motivations as we saw him struggle to come to terms with his identity after killing — or, as we now know, attempting to kill — Oswald.
Here’s everything that went down…
Ed gets a new outfit.
Ed has officially gone off the deep end in his desperate search to discover who he is (and, according to Robin Lord Taylor, that makes him all the more terrifying). We begin the episode with Ed on the search for a new archnemesis, someone to fill the intellectual hole that Oswald left in his life. It turns out the role is harder to fill than Ed might have thought. (Though Lucius is a fair candidate.)
Sure, part of that is the fact that Ed’s riddles are actually pretty clever (not to mention that he usually poses them when directly threatening the candidates’ lives). But there’s also the fact that Oswald cared about Ed. Whether it be platonic or romantic, Ed and Oswald had something special before Oswald killed Isabella and Ed tried to kill Oswald. Ed thinks that its the archnemesis/villain mentor role he is missing, when, really, it’s the loss of his best friend that has left him bereft. That’s going to be a lot more difficult to fill. “I want you to know that our friendship meant something to me,” Ed finally tells Hallucination-Oswald. “I cared about you, and I miss you.” Gotham has rarely been so honestly sentimental. It looks good on the superhero show.
It’s pretty tragic to watch Ed take drugs just so he can talk to Oswald again, and somehow even sadder to see Ed dump those drugs in the ocean at the end of the episode. Why can’t these two just get along again? Alas, it apparently isn’t meant to be. At least not in a show like Gotham. Still, the inevitable reunion and ongoing clash between Ed and Oswald — or should we say Riddler and Penguin? — will no doubt drive a lot of the thematic and emotional angst in this second half of Season 3. Personally, I am still all on board with this relationship as a central part of this show.
In the end, Ed manages to define himself without Oswald (kind of). Sadly, he does not become the Chess Killer, as is Hallucination-Oswald’s original suggestion, but rather Riddler, the iconic DC villain. We’ve waited for this moment for a long time and, like the best parts of Gotham, its success will not hinge on one episode, but in its larger, season-long execution. This is your half-season to define, Riddler. Don’t disappoint us.
As a side note, Gotham needs 100 percent more episodes with Bullock and Lucius as a detective team. Bullock refers to Ed’s killing spree as the “egghead deaths,” while Lucius is left holding Riddler’s archnemesis invitation addressed to Jim Gordon. At one point, the two play good cop/bad cop, only for them both to realize that neither of them really wants to be bad cop. Sorry, Jim, but you may have been replaced. Lucius Fox is better at your job than you are. Good thing Jim has another job offer…
Jim bonds with his family.
Jim spends the midseason premiere hanging with dear old Uncle Frank, a man who claims he is trying to make things right with Jim, but whose ties to the Court of Owls make pretty much everything he says questionable. Frank tells Jim that his father was a member of the Court of Owls, that Frank still is, and that they want Jim to be a member, too. Frank further tells Jim that it was the Court that killed his father, giving Jim an even greater interest in taking down the Court.
Can Jim trust Frank? Hard to say, at this point. Frank wants Jim to go all Nikita on the Court with him, taking the Court down from the inside, but which side is he playing? Gotham hasn’t always known exactly what to do with the character of Jim Gordon. This could be an acceptable answer. On the other hand, this subplot felt weirdly disconnected from the rest of the episode. Hopefully, that will change when Jim’s storyline isn’t at some random, rural cabin and, instead, is in back in Gotham.
Bruce is replaced by his doppelganger.
Bruce’s Batman training is interrupted. First, by his feelings over how he left things with Selina. Second, when the Court of Owls kidnaps him and replaces him with his doppelganger. Ah, to be a teenager in Gotham City.
When Selina sends Bruce a message telling him she wants to meet after weeks of the cold shoulder, Bruce is reluctant to go, even though he obviously misses her. Alfred eventually convinces him, only for Bruce to discover that it wasn’t Selina who sent the message. It was a ploy by Doppel-Bruce. “This is what [he] was made for. To be Bruce Wayne.” Yikes.
Like Gordon, Bruce has been replaced by someone who is arguably better than he is at being him. Or at least easier for the people in their lives. Because, let’s face it, while Bruce and Jim might not be easy, they are irreplaceable in their stubborn righteousness — the true superpower of Gotham.
Real Bruce ends the episode in a Batman Begins-esque prison with a view of what looks like Nanda Parbat. Hard to say, but given that R’as al Ghul is slated to show up later this season, it can’t be far from the extra fictional Shangri-La. Bruce’s Batman training just leveled up.
Oswald finds a new villain-mentee.
“I just remembered. There’s someone I need to kill.” This is the sentence that set the inevitable Penguin v. Riddler showdown as the big narrative push of Gotham Season 3B. In the mean time, however, we’re going to get some Penguin/Poison Ivy subplottage.
Gotham doesn’t have the best luck when it comes to female villains — though Barbara has become one of the best characters on this show. I’m still not sold on this version of Poison Ivy, but I’m willing to see this play out. If anyone can save the Suddenly Adult Ivy storyline, it’s Penguin.