Gotham Season 3 Episode 17 Review: The Primal Riddle

Ed is in over his head in his first real outing as the Riddler on Gotham.

This Gotham review contains spoilers.

Gotham Season 3, Episode 17

Selina better not be dead. I mean… I don’t think Gotham would do that (and characters have survived much worse than a two-story fall on this show), but I’m just putting that out there. Selina is one of the best parts of this show and, if she goes, Gotham will be the poorer for it.

OK, paranoid rant over. It looks like she’s going to be resurrected by a gang of magical cats anyway. The events leading up to Selina’s perhaps-death were particularly dramatic. Doppel-Bruce claims that Selina is the only person in Gotham he wants to save, but ends up pushing her out a window. To be fair (not that it’s ever cool to push someone out a window — right, Selina?), Selina was super mean to Doppel-Bruce. He tries to tell her the truth and she calls him a non-person. It’s enough to make you want to join Penguin’s Army of Freaks…

Real talk? Penguin’s Army of Freaks seems like one of the better deals in town and it’s kind of hard not to root for them. Not only do they have fan favorite Penguin as the leader of the gang, but Ivy’s insistence that they are a family is actually pretty sweet. Throw in familiar faces Mr. Freeze and Firefly and you’ve got a regular family reunion.

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Penguin’s end goal is still to take down Nygma (or so he claims), but he’s going to have some competition… from the Court of Owls. Ed ended the episode gleefully in the Court’s custody, having willingly surrendered himself after his public display involving Mayor-Again Aubrey James on Gotham cable news.

This is the first time we’ve really seen Ed since he assumed his Riddler persona and he seems to be in over his head. Ed has always cared about riddles above all else, but throwing himself at the mystery of Court without any kind of larger plan other than Solve the Riddle doesn’t necessarily coincide with what we’ve seen from this character before. Perhaps it is part of the larger unhinging that has happened since Ed shot Penguin and left him for dead.

Speaking of former friends: Before getting into the Court’s car, Ed and Jim have a sweet little talk in which Gordon reminisces about his past friendship with Ed and, in particular, a dinner party they both had with Lee and Ms. Kringle in Season 2. It’s an uncharacteristically nuanced moment for this show, giving both Nygma and Gordon more depth than they tend to have.

Gordon in particular comes out of the conversation with a more complex character motivation. He is surrendering Ed to the Court for what he believes is the greater good of Gotham, but he does still to seem care about Ed on some level. Perhaps he realizes how mentally ill Ed is. For all that he has done, he is not a sane person. He has hurt himself as much as he has hurt others.

By delivering Ed to the Court, the group admits Gordon to their number. (And now we know what Ben McKenzie looks like with one of those owl masks on.) It’s a bit of a contrived way to get Gordon to join the Court. I’m still not sure why the secret society wants him or why they trust him, but it makes for a good closing scene, so whatever. I don’t watch Gotham for its cohesive plot.

Elsewhere in the episode, things are tense between Barbara and Tabitha. Tabitha is understandably upset that Babs has asked Ed for help, given that he, you know, chopped Tabitha’s hand off that one time. I’m into the Barbara/Tabitha dynamic (which is one of the most consistent ones on the show — continuing Gotham’s trend of giving the “healthiest” relationships to its villains), but it doesn’t make much sense that Barbara would even outsource the question of the Court of Owls to Ed. She’s not one to trust anyone when she could do it herself. This was all a bit too contrived.

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3 out of 5