It’s been a couple of months since we last visited Gotham, and during that time the season has gotten a new subtitle, from “Mad City” to “Heroes Rise,” but curiously this episode was not about the rise of a hero but the culmination of Edward Nygma’s madness into his new alter ego.
When we last saw Nygma, he had just murdered the only person who understood him, Oswald Cobblepot. But he had no choice since Ed discovered Oswald was the one responsible for the death of his second one true love. But killing Oswald came with its own set of complications, mainly that Oswald won’t leave Ed alone, chirping in like a demented Jiminy Cricket (and the drugs Nygma is taking don’t help matters) to talk some sense into Nygma, who has decided that he will become Gotham’s newest villain. But a villain needs a hero to sustain his actions, and Ed naturally decides his greatest adversary is the one and only Jim Gordon. Jiminy Penguin advises his against going up against Gordon, but who can give meaning to Nygma’s villainy?
Ed flits around Gotham finding the city’s brightest minds and poses a series of questions to them. Unfortunately, the riddles are so obtuse that no one can answer them, and when they do come up with a logical answer, it’s not his answer so they are quickly dispatched. Of course the murders of Gotham’s sharpest minds doesn’t go unnoticed by the GCPD, and Harvey Bullock does his best to get his men on the case. But Harvey really doesn’t seem cut out for the job, especially judging by the sideways glances Lucius Fox gives him whenever Harvey barks out an order and then seeks approval or praise for doing his job.
As the cops discover the next location that is subject to an attack, a chess match, Nygma spies the man he believes can match his own “brilliant” mind — Lucius. The one way to ensure he gets the attention of Fox is simple … kidnap Harvey, put his life in danger (along with the lives of others), and force Lucius to answer his three riddles. Once again, Lucius can’t come up with the answers Nygma seeks, but he does make a point that the answer he gave to the last riddle is a valid one, so Nygma decides he is a worthy opponent. But he leaves Harvey hanging by a literal thread that snaps, sending Harvey plummeting but somehow Lucius suddenly has superhuman strength and catchy the falling man, with one hand, and doesn’t end up going over the railing himself. Seriously, how did Lucius Fox catch Harvey Bullock who outweighs him by quite a bit?
But now Fox has put together all the pieces of the previous murders and puts Nygma at the top of the city’s Most Wanted list, prompting Ed to pay Lucius a visit in his car (who didn’t see that one coming?). Fox tries to talk some sense into Ed, but his sanity is lost at this point and he reveals to Lucius that he is now … The Riddler. Surprise! Now that he’s fully established as the newest villain in town, Ed goes back to the site of Penguin’s murder and dumps the drugs that helped conjure up that ghostly reminder, no longer needing his former friend’s guidance. But … as we’ve seen before, no one who gets dumped into the Gotham City river ever stays dead and we find Oswald waking up in the care of Ivy Pepper, remembering that he has someone to kill.
Elsewhere in this episode, Bruce was lured into the city by a note that he thought was from Selina. The two hadn’t spoken since that incident with her mother in the last episode, so he thought perhaps it was time to mend some fences. Except she didn’t send him the note, and after a beating by some of her friends, Bruce came face to face with … himself. The dopple-Bruce, now working for Kathryn and the Court of Owls, injected Bruce with something that knocked him out. As the phony Bruce returned to Wayne Manor, Alfred seemed to sense a little something was off, especially when Bruce eagerly accepted an offer of some of Alfred’s shepherd’s pie. But where is Bruce? The boy has awakened in a dingy cell, and making his way to the window Bruce expects to find some landmark in Gotham to get his bearings but all he sees is a snow-covered mountain. Can we assume that Bruce is being held prisoner at Nanda Parbat?
Nanda Parbat is the location where Bruce was trained mentally and physically, eventually turning that training into his Dark Knight persona, but it will be interesting to see if Gotham will actually name this location. Nanda Parbat has figured quite heavily into The CW’s Arrow-verse, so it’s not likely Fox’s DC Comics property will be able to reference the place by name. However, Bruce will meet Ra’s al Ghul who was played by Matt Nable on Arrow and will be played by Alexander Siddig on Gotham. Fans of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy will remember that Liam Neeson was revealed as the character in the third film. The question here is how long will Bruce be gone, and how long will Alfred play along? If the show comes back for a fourth season, could there be a time jump with an adult Bruce returning to Gotham?
With all of this going on, Jim Gordon got a minor amount of screen time as he spent time hanging out with his newly returned uncle, who we know is working with Kathryn and the Court. They want Gordon to join them, why we don’t know just yet, and Uncle Frank is the bridge. After some talk about how Frank deserted the family, he explains that he and his brother were both part of the Court of Owls and they wouldn’t allow him to interact with the family. In fact, it was the Court that killed Gordon’s father. Frank couldn’t reach out so he could appear loyal to the organization. And now he wants Jim to join them, not to become one of them but to help Frank bring them down. So, is Frank working both sides? Does he really want Jim to help him or is this all just a ruse to drag him into the organization? Only time will tell.
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