Review: Gotham 3×15-How the Riddler Got His Name

[Editor’s note: This review may contain spoilers.]

Director: T.J. Scott

Writer: Megan Mostyn-Brown

Stars: Ben McKenzie, Donal Logue & David Mazouz

Summary

Nygma attempts to become a villain while Gordon learns about the Court of Owls and Bruce tries to apologize to Selina.

Positives

The cinematography is stellar in this episode. Gotham always looks really solid but this episode had some really impressive work. Almost every shot was amazing. The big showdown between Bullock, Nygma and Lucius Fox takes place on a stairwell. It’s just stairs but T.J. Scott and the director of photography make it look sensational. There’s wonderful lighting work to make Fox’s shadow look really cool behind him. The pier at the end also looked incredible; I love this show’s visual style. It’s one of the main reasons I watch.

There’s some solid work in the score as well. Both Riddler and Bruce’s clone get interesting and memorable themes. The latter’s theme is very reminiscent of Danny Elfman’s Catwoman theme from Batman Returns. That’s a nice touch.

The Riddler is fairly interesting. I like the idea that he’s overly dependent on others especially Penguin. He has to find a way to define himself. Of course, “himself” in this instance is a psycho killer obsessed with riddles which is not ideal for personal growth. Corey Michael Smith also gives a great performance completely off the edge. Nygma has completely lost his composure and his calmer nature. He’s unhinged and Smith has a lot of fun with that.

Nygma hallucinates a vision of Penguin throughout the episode which is fun. Smith and Robin Lord Taylor do some fun blocking in which they make the same hand gestures or stand in the same pose. I also like the honesty in which Nygma talks to Penguin at the end. It’s heartfelt in a morbid way. Additionally, there is a musical number with Penguin that is surreal and I loved every second of it.

Lucius gets quite a bit more to do in this episode as Nygma has decided to make him his personal enemy. Chris Chalk and Donal Logue have a strange chemistry that is a little awkward but hilarious. They’re wonderful together. It’s also nice that Lucius has a reason to exist on the show now.

There is a tiny bit of history with the Gordon family and the Court. It’s hard to tell what is real and what is bull but I find the premise of Gordon having relatives in the Court interesting.

Negatives

As usual, there’s just too much going on. Bruce and Gordon are even involved in the same plot and they still feel like they have nothing to do with each other. Gordon is the supposed protagonist of this show and he’s barely in this episode. It gives Lucius stuff to do which is cool but Gordon’s side of this episode is mostly dull. It’s all vague and mysterious but not anything enticing beyond the initial premise. Morena Baccarin has a quick scene and has pretty much become a glorified extra. And a brand new plot thread is introduced at the end that makes Ivy relevant. There are too many characters which leads to boring subplots, underdeveloped ideas and bizarre structure.

I don’t care about the Bruce story or his clone. I don’t what it is but I find it boring every time it comes back. The only times I seem to care about Bruce are when he’s with Selina. She’s only in 30 seconds of this episode so I don’t even have that.

Lucius can figure out Nygma’s riddles but can’t figure out who the serial killer sending riddles is. Maybe it’s the cop killer you know who loves riddles.

Verdict

I have mixed feelings. There are certainly more good things than bad things. The cinematography and directing are both stellar; there’s some cool music as well. The Riddler story is engaging and fun; Smith is great in his performance and I liked seeing some new character interactions. However, the subplots are dull despite having some decent ideas. Several cast members still feel wasted and the pacing is a little off. The resolution after the climax feels so long because there are so many plots to wrap up and cliffhangers to set up. Ultimately, I did really enjoy this one which is mainly thanks to the gorgeous shots but the main plot is a lot of fun.

 

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Sean Blumenshine

I am currently a senior at Wichita State University studying communications. I started reading comics in 2013 because of how much I loved Man of Steel and season one of Arrow. My favorite hero is the Green Arrow and my favorite villain is the Joker.