Primal Riddle Plot Summary:
Barbara (Erin Richards) enlists Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) to uncover what secret society is controlling Gotham, while Gordon (Ben McKenzie) tries to earn favor in the Court by gaining their trust. Oswald (Robin Lord Taylor) and Ivy (Maggie Geha) gather their army, and clone Bruce (David Mazouz) has second thoughts about his purpose.
As someone who’s loved this show and never wavered, Gotham may have just made their worst decision of the entire series. I don’t want to over react too much, but it looks bad. While I’ve always praised the show for borrowing bits and pieces from the entire pantheon of Batman material and making it their own, they may end up regretting this one. Big time. The rest of this episode was standard Gotham fare, but unfortunately, we have to start with the big UH-OH.
Selina Kyle has been a fantastic iteration of Catwoman from the very beginning. Camren Bicondova was a great find to play this character. Her interplay with Bruce Wayne in particular has always been one of the highlights of the show. In this episode, we even get a great exchange between her and fake Bruce. Bicondova is brilliant at delivering harsh dialogue, while at the same time adding a morsel of compassion somewhere in those lines. It’s great delivery.
As the scene comes to a close though, something happens that literally gave me an involuntary groan. After the commercial break, they confirm it. Really? That’s what they did? No. This is the one time where borrowing from a great Batman movie was a terrible call. Not only was this sloppy, but it doesn’t work in the context of this show, at least not for this particular character. Maybe for someone like Ivy or Fish Mooney, you could do it, but not Selina. The decision to do what they did took one of the more grounded, realistic characters and totally flipped her on her cat ears. To be fair, we have to see where it goes, but the trigger has been pulled. There’s no going back. My fear is that this significantly ruins what was one of the best characters on the show. The ramifications of this will no doubt be brought up again, but we have to move on.
Thankfully, Cory Michael Smith doesn’t miss a beat and continues right where he left off. It’s the Riddler. Nothing more needs to be said. He’s awesome. His obsession with solving the unsolvable riddle (who controls Gotham?) was the perfect story arc. It plays to the Riddler’s strengths and weaknesses, as Gordon so eloquently puts it.
Speaking of Gordon, it was great to see these two butt heads again. As fantastic as the conflict between Nygma and Lucius Fox was a couple weeks ago, the Gordon rivalry has history. This leads to the best scene of the entire episode, where Gordon and Nygma actually share a nice a moment. Nygma reacts to this genuine speech from Gordon the only way he knows how – with riddles. Even though Nygma is confident in his new role, you still see flashes of the socially awkward guy who doesn’t react like most people do. Brilliant. Where Nygma’s story ends in this one is interesting, and I have a feeling we may not hear from Nygma for a while.
While Nygma once again got the best arc, Barbara was a close second. You get the same old nutty Barbara we all know and love, but thankfully the writers are taking some new chances with her. Barbara has always been in control. Not a care in the world. To see her world completely unravel makes her truly unhinged, taking her from funny to scary. And even though they don’t use Tabitha (Jessica Lucas) a ton, this was definitely a great way to get her back in the fold. It was also nice to see Butch (Drew Powell) pull the strings for a change.
Speaking of villains, Oswald starts building his army of freaks with Ivy, beautifully building off the momentum from last week. Kudos to the show for faking us out with the first scene. When we see where the location is, you expect to see a couple familiar faces from last week, but instead it’s an old friend making a much welcome return. It was great to see some of the old Indian Hill gang back together again, albeit with a couple unfortunate lines of dialogue. While nothing too earth shattering happened with Oswald’s army this week, it’s a mouthwatering set-up.
Normally, I’d give this a solid 7.5/10 Gotham ranking, but there’s no way I can let slide what they did with Selina Kyle. I would love nothing more than for the writers to shock the hell out of me and do something brilliant with this plot twist, but I just don’t see it right now.
Rating: 6 out of 10 (“Meh”)