Review: “The Red Queen” – The Weakest Episode of Gotham’s Third Season


Plot: Tetch (Benedict Samuel) prepares his final revenge on Gotham, threatening to contaminate the city with Alice’s blood, and poisoning Gordon (Ben McKenzie) with a dangerous drug.  Oswald (Robin Lord Taylor) doesn’t take too kindly to Nygma’s (Cory Michael Smith) new romance, while Bruce (David Mazouz) prepares for a date of his own.

Gotham went balls to the wall with Jim Gordon character development this week.  In fact, it was a little too on the nose, as Gordon basically looks into the camera and states he’ll be facing his inner demons tonight.  Many of the story beats were pretty ho-hum, including Tetch’s overall evil scheme, which he took from the Wikipedia Villain guide.

Photo Credit: Jeff Neumann/FOX
Photo Credit: Jeff Neumann/FOX

Benedict Samuel continues to play this character flawlessly.  The problem is his concoctions have been too predictable, albeit with a lot of pizazz.  Tetch plays the “I’m going to infect people with blood” card.  Meh.  It’s a little better because it relates back to Alice, but I was more enthralled by the character, not so much his plan.  The best scene with Tetch was early on with Gordon, who is the center piece of this episode.

The Gordon shenanigans were good, but could have been better.  First off, I love that Bullock (Donal Logue) finally gives him some tough love.  After Gordon is banned from the Tetch case by Barnes (Michael Chiklis), Bullock finally stops enabling him.  You’re either on the force, or you’re not.  The big moments came when Gordon went into nutty hallucinogenic drug land.  This was a mixed bag.  It starts off kind of slow and disjointed, but settles into a coherent mind trip.  It could have gone crazier, but it was still pretty good, especially Gordon’s fake family.  The big bang at the end of the dream was certainly a huge Gotham moment, but it could have been way more climactic.  Gordon essentially hears what he needs to hear and moves on.  This was fairly generic.   

I’ve been saying for a couple weeks that crazy Barbara (Erin Richards) is starting to run stale.  We need more.  Barbara as Gordon’s elevator tour guide fit like a glove.  You get the whacky Barbara giving Jim all the sass he can stand, but the last scene with the two of them was probably the best part of the episode.  Barbara became a human being again, and spouted the best line of the entire season.  What’s hilarious is she got a great character moment, but it technically wasn’t even her!  That’s pretty brilliant.

Photo Credit: Nicole Rivelli/FOX
Photo Credit: Nicole Rivelli/FOX

After the great momentum from last week where Nygma meets a new lady friend, Oswald did pretty much what I thought he’d do.  This was all fine and well-acted, but it was basically a set up for the real conflict to come down the road.  Not a lot of riveting moments here, but I like that all the cards are laid out on the table, creating some real friction between Oswald and Isabella (Chelsea Spack).

This entire episode was practically set up.  It gets characters to where they need to be.  The Gordon stuff could have been meatier, but it was still entertaining nonetheless.  I’m tiring of the slow play on Barnes going nuts (okay, is this Black Mask?), but it may finally come to a head next week.  Please.  Do something other than having Barnes yell and smash tables a lot.  I’m also finally intrigued with the Court of Owls, so that was good.  And even though they only get one scene, I’m always a sucker for Bruce and Selina (Camren Bicondova), who probably have the best chemistry on the show.  While possibly the weakest Gotham this season, it was all worth it for that fantastic Barbara moment.

Rating: 7 out of 10 (Good)

Daniel Cohen is the hard-boiled Film Editor for the Pop Break. Besides reviews, Daniel writes box office predictions, Gotham reviews and Oscar coverage. He can also be found on the Breakcast. If Daniel was sprayed by Scarecrow's fear toxin, it would be watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on a non-stop loop.