Gotham: Heroes Rise: How the Riddler Got His Name


The closest to comic book appearance of anyone so far on the show…

After a very long, seemingly random hiatus, Gotham is back. In keeping with their tradition of naming sections of their seasons, this one is called “Heroes Rise.” Obviously Bruce would be part of that, and I guess Gordon accounts for the plural? I guess we’ll find out as we go.

The show opens with a professor in his lab. His attempts at work get interrupted by an unexpected visitor- Edward Nygma. Nygma is on a quest and the poor professor doesn’t measure up. Nygma isn’t too worried about being subtle, either, leaving some very hard to miss things in his wake.

Elsewhere, Bruce is reciting the facts of his life, which seems odd until you realize it’s not Bruce at all, but his clone from Indian Hill. Catherine, the apparent leader of the Court of Owls, is grilling him to take Bruce’s place. Catherine then talks to Jim Gordon’s Uncle Frank, and gives the clone some kind of injection.

Nygma is relaxing after his latest homicide, enjoying tea, a newspaper, and some kind of pills. Penguin shows up as a hallucination, dripping wet from Nygma shoving him in the Gotham River. There’s some entertaining banter, and Penguin offers some useful advice, which Nygma ignores. Nygma is apparently searching for someone to teach him how to be a villain, which is his new goal in life. Nygma muses that if he can’t find a villain to teach him, he needs a hero to oppose him. Nygma decides he needs Jim Gordon, much to faux-Penguin’s disgust.

Examining Nygma’s killing spree without knowing what’s going on, Bullock and Lucius Fox talk about a “serial killer of smart people.” Bullock accuses Fox of being bored and making things up to give himself something to do. Fox admits to being bored, but says that’s not why he’s worried about this. Their argument gets interrupted by a clue from the Riddler, which arrives in a new and unique form. It’s also addressed to Jim Gordon, but he’s on some well-earned leave.

Nygma is at his next crime scene, a chess tournament. He chats with his Penguin proxy, who continues with some good lines, and even has popcorn to watch things unfold. When Fox and Bullock show up, Nygma is intrigued, and starts setting off his carefully prepared traps.

Gordon and his Uncle Frank are out in the woods. I’d call it family bonding, but Jim is very mistrustful of his recently surfaced relative, and I don’t blame him. While they carefully circle around each other, Bruce is receiving his next lesson from Alfred: throwing knives. Since Bruce is getting closer to being Batman, maybe this is the start of his eventual use of Batarangs. They bicker over Bruce’s relationship with Selena, who has been avoiding him since the chaos with her mother coming to town. Apparently, she’s left a note and wants to talk, which Alfred is looking on as a good sign for his young charge.

Fox has managed to defuse the remaining traps at the chess tournament and find the next clue. Nygma, using a voice modulator, taunts Fox and goads him into taking up the challenge. Nygma gives Fox the next clue, and leaves what’s going to be eventually recognized as his calling card.

Jim and Frank Gordon talk about hunting, guns, and the Court of Owls. Frank delivers a few surprises to Jim about the Court. Elsewhere, Fox and Bullock work on the next clue. They don’t have the rhythm that Gordon and Bullock do, and they’re definitely not on the same page, but they are fun to watch together. Bullock is very concerned about his good suit, which he is wearing because he’s addressing the graduating recruits at the Academy later on.

Bruce finally gives in to Alfred’s pestering and goes to see Selena, after rolling his eyes at Alfred making Shepherd’s pie for them yet again, and the heavy-handed parable that goes along with it. Fox is having trouble working this closely with Bullock, which is getting increasingly entertaining. Bullock, almost ready to go to graduation, realizes his badge is missing. Bullock is far form a perfect cop, and likely not the best captain, but he doesn’t generally lose important stuff.

Nygma and Penguin have their oddest scene yet, which says something this time around. There’s mocking of the name the paper gave Nygma, a recitation of Nygma’s many problems at present, and even a song and dance number. Lee finally turns up, doing an autopsy on someone Fox has been looking for. Inside a fresh surgical incision, they find Bullock’s badge. Me, I’d just order a new one at that point. Nygma realizes Fox is closing in on him and does something drastic with Bullock. Nygma is also wearing a bright green suit that is a lot closer to at least some of Riddler’s classic comic book looks.

Bruce goes looking for Selena and finds nothing he wanted to. She’s not happy to see him, she’s running with a criminal gang again, and her pet thugs aren’t really nice. After she tells him not to come looking for her again, the gang tries to mug Bruce. His future Batman begins to show again, and they get an ugly surprise. Bruce gets away from them, but gets his own surprise.

Nygma’s madness moves into high gear as he takes the graduating cadets hostage. He lures Fox into playing a game against him for the antidote needed to save a lot of lives, with Bullock in a convoluted death trap. Nygma and Fox match wits, with some entertaining spins on the Riddler’s classic spiel. Eventually, Fox wins, surprising Nygma and Bullock both.

Gordon and his uncle debate about the Court. Frank is coming up with a decent story, but Jim is very suspicious. With everything he’s been through, I don’t blame him at all. Frank at least provides a decent rationale for Gordon possibly joining the Court. Nygma listens to his press about the cadet attack, and Alfred gets a visitor out at the manor.

While the GCPD tac team fails to find Nygma at Penguin’s mansion, the man himself turns up in the backseat of Fox’s car. Fox clearly doesn’t watch enough movies, since he knows a madman is after him and gets blindly into his car without checking the back, or even getting a police escort. They have a long talk which almost could be a Riddler/Batman conversation, and Nygma ends it on a decisive note. Nygma goes on to visit where he killed Penguin, dump his pills, and don a final piece of his costume.

They wrap things up with us learning the fate of Penguin, Uncle Frank making another appeal to Gordon, and Catherine making more plans for the Court. They also show us a cast member waking up somewhere very unexpected. Arguably, two of them in very different places.

What I liked: Bruce’s fight with the gang, and to a lesser extent his knife throwing, offered us hints of the hero to come, and I liked them. Frank is taking a good approach to draw in Jim Gordon. The Bullock/Fox scenes were great, and the Fox/Nygma ones were pretty good, too. Nygma arguing with Penguin’s ghost was nicely executed.

What I didn’t: My biggest issue I’m actually not going into detail about for spoilers, but I will say someone acted very out of character to make something happen. Fox is being both brilliant (with the riddles) and foolish (at his car). I just don’t like either Catherine or the Court, but I admit that’s personal bias.

Overall, it was a good return after a weirdly long break. I hope the things we saw tonight means Bruce in general is going to be a bit more Batman-like. I’ll give this one a high 3.5 out of 5.

Taking the week off this week is the crime club of Barbara, Tabitha, and Butch.