Gotham: The Primal Riddle


If you’re green and you don’t know where to go to…

The current season, or sub-season, or whatever you call it, continues for Gotham with, “Heroes Rise: The Primal Riddle.” With shows taking so many random breaks, I’m really not sure how to refer to these sections of the season, especially when they sub-title them like both Gotham and Agents of SHIELD are doing. At any rate, the story continues with Riddler looming large, as the title suggests.

The opening scene is in a snowy, frigid looking place. I thought at first it was whatever weird mountain retreat Bruce has been hauled off to, but no, it’s Penguin and Ivy off seeking their next recruit for the “army of freaks.” With that setting, naturally they’re off to see Mr. Freeze. Penguin said some bad things about Freeze during the mayoral campaign, but they brought along a bribe to get Freeze’s cooperation. Ivy, we see, is somewhat inept her role as Vanna White stand-in.

Back in Gotham, Catherine meets with Gordon in what seems to be the Court of Owls’ only room. For such a vast, powerful secret organization, you’d think they could afford an occasional change of scenery. They talk about Gordon’s now-late Uncle Frank, and the death of Jim’s father. Catherine finally tells Jim they’ll call him when they need him, and that they’ve taken care of the body.

They probably could have done a better job, because by the time Jim gets to work, Leslie has had the body long enough to do an exam and get pictures. She and Bullock break the news to Jim, who doesn’t react hugely, since he knew about this already. Since Lee is already determinedly anti-Gordon, this is enough to set her off on another tirade about making sure Jim pays for everything he’s done. After she storms off in a huff of indignation, Gordon fills Bullock in on what happened with the Court. Bullock, for his part, points out the Riddler is in the paper again.

Never knowing when to leave well enough alone, Barbara goes looking for Ed, who corrects her that he’s Riddler now. Barbara is really not happy to find out about the Court, since she’s so good with authority figures in general. They share some information about what they’ve learned so far. Intrigued by the puzzle, Nygma agrees to look into the Court in his own showy way. He does this by interrupting a performance of Hamlet. I thought it was MacBeth that was supposed to be the unlucky play?

Out at Wayne Manor, Alfred and the Clone play chess. Desperate to deflect questions from Alfred, Clone-Boy spins a story about Selena rejecting him and him being embarrassed. Being the perfect Gentleman’s Gentleman, Alfred understands and leaves to make dinner. Right after that, we see the cloning process apparently has its flaws.

At the theater, Gordon and Bullock follow up on Nygma’s latest crime. They eventually work out he’s after the Mayor, now once again the corrupt and cowardly Aubrey James. Back at Sirens, Barbara and Tabitha debate Nygma’s usefulness. He walks in during this and tells them a bit about his next overly-elaborate scheme, after demanding some explosive assistance.

Gordon and Bullock go to warn James, who is making a pig of himself and being evasive about their questions and concerns. Slowly, it becomes apparent that Riddler was a step ahead, and has already struck at James, despite the two hulking bodyguards. Then again, the Riddler tends to be more than a match for dumb muscle.

The “Army of Freaks” recruits their next member at some big metal works/foundry kind of place. After some discussion, Firefly shows an ability I’ve never seen in the comics to quit her job very dramatically. Of course, in the comics, Firefly is a grown man, not a teenage girl. At about the same time, the Clone gets some bad news from Catherine about his health and Gotham’s future.

Mayor James is rushed to the hospital, which is an elaborate trap by Riddler. He’s greatly helped along by his own planning, and both Gordon and Bullock doing a few dumb things here. In the aftermath of this, Gordon goes to Sirens to confront Tabitha and Butch. Butch is astonished to learn the whole “riddle thing” is actually real, but they won’t help Gordon find Barbara or Nygma. Tabitha loathes Nygma, but is still close enough with Barbara she ignores Butch’s warnings about her.

Nygma, of course, has the Mayor. James doesn’t know a lot, but babbles out what little he does between warning Nygma that the Court will kill them all for talking about them. Nygma is thrilled, because at least this is confirmation that the Court exists. Tabitha storms in to tell them Gordon came by Sirens, and to deliver something for Nygma.

At whatever apartment Selena is currently squatting in, she stops by with stolen cat food for her friends. She gets startled when who she thinks is Bruce is there to talk. She reminds him she said she never wanted to see him again. Rather than keep up this painful charade, the Clone takes the unexpected approach of telling her the truth.

Lee keeps digging into Frank Gordon’s death, and finds evidence that the Court really isn’t as good as they say they are. She’s figured out that there’s something wrong with the body, and is more convinced than ever that Gordon is up to no good. That doesn’t get any better when he tries to warn her off. The GCPD get another riddle, and Catherine calls Gordon, not happy about how public the Riddler is being.

Gordon plays a dangerous game, and manages to clear out GCPD (I don’t buy that for a minute) and get Nygma to bring James there (also unlikely). There’s some tension about a bomb around James’ neck, but the Riddler underestimated someone on that front. Eventually, Gordon persuades Riddler to come with him, and delivers him to the Court.

Selena and the Clone have a chat that doesn’t go well for either of them. Selena mocks a lot of the Clone’s choices, and also shows she’s not as indifferent to Bruce as she’d like to think. The conversation doesn’t go the way the Clone wanted it to at all, and he ends it on a dramatic note that echoes one of the earlier Batman movies. I guess even Selena can get overconfident.

Barbara storms into Sirens, furious at Tabitha. How she learned what happened with the bomb I’m not sure, since the only ones there for that were Gordon, Riddler, and James. I doubt any of them are feeling really friendly towards her at present. At any rate, in true villain style, she vents her anger on a hapless employee before arguing with Tabitha. Barbara is so mad, she reveals a bit more than she intended to Tabitha, and Butch points this out after Barbara leaves.

While Penguin and his new friends make themselves at home at his mansion (five is an army?), Gordon goes to the Court. I guess he’s in now, because he’s in their special room and even gets his own silly looking mask. I’m sorry, no matter how intimidating the Court is supposed to be, those masks detract from the fear.

What I liked: I really enjoy Nygma. They continue to do a good job with him. I’m waiting for the Barbara/Tabitha/Butch triumvirate to fall apart, and it’s going to be messy when it does. Selena mocking the Clone was well done and what she said made sense. Gordon’s in a really rough spot and I feel bad for him. Gordon and Bullock continue to play off each other very well.

What I didn’t: The Clone being attracted to Selena just because Bruce is doesn’t make a lot of sense. I get Lee has been through a lot, but her new obsession with making Gordon pay isn’t quite clicking with me. I just don’t like the Court, and the focus on them this season really isn’t doing a lot for me.

Taking the Week Off: Bruce is off at his new, involuntary mountain retreat, and, despite being mentioned several times, Lucius Fox never actually makes it on screen.