During Gotham’s first season, fans have watched Edward Nygma awkwardly maneuver around the Gotham City Police Department, pestering his coworkers with riddles and odd behavior. He has made questionable choices, like when he put those body parts in his boss’ locker to get him fired, but he hasn’t taken any actions considered “supervillain worthy.” That will change in the final Season 1 episodes when a “mega-crisis” in Nygma’s life will begin his journey to the dark side, eventually culminating in him becoming The Riddler.
This crisis will be ushered in when Nygma discovers his crush Kristin Kringle is dealing with a dangerous situation from her abusive boyfriend GCPD Officer Dougherty, prompting him to try to protect her, according to actor Corey Michael Smith. He told THR that viewers will finally get to see his character in a more “neutral, quasi-animalistic state,” and it was necessary for Nygma to go through an enormous change. As Smith describes it:
He does what he has to do. He doesn't become a villain yet. He doesn't choose to do evil yet. But he's certainly, for the first time, asking questions and it's going to create his own war inside him. You'll see, especially in the finale, this war between the factions in Gotham, and Eddie is experiencing that internally himself. As he tries to solve that, we all know where it leads, but I believe it's something he does just to gain power and respect. He has to find that. He has to find a place where he feels secure.
Smith wouldn’t specifically state what Nygma will end up doing to create this “internal struggle,” though it’s likely it will involve him trying to hurt or kill someone. However, he did say that if Nygma is able to get away with whatever this action is, it might cause problems for him.
If he does, then that's his first major victory in life, something that validates his intelligence and his brilliance. That feeling is quite contagious and invigorating, so there's the possibility that he might want to try to feel it again.
Anyone who is at least slightly familiar with the Batman comics knows that Riddler is one of Batman’s greatest adversaries. Since Gotham is a prequel, it’s unlikely we’ll ever see Nygma putting on the green, question mark-emblazoned suit, but the show can at least show the audience how he ends up becoming one of Gotham City’s most colorful criminals. We’ve already seen him delivering his trademark riddles, and now it’s time to see him taking action that will lead him on the path to evil. Smith called the final images we’ll see of Nygma in the season finale “terrifying,” so brace yourself for whatever the forensic scientist ends up doing.
Gotham airs Mondays at 8/7c on Fox, until the Season 1 finale, which will hit the schedule on Monday, May 4.