Gotham's Riddler Story Just Took A Major Turn, But Was It The Right One?

Major spoilers for Gotham are below.

After spending most of Season 1 as the GCPD’s cornball brainiac who couldn’t deadpan his way out of wet paper handcuffs, Edward Nygma started to really go over the deep end of the rogues spectrum in Season 2, serving as exemplary proof of the season’s “Rise/Wrath of the Villains” tags. Tonight’s “Into the Woods” let the Riddler side win out completely in his quest to capture Jim. This inevitably led to Ed getting fooled and arrested, which probably won’t look too good to every other GCPD employee he ever worked with. But was it a good idea to put him behind bars already, or should he have been allowed to continue working the legal system from the inside for a while longer?

While Penguin has been busy meeting family and falling back into old habits after being “cured” by Hugo Strange, Ed has been sharpening his crosshairs on Jim’s face, having completely fooled the system into thinking Jim was guilty of something he wasn’t, alongside all the things he was very guilty of. And I fully expected this Ed-the-forensics-guy charade to serve as the Riddler’s ladder to success in all manner of insane schemes, with his inside tip securing information and access that no other villain in Gotham City could acquire. I mean, without those other criminals just stealing it or torturing a cop for it or something normal like that.

Sure, the whole “the good guys were really working with the bad guy all along” angle isn’t new, but rarely is it also seen from the bad guy’s perspective, and never does it also involve the Riddler. One would think that it would be an even more gratifying and mentally enabling achievement to continue thwarting all of one’s authoritative colleagues to the point where they would be shamed out of their jobs after eventually discovering The Riddler was under their noses the whole time. Maybe Ed doesn’t have that kind of focus when he’s going batshit though, and his impulsive dunderheadedness was inevitable at a certain point. I mean, his riddles were pretty fucking dumb sometimes, so that’s probably a sign of something.

So yes, on the flip side, perhaps it’s better to celebrate Ed’s abbreviated time within the GCPD’s ranks. After all, he’s not actually The Riddler yet, and even though he’s pulled off some pretty sick crimes already, his comic book persona probably couldn’t expand to the proper capacity without him being aligned with Gotham City’s underbelly, both through the Arkham system and later, presumably, out in public with other elite antagonists. Maybe all this dude needs to completely flip the switch from Ed to Riddler is a stint in a cordoned-off cell, where all he can think about is how to spin a riddle out of everything on Earth.

Judging by his outerwear during the episode, as seen in the image above, Ed’s only a step or two away from putting on a more recognizable costume with another set of repeating patterns; I’m thinking question marks. There has been no reason for him to have an established villain look when he was still working with the GCPD, but now that he’ll be a known baddie, he’ll need something to make his mark among all of the other evil people in this city. Even if the look is nothing more than a jacket and a bowler derby, I’ll be pleased. No question (mark) about it.

For whatever problems one may have with it, Gotham has been extremely good at laying out all of the major comic villains, even when that layout is totally abstract, as it is with The Joker. I’m definitely excited to see where The Riddler goes next, and what Season 3 has in store for him, even if part of me wishes his story had gone differently tonight.

Gotham has a handful of episodes left in Season 2 – possibly with another one of Penguin serving someone a dinner made out of their children – and you can watch those episodes on Monday nights on Fox.

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Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.