Gotham has covered origin stories for plenty of Batman villains so far, but one that has been particularly drawn-out is Ed Nygma as the future Riddler. He’s been around from the very beginning, and his journey from mild-mannered forensic scientist to villainous mastermind has been gradual. Season 2 has seen him pass some major points of no return, however, and the latest episode featured Nygma breaking out the iconic green question marks on crime scenes. According to actor Cory Michael Smith, the Gotham Riddler is going to be about much more than violence.
We started off his criminal behavior by being a bit violent and grotesque, which certainly is in the comic books, but I think the Riddler most people love is the one that makes games and puzzles and traps. I was very happy when I first read the script, because he’s creating quite a complex set-up to trap James Gordon and frame him. But I like this color of the Riddler. I think it’s what sets him apart from other villains.
Cory Michael Smith’s interview with THR helps explain why his performance of Nygma really becoming the Riddler in the latest episode was so nuanced. Nygma wasn’t most excited by the explosion or the death; he was thrilled by the game he was playing, and Smith pulled it off to perfection. In fact, it wasn’t until Gordon ended up standing over the corpse of a coworker with a bloody crowbar in his hand that Nygma’s plan to frame Gordon became clear. He pulled one over on viewers as well as Gordon and the GCPD.
The Riddler being more fond of riddles than carnage definitely does set him apart from other Gotham villains. Now that his murder of Miss Kringle has finally broken Nygma’s fragile grip on sanity, the Riddler just wants the world to see how clever he is in outsmarting the good guys. It’s a refreshing change from villains who like mayhem for the sake of mayhem or are motivated solely by self-interest, so Gotham has plenty of new ground to cover with this shade of the classic Riddler.
Of course, given that James Gordon is certainly not going to be staying in prison indefinitely, the Riddler will likely get sloppy in the near future. Nygma has always lashed out when he’s felt his talents aren’t properly appreciated; surely the Riddler’s complex schemes thwarting the GCPD in a big way will make him want to claim credit. It’s sure to be a glorious disaster.
Sadly, Nygma going full Riddler likely means that we’ll be losing Cory Michael Smith as a regular for Season 3. Given that Ed Nygma is traditionally the man behind the question mark who will vex Batman, we can at least count on him surviving the Riddler’s downfall. To see whether or not Nygma is able to continue his role as the Riddler without being caught for much longer, tune in to Gotham on Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.