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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Gotham is back, along with its mishandling of origin stories

Illustration for article titled iGotham/i is back, along with its mishandling of origin stories
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Because The A.V. Club knows that TV shows keep going even if we’re not writing at length about them, we’re experimenting with discussion posts. For certain shows, one of our TV writers will publish some brief thoughts about the latest episode, and open the comments for readers to share theirs.

  • Never Mind The Bullocks: Bullock is a mess this week. He’s so incompetent as Captain that he doesn’t even have the brain power to concoct any great one-liners. For shame.
  • With both Penguin and Jerome vanquished as villains in Gotham, it’s time for Nygma to step up. This episode is largely focused on how he becomes The Riddler, though in typical Gotham fashion the motivations are a little murky.
  • Everything begins with Nygma killing a chemistry professor, apparently the fifth in a recent string of, as Bullock puts it, “murders of smart people.” The idea is that Nygma is trying to find someone smart enough to understand him and his riddles, because he’s missing that connection now that Cobblepot is dead.
  • Of course, as the episode reveals later on, Cobblepot is far from dead. In fact, Ivy has been taking care of him and nursing him back to health after pulling his body out of the river.
  • The real Cobblepot makes that late-episode appearance, but he’s there in spirit throughout. Nygma is taking pills that make him hallucinate, and he consistently sees the soaking wet, near-dead version of Penguin. Not only is it nice to not go too long without the presence of Robin Lord Taylor, who’s always a Gotham highlight, it’s also intriguing to see the show explore how Penguin and Nygma really need each other.
  • The phantom Penguin is an expression of Nygma’s desire to be understood. Deep down, he knows that all this killing isn’t going to bring him any closer to a concrete identity, because his identity is tied up in his relationship with Cobblepot. Filling that void might be impossible, though I’m still hoping these two crazy kids work it out by the end of the season.
  • So, Nygma spends the episode transforming into The Riddler. The problem? The whole idea of the transformation is treated like a joke, as if Nygma can never really become a villain because he’s going about it the wrong way and for the wrong reasons. It’s not exactly the best way to establish your supposedly threatening new villain, but there’s still plenty of time to right the ship.
  • The lack of Barbara in this episode is appalling.
  • Nygma isn’t down with phantom Penguin sitting on his couch while he’s all wet. Phantom Penguin: “You’re the only person I know who frets about their drug-induced hallucination making a mess.”
  • I’m glad that Lucius Fox is being given a more prominent role in this story, even if this week’s case, which focuses on Nygma, is pretty underwhelming.
  • Speaking of underwhelming, the whole Court Of Owls storyline is defined by exposition and a total lack of compelling character drama. Gordon’s uncle being thrust into this story feels rushed, and weirdly separated from everything else that is going on. Gotham can seemingly never decide where Gordon fits in with characters like Bruce, Alfred, and everyone at the GCPD.
  • Clone Bruce literally says “powerful knockout drug” when he jumps and injects Real Bruce, which is all sorts of ridiculous. Gotham’s villains love to describe exactly what they’re doing.

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