Fox’s Gotham
Season 3, Episode 17: “The Primal Riddle”
Directed by Maja Vrvilo
Written by Steven Lilien & Bryan Wynbrandt

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “These Delicate and Dark Obsessions” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Light the Wick” – click here
Screen Shot 2018-01-14 at 3.40.19 AMOn their journey to create an army, Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor) and Ivy Pepper (Maggie Geha) have tracked down Victor Fries (Nathan Darrow), living in a frosty cavern, mad as hell. Oswald offers to free him from that “icy prison.” Just so happens they were able to liberate his suit from the scattered ruins of Indian Hill.
Elsewhere, Dt. Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) meets with Kathryn (Leslie Hendrix) from the Court of Owls. The two discuss Frank, plus how Jim is meant to serve Gotham from this point on. They want him to help “save” the city. First, they require a show of loyalty. Lots of shady shit.
At the GCPD, Dr. Lee Thompkins (Morena Baccarin) and acting Captain Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) have to report to Jim the death of his uncle. The detective doesn’t react overly shocked, so Lee is overly suspicious, as she ought to be, and the same goes for Bullock, too. Most of all, Gordon and Bullock are trying to play things right, so as to prevent some disastrous event from destroying Gotham.
Screen Shot 2018-01-14 at 3.48.25 AMWhat about Ed Nygma (Cory Michael Smith), the Riddler? He’s been running around the city, robbing banks. Barbara Kean (Erin Richards) comes to him, asking about the shadowy group behind the scenes of their city. She likewise tells her pal about the curious crate from Indian Hill. Now everybody’s looking for the existence of the Court of Owls.
In the Gotham Theatre, a crowd watches a rendition of Hamlet. This is where the Riddler plots to confront the “ruling class,” hoping to expose the truth of the court. He kills the lead actor playing Hamlet, letting everybody know of his villainous presence amongst them.
Alfred (Sean Pertwee) and 514A (David Mazouz) play chess. The old butler hasn’t entirely figured out everything that’s going on, he still believes this experimental subject is Bruce. Although the thing does a good job pretending, that’s for damn sure. Very sly.
At the theatre, the Riddler has left a clue for Gordon and Bullock. They find a new riddle, leading them on with “iambic pentameter” just like ole Bill Shakespeare would’ve written it himself. A little later, Barbara gets a visit from Ed, who’s got a plan to kidnap Mayor Aubrey James (Richard Kind). Nygma needs a bomb, so he requires a bit of help from Barb and Tabitha (Jessica Lucas). He doesn’t need help with the Mayor, though. For that, he’s already got things handled, having sent drugged pastries to Mr. James, replacing his pills with little question marked placebos.
Screen Shot 2018-01-14 at 3.55.04 AMPenguin and Ivy are tracking down more of their freaks, such as Firefly (Camila Perez). They’re trying to drag her out of the shitty place she’s living. They want her to help take back the city, for the freaks. Firefly soon agrees, taking pleasure in showering her boss with molten lead before they leave.
In her high castle, Kathryn receives a visit from 514A. Seems the subject isn’t doing so well. He’s dying. He wasn’t made correctly at Indian Hill, I guess. Bruce will be back in Gotham soon enough, therefore, the doppelganger has served his purpose.
The hospital is on high alert with Mayor James brought in. Over the PA system they hear the Riddler calling for Dt. Gordon. Things are already getting intense. Jim goes looking for the villain, while Harvey looks after the Mayor; they’re starting to discover Ed is after info on the Court of Owls. But in the chaos, Nygma gets to James, whisking him out from under the GCPD’s noses. Soon, Barb and the Riddler hear of the court themselves.
What next? The riddling menace hopes to make the court “reveal themselves” in front of Gotham. He starts by broadcasting live on TV, threatening to blow the Mayor’s head off. Kathryn then calls Jim, looking for that loyalty. The court wants Nygma, so he’s got to get him for them. Yikes. The detective makes contact with his nemesis, offering to tell him the truth of who runs the city, inviting him to the GCPD for a talk.
After a while, Mayor James turns up, followed by the Riddler himself. Looks like our detective has things covered, too. He jams the frequency on the villain’s little detonation collar, with help from Tabitha. He also taunts Ed, trying to walk the guy into his trap.
Screen Shot 2018-01-14 at 4.07.38 AMAt her place, Selina Kyle (Camren Bicondova) finds Bruce turn up, or the fake one, anyway. He’s there to tell her the truth. Strange for her to hear. The Cat’s a bit blown away, though she understands. She knows how terrible the city is, the strange things going on. 514A goes on to tell her Gotham is headed for destruction, as well. Only when they begin arguing and Selina plans telling Alfred, she gets pushed from a window by the experimental Bruce, thrown to the streets. Shit, let’s hope she does have those nine lives. She does, thanks to the alley cats giving her strength a-la-Michelle Pfeiffer!
Alone together, Jim and Ed reminisce about the past, the latter offering another riddle about shitty friends. That’s when a car pulls up, Kathryn emerges to explain a few things to Mr. Nygma. The Court of Owls offers to answer all his questions, taking him on a ride to who knows where. Moreover, Jim’s proved his loyalty. As always the mysterious woman leaves him with: “Well be in touch.” When they are in touch, Gordon is introduced to the court, given his mask, and inducted to the shadowy organisation.
After so long, Penguin has come back to his mansion with his friends Ivy, Firefly, and Mr. Freeze. They’re a happy, freaky little family. What comes next is Oswald’s revenge, however it comes we’ll be left to see. I can only imagine the sort of insanity that will occur, particularly now that the Court of Owls has Ed in their grasp. Gonna get crazy.


This series is too good. Never expected it to be so wonderful when it started. Glad to have been proven wrong, time and time again.
“Light the Wick” is our next chapter.

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I'm a B.A.H. graduate & a Master's student with a concentration in pre-19th century literature. Although I've studied everything from Medieval literature onward, spent an extensive time studying post-modern works. I completed my Honours thesis on John Milton's Paradise Lost and the communal aspects of its conception, writing, as well as its later printing and publication. My Master's program involves a Creative Thesis, which will eventually become my debut novel. I most recently got to work with Newfoundland author Lisa Moore. I am also a writer and a freelance editor. My stories "Funeral" and "Sight of a Lost Shore" are available in The Cuffer Anthologies Vol. VI & VII. Stories to be printed soon are "Night and Fog", and "The Book of the Black Moon" from Centum Press (both printed in 2016) and "Skin" from Science Fiction Reader. Newfoundland author Earl B. Pilgrim's latest novel The Adventures of Ernest Doane Volume I was edited by me, too. Aside from that I have a short screenplay titled "New Woman" that went into production during late 2017. Meanwhile, I'm writing more screenplays, working on editing a couple novels I've finished, and running this website/writing all of its content. I used to write for Film Inquiry frequently during 2016-17. Please contact me at u39cjhn@mun.ca or hit me up on Twitter (@fathergore) if you want to chat, collaborate, or have any questions for me. I'm also on Facebook at www.facebook.com/fathersonholygore. Cheers!

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