Red Queen had some notable moments as well as a potentially great twist, but it ventured a little too far off the weird end even for Gotham.
Maybe the biggest problem was incapacitating Gordon for so long in a demented nightmare courtesy of Jervis Tetch’s Red Queen hallucinogen. In a lot of ways, Gotham has used Tetch methods interchangeably with Scarecrow. The Mad Hatter of the comics is hardly as interested in psychological breakdowns of his victims as Tetch is here.
The Arkham Asylum homage sequence had some inspired bits — most notably Barbara being Gordon’s guide. So far this season, Erin Richards’ nutty portrayal of Barbara has been a blast in even the smallest doses. Only Gordon’s chat with his father was useful. The family dinner with Lee and their kids felt aimless and the scenario with Bruce and the war zone was just bizarre.
If anything, the trip through Crazytown was probably cathartic for Gordon as he was getting it from all sides in the real world. Both Lee and Valerie knew what he was doing when he told Tetch to shoot Lee — that he knew Tetch would shoot Valerie instead. That was a sensible reason for Valerie to break things off with him, but I liked the dynamic of their relationship more than what will likely be numerous scenes of Gordon fawning over Lee.
Even Bullock was fed up with Gordon’s act. Bullock called Gordon out for randomly popping in like a cop but being too afraid to return to active duty. It was a very nice touch to have Barnes and Bullock to be the ones to stop Tetch from exposing Gotham’s elite to the Red Queen and arresting him. As much as Gordon deserved to bust Tetch, it was about time the Gotham City Police Department got a win without Gordon’s involvement. Hopefully Barnes will get another one if Lucius Fox can come up with an antidote to Alice’s infected blood faster than the initial prognosis.
Another episode in and I’m now convinced this Oswald/Nygma subplot is a waste. Last season, Nygma really became a player beyond awkward comic relief. Oswald never gets to do anything more than pine for someone’s affection between random teases suggesting he’ll finally cut his dependency issues to become a real player. The great character from Season 1 and 2 has become a goof. Instead of plotting to gain control over Gotham’s underworld, Oswald is now focused on breaking up Nygma and his new girlfriend. It’s possible that some of this frustration stems from the soap opera feel to a situation Oswald could easily end by simply killing Isabella.
With everything else going on, Bruce’s first time cooking a meal for Selina felt wasted. This was a significant moment in their relationship and it was treated more like a throwaway subplot to have Bruce appear.
The final meeting of the episode was much more interesting. Kathryn, the spokesperson for the Court of Owls, met with presumably the Owls’ leader who may or may not be Papa Gordon back from the dead. Moving the Court storyline from Bruce to Gordon is a savvy move so Gotham can at least entertain the notion of remotely sticking to established comic book continuity.
Red Queen played out more like a transitional episode that might look better in hindsight in the larger context of the season. It marked the conclusion of Tetch’s initial threat, ended Gordon and Valerie’s relationship and returned Gordon to the GCPD. All while hinting at the next big menace Gordon, Bullock and company will have to deal with in future episodes. On its own, there were some nice bits, but it lacked the punch of previous episodes.
Rating: 7 out of 10
Photo Credit: Nicole Rivelli/FOX
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