Gotham The Primal Riddle review S3 Ep.17

Repositioning The Riddler as Gotham’s main villain instead of Penguin has really paid off this season. Penguin always spent half the season playing the victim, but Riddler is remorseless and every week getting more and more committed to his shtick. The Primal Riddle was another terrific showcase for Cory Michael Smith, who has to be this season’s MVP.

Barbara wants to know who’s occupying the top spot of the Gotham Underworld and seeks Riddler’s help. The tenuous Riddler/Barbara/Tabitha & Butch alliance is playing out beautifully. There’s so much distrust and discomfort that every scene seems like it could be the one to shatter this partnership.


The once rock steady Barbara and Tabitha relationship is now fracturing. Barbara has come to appreciate Riddler’s cunning and usefulness. That directly contradicts her promise to Tabitha when she promised she could kill him. Butch sees where this is going, but the real question is if he can fully get Tabitha on his side?

Gordon’s dealing with his own broken relationship. Lee wants answers on his apparent cover-up of Uncle Frank’s death. Jim is terrible at poker or lying in general and Lee sees through it all now. She is Gordon-woke. I’m really digging how this is becoming a slow burning problem Gordon needs to address before it blows up in his face.


To learn about the Court, Riddler kidnaps the show’s best dude in distress Mayor James after a crazy scheme involving the opera and a biker gang. It was such a ridiculously over the top plan, but those almost always fly here on Gotham. Richard Kind always gives the best supporting performers. Mayor James is a legit louche, but he is always involved in funny scenes whenever he shows up. This led to one of this season’s best scenes with Gordon telling Riddler that he actually enjoyed that fateful double date with Lee and Kristin. Still nursing the pain from Penguin’s actions, Riddler worked in a riddle about betrayal.

Having successfully brought Riddler to the Court, Gordon can now take his uncle’s seat at the table. Gordon is definitely stepping into the lion’s den and I’m looking forward to seeing what develops.

Penguin meanwhile isn’t waiting around on his plans. He wants payback on Riddler and is assembling a freak army to stop him, namely Mr. Freeze and Firefly. These recruitment scenes with Ivy were a lot of fun. Gotham now has a wealth of characters to play off one another. Ivy and Penguin is surprisingly ending up being one of the better pairings.


The Bruce clone is breaking down. Hugo Strange’s make-your-own clone formula is faulty and he’s dying. But first, he wanted to warn Selina about the Court’s impending sentence on Gotham. Selina got into him by saying the real Bruce wouldn’t sit back and let others get hurt and threatened to tell Alfred about the swap.

Clone Bruce didn’t like that and pulled a Shreck and tossed Selina out the window! Judging by the cats slowly surrounding the presumably dead Selina, Gotham might be going all the way with this Batman Returns homage.

The Primal Riddle was another great episode. Gotham can’t go wrong any time Riddler gets a big spotlight. And with so many other subplots rolling, we’re in for what’s shaping up to be an epic final string of episodes.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Photo Credit: Jessica Miglio/FOX

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