Gotham Episode 214 Recap: The Riddler is Born
Bruce meets up with Selina in an alley. She is hesitant, but hands over the pistol to a frightened Bruce. She reminds him that guns aren’t for show; they aren’t for protection. They are only for one thing. Bruce pockets the gun and leaves. Upon returning home, he discovers Alfred waiting for him in the study. Bruce nervously puts a hand on his pocket and assures Alfred he is ready to start hunting Matches.
The two head to a street fight club and interrupt to ask after a man named Cupcake, a known associate of Matches. Despite his promises not to say a word, Bruce offers “Mr. Cupcake” a lot of money to find Matches. Cupcake wants a million; Bruce says no. So Cupcake counters: $50k and Bruce leaves with all his fingers. Things escalate and it ends with Alfred being strong armed into fighting Cupcake. Alfred is mad at Bruce for speaking up, but he uses this as a teaching moment. Alfred fights well, but Cupcake has considerable size on Alfred, and he starts pummeling the Brit. Bruce is scared and tries to call “uncle,” but Alfred refuses. “He is slowing down!” Sure enough, Cupcake is getting tired, and Alfred gets the upper hand. Alfred continues to teach Bruce, right up until Cupcake yells “uncle.” Bruce gives him $50k and he tells him to go see Jeri at Celestial Gardens.
First, the guys have to make a stop at the hospital. Despite his tough exterior, Alfred is in bad shape. He wants Bruce to promise he won’t go looking for Jeri on his own, but the pain meds knock Alfred out before Bruce has to say anything. Later, when Alfred wakes and Bruce is gone, he realizes what has happened and calls Jim and Bullock. He admits that he told Bruce he would kill Matches, but suspects his young ward has gone to do the killing himself.
Bruce enters Celestial Gardens, a punk/burlesque club with Jeri (Lori Petty) performing on stage. She crowd surfs and lands in front of Bruce. She knows who he is and wonders what took him so long. Bruce is looking for Jeri; she takes him backstage into an office/dressing room and confirms that she is indeed Jeri. He explains that he just wants to ask Matches Malone some questions… then kill him. Jeri knows where he is; but why should she tell him? Justice? Money? Jeri cares not for these things. Bruce reveals his gun, which Jeri finds a good reason to talk, except that he isn’t even pointing it at her. She knows he isn’t going to use it. Dejected, he starts to leave – but thanks her for her time. She relents and tells him Matches’ address.
As Bruce leaves the club, Jim is entering. He grabs the kid, but Jeri is back on stage and points a spotlight on “GCPD.” The punks move in, and Bruce escapes. Jim manages to extricate himself and arrests Jeri.
Bruce heads to see Matches. He knocks the door nervously, and an older man answers. Bruce plays it like he is looking to hire Matches, and uses this conceit to find out about his kill history. He has killed the rich, the poor, the guilty, the innocent; he has killed with guns and knives and garrotes. “You burn one guy to death and they call you Matches for the rest of your days.” Bruce admits he is nervous about hiring a killer, but he “seems to be the right man.”
Inside his dank little apartment, Matches lays out his rules and rates. $10k for an adult male, double for a woman, triple for a child. He won’t kill babies. At this point, Bruce is done playing. “You really don’t remember me, do you?” He pulls out his gun and reminds him that Matches killed his parents. He assures Bruce he won’t jump him, but also admits he doesn’t remember him. Bruce gives him lots of reminders, but ultimately, Matches just doesn’t really remember Bruce or his parents. It’s not until Bruce reminds him that he broke his mother’s string of pearls that Matches has a vague recollection of the murder. “That kid… that was you?” He is dodgy about who hired him; “maybe I just did it.”
Jim is interrogating Jeri, desperate to find Bruce. She assures him that Bruce is a good kid and will grow up to be a strong man. She is curious as to why Jim has such an interest in the poor little rich boy. She figures Jim should be able to get there in time for the cleanup, so she gives him the address.
Bruce threatens to shoot to injure, in order to get Matches to spill who hired him. He may be a killer, but he has a killer’s code and refuses to tell who hired him. Bruce cocks the gun; Matches raises a glass to him. He isn’t afraid to die. “A man gets tired doing wrong and going unpunished.” He gives Bruce advice on how to hold the gun, where to aim, and warns him of the kickback. But Bruce can’t do it. “Don’t lose your nerve! Look at me! I’m a monster!” Matches urges. “I wish you were a monster – but you are just a man.” He puts the gun down and leaves the apartment. Bruce runs into Jim in the hallway and points out the apartment. Moments later, a gunshot, and Jim rushes in. Matches killed himself with Bruce’s gun. Back at the police station, both Jim and Bullock seem convinced that Matches killed the Waynes, but Jim still wonders: who hired him?
Alfred is released from the hospital and returns to Wayne Manor. He goes looking for Bruce in the cave but finds only a letter addressed to him. Bruce has written that he is going to live on the streets with Selina for awhile. He promises that he is not going to “fight crime;” he needs to learn how to live in the world that murderers and villains live in, so that he can fight crime one day. Bruce begs him not to worry. Selina will look after him and teach him what he needs to know. “I’ll come home eventually,” he promises in the letter. “Honor my wishes. I need to do this.”
Elsewhere, treatments seem to be working for Penguin. He has a low appetite and docile behavior, and Strange wants to move onto the ice cream test. He and Peabody watch as Penguin enters gen pop with his lunch tray. Center on the tray is a huge scoop of ice cream. One particularly large inmate wants to know why Penguin got ice cream and he didn’t. Penguin tries to calm the other man by offering him his ice cream, but the inmate is too enraged. He starts beating the hell out of Penguin, but Penguin doesn’t succumb. He has no violent reaction, even when the inmate is close to killing him. Orderlies drag the inmate away. Later, Strange does word association with Penguin. He feels terrible about being mean to people and just wants to be “normal” and “good.” Strange assures him he will be “right as rain” after a few more treatments. Penguin is frightened of more treatments, but he wants to get better.
His next treatment is being locked in the treatment room with the guy who beat him up for having ice cream. The inmate is blindfolded and tied to the chair. Penguin removes the blindfold and takes up a knife. He will help him, if the inmate promises to be nice. He agrees, and Penguin uses the knife to cut his binds; nothing more. Strange and Peabody applaud him from the observation room.
Penguin has passed all his tests; Strange has declared him “sane” and “normal.” He is free to go. But Penguin no longer wants to go; he wants to remain in Arkham. Strange assures him that is normal, that he is just anxious about change. “You are a sane, gentle, good man. Good things happen to good people.” Penguin thanks him and goes to gather his belongings. Peabody isn’t sure about letting him go; neither is Strange, but he is an “experiment,” and part of a deeper plan that he can’t tell Peabody about just yet.
Lee goes to Jim, worried about Kristen. She went to HR for her forwarding address, but found none. All she found were Kristen’s last few paychecks, never cashed. Jim checks with Ed to see if he has heard from her. He hasn’t, but Jim isn’t too concerned… yet. He does ask to see the note Kristen left for Ed, but Ed didn’t keep it. Jim doesn’t question this – after all, who would keep a letter in which the woman you loved told you she was leaving you for another man? Jim gets called away, leaving Ed to stew in his own, crazy juices. “So that’s the game, Jimbo? Play me for a fool?” Towards the end of the episode, Ed checks in with Jim about Kristen. He doesn’t have anything, and gets pulled away by another cop, leaving Ed steaming.
At home, Ed is still fuming at Jim. (I guess his lack of interest in the case…?) He tears out a photo of Jim from the newspaper and uses a grease pencil to draw a big, green question mark over his face. And thus, the Riddler is born.
You can watch a preview for the next episode, titled “Mad Grey Dawn,” using the player below.