They’ve teased a lot of villains over the course of the series so far, but I think it’s safe to say that this episode sees the transition of Edward Nygma from the unstable forensic scientist into the full-fledged Riddler. The homicidal persona we’ve seen from Nygma since the end of season one has not been all that close to the character we’re familiar with from the comics, but I’m very happy to see that that person has been seamlessly wrapped up in the character’s compulsory and ego-driven need to challenge the police department. This is a very strong adaptation of the Riddler as a character. Even the scenes of Nygma killing feel like they come from the character of the source material.
“Mad Grey Dawn” also gives us Paul Reubens, technically reprising his role as Penguin’s father—a role he had previously played briefly in Batman Returns. Here, though, he’s a full fledged character. We get a whole backstory as to why he had stayed out of Penguin’s life and why Penguin, in turn, had never been aware of his father’s existence.
I’m curious to see how long this latest version of Penguin is going to stick around. He’s “cured” and we see him taking a lot of abuses he would never have taken in the past. These scenes do a solid job of showing that no matter what he’s done to people, no matter how much he’s hurt people, those people were all that he had. Up until he comes face to face with his father, he’s totally alone as a free man.
Everything between Bruce and Selina is excellent. Their relationship began developing in a really interesting way during the first season, but has totally taken a back seat in season two. Bruce’s decision to live on the streets with her to see who he is apart from his butler and his money is a genius one. In general, everything we’re seeing with Bruce is 100% on point, particularly in this episode which shows him taking Alfred’s advice to heart and actually taking on a much bigger man in a fight. We’re seeing so much of the rise of Batman, just in subtle dialogue like Bruce watching Gordon’s arrest on TV and saying “This isn’t right.” It’s just about the only subtle thing in this show and I appreciate it. David Mazouz is playing the character perfectly.
Of course, not everything in the episode works. The dialogue between Gordon and just about everyone is awful. Other than Bullock, he doesn’t have any good scenes to really further the plot—which is the central plot of the episode. His scenes between Leslie and Barnes are both kind of awful. The general idea comes across, but the dialogue could have used a lot of work and comes off as incredibly generic.
Still, the good of the episode outweighs the bad and the campiness is appreciatively kept at bay for most of the episode. Paul Reubens and Melinda Clarke are great additions to the cast and I can’t wait to see what their characters hold in store moving forward.