‘Mad City: Red Queen’ picks up Alice’s blood plot point to do an exploration of Jim Gordon’s character and his role in this season of Gotham.
Jim has been acting erratically since the season began, and it’s really no wonder given the tragic events that he had to endure last season. In ‘Red Queen’, he faces not only his choice from last week (which resulted in Valerie being hospitalized), but also the way he sees himself and whether he considers himself a “hero” or not. On one hand, both Valerie and Lee are aware that Jim told Tetch to kill the latter because he knew he would do the opposite, even if Jim won’t admit it. On the other, Tetch’s new favorite poison makes Jim go into a strange hallucination world that serves as the perfect excuse to do some character introspection. And by ‘perfect’ I mean it was the perfect opportunity to do so, but the result ended up being kind of flat. Many of the scenes (especially the ones with Barbara) dragged on for too long, and the whole experience didn’t really tell us anything new until the moment Jim’s father showed up: his words served to give Jim his final resolve to go back to the GCPD, and the ring was related to the episode’s cliffhanger.
At this point, Jervis Tetch is already the main villain of (at least) the first half of the season, similarly to how Theo was the main threat of Season 2. And, this time, Jim’s at the most vulnerable to be his number 1 victim. In ‘Red Queen’, Alice’s blood test, which had continued to be a plot point since she died through Barne’s change, comes back to awaken manic tendencies in everyone. Except… it doesn’t really happen. In fact, the whole dinner scene was a big let down, and the only interesting bit in it was the appearance of Kathryn from the Court of Owls. It was at the end when a mysterious man wearing the same ring as papa Gordon tells Kathryn that “judgment is coming”. It’s part of the reason why I believe Tetch will be “gone” for the second half of the season, as it’ll be the turn of the Court of Owls and the monsters that escaped from Indian Hill.
Not much development from the romantic side-plots of the story, just a follow-up of what’s previously been established. Nygma and Isabella have (very quickly) fallen in love, and even though what Isabella says about love being illogical is true, her sudden appearance and resemblance to Miss Kryngle is still suspicious. Fortunately, Oswald doesn’t go full yandere on her (after all, that would have damaged his relationship with Nygma beyond repair if he ever found out about it). He did, however, mention that Nygma was in Arkham for having killed someone. Regardless, Isabella does some research on the matter and, after Nygma confesses it was an “accident”, concludes it’s no big deal and accepts him. So far, the love triangle is as cliché as it can get, and it also promises to have a similar cliché resolution if Miss Kryngle is really bad news. It was not as bad as Bruce and Selina’s scene, though. Bruce cooks someting for Selina, and they confess to each other how weird this is to them. Don’t get me wrong – it’s cute. But it’s also pretty irrelevant in the context of the episode’s themes, and it almost felt like a way for the writers to say “hey, they’re still here!” since they didn’t appear last episode. It certainly seems like many characters (Oswald as the major, Bruce, Selina, Alfred…) and plot points (the monsters from Indian Hill) are in stand by waiting for the Court of Owls to really become plot-relevant.
‘Red Queen’ was one of the weakest episodes of Gotham, as the analysis on Jim’s character got quite tedious and felt detached to the rest of the episode. Jim gets accepted back in the GCPD really easily (not that that should be surprising at this point). The dinner scene with Jervis also turned out to be a bit of a disappointment compared to how hyped up the Red Queen was in the episode promo. We will have to wait to see if bringing in the Gordon family to the still mysterious Court of Owls will be worth it in the long run.