It’s the age-old tale: Boy meets girl, boy falls for girl, boy stalks and kills girl’s abusive ex-boyfriend, boy brags about killing the ex-boyfriend to girl, girl freaks out, and boy accidentally murders girl. Boy then becomes The Riddler.
At last, Gotham is paying off a storyline it has been promising since the pilot first aired last year—namely when Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) uttered a few lines to Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie), asking him a riddle. Everyone knew that Nygma was destined to take up the DC Comics supervillain alter ego The Riddler, but did anyone expect it would happen so soon?!
Smith definitely didn’t. The Gotham star reveals to Nerdist that he didn’t realize he would get to play Nygma’s more villainous side as early as the beginning of season two.
“There wasn’t a timeline that was offered with the job. When they say that we’re telling the origin story, it’s like, well how long will that take?” Smith says with a laugh. “Either way I was really excited. Last year was such a slow laying of the foundation and this year it’s been a series of quick jolts and a slight calm before the storm. So it’s been a lot of fun this year.”
In fact, it wasn’t until Nygma killed Kristen Kringle’s (Chelsea Spack) ex-boyfriend that Smith discovered he was going to get to show Nygma’s transformation into The Riddler.
“The showrunners had given me a warning before the end of last season,” Smith says. “They let me know that there would be an accidental death with Kristen Kringle’s ex-boyfriend. I knew that was coming. And then the fun started after that when he realized he had to get rid of the body, and then the demented Gotham-like quality of Edward was revealed.”
He continues, “I knew this year ahead of time what the major plot points are with the development of the character and things are moving much more quickly and I’ve been aware of the evolution as it happens. Things will get darker and a little more fun after tonight’s episode.”
Tonight’s hour, “Rise of the Villains: Mommy’s Little Monster,” will be “huge” for Nygma going forward.
“This episode is very important in showing the evolution of Edward’s, what is currently, his alter ego,” Smith reveals. “His alter ego is a part of himself but are the qualities that are pushing him towards embracing dawning the title of The Riddler.”
And now that Nygma has accidentally killed Kristen, that murder will kickstart his journey into becoming the DC Comics supervillain we all know he will become. Kristen’s love was the only thing holding it at bay.
“His alter ego, which is essentially a very loud version of his conscience, it went away once he got the girl,” Smith says. “Until he tripped up about the missing Tom Dougherty [Zachary Spicer] initially at the dinner table, he came back. Otherwise he was quiet. Edward was getting what he wanted and he felt very much in charge, playing the role of boyfriend.”
When Nygma wakes up the morning after murdering Kristen on their date, expect his alter ego to be back in a big way … much to Nygma’s chagrin.
“Now that he frankly messed up, this other part of him is going to beat himself up,” Smith teases. “As we’ll see in upcoming episodes, he’s becoming aware of what all of his weaknesses are, and the important thing for him is to be a stronger person and survive this life, so he has to figure out what those are and get rid of them so they won’t impede on his progress of feeling powerful and gaining power.”
Are you excited to see Nygma embrace his darker side and take up the title of The Riddler on Gotham? Hit the comments section below to weigh in now!
Gotham airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on Fox.