Hello there Riddle fans! This months Hall of Fame nominee for May is Cory Michael Smith. I thought it was the right time to nominate Cory, for two reasons we are heading towards the season four final episodes and all being well I will finally get to meet Cory Michael Smith at Heroes Villains Fan Fest in London over the weekend of 26-27 May. I am certainly not alone in the anticipation of meeting him as Cory very rarely appears at conventions. So why have I nominated Cory?
Cory Michael Smith was born in Columbus Ohio USA. Cory had ambition when he graduated from high school to be a concert pianist. He attended Otterbein University, which Cory recently returned to. Cory was awarded the Young Alumni Professional Achievement Award. He was cast in several different plays The Scene, The Caucasian Chalk Circle, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Tartuffe. Cory’s major and minor were art musical theatre and jazz piano, but did consider dropping out for philosophy or pre-law.
Cory made his broadway debut in Breakfast at Tiffany’s in 2013. The first thing I ever saw Cory in was in the HBO mini series Olive Kitteridge, in which he played a tormented soul Kevin Coulson. Which was also the same year 2014, Cory got casted in Gotham. Other performances I can recommend is the film Carol staring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara. Cory plays a private detective hired by Cate Blanchett’s on screen husband. Cory most recent release and I am looking forward to watching is the film 1985, which Cory is also the executive producer and plays the main character Adrian. The plot of the film is about a young man who goes home for the holidays and struggles to reveal his dire circumstances to his conservative family. The film 1985 has been received well by critics when it was screened at the SXSW 2018 Film Festival.
The Riddler or Edward Nygma made his first appearance in Detective Comics #140 October 1948 and was created by Bill Finger and Dick Sprang. As a Gotham criminal mastermind The Riddler takes great delight in using puzzles and riddles into his plots, and leaves them as clues for the GCPD and Batman to solve them. The Riddler is Batman’s most enduring enemies and definitely belongs in the collection of Batman’s rogues gallery. As yet I have not read many The Riddler Comics, the ones I have i really enjoyed especially The Riddle Factory.
The Riddler in Batman forever set a standard for me personally as he was played by one of my favourite actors Jim Carrey. Nygma’s obsession with Bruce Wayne was fascinating and the athletic ability that Carrey brought to the scenes is still rememberable to this day. To my knowledge Cory Michael Smith has never seen Jim Carrey’s performance and I actually think that is a very good thing even though he is a huge fan of Carrey. This keeps Cory’s version of The Riddler completely organic and certainly has not influenced his performance.
The birth of the Riddler from season 1 to where we are now season 4, just how Edward Nygma became The Riddler has been incredibly engaging and why he is one of the best villains on Gotham. I watched a few best of Edward Nygma videos on YouTube to prepare for this write up. Even though I have watched the last three seasons more then five times, there isn’t a side to Nygma that you can’t help like and admire.
The character of Edward Nygma was introduced in the first season as a forensic scientist working at the GCPD. He instantly used riddles when explaining his findings in cases, which instantly annoyed Detective Bullock, where Detective James Gordon accepted Nygma’s unusual ways and trusted his judgement. Ed was also genuinely intrigued by Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor) when he came to see Jim Gordon, Ed instantly told Penguin a riddle in which Penguin has no interest of answering. Penguin developed a dislike to Ed but Ed couldnot resist leaving Oswald with a Penguin fact.
Nygma had genuine love for Miss Kristin Kringle (Chelsea Spack) who worked in the record department of The GCPD. Ed did try to help Miss Kringle out with her filing system much to her horror. Unfortunately Ed had to stand back and watch her date other members of the GCPD who actually didn’t treat her that well. The most rememberable riddle that Ed gave Miss Kringle was: a cupcake with a bullet sticking out of the it. The cupcake is sweet the bullet is deadly; a beautiful woman is a dangerous thing. Ed found bruises on Kristin arm and Ed realised that Officer Tom Dougherty had been taking his anger out on Miss Kringle. Officer Dougherty was actually the first person to call Nygma “Riddle man” after Ed confronted him over hurting Kristen. The night Nygma’s persona changed was when waited in his car outside Miss Kringles apartment, when Officer Dougherty arrived Nygma warned him to stay away from Kristin as he didn’t want Dougherty hurting her anymore. Dougherty punched Ed in the stomach and Ed killed for the first time which by end of season 1 unleashed his double personality.
The growth of the character of Edward Nygma throughout season 2 became quicker paced. He had Dark Ed encouraging him to finally ask Miss Kringle out on a date, an even went on a double date with Jim and Lee. On that fateful night Ed felt he needed to confess to Kristin Kringle that he killed Officer Dougherty, Kristen Kringle tried to leave but Ed accidentally strangled her to death. My favourite episode of season 2 is “Mommies Little Monster” this is where Dark Ed takes Miss Kringles body and leaves a trail of clues for Ed to find her. When Ed does Dark Ed asks him before Ed accepts this new side to his personality how does it feel Ed answers “beautiful.”
Whilst burying Miss Kringle’s body in the woods, which wasn’t as quiet as Ed hoped he followed a trail of blood after someone had stolen his sandwich. That thief just happened to be Oswald Cobblepot who had been badly injured was this a meeting of fate, Ed certainly thought so. Nursing Oswald back to health Ed didn’t waste any time in asking Oswald for advice because he has started murdering people. The episode “Better Pill To Swallow” season 2 Episode 9 gave a huge amount of scenes with Nygma and Penguin that we all had been waiting for. Ed was determined to get Oswald over the death of his mother and handed over one of Galavan’s men to kill. Oswald soon considered Ed a friend and asked Ed to look after his mother’s grave whilst he went to Arkham Asylum. Nygma found his own groove and decided to play a game with Jim because Ed wanted Jim to be responsible for the murder of Theo Galavan. In the very clever tilted episode “Mad Grey Dawn” s2 Episode 15, when you rearrange the letters it spells “Edward Nygma” and this is Nygma’s first true episode where he shows just how clever and dangerous he is as he sets Jim up for murdering a police officer. Jim escapes from Blackgate determined to clear his name and asks Nygma, much to his surprise for help. Using the recordings from the telephone calls at Internal Affairs Jim recognised the sound of Ed’s cuckoo clock in his apartment, but Ed knowing that Jim would solve the case he made sure Jim sat on a chair that would electrocute him. Ed dragged Jim to the trunk of his car, Jim woke up and escaped. Ed was followed to the woods to start digging up Miss Kringle as he thought Penguin had told The GCPD where her body was, but that wasn’t so. Nygma was taken to Arkham Asylum and he thrived in there. Ed succeeded where Penguin failed. Ed understood the inmates and managed to get them on side when troubled started brewing between the inmates.
Season three, Ed was still in Arkham. Penguin visited him regularly and then used his Mayor Candidate power to get Ed released as he was an important part of Oswald’s campaign. Ed proved to Oswald that he could win on his own without Butch paying people to vote for him. Ed believed in Oswald and this meant everything to him so Oswald made him his Chief of Staff. Ed took his role seriously organising the duties of the mayor and the underworld which Oswald still controlled. Ed even managed to get rid of Butch by setting him up to betray Oswald. Ed also fell in love with a lady that looked like Miss Kringle, Isabella who was a librarian. This was also the same night Oswald was going to tell Ed that he loved him too. Isabella soon learnt of Ed’s past with a little bit of help from Oswald but she wanted to be with Ed so Oswald had her killed. Ed went to visit the place where Isabella crashed her car and became suspicious of how she was killed. Checking Isabella’s car out himself, Ed could see her breaks had been cut and Ed was positive Butch was behind Isabella’s death. By tracking down Butch and Tabitha he tortured them both to getting a confession but they weren’t guilty and Tabitha lost her hand to prove it. Barbara who had gotten some information out Penguins maid Olga was the one who told Ed about Oswald being in love with him and murdering Isabella. Resigining as Oswald’s Chief of Staff and then needing to find out if was true that Oswald did love him, Ed certainly didn’t love Oswald but he admired him and respected their friendship. To humiliate Oswald live on television during an important interview Ed used Clayface to look like ghost of Oswald’s dead father Elijah Van Dal. Then it came to the moment where Ed confronted Oswald about killing Isabella for his own selfish reasons. Ed shot Oswald at the pier let him fall into the water and walked away confidently as The Riddler was born.
“How The Riddler Got His Name” was the episode in season 3 where The Riddler showed just how gleeful he was in the chaos that he was now putting on the city of Gotham. As Jim was available he decided to play a dangerous game of chess with Lucius Fox and Detective Harvey Bullock. Finding out that Penguin survived, revenge was definitely on the mind of Penguin. The Ridder is now his new name and Ed is gone Penguin refused to call him Riddler. The GCPD needed Jervis Tetch who was in the hands of The Riddler, he agreed to trade Tetch with Oswald who was currently in police custody. Barbara showed up causing chaos in Oswald took the opportunity to escape and Riddler followed him. Riddler woke up in the back of a police car which was being driven by Oswald, being the mastermind that he is Penguin was five steps ahead of Riddler letting him think that he could kill Penguin finally but The Riddler ended up being frozen.
Season four was another brilliant development of the character Edward Nygma and The Riddler. As much as he looked lovely as the centre piece at Penguins new nightclub The Iceberg Lounge he didn’t stay there long. Nygma has a number one fan, Myrtle Jenkins who went to school with Ed and has followed his rise to becoming one of Gotham’s greatest villains. One problem after being frozen for five months The Riddler could not Riddle anymore. Ed managed to escape by knocking Myrtle over the head with a heavy book. He sent two bad riddles to Oswald and then confronted him, Penugin could see Ed isn’t smart anymore and decides that his conflict with The Riddler is over.
So how did Ed get his Riddle mojo back? Well it happened in the unlikely alliance with Doctor Leslie Thompkins and Grundy. Ed decided he needed money to make him smart again and used Grundy in fights at Cherry’s fightclub in The Narrows. As soon as Ed realised that Lee was the Doctor at the fightclub he continually tried to persuade her to help him become smart again. Lee agreed because she needed money to buy medicine for the people of The Narrows, Ed would earn the money through the fights that Grundy would win. Ed’s confidence grew and he showed the people of The Narrows just what an amazing showman he is. As Ed’s confidence came back so did his Riddler personality, Lee confirmed there was nothing wrong with Ed and she liked having Ed around again. As Ed washed his hands Riddler appeared in the mirror, Ed did not want him back but The Riddler knew Ed is in love with Lee. Unknown to Ed, The Riddler tried to have Lee assassinted by the toy maker. The Riddler is back in Ed’s mind with The Riddler trying to kill Lee because she apparently was holding him back Ed decides to take his own life. The Riddler is desperate for Ed not to do this and persuades him to voluntarily commit himself to Arkham Asylum. As with all things in Gotham this genius storyline reveals that The Riddler visited Penguin in Arkham and Penguin wrote a letter to Ed. With the letter being one big Riddle, Ed could no longer stop his Riddler personality from coming back and Penguin accepted him as The Riddler for the first time. Riddler helped Oswald escape Arkham, so he could get his revenge on Sofia Falcone. After finding out Lee isn’t in charge of a The Narrows anymore, Ed shows Lee that The Riddler is back. Riddler still thinks Grundy is his best friend but Butch is back in Grundy’s skin. Ed gets handed over to Sofia by Barbara and Tabitha, Sofia tortures Ed for the whereabouts of Penguin but he doesn’t give up Oswald. Ed is taken to the famous pier in Gotham by Sofia’s men, when Penguin hears from the Denist that was torturing Ed he gives up his opportunity to get his revenge on Sofia and save Ed as he really is the only person he can trust in Gotham.
The Riddle Factory made an appearance in season four, the people of The Narrows love The Riddler and his wheel of misfortune. Simple concept to the game The Riddler gives you a riddle you solve it move on to round two. The contestant then has to give The Riddler a riddle to solve in the chance of winning some cold hard cash. Lee wants to shut The Riddle Factory down so she becomes a contestant and does beat The Riddler because she knows he is in love with her. This storyline came as a pleasant surprise the chemistry between Riddler and Lee wasn’t forced. They have been work colleagues and friends since season 1. Lee and Riddler make a great team, she needs him to rob as many banks as possible so Lee can distribute the money to the people of The Narrows. Riddler of course is constantly thinking that Lee still has feelings for Jim which Jim does make worse by making Riddler think that Lee is using him for something. But it’s the final scene between these two characters of the season four finale makes their passion and chemistry for each very real. Riddler has a knife behind his back when she admits she still cares for Jim, but Lee stabs Ed first. Then Riddler stabs Lee after admitting he would of done it at some point because that’s what he does. With one last kiss Riddler and Lee collapse on the floor.
What will be in store for one of my favourite villain in Gotham when season five starts next year. The Riddlers ability might be even super powered as currently Ed and Lee are in the hands of Professor Hugo Strange.
Edward Nygma is an amazing character on Gotham and I have only recapped a few of his many moments since season one working as The Riddler as key points in his story made this side of him born. Cory Michael Smith is my favourite Riddler and if you agree you can vote on the link below.