[SPOILERS for those not caught up on Gotham ahead.]
If you caught this past week's episode of Gotham, 'Anything for You', you might have been left with some... thoughts about the relationship between the villains Penguin and Riddler. It's undeniable that these two baddies have a bond, a common bond, and a penchant for mayhem. Nonetheless Gotham, which is not known for featuring couples with steady relationships (just ask Ben McKenzie about Gordon's love life), seems to be putting a lot of effort into making these two dysfunctional villains a functional twosome.
It may seem like Gotham's producers might be having a little too much fun with these two characters storylines in the show's third season - but it's not like they haven't had fun with Batman's mythology in seasons past. We caught up with Oswald Cobblepot (The Penguin), aka actor Robin Lord Taylor, and Edward Nygma (The Riddler), aka actor Cory Michael Smith, at PaleyFest 2016, to find out what is really going on with their two characters.
Just in case you didn't get to see this week's episode yet, 'Anything For You' sees Nygma risk life and limb to protect Cobblepot from Butch and remain Cobblepot's closest confidant. In the episode, we see Cobblepot assume his role as Mayor only to face a new Red Hood Gang, which is secretly run by Butch. Butch hopes his latest scheme will get him back in Cobblepot's good graces and return him to being Cobblepot's most trusted friend. However, Nygma discovers Butches plan and dupes him into exposing it. Can you say now that is Nygma marking his territory?
It's already been clearly established that Nygma is committed to being Cobblepot's right-hand on Gotham. But things got even more interesting in 'Anything For You', when Nygma and Cobblepot share an intimate moment at home. As the two reflect on Butch, Nygma tells Cobblepot, "I hope you know, Oswald, I would do anything for you." In return, Cobblepot hugs Nygma and gently caresses his back. A close-up of their physical intimacy is shown, but this is not the first time these two have shown affection in this episode. The two share a genuine moment as Cobblepot cradles and caresses Nygma’s face, almost close enough to kiss him, after learning the truth about Butch's plan.
Robin Lord Taylor acknowledges the special bond between Cobblepot and Nygma saying:
"Well, they are both outcasts in their own way and in a way that actually complements each other. Oswald is more emotional, whereas Edward is very cerebral and they both have lost everyone in their lives."
From the series, it’s easy to see that Cobblepot deeply appreciates Nygma’s company, and Nygma tries to help Penguin through his problems. Taylor concedes, "They don’t have anyone so [they] come into each other’s lives at the same point, and they really learn to trust each other and to have trust in Gotham city is extremely rare." As for the future of this evil dynamic duo Taylor recognizes, "There is a mutual affection there, I believe, but yeah we’ll see how it goes."
Cory Michael Smith jokes about the pair’s odd 'couple-est' qualities. He declares, "Yes" to them being an odd couple of "two demented people." Taylor is quick to add, "Yeah it is a little odd 'couple-ly' in a way!"- suggesting that viewers will have to wait and see how deep this (b)romance goes.
As for Nygma, himself, Smith opens up about his iconic character and what inspires his portrayal of the Riddler. He admits that one well-known version of the Batman villain, namely Jim Carrey's, is also one that he's not especially familiar with:
"I've watched so much Jim Carrey [and his movies], but the one movie I have never seen him do is Batman [Forever]. I didn't watch the movie, and I didn't watch Frank Gorshin and the TV show. I read a lot of the comics and every time they got a new artist or a new writer, like the personality of the Riddler shifted. So… it claimed me. I was like okay, I can actually put my own twist on this, and like be forgiven.
"So I kind of stole from this kid that I went to high school with. I mean I don’t think he is a psychopath, but he exhibited a lot of the social ineptitude that I put into Edward. I think I have more shoulder tension playing his awkwardness."
As for what he would love to see carried over from the DC comic books into Gotham, Smith admits that it involves his own character on the show:
"Well, it is a selfish answer, but I…eventually [hope] the Riddler has Query and Echo as his sidekicks, and I would love I would love to be the first live action Riddler to explore that relationship. It would be cool. "
Gotham continues next Monday with ‘Follow the White Rabbit’ at 8pm on FOX.