okay, so I want to talk about this shot from the 3x15 promo for a
quick second because I had some thoughts on it
so one reason for ed doing this is that he wants to take credit for killing oswald.
(firstly let me say real quick that I know oswald isn’t dead, but ed believes he is. here’s an ask I answered on why we know oswald is alive).
now I still firmly believe that ed doesn’t want to be the king of gotham, I just don’t think it’ll interest him. an audience to see his work, maybe, but an empire to run? no. however, there’s still a lot he can gain for taking credit.
1) it gives him some standing in the criminal world. oswald was able to become king because he made falcone go into hiding, manipulated the events that led to maroni’s death, and killed fish. I know, I said ed doesn’t want to be king, but having credit in the criminal world means he’ll be taken seriously and has made a huge impact already to build upon.
2) his part of the deal with babs and that was to help her rise to the top and become queen, that standing he’ll gain from having killed the king in the criminal world can only help with that
and there’s many other reasons I’m sure as to why ed would want to take credit for killing oswald, however, there’s another option that I like to lean towards and it could work perfectly well in conjunction with everything said so far
I like to think that he left the ? on the painting because he feels guilty about killing oswald and at least some small part of him wants to be caught/punished for it.
okay, let me explain
so back in 2x07, after killing kristen, when ed wakes up hallucination/dark ed says to him “You probably have half a mind to turn yourself in.”
okay, sure, he didn’t mean to kill kristen so it is slightly different, but the point stands that he felt guilty after doing it and wanted to turn himself in. most likely because kristen never did anything wrong (whereas someone like dougherty was an abuser and even beat up ed, and with people like the man who came across kristen’s grave, ed didn’t know them personally so most likely felt no real guilt because “it had to be done”)
skip forward to 2x17 where ed finally gets caught. the only (or major) reason why he gets caught is because he becomes paranoid and decides to go after jim because he believes jim is onto him. we add the fact that he jumped to conclusions and gave them everything they needed to convict him (kristen’s body, his confession, etc) with his guilt immediately after killing kristen, it suggests that a small part of him still wanted to be caught by 2x17 despite him seemingly accepting who he was becoming (and what he’d done)
so ed is no stranger to guilt, especially when it comes to hurting people he loves
- he felt guilty over killing kristen (we also know this because he straight up tells isabella as much)
- if he’d killed isabella he most likely would have felt guilty over that, and in a way he probably feels guilty because she essentially died for being in love/in a relationship with him
- the stuff in 2x17 could suggest that he also wanted to be stopped so he didn’t have to kill jim
but I fully accept that maybe that’s my shipper heart talking so hey
anyway, ed most likely felt guilty about killing kristen because he thought he was in love with her and she meant something to him.
if we include the middle bullet point, he feels guilty for the same reasons, he thought/thinks he loves isabella and she meant something to him, she was also his second (and perhaps first real) chance at being happy
in this mind anyway
and if we do include the last bullet point, jim was one of the few people who was nice to him at the gcpd, they were friends, there’s no denying that.
seeing a pattern? these were all people who meant something to ed, treated him nicely, and/or people he loved
even if we step away from nygmobblepot as a romantic ship and just look at them as friends, these things still apply.
- oswald was at the very least ed’s best friend, that’s a pretty big thing and even just suggests how close they were (especially in the moments we didn’t see)
- factoring in that oswald can be blunt, he was never really purposely cruel to ed
- whether it’s romantically or platonically or whatever I have no doubt that ed loved oswald in some way, shape, or form
all of that that added with the fact that ed clearly regrets and feels guilty about killing oswald immediately after shooting him (feel free to read my meta/analysis about that here) it suggests to me that ed, on some level, is going to feel guilty enough to even consider handing himself him
I’m not saying he’s going to be conscious of this, I don’t think he was concious of the fact he was essentially handing himself over in 2x17 when he got himself caught, but whether it’s conscious or not I’m choosing to believe that the question mark on the painting is because a part of him, no matter how small, and no matter how aware of it he is, wants to be caught and punished for what he’s done
also this still stands whether you see nygmobblepot as romantic or not, they were close and have a bond, one that can’t easily be broken, and one I think is never going to sever completely. they, as a pair, are so intertwined at this point that it doesn’t matter if it’s romantic or not because that connection they have is already so strong that there’s no way that ed doesn’t feel guilty, and only serves to back up the idea that some part of him, no matter how small, will want to be punished
it also adds strength to me, that one day, at some point, ed and oswald will come back together and slowly make it back on to good terms