Episode Title: The Fearsome Dr. Crane
Original Airdate: 2-2-15
One of the biggest complaints against Gotham seems to be how it has been taking too many of Batman’s villains lately and having them come into play long before Bruce Wayne even develops an irrational fear of bats. There’s a couple thought processes that go into this criticism. The biggest one against is the theory that it was the appearance of Batman himself that created the more eccentric supervillains of Gotham. If he hadn’t come around with his theatricality then the crime would still be there, but it would continue to be the stereotypical mob and street crime. The other theory is that the most interesting thing about the world of Batman, Gotham City, and Arkham Asylum are the villains and to have this show focusing on the city that beget Batman without using any of the rogues gallery would be a waste and be uninteresting. I find that the show is the best when it walks the fine line between those two sides, but it is a fine line and different for everyone.
This week’s episode brings in yet another very familiar face to fans of Batman, much more relevant than the earlier Electrocutioner and on par with the Penguin. The scientist Jonathan Crane better known as the Scarecrow. As with many of the villains shown to this point on Gotham he is still a child, mid-teens at best. Here we get to see how his infatuation with fear came from his father, and his father before him. Dr. Todd Crane is also a bit unhinged as he picks off victims from a phobia support group. Which brings up another aspect of the show that some people struggle with, the overall tone. The show opens with the first victim, tied to a chair at the top of a tall building, allowed to let his acrophobia consume him before being pushed off and hung. Very cinematic, very chilling, meant to invoke some of the fear that he felt. However, the second victim was someone who had swinophobia which meant that his method of torture was much more silly, involving a Vietnamese Pot Bellied Pig, a couple full grown hogs, and a thug in a pig mask. There’s also the story line between Detective Bullock and a woman from the group where he is obviously and rather amusingly hitting on her, not so subtly. Once again, it’s a fine line between being comic relief and being ridiculously silly. I will admit that the scenes with Bullock made me laugh, but I was scratching my head about the pig stuff. As a whole I thought Todd Crane, or Gerald Crane as his IMDB credit states, was a decent enough villain for the week, though I don’t quite think he was special enough to warrant two episodes to catch him.
As for the other subplots, and there are always many, most worked pretty well for me. We get to see the Penguin once again fall from grace as Fish Mooney makes the call to Sal Maroni giving him the lowdown on what Penguin’s really all about. And while I do think it was a bit of a stretch to see Maroni go to such great lengths to teach Penguin a lesson, or maybe just test him, I did think it played out very well. And I thought the humor worked much better here when Penguin was using his cell phone to talk his way out of getting crushed in the car. There’s also catching up to do with Edward Nygma who seems to finally be getting more of an edge to his character. I initially wasn’t too sure about him as he was always played as just this goof who liked riddles way too much. Get it? He likes riddles so he’s going to become the Riddler! But he’s starting to move away from the riddle side of things and actually become a more complex character, someone who is willing to plant body parts on a rival so he won’t lose his job, someone who is unhealthily obsessed with the file clerk Ms. Kringle, so much so that he soaks up anything resembling acceptance towards him. As for the other interesting relationship angle, I’m so glad that they’ve gotten rid of Barbara for the time being, as the relationship between Gordon and Morena Baccarin’s Leslie Thompkins is much more interesting to watch unfold. She is a much better fit as a character for this show, and if Barbara does come back, I really hope they go a very different direction than the one they started the season with. Dr. Thompkins is someone not afraid of what Gotham is, she’s not afraid of what the rest of the police force thinks of her or their relationship, and she is going to be working much more closely with the show as the new medical examiner. A role that will also likely have her interacting with Nygma who also can’t seem to keep himself away from doing something that is not his job.
Overall, it was another good episode, but I can’t leave this episode without talking about the scene at the very end. Last episode Fish Mooney left Gotham, and here we have gotten glimpses of her taking a vacation on what I assume is a yacht. We don’t see it from the outside but it has a small crew, a captain, and her quarters are relatively luxurious. The show ends with her hearing gunshots on deck, the captain gets shot, the attacker comes in, and suddenly the show turns into a samurai anime cartoon. There’s these ridiculous close ups of the two of them making awful grimaces. The guy’s wearing a stereotypical African or South American guerrilla get up with bullet bandoliers. And then they start running at each other before the show cuts away to the logo. Honestly, with the way the show has been going, I wouldn’t be surprised if they are running towards each other to start making out, even though we got that kiss with Bullock last episode. It just left me thinking “what the hell are they thinking?!” What did you think of that last scene, or about Gotham’s Scarecrow? Leave a comment right below.