Last week on Gotham, ‘The Fearsome Dr. Crane’ introduced us to the father of one of the future Batman’s most prolific villains. This week, ‘The Scarecrow’ takes that introduction even further by showing us the young Jonathan Crane as he makes his initial transition from the son of a psychopath to a proper psychopath in his own right. We also witnessed an escalation of conflict between Penguin and Marconi (with Penguin barely surviving), some mysterious trouble for Fish Mooney and the continued hunt of Dr. Crane by Gordon and Harvey. So where will all these showdowns end? While this week’s episode does wrap up a bit of what was started last week, it’s pretty low on the punch factor.
We begin with yet another scare-fest. Dr. Crane is still harvesting adrenal glands from frightened victims and trying to use them for some sort of crazy science. As it turns out, he’s making fear juice. Quite obviously the precursor to what The Scarecrow of Batman cannon will end up using during his own villainous career, the intent of Dr. Crane Sr. is a bit different – he wants to inject himself and his son with it in order to purge them of the human emotion of fear once and for all.
But that doesn’t sit well for Gordon and Harvey Bullock. They finally figure out who Crane really is, trace him to a former co-worker and then discover a bit more about the madman’s plans. Turns out he’s been working on the fear juice for years. His wife burned up and he was unable to save her, so I guess he’s trying to cure himself through some rather extreme medicinal methods. But the GCPD dream team figures out where he’s holding up and track him there. Unfortunately, even though they catch the bad guy in the end (or blast him full of bullets, as the case may be), they’re too late for little Crane. And thus are the gears set in motion for the one and only Scarecrow to emerge at some point in the future.
Meanwhile, the rest of Gotham’s cast goes through the motions. The Penguin has the biggest story arc, being forced to figure things out between him and the guy what wants to kill him – Marconi. So he heads back to Falcone for some help. Falcone sees value in The Penguin, believing – quite inaccurately – that a “freakish little man” can never become a proper crime lord in Gotham (if only he’d read his Batman comics as a kid, he would know that’s far from the truth). So he convinces Marconi to back off, at least for a while. The Penguin gets control of Fish’s old nightclub and has himself a grand opening. And while he invites his buddy Jim Gordon to come by, the man who actually shows up is Marconi. He’s giving Penguin a warning that as soon as Falcone is out of the picture, Penguin is dead. I guess it’s time for Penguin to move the expiration date on his old boss up a bit?
In the meanwhile, we get Fish Mooney in some weird prison world. We have no clue how she got there or where she actually is. It’s just her versus a bunch of violent people. Naturally, Fish takes charge and begins setting up her own system in mystery-strange-prison-land. And in Bruce Wayne’s world, the little tyke takes off for a walkabout in the local woods that results in him messing up his ankle and having an emo moment with Alfred. And though we don’t see too much of Nigma this time around, we do get a nice little meet-up between him and The Penguin.
By far my favorite part of this week’s episode was the brief interaction between Nigma and The Penguin. The burgeoning shadows of these two famous Batman characters’ personalities were fun to watch. Nigma recognizes another sociopath when he sees one, but Penguin is far from happy about being hassled by someone who doesn’t show him the proper respect. Anyone that’s familiar enough with the Batman comics will likely appreciate the parallels to when these two are forced to work together to “bring down the Batman”.
Another fun interaction was the moment between Gordon and Penguin. Poor Penguin really does seem to think of Gordon as a true friend. He did, after all, spare Penguin’s life. But Gordon is still raw from the last time he asked for Penguin’s help and ended up putting a fellow officer’s family in danger. He wants nothing to do with the evil little man. A preference that will not likely hold up as the season continues and Gordon finds himself backed into corner after corner.
Unfortunately, Gotham had more than its share of negatives this week. The Fish Mooney scenario is just plain bizarre. The entire premise feels forced. Although, to be fair, that could just be because nothing has been explained thus far. Still, it’s like the writers couldn’t think of anything for Fish to do aside from hiding out and waiting, so they wanted to show her building up a new army to use in her return to Gotham. Really though, it could have been glossed over and no one would have cared. We expect the streets of Gotham to run red with blood as everyone and their mother vies for control during the season finale. Who Fish chooses to bring along is completely arbitrary.
There was also that annoying interaction between Gordon and his new ladyfriend, Dr. Thompkins. She’s working with the GCPD now and Gordon seems unhappy that she’s trying to molest him in front of his fellow officers. It’s not that she might be singled out as a target of aggression due to Gordon’s rogue nature that worries him, however. It’s because she’s being unprofessional. Umm… okay?
And, finally, there’s the issue with Gotham being entirely too crowded. I like seeing the canon Batman characters popping up here and there in their Gotham-esque iterations. I understand that this is an alternate universe show and that it’s not supposed to mirror the original Batman storyline down to every last detail. But they’ve taken to introducing EVERY SINGLE VILLAIN! It’s almost like they expected the show to be cancelled before it even finished its first season run and wanted to make sure that every well-known baddie had a chance to make a cameo. Seriously guys – your ratings are fine. Take your time with bringing in the Batman villains. Leave some for season 2.
Next week, we get ANOTHER Batman villain in their diapers as ‘The Blind Fortune Teller’ brings a wee little Joker into the mix. We also get to see young Bruce Wayne making some unpopular business decisions and Fish running around with her new crew. Check out the trailer for that one below: