Despite being the big name of the episode, the fearsome Dr. Crane didn’t play that huge of a part in this week’s Gotham. Instead, this weeks episode gets all of its procedural segments out of the way and quickly gets to developing characters and moving along previously established storylines. Seemingly everyone makes an appearance and has something significant happen.
“The Fearsome Dr. Crane” is just a set up episode to Scarecrow actually becoming the villain as we know him, and follows Jonathan Crane’s father, with the child-aged Scarecrow only making a brief appearance. In all, Dr. Gerald Crane only kills one person and attempts to kill another, both of which are pretty bland and could be the work of most any psychopath in a procedural cop drama. There are some hints as to what he is doing with the people he murders to give them a comic book twist – removing their adrenal glands – but Dr. Crane is a pretty run-of-the-mill bad guy. Even how Gordon and Bullock track him down is flimsy and reeks of a CBS cop drama. The real shame in this whole thing being that Scarecrow is one of the best Batman villains, despite not always being named among the Penguins, Riddlers, and Jokers of the world, and his first reference in the show is weak at best.
I do like how the episode sprinkles in some of the comical tones into the every day cop drama bits, especially with the murder in the cold opening of the show. It helps establish that the show takes place in a comic book world where things get a little silly, but it is never done too hard so it almost always fits well.
When they’re not pursuing the bad doctor, Gordon and Bullock both get a little love in their lives. Jim continues to try and win over Dr. Thompkins with his trademark bumbling yet oddly swave manner. Meanwhile, Bullock tries to woo a counselor (who I originally thought was going to be Robin’s mom, but that’s looking unlikely. Who knows with this show), and eventually only succeeds thanks to a made up story during a counseling session and a dramatic rescue stopping her from drowning in a pool at the hands of Crane. Neither of these mini-love stories have huge implications in the episode, but they are welcome sidetracks from the usual mush of crime scenes and Fish Mooney’s overdone escapes from death.
While the last two weeks more or less focused on Falcone’s side of the gang war raging through Gotham, “The Fearsome Dr. Crane” shifts focus back to Maroni. Mooney, continually eager to do anything she can to get revenge on Penguin for double crossing her, spills the beans on his involvement with Falcone. It leads to one of my favorite scenes of the show so far, where Penguin and Maroni are in a log cabin in the middle of nowhere (smell that country air) and playing the most tense game of “Tell Me A Secret” ever. Maroni of course is just trying to get Penguin to admit that he has been working for Falcone the whole time, and Penguin eventually catches on. While we know that Oswald Cobblepot can’t actually die thanks to being involved in later Batman’s stories, the scene still retains its tension very well. It does so by continually teasing the idea that Penguin might still win Maroni’s trust, and whether or not Maroni will die. As always, Robin Lord Taylor carries every single scene he is in with grotesque beauty as the greasy-haired supervillain. Even when the writing gets a bit flimsy with how escapes the whole ordeal, he manages to keep it in scope and give the scenes a real sense of urgency, despite knowing nothing bad is going to happen to him.
Another major Batman villain, The Riddler, is finally starting to find his footing in the world of Gotham, as well as the show as itself. Gotham’s writers have finally discovered that a psychotic super genius can cause some real havoc in the world without just constantly spouting riddles. He’s been getting gently poked and prodded for weeks now, and taking it like a true introvert. This week however, he finally lashes out in a relatively subdued and passive-aggressive fashion when something occurs that may end up getting between him and the object of his affection. While it’s enough to get the person he wants gone suspended, it’s not enough to make anyone suspect him. Edward Nigma is supposed to be a genius criminal and he’s finally becoming one, not just a goofy sideshow.
Even though he is only in one short scene, Bruce Wayne takes a huge leap towards becoming Batman this episode. His interactions with Gordon, where he dismisses outright what the detective is saying and essentially demands that he take over the investigation of his parents murder was the most Batman thing young Wayne has done to date. He is starting to take control of the situation and using the death of his parents to motivate him to do something against the evil of the city. If Gotham is following any sort of real Batman timeline anymore, we will never see Bruce fully become the Caped Crusader over the course of the show, but he is starting to display clear signs of his future.
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