15 “The Scarecrow” (Gotham season 1) [SPOILERS]


So far Gotham‘s record for introducing Batman villains hasn’t been flawless. The Penguin, as a story arc project, is coming along nicely, and Edward Nygma is humming away nicely in the background. But the rest have largely been one-shot, single episode features.

I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that an episode titled “The Scarecrow” is going to feature, well, Scarecrow. We got the preview yesterday, in what seems to be becoming a new feature for the show: the two-episode villain introduction.

Admittedly, the last time was with the Electrocutioner, which isn’t exactly an A-list Batman villain.

But Gotham has won the room to experiment, in a way that few of the new series I’ve been regularly reviewing has. It’s already won its second season, and though it does hit bum notes from time to time, it’s more or less found its rhythm.

After the last episode, Mr (not Dr) Crane is on the loose and still stealing scared people’s adrenal glands. Gordon and Bullock are still tracking him, now having a suspect, though Gordon has the distraction of Dr Thompkins joining GCPD as the new medical examiner. Meanwhile Penguin runs back to Falcone after Maroni sussed him at the last episode, and Fish Mooney wakes up in a mysterious jail.

So, Scarecrow is a pretty central part of the Batman mythos. Not on the same level as the Joker, but more comparable to Harvey Dent or the Penguin perhaps. Julian Sands as the elder Crane is still brilliant, as is┬áhis project to innoculate himself — and then his son — against fear using the concentrated fear hormones. It’s a pretty neat tie in to the Scarecrow character as we know it will evolve, and we get a number of well shot scenes of a drugged Crane sr being tormented by his burning wife — who he was apparently unable to save from a fire.

And although I know they’re not connected, the kid playing Crane jr looks alarmingly like he could grow into Cilian Murphy, who played Scarecrow in the Christopher Nolan films.

The resolution, with the “fearless” Crane sr facing down the armed Gordon and Bullock, makes an interesting point about the usefulness of fear, and with Crane jr given a massive dose of the innoculation by his father, he is apparently doomed to be constantly tormented by his fear — represented by a well-constructed CGI scarecrow creature.

Hopefully he will make a return later in the series, because honestly I’m impressed with how well executed this was. The tie in of backstory and modernised settings worked to its best effect here.

The other main strand revolves around Penguin. Falcone gives him (officially now) Fish’s old club, and he rebrands it as Oswald’s. Of course, Maroni still wants revenge, though Falcone wants to keep him because, as he says, Penguin is smart, but knows that he will never be king. Err… Falcone buys off his rival with a judge who has infuriated the two of them, but Maroni makes it clear to Cobblepot that as soon as Falcone’s star wanes, he will have his revenge.

Speaking of Waynes (Nice seugue there… -Ed), we are back to clatting about with Bruce Wayne. Here Bruce goes on a hike that he used to do with his father, this time alone. They used to camp out and watch the sunrise, but of course little Wayne has to be back before dinner. Until he unleashes his bat-rage on a pile of rocks, and falls down a ravine. He crawls, slowly, back up to the top, where he finds a sarcastic Alfred waiting for him.

I get it. Bruce needs to be toughened up. This didn’t fit with the episode though, and once again I’m left with the feeling that it was shoehorned in purely for the sake of having the characters on screen. Which is a bad reason to include anything.

And Fish, after the mental ending of last week’s episode, wakes up in a sort of underground jail. With no explanations, Fish goes about doing what she does best; becoming top dog. She seduces and then kills the guy with the only knife in the place, and suddenly is queen — just as a woman with her eyes gouged out is delivered back to the prison.

Well, at least her story is consistently interesting.

This was another A-grade episode, and Wayne bits aside was pretty much flawless. I’m still slightly in awe of how much that Gotham has them going on. All those plates spinning, it feels like this has been running for a lot more than 15 episodes. It has had a lot of money pumped into it, to be sure, but more than anything it has latched onto a good premise, and resolved to execute it well. The balance of character and crazy, intertwined, is what defines this series, and what makes it such damn compulsive watching.

Closing thoughts:

  • Penguin tells his underling to deliver the box of invitations to “the people on the list”, but then says he wants to “deliver this one” himself. Since they’re not addressed, I hope he told poor Gabe which one he was delivering…
  • The meeting of Cobblepot and Nygma is everything I wanted, and more. Can these two have their own spin-off?
  • “It’s not professional,” Gordon tells Lee, when she kisses him. “I should hope not,” she responds. Quite.
  • Oswald’s looks a bit…shit, doesn’t it?

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