‘Gotham’ introduces one of Batman’s most famous foes this week. Well, it sort of does. Honestly, that’s not even the most interesting part of the episode.
The episode is called ‘The Fearsome Dr. Crane’, but that title is something of a misdirect. Comic fans or viewers who remember ‘Batman Begins’ will recognize Dr. Crane as The Scarecrow (played by Cillian Murphy in the film). A character who goes by that name, now played by Julian Sands, is first seen dangling a man over the edge of a building. We’ll later learn that the victim suffered a phobia of heights, and Crane was exploiting that fear in order to get his adrenal glands pumping, which he then surgically removed at the moment at death. This sure seems like the M.O. for The Scarecrow.
IMDb lists the character’s full name as Gerald Crane. He has a teenage son named Jonathan Crane serving as his apprentice. Ah ha, that’s the Scarecrow we were expecting. The older guy is his father/mentor.
Jim and Harvey trace the victim to a phobia support group led by a woman named Scottie Mullen. Harvey is instantly smitten with her, and makes excuses to attend the group so that he can awkwardly ask her out. Scottie herself is afraid of drowning in a swimming pool. Harvey says that he’s afraid of dying alone in an alley.
Of course, the elder Crane has been staking out the support group, posing as a mild-mannered man afraid of failure, in order to select his victims. He tells his son that they’re doing important research that will benefit all of mankind.
You can probably guess where this is going. Crane kidnaps Scottie, ties her up, and tosses her in a pool. Harvey and Jim race to the rescue. Harvey just barely saves her from drowning. Jim chases Crane, but the doctor gets away. This episode serves as the first half of a two-parter. I assume that in the next one, Harvey and Jim will capture or kill Crane, Sr., leading Crane, Jr. to take on his mantle and become The Scarecrow.
That’s all well and good, if fairly predictable. Much more interesting, however, is the episode’s other storyline featuring The Penguin and Maroni.
The two villains sit in Maroni’s restaurant celebrating the presumed death of Fish Mooney, when Fish calls Maroni on her way out of town and tells him that Penguin is working for Falcone and has played the both of them. Maroni is naturally skeptical of anything Fish would tell him, but he’s also a little suspicious of Penguin. He announces that he needs to make a sudden drive out to the country “to see a guy about a thing,” and asks Penguin to come with him. Penguin can sense that something is up, but plays along so as not to rouse any more suspicion.
Once at a cabin in the middle of nowhere, they sit and wait. Penguin gets antsy and repeatedly asks where this “guy” is. Maroni tells him not to worry about it. When Maroni leaves the room for a minute, Penguin rifles through his bag and finds a handgun. Maroni returns and says that he wants to play a game of “Tell Me a Secret.” Penguin gets extremely anxious.
Right away, Maroni tells the secret that Fish Mooney is alive and tipped him off that Penguin is working for Falcone. Penguin tries to dodge the question, but feels cornered and pulls the gun. Maroni’s next secret: The gun is loaded with blanks. Penguin fires off three rounds to no effect. (I guess the writers of this show have forgotten what happened when Jon-Erik Hexum was shot with a blank at close range.)
Maroni drags Penguin out to a scrap yard and locks him in a car going into the crusher. Penguin tries to beg and barter for his life but Maroni won’t listen. Ever the clever schemer, Penguin gets on his cell phone and calls the owner of the yard who’s operating the crusher, and threatens him that Don Falcone will retaliate against him personally if he doesn’t immediately stop the crusher. The man panics and does just that. Penguin manages to slip out and escape. The next morning, he’s picked up by a bunch of old ladies in a church bus on their way to Gotham.
- Jim returns to his apartment and finds Selina squatting there. She tells him that she never saw the Wayne murderer and runs away. He thinks she’s lying because she’s scared, but Bruce Wayne believes her. He dismisses Jim from his obligation to find his parents’ killer, and says he’ll continue the investigation on his own.
- Ed Nygma gets suspended from his job when the (incompetent) Medical Examiner complains to the captain that Nygma has been performing autopsies without permission. Nygma plants a bunch of dismembered body parts in the M.E.’s locker. The M.E. is fired and Nygma is reinstated. He also continues to make small inroads with the object of his affection, Miss Kringle.
- Jim takes Dr. Thompkins (Morena Baccarin) on a date and kind of blows it, but she’s still into him and cuts him a lot of slack. Later, they kiss at the police station in front of all the cops who hate Jim. Thompkins is going to turn out to be evil, isn’t she?
- Fish Mooney flees Gotham on a boat. At episode’s end, the boat is raided by pirates. One finds Fish in her cabin. They snarl at each other, and then the episode cuts to credits in a very weird spot as they both lunge toward one another. Why do I suspect that this is a fake-out and the next episode will open with the revelation that these two know each other and are lovers?
The stuff between Penguin and Maroni in this episode is really juicy, but I’m a little disappointed that Penguin’s ruse is up so soon. I feel like he could have weaseled his way out of that situation without the whole thing going south. Still, I liked this episode, even if the Scarecrow storyline is a bit too formulaic.