As I mentioned in my last ‘Gotham’ recap, I found the introduction of future Batman foe The Scarecrow to be perhaps the least interesting thing about last week’s episode. The show wraps up the two-parter this week with an episode explicitly called ‘The Scarecrow’, so you know we’re going to spend more time with that storyline. Fortunately, this one plays a little better.
Not that I disliked the last episode, mind you. I just thought that the other storylines were more compelling, while the business with Dr. Crane and son felt like an afterthought. This time around, they play more of a central role.
The Only Thing to Fear…
The episode opens with the Cranes striking a new victim, an English teacher terrified of zombie home invaders or something like that. With the man’s harvested adrenal glands, the elder Crane (Julian Sands) mixes up a potion that he injects into himself, which gives him hallucinatory visions of a woman on fire. We’ll later learn that the woman was his wife, who died in a house fire. This is the fear he’s been struggling to overcome.
Gordon and Bullock finally identify Crane as a biology teacher at the same school as the victim. It seems like a pretty stupid mistake for Crane to kill someone he knew personally, but I suppose he’s desperate at this point.
With the cops closing in, Crane injects his son with a massive dose of his concoction. This causes the kid to convulse into seizures while in a field underneath a scarecrow. You can see where this is going.
Now cured of his fear, or any fear at all for that matter, papa Crane recklessly charges at Jim and Harvey, who are forced to gun him down in front of his son. They bring the kid to a hospital, where doctors determine that his brain chemistry is permanently altered. He now lives in a constant state of terror, haunted by visions of an evil scarecrow coming after him. I imagine he’ll wind up in the Arkham Asylum, and from there develop his new identity as a supervillain.
The last episode ended with Fish Mooney lunging toward a pirate. It seems my assumption that they actually knew each other must have been wrong. Here, she wakes up in a dungeon or prison of some sort, filled with all sorts of dangerous lowlifes, plus one guy named Kelly wearing a ratty suit, who’s a little too helpful at showing her the ropes of the place.
Ever the smart cookie, Fish quickly identifies a dude named Mace as the badass everyone else is afraid of, because he somehow has the only knife. Apparently, Mace has never seen a prison movie before and isn’t aware that the best way for a newbie to prove him- or herself and avoid being fucked with is to immediately take out the toughest guy around. Fish, however, has seen a prison movie or two, so that’s exactly what she does.
As Fish asserts her dominance, the pirates toss a new prisoner into the cell, a woman whose eyes they’ve cut out. Eww.
Into the Woods
At Wayne Manor, Bruce gears up to go on a hike through the woods near the estate. This was an annual tradition that he and his father used to have, and he insists that he must do it alone. Well, he probably regrets that when he falls down a hill and sprains his ankle. Bruce spends a long time dragging himself back up the hill, only to find Alfred sitting there with a campfire, waiting to see if he could do it. They have a nice bonding moment watching the sun rise, just like Bruce and his dad used to do.
No Kissing at Work
Jim is a little apprehensive when his girlfriend Leslie (Morena Baccarin) takes a job as the GCPD’s new Medical Examiner. He’s worried about appearances of propriety, especially when Harvey warns him that, “Office romance always ends in tears.”
Ed Nygma thinks she’s a swell addition to the police force, and likes her a great deal more than the last M.E.
A Bird in Hand
Now officially on Don Maroni’s shit-list, Penguin whines to Don Falcone about needing protection. Falcone barely pays him any attention, doesn’t seem concerned about it, and orders Penguin to reopen Fish’s nightclub. The business makes money, and money equals power. Penguin will now openly be an associate of Falcone, no more skulking around, and that already will bring him some protection.
Penguin renames the club “Oswald’s” and decorates it with a neon umbrella logo. He sends out invitations to a grand opening, and personally goes down to police headquarters to invite Jim, hoping to solidify him as a friend. Jim spurns his offer.
Falcone has a parley with Maroni, in which he again doesn’t seem to give a crap if Maroni wants to kill Penguin. However, he offers up the goods on a blackmailed judge as a sign of good will. Maroni pays a visit to the nightclub to tell Penguin that, “All is kosher between us…” until the very minute Don Falcone dies, at which time penguin hunting season will reopen.
I wouldn’t say that this is one of the best episodes of the show’s first season, but it’s a solid entry in most respects. Next week teases a possible introduction for The Joker. I’m not sure how I feel about that. Is it really a good idea to bring that character out so soon? I’d rather see him in Season 2 or 3. The first year should leave The Penguin as the major antagonist and not steal his thunder. I guess we’ll have to see how the episode handles things.
I thought this week’s entry was pretty good, but – like you – I’m not sure we need the Joker right now, and from the previews it looks like they hired some redheaded kid and told him to do his best Jack Nicholson impersonation. Hopefully it won’t backfire on the showrunners…I would have waited a few seasons for The Joker.
I didn’t see the preview/commercial until this morning…and yeah, in that single shot the potential Joker does look a lot like he is doing a Nicholson impersonation. Then again, Nicholson played the character so well that it’s hard not to see elements of him in others’ Joker performances. Ledger’s version (leaning more toward psychopath, and less toward jokester) might be too dark for this series.
I was thinking though about the introduction of this character both to the series, and having it so early in the series. While I do agree that taking Oswald’s thunder bothers me a bit, it makes some sense….
(1)Penguin’s criminal rise should be very different than The Jokers. Penguin is going up the traditional organized crime ranks. The Joker, I expect, will getting his hands dirtier (more smash & grab jobs, murders, etc.) while gaining infamy.
(2)One function of this series, I believe, is to show how Gotham went down hill (while Bruce watched) compelling him to put on the cowl. Having multiple villains start their rise in the wake of the Waynes’ murder makes sense.
(3)The “Joker” could still be a long way off, as (in Burton’s Batman) Jack Napier was a well established criminal before his transformation. Perhaps, instead of Batman being the cause, what if young Bruce lead to Napier’s transformation?
The Only Thing to Fear…
It seems like young Crane paid attention to his father’s work, as the effect of that injection seems very similar to Scarecrow’s gas. My question is, will we be seeing the transformation to this character in this series? Or is that too far in the future (and into the actually Batman time period)?
For some reason, I thought the inmate who’s eyes were removed was someone taken from the prison population and then returned. Also, I would imagine Fish’s attempt to organize the population won’t be well received by the guards. I have a feeling that the big cheese there isn’t the pirate we saw at the end of the prior episode.
Into the Woods…
I swear I thought he was going to slide into a cavern full of bats! I do like the way you see Bruce’s character develop under Alfred’s influence. He is both teaching him to be a man, and respecting him. I think these scenes are very well written.
No Kissing at Work…
It’s odd watching this relationship develop, because you know it has to go bad in some sort of big way (and to allow Barbara back in the picture). Either Leslie will be a villian, or will be killed.
A Bird in Hand…
Penguin’s story line is my favorite by far. Has he actually used an umbrella to walk yet?
Highlight for me, of the whole episode, is the interaction between Nygma and Cobblepot. It’s like Nygma wants to be friends, and Cobblepot is creeped out…but you can see that something is there. Perhaps, when whatever motivates Nygma to leave G.P.D. and turn evil, it will lead him to Cobblepot. BFVFL! (Best Friend Villians For Life!)
I don’t think Penguin has used an umbrella as a cane yet, but his job at the beginning of the series was to hold Fish’s umbrella.
I’m just disappointed he didn’t rename the club “The Iceberg Lounge” instead of “Oswald’s”
Ah, I forgot about him being the umbrella holder.
His bright neon purple Umbrella as the sign to his lounge certainly makes things work 🙂