This week’s episode of Gotham began like so many others, with a cold-open murder. The show has a desire to walk the thin line between an over the top comic and a serious cop drama, and it’s not always a successful mashup. A man named Adam Jadowski is tied to a wooden chair on top of a building, and then is dangled over the ledge. An unidentified villain rips a burlap sack off his head, places a noose around his neck, and then cuts the support rope, sending Jadowski falling down the side of the building until the noose catches. It’s harsh and brutal, and then we cut to the inside of an apartment, where a maid is vacuuming the carpet, singing along with the music from her headphones, completely oblivious to the dead man right outside the window.
It’s our introduction to Dr. Crane, and is another example of how Gotham introduces new characters in such a bizarre fashion. From Black Mask who runs an underground fight club, to the Electrocutioner, the show has a way of just throwing characters into the mix, rather than gradually bringing them into the larger story. When every introduction is handled this way, it feels mundane and inconsequential. The episode “The Fearsome Dr. Crane” was promoted as a look at the origin story of The Scarecrow. But, this episode didn’t feel any different from any other. It followed the same beats, and once again, we meet the father of the villain that will eventually face Batman. That’s not to say that I hated the episode. There was a lot that I enjoyed, but it is just another example of how frustrating this show can be.
Dr. Gerald Crane, is the father of Jonathan Crane, aka The Scarecrow, and he also likes to prey on the fears and phobias of his victims. What could be one of the deepest and most intriguing characters on the show is reduced to a man that always gets away in the nick of time, and loves to smirk at those not clever enough to know his true nature. There is no character development or insight, which is necessary in what is supposed to be the start of an origin story. The audience already knows that Jonathan Crane will become The Scarecrow, so you need to give us insight into HOW he becomes that character. Gotham’s idea of backstory is to just give us a younger version of the characters we already know. It’s insulting to fans, because the show runners seem to think that all we want is winks and nods to future characters we are never going to see. We will never see Crane face off against Batman, so we’ll get his father go against Gordon instead.
It’s a real shame that the Crane story was so bad, because the rest of the episode had some really good and interesting moments. The Maroni-Cobblepot sequence played out pretty well. It was tense, it was well acted, and had moments of humor injected where appropriate.Have Maroni finally realize Cobblepot’s loyalty to Falcone, thanks to a phone call from Fish Mooney, allows Maroni to gain the advantage and a position of power. It gives Maroni a chance to step out of the shadow cast by Fish and Falcone, and he is one the best actors that can walk the tightrope of chewing the scenery, and still being interesting and compelling. Robin Lord Taylor’s Penguin once again has the floor drop out from under him, just when he thinks he has all his cards in play. He is forced to manipulate and weasel his way out of trouble, and think on his feet. I didn’t like how he escaped from the car crushing, as him calling the machine operator and threatening him was the easy way out. I wanted the writers to really give me a creative way for Penguin to escape, to use his cunning and intellect. Instead, it was a lazy move, and was a definite letdown.
I like the slow development of Edward Nygma’s turn into the Riddler. He’s very smart and clever, but he’s very sensitive and needy, and is his achilles hill. I like the idea of him working for the GCPD, and being stifled and held back. I don’t mind that he’s a weird guy that has a crush on the beautiful forensic secretary, but I don’t like the execution, which is standard for Gotham. I think it’s because Chelsea Spack that plays Kristen Kringle is so flat and one dimensional. There isn’t any chemistry there, and it really takes away from what should be almost heartbreaking. Nygma chasing a love that will never come to fruition is nice, but the interactions are so bland and just don’t work well. I do like that he framed the medical examiner by putting chopped up by parts in his locker. It gives us a reminder that even puppy dogs can have sharp bites. It’s the most evil thing he’s done so far, and it was clever, mean, and necessary for a character that will become The Riddler.
Why does Gordon keep thinking that Barbara will be home? Can we PLEASE just kill off that character and never speak of her again?
What was up with the scene where Fish and an assassin give each other knowing looks and run at each other full speed like they are anime characters?
Do we really need to see Penguin hitchhiking back to Gotham again? Is he going to kill all the nice church ladies and eat their sandwiches?
Next week, we get the second half of the Scarecrow story. What are your thoughts?