TV Review: Gotham - Season 1 Episode 15 "The Scarecrow"
Episode 15: "The Scarecrow"
Synopsis: Gordon and Bullock set out to stop Gerald Crane, a biology teacher who has been harvesting the glands of his murder victims. Meanwhile, after finding herself in an unusual setting, Mooney continues plotting to gain power, and Falcone attempts to change Maroni’s plan for the Penguin. Then, Bruce takes a treacherous hike.
Recap: We pick up a week or so after the events of the last episode. Gerald Crane is still on the loose and has murdered another victim and stolen their adrenal glands. Bullock and Gordon are at a loss as to why he may be doing this, but we quickly find out. At the dilapidated home of the Cranes, Gerald distills the gland into the trademark fear serum we come to associate with The Scarecrow from DC Comics. The effects are disturbing as Crane tests the serum on himself, forcing him to see visions of his wife burning in flames along their staircase.
Gordon and Dr. Thompkins continue their relationship, taking a third date together. Thompkins reveals she has accepted the job of medical examiner at the GCPD, a position she is cautiously optimistic will not infringe on her relationship with Gordon. When Thompkins arrives at work, she and Gordon act professionally while Bullock laments his poor luck at the two having to work together. Bullock finds Crane's picture in a school yearbook where the latest victim also taught. At the high school, the cops learn that Crane has been missing for three weeks. The principal also shares that his wife had died a few years prior in a car crash, leaving the elder Crane very protective of his son, Jonathan.
Provided with a dissertation Crane wrote about the evolutionary purpose of fear, Bullock and Gordon bring in Edward Nygma who deduces how Crane developed a cure for fear by spiking the fear of phobics and harvesting their glands. Back at Crane's house, he injects himself again and has the same vision, but this time is able to fight through it. His son approaches him and Crane says the serum is also ready to free them both of their fear forever.
After seeing Fish Mooney's boat get attacked, the former gangster is holed up in some sort of underground prison populated by other random individuals. Fish befriends another captive named Kelly who doesn't seem to know where they are either. He does show Fish the prison leader, a man named Mace. Fish meets with Mace to make a deal, offering her skills to him in exchange for protection. Fish flirts with Mace and gets close enough to stab him in the neck, killing him and taking over control of the prison.
Bruce Wayne prepares for a camping trip traditionally taken with his father. Alfred offers to accompany young Bruce who says he must do it on his own. Bruce travels the woods and comes across some stones that trigger a memory for him. He continues on, coming to a large pile of the same grey stones marked with Bruce's initials and those of his father. Bruce places the stones gently before going into a fit of rage and destroying the piles before collapsing in tears. As he walks away, Bruce slips and falls down the hillside and injures his ankle. Worried at what is keeping Bruce, Alfred goes after his young ward. Bruce fashions himself a splint and tries to make his way home. Climbing the hill slowly, Bruce finds Alfred waiting with a warm fire and food. Alfred has been waiting for an hour and Bruce says he wants to go home. Instead, the two enjoy the sunrise together, starting a new tradition.
Penguin and Don Falcone stroll Fish Mooney's club. Penguin begs the kingpin for protection from Maroni who now knows his duplicitious nature. Falcone, still seemingly affected by Fish's betrayal, instead talks about redecorating the club and removing any semblance of Fish's memory. Falcone tells Penguin he is giving him the club, having earned it. Penguin is now fully a part of Falcone's organization which pleases the rising villain. Falcone also indicates that he will deal with Maroni.
Meeting for lunch, Falcone and Maroni discuss Penguin. Maroni says he will not be deterred and Falcone doesn't argue with him. Maroni questions why Falcone keeps Penguin around to which he says the weak, little man is a moneymaker but also knows he will never be boss. That makes him a valuable asset. Falcone offers Maroni a peace offering of a brutal judge that has put away several of Maroni's men in exchange for cancelling any planned retribution on Penguin. Maroni visits the club, surprising Penguin who expects the worst but learns of Maroni's deal with Falcone. As Maroni pours a drink, he warns Penguin that as soon as Falcone is gone, he will be too.
At the club, Penguin oversees the renovations as they prepare to reopen that night as Oswald's. He keeps a single invitation he wishes to hand deliver. Penguin soon arrives at GCPD but cannot find Gordon. Instead, he comes face to face with Nygma who prompts him with a riddle. Their brief showdown is not exactly warm and inviting but definitely leaves an ominous sense of what is to come from these two iconic characters. Gordon soon arrives and Penguin offers the invite which Gordon refuses. Penguin offers any help he can but Gordon says he never should have asked for help. Penguin asks him to reconsider and says their friendship will be beneficial to them both in the future.
Crane gives Jonathan the serum which he reacts poorly to. Gordon and Bullock investigate how to find Crane and locate the news article about how his wife died. They learn she died in the home and not in a car accident and that they were home when she died, paralyzed by fear and unable to save her. Back at their home, Jonathan runs from his father and says he is not afraid, but his father says everyone in the world is afraid and forces his son back into the house, all with the shadow of a scarecrow looming behind them.
Gordon and Bullock arrive at the Crane house. Gerald makes a maximum dose of the serum and injects Jonathan which begins horrific hallucinations of a scarecrow and sends him into convulsions. Gerald announces he has no fear and exchanges gunfire with Bullock and Gordon who return fire and take him down quickly. At the GCPD, Gordon reveals to Thompkins that Gerald Crane was killed and the paramedics were able to stabilize Jonathan. They discuss ground rules for their relationship while at work which gives the sense something is coming soon for this pair. Maybe it has to do with the circus tickets she alludes to for their next date. The Flying Graysons, anyone?
Back at the prison, Fish makes her plans known that things are going to change. At that moment, the guards bring a young woman into the cell who has her eyes gouged out. At the hospital, the doctor says Jonathan Crane is showing his brain activity has him in a constant state of terror, but due to not knowing the compounds in the serum, they have no idea if it will ever wear off and if he will be normal again. The episode closes with Jonathan's horrifying visions of a scarecrow attacking him.
Review: A nice and balanced episode of GOTHAM, this week gave a nice conclusion to the Scarecrow origin story. To date on this series, most of the secondary villains from the Rogue's Gallery have gotten short shrift, but the Crane tale was pretty satisfying. While I know Morena Baccarin's stint on GOTHAM will not last, she is already a much better and more interesting character than Barbara Kean and has a little semblance of chemistry with Ben McKenzie. I also did not hate the Bruce Wayne story during this episode and maybe that is because the actors barely had to speak any dialogue. The Fish Mooney story seems like stock filler until she is needed back in the main plotlines, but once again the Falcone/Maroni arc is the most interesting on the show.
If GOTHAM's writers could make each episode as consistent as this one, we may have an uptick in quality on the horizon. The plotting was tight, the characters intriguing, the comic references not overly blatant, and the incorporation of several storylines at the same time and giving them all a satisfying wrap by the end of the episode. This was definitely one of the better episodes this year.
Next Episode: "The Blind Fortune Teller" airs February 16th: Gordon takes Dr. Leslie Thompkins to the circus, but the day turns quickly when the circus comes under attack. Then, Falcone enlists Butch Gilzean to help Penguin with the night club, while Fish Mooney is otherwise occupied. Also, Bruce Wayne schedules a meeting with the Wayne Enterprises board.