It’s well known that Joker is The Dark Knight’s ultimate nemesis, but if you ask any Batman fan worth their salt who the hero’s best villains are, there’s a good chance Jonathan Crane, aka. Scarecrow, would be quite high up on the list. It’s a name Gotham’s producers are banking on, with a 14th episode titled The Fearsome Dr Crane. While knowing who the character is going to become means the hour certainly holds our interest, though, the Crane segments do not form the best parts of this episode.
That distinction resides with Penguin and his fantastic story line with Sal Maroni. Thanks to a perfectly timed phone call by Fish* – because TV! – Maroni is now in the know on Penguin’s duplicitous actions, and the back-and-forth between the two characters as they take a road trip is wonderfully tense and superbly acted by both Robin Lord Taylor and David Zayas. Part of what makes these scenes so great is that both actors are very good at delivering thinly veiled dialogue, and Cobblepot and Maroni have no shortage of that here. The way in which their clash ultimately concludes seems a little too far-fetched but, again, it’s good to see Gotham pulling the triggers on these sub-plots rather than letting them linger well past their expiration date.
(* Speaking of Fish, the final scene of the hour is extremely strange and has her seemingly about to leap into battle against a pirate. We are not excited about where this is going.)
All this easily overshadows the merely serviceable Dr Crane, because Gotham does little to make it feel different from every other villain-of-the-week plot that has become the show’s bread and butter. There is very little done to really flesh out Papa Crane’s motivations behind his actions. Granted, this is the first of a two-part story arc, but Gotham’s left itself a lot of work to do, if it’s to provide a satisfying pay-off in the next episode.
However, there are some strong developments with other characters. It is great to see Morena Baccarin’s Leslie Thompkins back on screen again, and her interactions with Mckenzie’s Gordon are awkwardly charming. Similar can be said of Bullock’s humorous courtship of red-head Scottie Mullen (Maria Thayer), which leads to a rare scene of introspection from our hat-wearing detective that’s capably performed by Logue. Here’s hoping we get some of that insight with Crane next time.
Gotham is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £8.99 monthly subscription.
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