From the first meeting between Penguin and The Riddler to a hike in the woods, too many of the scenes in Gotham’s 15th episode hold little consequence for the show’s overarching narrative. However, The Scarecrow does succeed in the department it needs to most: giving us some more insight into Gerald and Jonathan Crane, something that was sorely lacking in the previous hour.
It helps that, as the determined Papa Crane, Julian Sands continues Gotham’s trend of guest stars giving great performances. The back-story of failing to save his wife due to being unable to overcome his fear makes for sufficient motivation, even if his end goal of a world without fear is a little short-sighted (this brings to mind an episode from The New Batman Adventures titled Never Fear, in which Scarecrow eliminates fear rather than inducing it – well worth a watch). Perhaps this origin story’s greatest achievement is that it actually makes us sympathetic to the future Scarecrow’s plight. (On that front, the visuals at the end of the hour are suitably horrifying.)
Jim Gordon is also feeling a little fearful this week as his new love Dr Leslie Thompkins starts work as the new medical examiner for the GCPD. Seeing as the new couple had a snogging session in front of the whole department as recently as the last episode, Gordon’s assertion of “no kissing at work” didn’t really hold water. Still, the playfulness of the relationship makes for a welcome light touch amid all the Scarecrow grimness, and the chemistry between Baccarin and McKenzie is still enjoyable. (Also, no Barbara!)
When last we saw Fish Mooney, she was lunging at a pirate. It turns out that off-screen scene ended with the former mob boss being kidnapped: here, she wakes up in an underground prison. We would have been perfectly fine not knowing what she’d been up to while being away from Gotham – it might have even made her inevitable return more impactful – and there is nothing that transpires in this hour that makes us care about this strange story line. With Fish estranged from Gotham at present, these scenes also feel very superfluous and tell us nothing about the character we don’t already know.
Also feeling very far removed from the rest of the show – but far better executed – is a touching story line featuring Alfred and Bruce (or “Young Master B” as the impeccably dressed butler states this week). David Masouz and Sean Pertwee remain great to watch together, and they help make what could have easily been an overly sentimental subplot resonate. It’s just a shame that this plot thread and others are so poorly stitched together with the rest of the episode.
Gotham is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £8.99 monthly subscription.
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