This week’s episode of “Gotham” kept pushing forward the theme of fear in its primary plot, as the exploits of one Dr. Gerald Crane helped to provide a more well-rounded early look at a young man that will eventually become one of Batman’s greatest enemies. While last week’s episode dipped its toe in the waters of the Scarecrow, DC Comics’ master of fear, we now have a greater idea of what Jonathan Crane himself will be as the supervillain now that we know a lot more about where he comes from, and what he endured as a young man.
Still, there was a lot to take in for this episode from pretty much every explored direction thus far. With a lot of remaining emphasis on the Gotham underworld, Penguin’s continuing ability to slip out of dangerous situations gains him a closer ally in Carmine Falcone, and an even more intense enemy in Sal Maroni. Meanwhile, Fish Mooney finds herself in quite a predicament by being taken to something of a criminal prison, where food is scarce and a hierarchy ruled by a single blade holds through. Fish, not one to be second fiddle to anyone, quickly tries to make sure that she becomes the leading power in her new environment, though it doesn’t take long before she’s given a stark look at how things really work inside.
We also check back in with Bruce Wayne, on the cusp of an anniversary very important to him: a yearly trip into the wilderness with his father. Bruce sees this as an opportunity to prove something to himself while honoring his parents’ memories at the same time, though Alfred questions the necessity of his approach. Overall, Bruce is also confronted with a stark reality: what loneliness in the face of adversity can cost. We also get to see the first face-to-face meeting between two of Gotham’s most notorious future rogues in the form of Penguin and Edward Nygma, and that goes about as well as you might expect.
As a big DC Comics fan, I was anticipating further exploration of Jonathan Crane to be disappointing from a perspective of established continuity, but it wasn’t too bad. While it does seem to be making a few changes to what we know of Scarecrow’s early years, it doesn’t end up changing the course of the character as a whole. Instead, it merely provides a new starting point on which he can begin his journey toward supervillainy. What we have here is an idea that doesn’t step on the toes of what fans know from the comics or other Batman adaptations, like the animated series or the Christopher Nolan films, and it leaves us with a sense of foreboding possibility about what will eventually lead Crane to becoming the terrifying villain we know he’s destined to be.
Penguin’s subplot this week, though, is a little more…intrusive. Through the mercy of Falcone, he’s given the responsibility of managing Fish Mooney’s former club, which will likely make seasoned fans think in no small way of the Iceberg Lounge, Penguin’s legitimate front for iniquity in the underworld behind the scenes. While Robin Lord Taylor continues to be one of the most dedicated cast members in this show’s arsenal, the writing staff might be pushing Penguin a little too fast.
Still, if the preview for next week’s episode is any indication, then this show might end up going about 95 in a 25mph zone, if that cackling ends up going where it looks like. We’ll see next week.
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