Following last week’s episode, which ended with a strange, exciting cliffhanger, involving Fish Mooney charging at an unknown assailant, while aboard her escape boat; this episode, “Scarecrow”, picks up in the most disappointing way possible. Rather than follow up this scene with anything that makes sense, we are instead back with the Cranes (Gerald and his son Jonathan), who are still up to their wild antics of scare-killing folks. We catch up with Fish as well, but after whatever big fight took place, she wakes up in some random, underground prison. This episode also features Jim Gordon dealing with his new girlfriend, who is now one of his co-workers, while no new development with Bullock takes place, following the attempt to give him a love interest last week. Lastly, Lil’ Bruce goes on a walkabout. Oh geez, almost forgot, Penguin and those who are invested in what is to come of him. Basically, this is a crowded episode of Gotham, which is only bolstered by some neat imagery involving Crane’s fear toxin.
I am basically finding new ways to say the same thing in between the much better episodes of this freshman series. It makes me hope that the supposed second season will be more dynamic, but with episodes that merely feature a villain-of-the-week and no real movement in the narrative, it is hard to really dive into what works and what does not, without beginning to sound repetitive. It also does not help to give Jim Gordon nothing to really work with. His struggle this week is about letting his girlfriend, Dr. Leslie Thompkins, know that it is not appropriate to show too many signs of affection at work. Those are some pretty low stakes and I am not sure how well it speaks to the female characters on this show to have us understand that they need to ‘know their place…’
Really, with the exception of Fish Mooney and Cat, this show really has not offered the finest depiction of women. The majority has been portrayed as either a damsel in distress, characters motivated by deception-based gain, or completely inept. It is part of the reason why I have not been missing Barbara Kean at all. I can only hope that Nygma’s crush, Ms. Kringle turns out to be much more than just the bookish file clerk slowly being won over by him. With all of that in mind, I like Morena Baccarin and think she has fine chemistry with Gordon, but things need to start moving with this show’s lead character, as jumping around between different subplots, without having much to care about (with one exception) can only work for so long.
Enough criticizing of the show for now, getting back to “Scarecrow,” as opposed to last week, where ‘the fearsome Dr. Crane’ was hardly featured, this week gave us a little more to work with, even if Julian Sands’ time on this series still felt fairly limited. As Gerald Crane, Sands got to be involved in one of the visual highlights of this series, as he used his newly developed drug to conquer the notion of fear. The imagery on display was far out, spooky, and pretty cool. The same can be said for how this episode ended, as poor Jonathan Crane now faces a scarecrow everywhere he looks. Everything that led to why all this happened is silly, sure, but at the end of it all, I was at least more pleased by this visually than many of the other villains presented in any sense.
Unsurprisingly, the other pleasing element in this week’s episode was Penguin and all that comes with him. Back under the wing of Falcone, after escaping his near squashing last week, Penguin is now given Fish’s old club and allowed to redecorate. That sounds pretty bland when describing it that way, but given what we see take place between Falcone and Maroni, it does enough to set up a ticking time bomb for Penguin’s small level of control. Obviously, Penguin will not be killed, but it will only be a matter of time before something once again happens, making Penguin sweat in the process, which is always my favorite version of the character.
I am not even sure what to say about Fish Mooney. She wakes up in some undisclosed location, which will surely be expanded upon in the weeks to come. If I had to guess, I would say this is a way for Fish to build a new army, allowing her to storm back into Gotham and make herself a threatening presence for both Falcone and Maroni, but for now, all I have is Jada Pinkett Smith continuing to do her best at playing one of the more effectively outlandish characters on this show. With that, we did get to see her use her skills to become top dog in this new environment. Given that we’ve only had so many chances to see her work without the aid of her henchmen, Gotham has done a good job of allowing us to understand Fish as a credible threat in even the most dire of circumstances.
Speaking of dire circumstances, Lil’ Bruce goes out on a spirit walk, only to fall down a hill and sprain his ankle. A part of me was really worried he was going to find shelter in some sort of cave full of bats, but thankfully that didn’t happen. Instead, after giving us an understanding that Bruce is understandably angry at life, we get some solid time with him and Alfred. I can keep saying that this is a show that does not necessarily need these two, but I also have to keep admitting that they are well-developed and pretty much the heart of the series at this point.
If I have not been clear, Gotham has gone from mildly enjoyable and full of promise, to repetitive and frustrating, yet still full of promise. This is another episode that I would say I enjoyed overall, but it is based more on it being better than other episodes, continuing to have fun stuff involving Penguin, and for featuring some cool visuals that put it over the top. I still find myself wondering where we are headed, but I just hope it is somewhere that can make for some real interesting discussion.
From Det. Jim Gordon’s Police Files:
- Not much to discuss, but the Penguin/Nygma Weird-Off was easily a highlight of the season.
- As far as the detective work in this episode, it could not have been any easier for Jimmy & the Bulls to solve this case.
- That sunrise scene was quite nice.
- Oswald’s is a curious mix of expensive Champaign and punk rock, I want to make a reservation.
- It’s not right to give such a fun nickname to someone and then kill the guy, before he gets to test it out Fish, it just isn’t!
- Also, I have a feeling I know where this ‘no eyes’ thing is going, but we will see.
- No Barbara this week, third time in a row!
- This week’s Classic Gordon Clip