Gotham: 1×15 Review – The Scarecrow

This week’s episode of Gotham concluded Scarecrow’s origin story by sealing the fate of both Gerald and Jonathon Crane. Spoiler alert: one dies and the other goes insane. As you can probably guess, Jonathon is the one who goes mad from fear, continually tormented by what appears to be a demonic scarecrow.

This episode did a fantastic job at portraying love gone wrong. After losing his wife in a house fire, Gerald Crane is determined to cure fear, a “noble” goal achieved through horrible means. He soon creates a serum that he believes is the solution, injecting himself with it until he stops seeing his wife burning to death. Then it’s onto Subject B: Jonathon. You can’t help but feel bad for Crane Jr. His only crime is trusting his father, and it ends up being his undoing.

More than anything, the Cranes are victims of their circumstances. Even if Gotham felt the need to hit us over the head with that scarecrow in the background, the scenes between father and son were presented well and ultimately leads viewers to understand how Scarecrow becomes a villain in later years. Instead of curing fear, he eventually chooses to inflict it so that everyone will understand his own circumstances. Messed up, but almost expected when you have a backstory like his.

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“Every man and woman on this planet. We’re all standing at the edge of the abyss paralyzed by fear.” – Gerald Crane

While the GCPD boys are tracking down Crane, Gordon’s love life is once again in the spotlight. Things are finally going well between him and Leslie Tompkins—until she comes to work as the new medical examiner. Jim’s initially thinking, This will be great, but Bullock was quick to burst his bubble.

Bullock wasn’t wrong: Gordon starts getting really upset about PDA at the precinct (despite his history with the other cops). He barely flinches at the idea of having everyone at the GCPD wanting to take him out, but he gets squeamish at the idea of some cat-calling if the other cops catch him smooching the M.E.? Something doesn’t quite add up there. Regardless, it creates a subtle tension between the new lovebirds, and that is drama I can get behind.

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“Did you hear that we got a new medical examiner? She’s much better than the old one. And she smells nice.” – Ed Nygma

Speaking of lovebirds, Penguin clearly has a man-crush on Gordon. Whether it’s because of some plan he has to manipulate Jim or he just appreciates Jim not killing him all those episodes ago, Penguin is determined to make Gordon his new best friend. And let’s be honest, he really did seem disappointed that Jim didn’t show up to his big party at Oswald’s.

Someone else did show up to Oswald’s opening party, however. Maroni stops by to see Penguin, but instead of killing him, Maroni just threatens him. Why? Because ruthless Falcone is back and keeping him at bay pretty effectively. Although Maroni can’t actually harm Penguin while Falcone is still alive, he can intimidate him. A particularly entertaining way Maroni did was pouring that drink until it spilled over, making it look like Penguin had wet himself.

One particular strong part of the episode was the short but sweet plotline between Bruce and Alfred. It didn’t do much to progress the overall story, but it did help build an even stronger relationship between them. Bruce hiking into the forest, and his teary-eyed, rock-throwing scene, was an important part of his grieving process. Alfred did exactly what he needed to: he watched over Bruce, but at a distance. Alfred didn’t help Bruce find the campsite; he let him hobble along—with an injured leg even—until he found the glowing firelight.

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“Who said I was worried?” Alfred Pennyworth

Bruce gets upset that Alfred had just been sitting there, but Alfred retaliates by basically telling Bruce to get over himself (in a gentler way than that, of course). It’s tough love, but more than anything, it was challenge in self-reliance that will ultimately make Bruce stronger. The relationship between these two is complex, but so sweet. Especially when they watched the sunset together. I nearly got a cavity from the sweetness.

Another great part of the episode was the scene where Penguin meets the Riddler. To see Nygma and Cobblepot in a scene together was a delight, especially as they more or less stalked each other through the GCPD before coming face to face. Then, in a classic move, Nygma asks his riddle, and Penguin, though confused, pulls together his best intimidation face. While this seem may seem awkward and inconsequential to some, it was a delight to me. These two actors were spot on in their roles and the dialogue was very clever. I hope we see many more scenes with them together.

Cobblepot: Who are you?
Nygma: Edward. Nygma. I know who you are.
Cobblepot: Then you know that you’re standing too close.
Nygma: Did you know that male emperor penguins keep their eggs warm by balancing them on their feet? Isn’t that neat?
Cobblepot: Nice to meet you, sir. Keep walking.
Nygma: Will do.

We also got an update on Fish Mooney this week. Though we didn’t get to see more of the epic showdown on that boat, we do learn that Fish has been taken to some strange prison in a sewer, where she quickly establishes herself as Top Dog. Though playing true to her character and regaining the power that she lost in a previous episode, I couldn’t help but find this subplot odd and unnecessary. I’m all for Fish being badass, but her takeover method of stabbing the previous head honcho with his own knife was a bit too lackluster. Jada Pinkett Smith gave a rousing performance, but that was the only highlight.

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It’s not exactly a wonder drug…

 

The verdict? I give this episode 8 out of 10. It was a good episode with a few flaws, but a great way to finish off Scarecrow’s introduction. It was dramatic and tense for most of the scenes, plus a few that were heartwarming or funny. But Fish’s scenes seemed unnecessary and Gordon’s building storyline with Leslie was okay, but he came across as whiny by calling PDA inappropriate for the workplace. Granted, in any other workplace he would have a point, but this is GCPD. Based on all the stuff that’s gone down there, it’s not an appropriate workplace (in my opinion, anyway).

What did you think of the episode? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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First shoutout to: the symbol at Oswald’s – an umbrella.

I’ll also give a shoutout to the not-so-subtle scarecrow in the background of the scene where Jonathon is injected with the fear serum.

And one more to make it a pleasant three: a shoutout to this great line of dialogue from Penguin: “Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.”

Alisha Bjorklund