Monday, February 9, 2015

REVIEW: 'Gotham' - Jim & Harvey Continue to Track Gerald Crane as Oswald Continues to Fear for His Life in 'The Scarecrow'

FOX's Gotham - Episode 1.15 "The Scarecrow"

Gordon and Bullock set out to stop Gerald Crane, a biology teacher who has been harvesting the glands of his murder victims. After finding herself in an unusual setting, Fish continues plotting to gain power. Falcone attempts to change Maroni's plan for Oswald. Bruce takes a treacherous hike.

The only reason it seems the investigation into Gerald Crane took place over two episodes was to serve as a tragic introduction into his son - who will one day become The Scarecrow. His villainous turn is still far off in the future. This version of the character is still just a high school student. His father is the one running around town killing people. It's Gerald trying to save his son that he ultimately receives such a tragic fate. That is compelling. And yet, the actual story across these two episodes is the ultimate bare minimum. There's no reason why this needed to be done in two episodes. If this was all the story they were going to tell about the Crane family this season, it could easily have been done in just one episode that focused primarily on them and without so many trivial subplots to cut away to.

The end result is just another episode of Gotham that has way too much going on. So, Jim and Harvey are tracking Crane, while Jim is also dealing with his new crush Dr. Thompkins joining the precinct as the new medical examiner. Elsewhere, Oswald and Falcone are dealing with the fallout of Maroni learning the truth about their partnership; Bruce has to overcome an obstacle during a hike; and Fish has to find her bearings after being kidnapped during her escape from Gotham. None of these stories have much to do with each other. They are largely just giving the expansive cast something to do this week. Their individual purposes aren't all that clear and they simply aren't as exciting as the show can be.

Jim and Harvey are able to find Gerald Crane before he kills anyone else because they finally get some insight into why he's doing what he's doing. Cutting out the adrenal glands is an odd identifier for a killer. There has to be reason for that to be done. It's an explanation we didn't get last week. It was built up as a surprising detail at the end of the episode that couldn't be investigated right away. So this week we get a rushed explanation that Gerald was crippled by fear after failing to rescue his wife during a house fire. Now, he's obsessed with eliminating the emotion from himself and his son entirely.

Because the focus is so heavily on the older Crane, the fears of his son aren't clearly established at all. It feels like he's afraid of his father and the procedures that he's doing. And yet, that's not stated. He just runs away before the first treatment and the audience gets the glimpse of the scarecrow hanging in the background. It's just an object that's a part of the production design. It's deliberate too but it has absolutely no bearing to the character arc of the young Crane. He's not afraid of the scarecrow that's hanging there. It's simply the last thing he sees before his dad injects a massive drug dose into him. That's the only reason why that's the thing terrorizing him for the rest of his life. It's a tragic ending. If it was the last thing we saw of the character, I would think it was a satisfactory ending. Dr. Crane spent his life trying to eliminate fear and in the end he only made it more pronounced. It's not the fault of his son but he's left to deal with the side effects. And yet, we know this isn't going to be the last of that character. That just makes his lack of character development only more apparent.

Some more thoughts:
  • "The Scarecrow" was written by Ken Woodruff and directed by Nick Copus.
  • Jim didn't care about the precinct seeing him kiss Lee a week ago. But now that they'll be working together, it's a big deal. Yeah, this story was grasping at straws. Lee doesn't know if she should be taking him seriously and I have to agree with her.
  • The show just refuses to let Fish hit rock bottom so that she can build herself up again. Even when she is kidnaped and kept captive, the story is largely about her figuring out the hierarchy of this prison and making sure she can easily end up on top. It's dull and predictable. She thinks she's in charge again but she's not. I fear this story is going to become about her leading the escape out of this prison and the fellow prisoners becoming her new loyal followers.
  • There was nothing to the Bruce subplot other than him needing to rise above the pain in order to survive in this world. It wasn't that subtle at all especially considering he still has to be viewed as just a kid in the end. He can't grow that strong just yet in the mythology of the show. So, the resolution rendered the whole story moot.
  • Oswald is now officially running Fish's nightclub but he's more worried about what Maroni still has planned for him. He's now publicly Falcone's man. As long as Falcone is alive, Oswald is safe. So now, someone new is plotting Falcone's murder just like Fish was earlier this season. Sigh, Gotham is already repeating story.
  • Oswald and Ed meet for the first time and it's awkward. Seriously, what is motivating Ed to do anything? They are both odd characters, but Oswald has a character underneath it all while Ed simply doesn't.