Less than 5 – Skip it, 6 – OK, 7 – Good, 8 – Great, 9 – Phenomenal, 10 – You owe it to yourself to watch this episode!
Another week gone by and another missed opportunity for Gotham. The Scarecrow offered up an interesting origin (for a villain we will more than likely never see in his prime) but failed to muster interest in any of its auxiliary plot lines. I fear (pun intended) that these reviews are getting a bit redundant (like the show… bazinga!).
As I’ve said countless times before, Gotham doesn’t know what it wants to be. Who is the lead? The series shuffles endlessly between narrative threads involving Bruce Wayne, Jim Gordon, Fish Mooney and Oswald Cobblepot that have seemingly nothing to do with each other. Gordon continues to work cases in his futile attempt at cleansing a city literally made of garbage. Penguin goes back and forth between allegiances never gaining any solid ground within the mob he so desperately wants to run. Bruce Wayne spends quality time with Alfred and Fish does whatever she does. 4 separate stories with little interconnectivity and even less time to flesh them out. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, choose one and run with it.
Leslie Thompkins started her new job alongside Gordon at the GCPD, on the advice of Gordon himself. He does acknowledge the fact that he suggested the change of occupation but he immediately regrets it. For whatever reason he refuses to display his affection towards Leslie while at work, causing a small riff between the two. His sudden about face in the relationship feels a bit forced and out of place considering her made out with her in the middle of the office just last week. He cites the idea that his coworkers will think less of him if he were to canoodle on company time as the reason behind his hesitation. I find it hard to believe the cops would mind at all considering they don’t care about anything of actual importance. It fell a little flat for me, don’t force drama where there doesn’t need to be. Barbara was a walking ball of issues. Leslie should be different.
In other Gordon news, he continued his work on the Crane case. For the most part it worked. Gerald’s fascination with overcoming fear was a cool motivation and the way he forced his “cure” on his own son was especially cruel. It’s a shame we will probably never see the Scarecrow in all his glory but the CG monster at the end of the episode was pretty cool. I also thought it was a bit funny how Gerald just walked into the line of fire during his standoff with Gordon and Bullock. Apparently he lost all common sense along with his ability to be afraid.
The rest of the episode juggled the lives of Bruce, Fish and Penguin to varying degrees of success. The Fearsome Dr. Crane ended with an awkward confrontation between Fish and a random thug. Episode 15 sees her in a makeshift underground prison for unknown reasons. Her story is filled with over the top acting and is completely unnecessary. Jada Pinkett-Smith started the season as a promising new villain that could provide potential twists in a story everyone with a knowledge of the source material knows the ending to. Instead, the writers have decided to occupy her time with meaningless schemes and convenient setbacks resulting in her expendability.
Penguin’s storyline is handled just as poorly this week. Robin Lord Taylor has always been a fan favorite for reasons beyond his acting ability. For most of the season Penguin’s rise to glory has been a highlight. Last week set up an interesting face-off between Maroni and the fledgling Cobblepot, only to have the whole thing rendered moot with this week’s reveals. Falcone intervenes and all is well again. It was an anticlimactic way of ending the thread and sacrificed the momentum that story line had going for it. Like Fish, Penguin suffers pointless setbacks that only serve in making his narrative more tedious.
Finally, we have Bruce and Alfred. Their relationship throughout the show has been great but within the context of the show itself feels superfluous. Watching Bruce struggle with fear and identity would be cool if Batman were to exist in the universe, but since he doesn’t and never will, it’s setting fans up for disappointment. Sean Pertwee plays a phenomenal Alfred and does a splendid job showing the young Bruce his own brand of tough love. Had the show revolved around the two of them I would be all for it. But as a tease of things that shan’t be, I can’t get behind it.
The Scarecrow lives up to Gotham’s reputation for wasted potential. Disparate narrative threads that fail at synchronicity result in a tumultuous mess of a television show. Separately, each story could be interesting. But with only 40 odd minutes a week, there isn’t enough time for them all.
Overall I give this episode 5.5/10