We now get a two-parter on Gotham. “The Fearsome Dr. Crane” introduces us to Gerald Crane, father of Jonathan Crane, who we know later becomes The Scarecrow. Fear is one of the episode’s themes as we see it play out for various characters and how they’re motivated by fear. Though Crane himself is a creepy man, his storyline wasn’t the most interesting part of the episode for me. Let’s meet Dr. Crane.
The episode with a tightly wound man, Adam Jodowsky, played by Jim Ford, being hung over the edge of a building by his captor, Gerald Crane, played by Julian Sands. As Adam fears for his life, Crane slips a noose over Adam’s neck and then takes a moment to check his heartbeat before dropping him over the edge. Luckily, he’s stopped, but soon brought right back up…
Maroni and Penguin toast to Fish’s either apparent death or disappearance. With her gone, Falcone will struggle to hold onto Fish’s territories. Penguin went ahead and claimed Fish’s nightclub in Maroni’s name. Smart thinking. Sounds like Penguin is in the clear until Maroni gets a phone call from Fish Mooney herself, who is very much alive and tells Maroni that Penguin has been playing both of them. After all, hasn’t Maroni ever been a tad bit suspicious of even some of Penguin’s actions? Well, maybe a few times.
When Penguin inquires, Maroni tells him that the call was nothing important, but he now has to travel upstate to see a guy about a thing. He wants Penguin to come with him so the two can talk opportunities, but they have to leave now.
GCPD investigate the rooftop crime scene and Nygma has another riddle for us: the more you cut me, the bigger I grow. What am I? Correct- the answer is a hole. There’s a postmortem, surgical incision in the victim’s abdomen. Best guess is the killer was looking for something. Nygma is all set to handle the body back at the lab, but Essen has received formal complaints from the department’s actual medical examiner. Captain Essen warns Bullock to watch his back in light of Gordon having Flass arrested.
So where is Gordon, anyway? He’s at Barbara’s. Where does this guy stay? Anyway, Selina’s there, too, and she’s not the best at hiding. So Jim catches her in no time and learns that Selina has been by quite often. Jim intends to find Selina someplace else safe to stay. After all, she’s still the only witness to the Wayne murders. So yeah, Selina spills again that she didn’t see anything and makes her escape over the edge. Seriously, I know Catwoman is agile and all, but this Selina is still a kid.
Jim pays Bruce and Alfred a visit. He tries to be optimistic and claim that Selina may just be scared, but Bruce knows that Selina doesn’t scare easily. He believes that she really didn’t see anything. Though Gordon doesn’t think this puts them back at square one, Bruce disagrees. In fact, he’s relieving Gordon of his duties on taking up the case. After all, Jim has only managed to produce one witness that turned out to be a liar. It’s not that Bruce doesn’t trust Jim, but he doesn’t want him to feel bound by an oath that he can’t fulfill. Hence, Bruce will pursue the matter himself.
Meanwhile, Maroni and Penguin arrive at a cabin in the woods. Penguin is nervous, but Maroni couldn’t be in a better place. It’s good to get out of the city and just enjoy the simple, clean life outside of Gotham City. Plus, the two rarely had any time to connect in the city. Penguin is stuck on the guy that Maroni is set to meet, but Maroni wants to talk about Indian Hill, the land that Penguin suggested. If it was so worthless, it’s odd that Falcone snatched it up so quickly.
It’s possible that Falcone just needed to save face after Nikolai’s death, but that brings up another point: the fight where both Nikolai and Frankie died. Frankie was stabbed ten times, but this was a gun fight. How does someone get stabbed at a gun fight? Penguin is murky on the details, but assures Maroni that he’d be useless in a physical altercation anyway. Everyone has their strengths. Maroni, for example, is very quick for a big guy.
At GCPD, Bullock receives a visit from Jodowsky’s sponsor: Scottie Mullen, played by Maria Thayer. Mullen already knows that Jodowsky is dead given that, you know, Bullock is a homicide detective. Very perceptive, this woman. Anyway, the detectives found Mullen’s number in Jodowsky’s pocket. Mullen sponsors Jodowsky in a support group for people suffering from phobias. Bullock finds it laughable, but Mullen insists that it can help to talk about fear.
And what was Jodowsky’s fear? Heights. So it would suck to end up dangling over a tall building. Bullock needs the names of the group members, but it’s all anonymous. It’s possible that someone from the group did this since the killer knew of his phobia. Bullock plans not only to attend the next meeting, but also hypothetically take Mullen to dinner. As Mullen leaves, Jim shows up to report that he traced the chair the victim was tied to- the chair itself was made by a company in the Narrows that’s been closed for years. It’s a flimsy lead, but since when has a little work scared off James Gordon?
Gerald Crane, meanwhile, picks his next victim. He approaches the man while cradling a pig. The man, fear written on his face, walks the other way, but it tased by one of Crane’s flunkies.
Against Captain Essen’s orders, Nygma examines Jodowsky’s body. He’s found a prize just as Essen and the medical examiner enter. Essen decides to suspend Nygma until further notice.
At the old company building, Gordon and Bullock trade barbs about their respective relationships before hearing a scream. What they find is a man strapped to a chair, surrounded by pigs, and a man in a pig mask. The man charges with his knife, but the detectives shoot him down.
Fish is on a ship. The captain, played by Brian Keane, about possibly seeing Gotham one last time, but there’s no need. She’ll be back. Well, that was a scene.
Back at GCPD, it’s concluded that the bound man and the first victim were part of the same support group. The newest victim is at Gotham General, scared half to death. As for the man Gordon and Bullock shot, no I.D. as of yet, but they’re running his prints. While there’s no confirmation if this is their man, Bullock is certain that it is. He’s heading to the support group to tell them that the matter has been settled, even though there’s nothing concrete yet.
Essen tells Gordon to be optimistic since they do have a perp, but Gordon is stuck on the postmortem incision from the first victim. He wants Nygma to take a look, but then learns about Nygma’s suspension. The report will from the examiner, the same examiner who concluded that Leon Winkler stabbed himself in the back. As much as Essen likes Nygma, her hands are tied with the way things are. Gordon apologizes for getting Essen involved, but there’s no need for that. It felt good.
Nygma finds a crying Ms. Kringle and returns a pencil that he once borrowed. Well, it was a pencil, but now it’s just a stub of a pencil.
Back in the cabin that Gotham forgot, Maroni sits Penguin down for a talk. It’s time for them to trust one another- no secrets. So the two start swapping secrets. Maroni first: there is no guy with a thing. He lied. Penguin’s turn: he doesn’t like oatmeal. Back to Maroni- Fish Mooney is alive. He spoke to her. But what did she say? Penguin will have to tell another secret. Okay- Penguin doesn’t really like coffee. That works. So what did Fish say? Turns out she told Maroni that Penguin and Falcone have been playing Maroni for a chump.
Now back to Penguin: he took Maroni’s gun because he figured that Fish called and that Maroni would believe her. It’s now Maroni’s turn to tell a secret, but he’s more livid about Penguin double-crossing him. Anyway, Maroni does have one, final secret: the gun is loaded with blanks. Penguin calls him a liar, but gets confirmation when he does, indeed, fire the gun and finds nothing but blanks hit Maroni. Maroni strikes back.
For the sake of developing this hastily formed bond, Gordon and Thompkins have themselves a dinner date. Arkham has become less interesting since Gordon left, she says. Gordon, however, is a little too focused on his case and his clown of a medical examiner. Yeah, Gordon’s a bit rusty when it comes to this whole dating scene, but he’s out of practice. He gets a phone call and has to cut the date short. He calls Harvey and leaves a message telling him that the second victim woke up and said he was abducted by two men.
Bullock, however, is at the support group with Mullen, who we learn has a phobia of swimming pools. If Bullock dug deep enough, however, he’d probably find his phobia. To Mullen, the bravest people are the ones willing to admit their fears. Bullock admits that he’s scared all the time and would be willing to share this with the group.
Now Maroni plans to have Penguin crushed to death in a car already placed in a crusher. Whatever’s left will be sent to Falcone. Penguin argues that he’s worthless dead. Maroni doesn’t fear Falcone’s retaliation, though. This isn’t a business decision since he and Falcone already go way back. Time to go in the car.
We then get a brief scene of Nygma entering the GCPD locker room and toying with one of the lockers. This will be more important in a bit.
Back at the support group meeting, Bullock admits that he’s afraid every day of dying in an alley while some scumbag robs him of what he’s worth. He’d try to speak, nothing would come out, and then he would die. He doesn’t want to die alone- he wants to die in a warm, cozy bed in the arms of a beautiful woman. Don’t we all, Bullock?
Another support member of this support group is Gerald Crane, who goes under the name “Todd.” He shares his story about how he fears failure. He would even crawl on broken glass just to avoid failing. He inherited this illness from his father, but now he fears he may be passing it onto his son. Crane heads off, Mullen follows him.
In a dark bit of humor I can’t help but smile at, Penguin actually calls Maroni while he’s about to be crushed to death. Penguin swears that he was telling the truth about Indian Hill and Arkham, which you need to control Gotham. Maroni doesn’t pay this any mind and hangs up. Penguin then calls the crane operator, Duffy, played by Tuffy Questell. He warns Duffy that if Falcone’s right hand man is killed, Falcone will have Duffy’s family slaughtered. So Duffy stops the machine and escapes death. Both he and Duffy manage to elude Maroni.
Bullock goes to check on Mullen, but arrives just as Crane drives away with her in his van.
At GCPD, the medical examiner opens his locker and is flooded by body parts.
According to the group, the abductor had been coming in for the past month. Though he went by Todd, the group’s anonymity means that he must go by another name. The man that Gordon and Bullock shot was a career criminal- probably just Crane’s muscle. Bullock already knows that the abductor will confront Mullen with her greatest fear. There are tons of pools in Gotham, but Bullock learns from Mullen’s mother that Mullen almost drowned in the Lemmars Park pool when she was seven. Gordon and Bullock head off while Essen almost ignores the fact that one of her officers approaches her while carrying an arm.
At the pool, Crane’s analysis of Muller is interrupted by his son, Jonathan, played by Charlie Tahan, who tells his father that the parking meter ran out. Jonathan looks unsure at what his father is doing to this woman, but Gerald assures his son that this is for the common good. With that, he hands Jonathan some coins and tells him to feed the meter. After all, it would be a pity if Scarecrow’s first crime committed as a minor was getting his father a parking ticket.
Crane pushes Muller into the water just as Gordon and Bullock arrive. Bullock heads into the pool while Gordon pursues Crane. Though Bullock is able to save Muller’s life, Crane makes his escape.
Some choir singers happen upon a wild Penguin resting in the leaves. He’s well, though. Like the prodigal son, he has fallen. Like Job, he’s been tested and survived. Luckily, the bus they’re on is headed for Gotham City.
Thompkins shows up at GCPD and returns Gordon the files he gave her on Jodowsky. After a look at the body, Thompkins found that the killer removed Jodowsky’s adrenal glands. Though they have no value on the black market, adrenal glands only produce cortisol- the hormone that gives us adrenalized fight-or-flight reactions. In essence, the fear gland. But why do that? Thompkins’ best guess is that, at the moment of death, the victim’s adrenals would produce a highly elevated form of cortisol.
Gordon tells Thompkins that, if she likes this work so much, a full time job may be available since the medical examiner has been fired for stealing body parts. Only in Gotham. In a terrible segue, Gordon suggests that the two discuss this potential new job over dinner. He has an urge to kiss her, but he’s on-duty and there’s 50 other officers watching. In a game of chicken, the two slowly advance toward another and kiss anyway. Now see, that’s how you develop a relationship and have it feel natural.
Since Nygma is being reinstated, he owes Kringle a new pencil.
Oh, a fight breaks out on the ship. Fish and one of the pirates share a glance and charge toward each other. End episode.
There are a lot of interesting ideas in “The Fearsome Dr. Crane” that I liked. While I wish that Gerald Crane’s methods were a bit more complex, I’m sure they managed to freak out the people involved in his games. Crane himself does interest me and Julian Sands does a good job with a creepy performance. We got some back-story on why he fears failure, but what we didn’t get is how he made the leap from that to using fear as a weapon.
We got a sense of how he works, such as how he checks Jodowsky’s rapidly increasing heartbeat as he dangles over a cliff. For a man who deals so much with fear, I would like to have seen him spend more time with his victims instead of just setup. Maybe a scene of him actually removing the glands. Creepy, yes, but that would help further establish Crane as the monster he is. Luckily, it didn’t come off as campy or hammy to me. Like Christopher Heyerdahl as The Electrocutioner, he had the right amount of menace to him. I’d just like to see that go even further.
As far as the son goes, it felt like Jonathan’s one scene here was just for show. We could see that there’s uncertainty about his role on this, but Jonathan Crane’s first appearance should have been something a bit more important than feeding the meter. But hey, this is a two-parter, so maybe that will come later. I just don’t feel that he needed to be here.
Fear is a powerful motivator. In the case of Crane, it can motivate him to do wrong, but in the case of Gotham’s finest, it either keeps them subservient to the mob or, with people like Gordon, Essen, and Bullock, they can stare that fear in the face and be reminded of who they are and what they stand for. I continue to enjoy Zabryna Guevara as Sarah Essen. This is a woman who is a good cop and wants to play by the rules, but she’s compromised by the rampant corruption around her. I never got any indication that she’s crooked or out to do wrong. She just understands that there are rules and powerful people who would not hesitate to silence her.
At every chance she gets, she wants Gordon to just accept a win and move on without questioning the established order in Gotham, but she’s becoming increasingly aware that Gordon doesn’t just play along to get along. Slowly, but surely, she’s adopting that same mentality, but not without being careful. I really liked when she told Gordon that it felt good to get dragged into this mess and do the right thing. Her conviction is believable. It’s good that she doesn’t just adopt Jim’s method right off the bat. This is something she has to grow into because she’s more familiar with how Gotham works than Gordon.
Again, like the previous episode, I like how this episode spent more time on the detectives and the GCPD in general than with the kids. If I can comment on the scenes with Selina, Bruce, and Alfred, it’s that they’re brief, but do at least serve a purpose. Though, again, we’re all wondering just where in the world Gordon lives if not at Barbara’s. If he has a key and just pops in whenever he wants, then fine, but where the hell does this guy live? Anyway, the scene with him and Selina felt more like setup for the confrontation with Bruce.
And if I can credit Bruce with anything, it’s his desire to get to the bottom of the murders himself. Sure, it goes against the deep, trusting bond that Batman and Gordon would later come to have in their relationship, but for the purposes of this show at this moment, Bruce accepts that the case of his parents’ murder isn’t at the top of Gordon’s priorities. Though Gordon says otherwise, he is pretty much back at square one.
This is something that he and Alfred will need to take care of on their own and I think Bruce may be capable of finding some leads. I’m not sure how far he’ll get, but this work would at least help foster the detective skills he’ll have mastered later on in his life. To awkwardly tie in the fear theme, I think Bruce’s fear is that this case will go unsolved. He doesn’t want that, but he also doesn’t want Gordon to try and live up to an obligation he made when he already has a busy schedule. I can’t really blame him for that. Though, to be fair, Gordon did tell Bruce during “Penguin’s Umbrella” that he may not be able to fully commit to finding his parents’ killer anymore.
As for the other half of this cop duo, Bullock also had a chance at some significant character development not just with his bond to Mullen, but also where he admitted his fears. Bullock is a seasoned, hardened cop who knows Gotham much better than Gordon does. He knows how the game is played and will play along to get along. We’ve seen him beat perps before and even tried to have Gordon handed over to Falcone just to save his own skin.
Despite this, we now also know this is a man who often fears for his life. He has every reason in the world to be, but he’s maintained such a tough exterior that it wouldn’t seem real for him to be afraid of anything. Though whether that’s genuine fear or he just wants to pal around with Mullen is up to you.
Both Gordon and Bullock got smaller moments of growth when they joked about their love lives and Gordon realizing why it was a mistake for him to ask about Bullock’s life after Bullock asked him if he got any breakup sex with Barbara. It was a small moment, but it added to their bond and was a change of pace from the two just entering a location and finding their perp.
Oh, and it looks as if the show has learned from having Gordon and Thompkins kiss so soon, since now it’s taking a step backwards and allowing the two to actually develop and have it feel organic. This should have come before the kiss, but I appreciate that the show looks to be taking its time. I still think it’s too soon, but the fact that the first dinner date ended abruptly shows that the two do have some ways to go. But this kiss at least felt a bit more natural than the previous one.
Nygma getting the medical examiner fired may have been unnecessary, but it didn’t feel out of character. It did get him reinstated, and we have seen that Nygma is competent when it comes to handling and examining bodies. That said, the fact that there have been off-screen complaints makes sense, given the fact that Nygma is not, in fact, the medical examiner. He just works in forensics.
Plus, as with Gordon and Thompkins, the show is taking its time developing the friendship between him and Kringle.
Penguin and Maroni’s confrontation in the woods may have been the most enjoyable part of the episode for me. These moments felt tenser than the other storylines, as Penguin fear not just exposure, but reprisal from Maroni and Fish. The truth game was a good way for Maroni to show just how in control he really was all along. He trusted Penguin, but had reasons to question his judgment because Penguin had the occasional slip.
The only issue now is that Penguin himself is back to square one, on another bus back to Gotham City. So where does he go from here? He obviously can’t return to Maroni, so does he go straight back to Falcone? And is he gonna end up murdering all of these women, too?
And what was up with Fish on the boat?
“The Fearsome Dr. Crane” was pretty good. While I wish the moments with Crane had been more interesting and engaging, it was a decent start and there’s some setup for the second half of this two-parter. Again, I like the idea of Crane removing the adrenal glands and I have to wonder if the elevated form of cortisol is the precursor to the fear toxin that Scarecrow uses later on. Though the Crane stuff wasn’t the most memorable part of the episode, some good character development for Bullock, Gordon, and Essen, a confrontation between Penguin and Maroni, and some new conviction for Bruce make up for the lack of interesting stuff from Crane.