“The Scarecrow” had some pretty good stuff with Gerald and Jonathan Crane. Nothing mind-blowing, but definitely more memorable than the rest of the episode.
The episode begins with a fierce storm striking Gotham City. Gennaro Marx, played by James Rutledge, returns to his home and turns on a light, but hears a noise. He turns around and sees a man standing in his home. He’s then attacked by a man at his door.
Fish is being held in some sort of underground prison. She asks the man across from her, Kelly, played by Dashiell Eaves, why the men leering at her haven’t made an advance yet. Turns out there are rules. The first guy who makes a move gets jumped by the second guy. Fish has a proposal for the two: the first man to come at her dies fast, while the second one gets a slow death. Both men walk away.
Gordon and Thompkins wind up their third date. Gordon would like to check out her apartment- since the show still hasn’t shown us his place yet- and Thompkins is sure that he would like the bedroom best out of all the rooms, but she needs to get some rest for her new job tomorrow as GCPD’s new medical examiner.
The next day, Gordon and Bullock examine the room Marx, a 63-year-old high school English teacher, had been attacked. They find the man has the same incisions as Crane’s previous victims.
Gerald Crane, meanwhile, retrieves some glands he’s frozen, crushes them into a powder, mixes them, and then pours into a syringe. He injects himself with the formula and his pupils dilate.
All of a sudden, he sees a woman bathed in flames making her way toward him.
At Wayne Manor, Bruce is preparing for a hike in honor of a tradition he and his father always carried out. At the end of it, they would watch the sun rise. Alfred offers to come, but Bruce turns him down, saying it wouldn’t be right. He’ll be back before dark.
While Penguin tells Don Falcone about the horrors he suffered at Maroni’s hands and how he needs protection, Falcone is more concerned with the current state of Fish’s club. It reeks of Fish Mooney and must be redecorated. Even with Fish gone, the club made a lot of money, which leads to influence, which leads to control. Without control, Maroni killing Penguin is very much a foregone conclusion.
So what’s this all mean? Penguin will reopen the night club. Not only that, he’s now publicly with Falcone. As for Maroni, Falcone will handle him.
While Essen catches Thompkins up to speed, Bullock looks through a yearbook and finds a photo of Gerald Crane, identifying him as the same man who abducted Mullen. He works as a high school Biology teacher.
Food is served at this underground hellhole. Fish learns of the man in charge: Mace.
Back on the surface, Bruce enters the woods, picks up two rocks, and begins his hike.
At the high school where Crane teaches, Jim and Harvey meet with the principal, Judith Barthel, played by Eisa Davis. Gerald is out for the day. Convenient enough. Barthel tells the detectives that Crane is a good teacher and father, but often quiet. It may have to do with the death of his wife, who perished in a car crash about six or seven years ago. When the detectives ask if Crane ever talked about phobias, Barthel responds by asking if the attacker is targeting phobics and whether the victims were missing their adrenal glands.
It turns out that Gerald Crane once wrote an academic paper that he asked her to proof. Gerald had a theory that fear was an evolutionary flaw in humans. Things like rape, theft, murder, and war are all caused by fear. However, Crane wasn’t trying to prove he was right about fear- he set out to cure himself of it.
So the detectives get Nygma’s input on Crane. In order for Crane to cure his fear, he would need to inoculate himself against it. To do so, he would need a condensed source of the hormones that cause fear- hence, the adrenal glands taken from the phobics. Crane spikes his victims’ fear and then kills them in order to harvest their glands. However, the quantity that Crane needs all depends on how scared he is. They figure that his fear has to be more than failure. Also, Crane developed protocol for two inoculations: himself and Subject B.
Gerald Crane injects himself and again sees the woman in flames, but he seems to have a better job withstanding the fear than his first attempt. He tells young Jonathan that it’s almost his turn to be free of fear.
So Falcone and Maroni talk. Maroni is happy to have lunch with his old friend, but he still wants to kill Penguin.
Penguin, meanwhile, is preparing for the grand re-opening of the new club, which opens in 10 hours. He tasks Gabe with handing out invitations, except for one that he wants to hand deliver.
Fish meets with the leader, Mace, played by Babs Olusanmokun, who is only the boss because he’s got the only knife in the place. Fish makes a deal with Mace. She has useful skills. If Mace offers her protection, she’d be willing to show those skills.
Penguin waltzes into the GCPD with no problem, but doesn’t spot Gordon at his desk. He does, however, have a moment with Edward Nygma when the two end up crossing paths. Nygma has a riddle: what he wants, the poor have, the rich need, and if you eat it, you’ll die. Penguin is aghast that he’s being asked a riddle, and he is, but Nygma reveals the answer- nothing. Oh, and did you know that male emperor penguins keep their eggs warm by balancing them on their feet? I didn’t.
So after the meet-up of the rogues, Penguin finally spots Gordon and gives him an invitation to the club. Gordon rejects the offer and Penguin’s help when he lends his services again. In fact, Jim admits that it was a mistake to ask the first time. He doesn’t want Penguin coming by his job again. Penguin takes offense to this and tells Gordon not to treat him that way. He’ll need Penguin’s help again someday. Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking with no friend in the light.
Gerald, loving father that he is, injects Jonathan with the fear formula. It begins to take effect.
Back in the woods, Bruce arrives at the spot where he and his father rested their respective piles of stones. He adds his stone to his pile, pauses, then picks up one of his father’s rocks. He throws it and several other stones and then stomps off. Then Mother Nature decides to strike back as Bruce trips and falls down a very steep hill. See, Bruce, that’s why you don’t mess with Mother Earth. Now he’s got a sprained ankle.
Briefly, Gordon tells Thompkins that they can’t be romantic and such on the job. It’s not professional. Little at the GCPD is, but I’ll get to this later.
Maroni asks Falcone why he values Penguin so much. Sure, Penguin is a money maker, but why go through all the trouble to keep him alive? Falcone responds that Penguin is clever, and he likes to have a clever man by his side that knows his place in life. He’s clever enough to know that a freak like him will never be in charge.
So what is Falcone going to offer Maroni? He brings up a certain Chief Judge Stanley Turnbell, who Maroni calls the meanest son of a mother bitch in the court house that put away some of Maroni’s friends. Maroni is willing to accept $200,000 and his head, but Falcone has a better offer.
He’s already keeping Turnbell, played by Munro M. Bonnell, as a prisoner. Turnbell was out with a young man. Falcone had him drugged and brought to his home, but now he can be Maroni’s.
Gordon and Bullock are still stumped in their case on Crane. Bullock suggests going to Penguin for help since he helped them with Flass, but Gordon isn’t interested in Penguin’s help again. That means wait for someone else to die since they aren’t going to find anything with the information they have. They need to find out what’s driving him.
So they look into the records and learn that Gerald’s wife, Karen, died in a house fire, not a car accident, as is widely believed. The article says that Karen was sleeping upstairs when the fire broke out, while Gerald and Jonathan, then eight, were downstairs. So Crane is ashamed that he didn’t save his wife. His fear is why he’s doing this.
Jonathan leaves the burned out home and doesn’t want to continue the protocol, but his father insists. If he doesn’t, it could be harmful for him otherwise. Jonathan responds that he isn’t even afraid, but that’s nonsense. We’re all afraid, Gerald says. Oh, by the way, the two are right by a scarecrow. You know, because Scarecrow.
Bruce’s sprained ankle makes it difficult for him to walk, so he creates a makeshift splint for his leg and begins crawling up the hill.
Fish comes to Mace, who she calls Doc. Why? Because she gives nicknames to her friends. Mace has a nickname for Fish: Firecracker. That doesn’t work because a firecracker goes off once and then just lies there. She’s more like the Fourth of July. Semantics, you know. He comes up with a different name- baby. She likes the name so much that she stabs Mace. Never call Fish “baby.” I feel like this should have been established early on in the nickname protocol, but either way, Fish is taking control now. Good, I guess.
Gerald and Jonathan continue with the protocol just as Harvey and Jim show up. The two flee with the officers in pursuit.
They end up back under the scarecrow. You know, because Scarecrow. Gerald injects a large into his son and I’m guessing that Jonathan has a phobia of scarecrows because he starts freaking out when the thing comes to life.
While his son freaks out, Gerald advances on the detectives and fires, stating that he has no fear. True as that may be, he’s still not invulnerable and is put down with a few shots.
Bruce makes it back to the top of the hill and finds Alfred sitting by a fire and drinking tea. He’s been there for an hour. Bruce is upset that Alfred didn’t help, but hey, Alfred’s not the one who put Bruce there in the first place. That’s what Bruce gets for throwing rocks. Anyway, Bruce is cold, tired, and sprained his ankle. He wants to go home, but chooses to stay and see the sun rise.
The opening of the club, now called Oswald’s, has far from stellar attendance on its opening, but Penguin gets a surprise visit from Maroni, who tells him that things are good between them. He just doesn’t Penguin to give Falcone any more of Maroni’s secrets, though. But then he also tells Penguin to wish that Falcone live a long life, because the second he dies, Penguin dies too.
Bruce and Alfred see the sun rise.
Gordon fills Thompkins in on the previous night. Paramedics were able to stabilize young Jonathan and Gordon is headed over to check in on him. However, there’s something the two need to discuss: office romance. No kissing on the job, despite the previous kiss. And Gordon’s being serious. This is a place of business. Huh? Anyway, Thompkins promises to be discrete. Also, the two will be heading to the circus very soon. I wonder if it’s a family performing.
Back in the bowels of Gotham, Fish promises to bring order and rules to the people. The guards bring in a woman who has lost her eyes in a way very similar to the guy who got his eyes scratched out by Selina Kyle.
At the hospital, the doctor informs Gordon that Jonathan is not well due to the massive dosage he received. The combination damn near killed him. Jonathan will live, yes, but there’s a long-term based on the CAT scan the doctors ran to see if Jonathan suffered any brain damage. The results were unlike anything they had seen before.
The hormones have worn off, but the effects are still there. Jonathan’s brain activity show that he’s in a constant state of terror and the doctors have no idea if this will ever go away. Imagine the thing you fear most in the world always with you at every waking hour. Such is the life of young Jonathan Crane.
And from now on, he’ll always be seeing scarecrows.
So we pick up from the last episode with Crane continuing his work, and while we still don’t get deep into the psychology of fear, we do learn more about his world view in this episode, which I appreciate. He believes that fear is the motivator for all that’s wrong with the world and that people can be cured of it, but the problem, as Bullock and Gordon point out, is that many people have to die in order for that to happen.
In order to save lives, Gerald Crane first needs to take them. And he’s doing this to make up for not saving his wife. Though his methods are mad, Crane thinks that fear can be conquered based on his personal experiences. I’m fine with expanding on his character in this episode since last week, we got a glance at his methods. Here, we learned what motivates him.
Even though Gerald gave Jonathan such a large dosage, I appreciate the fact that he used himself as a guinea pig in order to see if he could even withstand the dosage. By doing this, he’s showing his son that he also has fears to conquer and that he’s not afraid to put his life at risk if it means bettering mankind. It’s an interesting concept and, for my money, I would like to have seen more of Gerald Crane, part of it having to do with Julian Sands’ performance.
My only issue with both of these episodes is we don’t get to know much about Jonathan Crane himself. He’s just here as his father’s helper and unwilling test subject. We know Gerald’s fears, but not Jonathan’s, and Jonathan is the one who we would see more of later in his life, not his father. Toward the end, it’s like the writers realized a bit too late that Jonathan didn’t get enough focus, but the Scarecrow foreshadowing was very blatant.
I mean, what’s the practical reason for Gerald and Jonathan to have a scarecrow by their home? You could make the argument that Gerald never refurbished the house after the fire- given the rundown state that it’s in when we see it- but even that’s a bit flimsy. Why a scarecrow?
It’s not Halloween around the time of this episode, last I checked. It just seems like it’s there for the same reason that Nygma likes riddles, Selina prefers to be called “Cat,” Oswald didn’t originally like the name “Penguin,” or Harvey Dent already having an angry side and flipping a coin: the narrative necessitates it. There’s no real reason for Gerald to have one other than to establish Jonathan Crane’s origin to the villain he will later become.
Credit where it’s due, I did like the sequences where the scarecrow came to life and especially when it terrified Jonathan at the end. But I just wish we got an explanation as to why and how Jonathan has a fear of scarecrows. It’s interesting that these two episodes set up Scarecrow, but we learn more about Gerald Crane than we do about the boy who will later become Scarecrow. Damn it, though, if this kid doesn’t have one screwed up childhood, but then, I expect nothing less from Gotham City.
So while Gotham still didn’t really dig that much into the psychology of fear and only really scratched the surface on Gerald and Jonathan Crane, I did like what we got. I’m not expecting the show to get as deep into fear and the examination of it as Batman Begins did with its interpretation of Jonathan Crane, but I think this was a pretty ambitious attempt. For the most part, I enjoyed it.
What didn’t hold up as well was the rest of the episode. Not to say it was bad, just not as memorable.
How about Gordon and Thompkins, for one? First off, circus tickets. Graysons, I’m guessing. Just speculating and Gotham could easily throw a curveball, but given news reports, I don’t think it’s too far of a stretch to assume we’re getting the Graysons. Probably no Dick Grayson, but I’m getting off-topic.
So Gordon is concerned about public displays of affection, but I don’t understand why. He says that the department is a place of business, but this is Gotham City. The cops don’t give a damn about Gordon’s little thing with his new girlfriend. Well, maybe Nygma does since he likes her, too. Sure, the entire precinct watched them kiss, but to be fair, Thompkins and Gordon let that happen.
Plus, these officers once thought that Gordon killed Penguin. Hell, Delaware even fears Gordon will send Gabe after him and his family again. Given the department’s perception of Jim so far, I just think it strange that he would care what they think of him. Plus, these cops aren’t exactly what I’d call upstanding, so Gordon has no real reason to be worried about his image. And either Gordon still lives at the GCPD or he’s being super-secret about his home, since, after the date, he was more focused on going to Thompkins’ place than bring her to his.
While Bruce’s subplot didn’t add anything to the plot, he did get to make it on his own for awhile. As for the splint he created, I don’t know how many young kids know how to do that, but it was established that Bruce and his father had been doing this for years, so I’ll assume he picked up some survival skills during this time. Other than that, he had a nice moment with Alfred. I expected Bruce to end up seeing bats, but hey, kudos on the show for having some restraint.
Given Maroni’s intense hatred for Penguin’s betrayal, it’s pretty convenient for him to drop all of that at the mention of a judge who we hadn’t seen or heard of before, but Maroni apparently has a grudge with. That’s not unlikely, but it felt like a way to get Maroni off of Penguin’s back for now. Before that, he seemed pretty dead-set on going through with his plan to kill Penguin.
And sticking with Penguin for a second, I did like the scene between him and Nygma, if only for Penguin to find someone who annoyed him only by asking a riddle.
Plus, I do get the feeling that Gordon will need to depend on him again, against his best judgment. Penguin’s line also felt like it was written to be ominous, especially since Gordon does have the likes of Essen and Bullock, so he’s not really walking alone in the light.
Then there’s Fish’s subplot. Ah, whatever!
And do my eyes deceive me, or is Gotham going the distance and trying to introduce a villain who is no joke? Really hoped the show would avoid touching the Joker so soon, but let’s just wait and see what happens.