★★☆☆ 'The Fearsome Dr. Crane'
★☆☆☆ 'The Scarecrow'
It's ludicrous how often The Penguin betrays his gangland bosses, then avoids whatever punishment they exact after discovering his treachery. Here it was the turn of lisping Maroni (David Zayas) to realise Oswald's a snake who's been working for his nemesis Falcone (John Doman) all along, and didn't manage to execute mutual enemy Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith) as he claimed. How many times can Gotham keep doing the same thing with this character? Oswald even ended the hour back on the outskirts of Gotham, hitching a lift back into the city, in a clear call-back to episode 2.
Elsewhere, The Scarecrow became the latest Bat-villain Gotham's prematurely decided to introduce—because, yeah, what the hell. Jonathan Crane is introduced as a sulky teenager with a conscience, scared of his psychotic fear-obsessed father (Julian Sands). Unexpectedly, given the appearance of the Crane family, fear wasn't this episode's subject matter, it was love: Bullock flirted with a pretty widower, and Gordon unwittingly had a date with Leslie (Morena Baccarin) that ended with a passionate kiss. It's coming late trying to make those characters feel like emotional human beings, but Gordon/Leslie are a more entertaining romantic pairing than Gordon/Barbara. (I wonder if the producers regret not giving the Barbara role to Baccarin, because they surely won't undo a key piece of Bat-lore about who Gordon marries.) Oh, and office patsy Ed Nygma's crush on a co-worker continues, although it was nice to see a darker Riddler-y side when Ed framed a medical examiner by filling his locker with body parts.
The conclusion of this hour was good in terms of how it ended the Gerald/Jonathan Crane storyline, as it made a change to have an episode where a Bat-villain's clearly been created in earnest: with young Jonathan injected by his father's mind-altering 'fear serum', causing irreparable damage to his brain as a scarecrow loomed over him. Although one wonders how Jonathan could plausibly grow up to become a renowned doctor after said treatment.
"The Scarecrow" did a perfunctory job with its loose fear subtext, too; as Master Bruce (David Mazouz) injured himself falling down a hill and had to spend a cold winter's night outside by himself. The fact butler Alfred (Sean Pertwee) let his young charge struggle back up the hill without lifting a finger to help? It was more plausible pre-Batman character-building than usual, and there was a nice father-son dynamic between them around a campfire (in sharp contrast to the Crane's warped relationship). The exiled Fish Mooney suddenly becoming the new leader of a rowdy prison camp she's been abducted to by organ-harvesting pirates... well, it just feels ridiculous to me. The show clearly doesn’t know what to do with the Oswald/Fish/Maroni/Falcone quadrangle—beyond have them jostle for power, while fighting over "clever" henchman Oswald—and it's just clutching at straws now.
Oh, and Jim Gordon won't kiss Dr Leslie at work because he's professional, 'kay?
written by John Stephens (1.14) & Ken Woodruff (1.15) • directed by John Behring (1.14) & Nick Copus (1.15) • 2 & 9 February 2015 • Fox