The build up to Batman continues in yet another installment in the new hit Fox series Gotham. This week takes a focus on this gritty crime dramas interpretation of Jonathan Crane (AKA the Scarecrow). Meanwhile our cast of regulars continues to take baby steps toward the iconic characters that we’ve come to know and love from the Batman Mythos.(Caution, spoilers ahead)
This episode in particular focuses on themes of fear as they relate to the creation of the iconic villain we know as Scarecrow. Last episode showed off his father’s penchant for killing phobics and taking their adrenal glands, and this week we get to see why exactly he went through the trouble. The show makes an interesting twist here and really plays up themes of fear, and whether it is an unfortunate and crippling part of our existence, or a helpful and healthy way to keep us safe. This is a really fresh way to introduce a character that has a long standing history, and brings up intriguing questions about just what Jonathan’s motivations will be when he gets older and adopts the mantle of the Scarecrow. Will he be motivated by his own crippling fear and a desire for others to experience it and empathize, or will his father’s death convince him that fear actually is beneficial, and lead him on the path to misguided attempts to show that?
This episode is surprisingly light on conflict, at least overtly. With the exception of the guns blazing finale between the detectives and Dr. Crane, the conflict in this episode was mostly internal. For example, Dr. Crane’s attempts to overcome fear, and Bruce’s inner turmoil facing the empty place in his life left by the death of his parents, and his striving to climb the hill despite injury. This episode also sees the end of conflict between Oswald and Maroni, though enmity still clearly seethes beneath the surface there.
Character development is what Gotham is all about, and this episode sees great strides in that department. We see the first signs of the determination and drive that Bruce will one day use to power through far more serious injury. We also see Oswald stepping up very closely to the role he will one day fill in Gotham. While we can’t expect every character to grow in every episode, we don’t see much in the way of growth in either Jim Gordon or Harvey Bullock, unless one considers romantic developments to be character growth, and in this instance I would not. It is gratifying to see these characters grow, and the only downside is the burning question gnawing at me: how will they keep this up? I worry that these characters are developing too quickly, and that makes me wonder just how liberal they will be with the state of Gotham that Batman inherits. Only time will tell.
Gotham has always maintained high standards when it comes to visuals, and this episode is far from an exception. They continue to impress with the dark and muted tone that pervades the city, but impress in particular with some of the fear induced moments in the show. Fire is a notoriously difficult thing to convincingly emulate, and they did so impressively well. Though I’m sure fox has dedicated a healthy sum to the budget of this show, it is still impressive to see a television show with a visual quality that rivals the latest blockbuster movies to hit the box office.
This episode proved to be one of the better episodes of the season. It is good evidence that Gotham has a plan, and that they know how to give a good villain origin. It gives quality in all categories. Did the episode keep me guessing, and on the very edge of my seat? No, but it was an entertaining ride nonetheless, and continues to give me more and more reason to want to keep up with what is coming next on this show.