Season One, Episode Fifteen – “The Scarecrow”
By Jarrod Jones. Fifty percent of “The Scarecrow” is Gotham at its finest – or, at least, as fine as the show could ever, ever, hope to be. The other fifty? The most aggravating, mind-numbing, incomprehensible nonsense Fox has unleashed upon us since Models, Inc. (Am I showing my age? I’m showing my age, aren’t I.) Fish stages a mutiny in an underground prison/UFC tryout ring. Penguin inherits a nightclub. Bruce Wayne sprains his fucking ankle. And Sony decided it wanted to share Spider-Man with Marvel. All in all, an eventful night.
WHAT WORKED: Julian Sands has the skill and the presence to be an effective Scarecrow in this or any other incarnation of the Batman’s world. (Tell me that when he uses the word “feeah,” he doesn’t sound just like Batman: The Animated Series‘ late voice actor, Henry Polic II.) And while Sands isn’t destined to become the Master of Fear, Sands’ very presence gives Gotham the appropriate creeps required for an episode titled “The Scarecrow.” Let’s hope that Jonathan Crane (Charlie Tahan) fares as well.
WHAT DIDN’T: Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and Leslie Thompkins (Morena Baccarin) are well into the “third date” phase of their relationship. (And hey, good for them.) But their “will they/won’t they kiss at the goddamned GCPD” subplot dragged this episode down much more than what the series’ writers probably anticipated. This particular tangent is certainly an enjoyable slice of slash-fic for ardent fans of the DC Universe, but as far as narrative legs? These two kids ain’t got any. There’s a paradox found in that I enjoy their courtship infinitely more than anything Jim shared with Barbara Kean.
What, exactly is going on in the world of Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett-Smith)? She’s been abducted by pirates and stashed away in an underground arena of shit-heads and fuck-faces, but to what end? Does she assemble all these People Under the Stairs extras for a full-on assault against Don Falcone (John Doman) at the end of this woefully inadequate season? Does this hurt you as much as it hurts me?
Little Bruce Wayne’s adventures in hiking didn’t offer much in the way of character development – not near as much as the show’s writers probably hoped it would be, anyway. Here was a genuine opportunity for the show to implement an actual facet of the Batman’s origin into the show – Bruce runs off into the wild that is the Wayne Estate, only to fall into a wide cavern we already know is the Bat-Cave – but instead it opts to glean a half-assed glimpse into the dichotomy between Alfred (Sean Pertwee) and his half-pint charge (David Maszouz). Had “Adventure Time With Bruce & Alfred” demanded more screen time than, say, Fish’s plight with the Goonies, this story may have mattered. Instead, it hardly registers.
BEST MOMENT: That Riddler/Penguin stare-down. There aren’t many moments where Gotham elicits chills (despite how much Bruno Heller thinks it does), but when Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Tayor) steps into the GCPD only to be ghosted by Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith), that’s fan service done, well… more appropriately than what the show is known for. When viewed as a twenty-two (or fourty-four) episode trailer to Batman v Arrow (or wherever else this fucking thing is headed towards), watching these actors inhabit these iconic roles makes for engrossing television. It’s all we can really hope for, anyway.
BEST LINE: “Cup of tea, you cheeky monkey?” – Alfred, to Bruce.
EPISODE’S MVP: To tell the truth, with almost six subplots running against each other at once, there was even less room for any one cast member to operate with any semblance of freedom. Jada Pinkett-Smith’s Fish Mooney almost rose to the top by virtue that she was the only person who shoved a shiv into the jawline of some dipshit name of Mace (Babs Olusanmokun). Aside from that, everyone appeared to be on damage control.
– Still no Barbara. My guess is she’ll pop in at an appropriately awkward moment when Jim’s shoving his new girlfriend off of him.
– And, on that note, who’s creating bigger blue-balls: Jim, or Dr. Thompkins? She won’t let him up to her apartment, he won’t let her smooch him at work. Have any of the show’s writers ever been in a relationship that wasn’t completely fucking psychotic?
– Is there anybody reading this who is confused as to what Jonathan Crane’s subplot will eventually lead to? Because if obviousness isn’t your forte, what exactly are you getting out of Gotham?
– Bruce went and biffed it on some rocks in the wild. How this didn’t lead to him taking a tumble into the Bat-Cave is beyond me. Considering the show’s hair-trigger desire to implement all things Batman, this is also beyond reason.