My husband, the die-hard Batman fan, was appalled to see Scarecrow get a backstory. I, a casual Batman fan, was annoyed to see the set-up for another villain story with little pay-off. So far, in 14 episodes, we have already met the Electrocutioner, Amygdala, the Dollmaker (or at least his henchmen), and Victor Zsasz, not to mention the various mobsters and pre-villain villains. Now we have Scarecrow Sr. That’s a lot of bad guys to jam into 14 episodes. Did anyone stop to think that maybe you could save a couple of them for future seasons? It’s not satisfying, especially if you are familiar with a particular villain and want to see him fleshed out more.
So we meet Scarecrow Sr. and, briefly, Scarecrow Jr. in this episode. A man is murdered with an elaborate pulley system that hoists a man bound to a chair over the edge of a skyscraper. The killer, Todd, puts a noose around the guy’s neck, cuts the chair support, and lets the guy hang to death. Bullock takes a special interest in this case when a phone number on the dead guy leads to Scottie Mullen, a pretty redhead who was the victim’s phobia sponsor. The dead guy had a fear of heights. Bullock is immediately smitten with young woman. Bullock gets a really, really, really thin lead, tracing the chair the guy was killed in to a long-shuttered warehouse in the Narrows. He and Jim head down there and discover the perp in the middle of another murder; this time, there are several pigs in the room, and the killer is wearing a grotesque pig mask as he prepares to butcher his newest victim with a machete. Bullock and Jim open fire, killing him instantly. The would-be victim admits to having a phobia of pigs, and belonging to the same support group.
The captain and Bullock are ready to close the case; Jim, as usual, is not. (The audience knows this killer is working with some muscle, something that Jim doesn’t find out until later.) Bullock attends one of the support meetings under the auspices of surveillance, but he is clearly just trying to ask out Scottie. One of the men, Todd, describes his fear of failure, something he got from his dad and he fears is passing on to his son. During the meeting, he gets choked up and rushes out. Scottie runs after. Bullock worries when they don’t return after awhile, and rushes outside in time to see Todd stuff Scottie in the back of a van and speed away.
Scottie’s fear is drowning, specifically in a swimming pool. Bullock calls her mom and finds out that she nearly drowned in a pool when she was seven. The guys head to that pool, where they discover Todd Crane tying her up and dumping her in the pool. He runs when the cops arrive. Jim goes after Todd, but loses him, while Bullock jumps in and saves Scottie. (Looks like he’s going to get a date with her after all.) Before the cops arrive though, while Todd is blathering about levels of fear, his son, Jonathan comes in, worried about what his father is doing. Daddy promises it is for the good of humanity, and Jonathan goes to wait in the car. So basically, this whole scene was an excuse to introduce the man who will be Scarecrow; otherwise, this kid has no reason to be in this scene.
One other fun detail that Todd Crane is doing to his victims: stealing their adrenal glands. Lee consults on the case and finds it wild, because the adrenal gland has no black market value, and in Lee’s own words, is basically the fear gland.
Maroni gets a very interesting call while at lunch with Penguin. It is Fish Mooney, calling to alert him that she is alive and well, and to rat out Penguin for secretly working with Falcone. Maroni decides it is time to psychologically torture the truth out of Penguin. He takes Penguin for a drive upstate, where they tuck into his secluded log cabin. He tries to get Penguin to admit what he has done, but Penguin doesn’t, which makes Maroni mad. This whole sequence is rather tired. It is a less sophisticated version of mind games played by every mafia don in every mobster movie ever made. Anyway, Maroni goes for a walk, leaving Penguin to stew, and he thinks he is so smart by taking the gun and confronting Maroni with it when he returns. Maroni laughs and tells him it is full of blanks. Penguin doesn’t believe him – until he fires. Then he is all apologetic and making promises to Maroni, but the damage has been done.
Maroni takes Penguin to an auto crushing yard, where he is put into a car, into a crusher, with Maroni promising to send what comes out to Falcone. Penguin begs and pleads; Maroni ignores. From the car, in the middle of being crushed, Penguin calls Maroni to try to deal more. Maroni gets annoyed and hangs up. With precious little time, Penguin sees a billboard with the phone number of the crushing company. He calls, and Duffy, the man at the controls, takes the call. Penguin insists that he is Falcone’s man, he has been called, and is on his way. If he shows up to find Penguin dead, Duffy will be next in the crusher. Duffy stops the machinery, pissing off Maroni, who, for some reason, decides to chase Duffy. While he goes after that pointless endeavor, Penguin escapes. He wakes in the morning in the woods, found by a bus full of church ladies. They give him a ride back to Gotham.
Also: Nygma and the medical examiner are feuding, which is only amusing because he fills the M.E.’s locker with pilfered body parts, causing an avalanche of limbs and digits to pour down on him. It is pertinent because the M.E. is fired and Jim is determined to get Lee the job. And finally, Fish makes an escape on the high seas, only to have her ship boarded by pirates. The last scene has her facing off with a pirate, who has just killed the ship’s captain. The two rush towards each other, teeth bared, in what one is supposed to assume is an act of aggression. I bet you that this is one of Fish’s friends or family members, and that angry charge turns into a big bear hug.
You can check out the first promo for episode 15 of “Gotham” in the player below. Titled “The Scarecrow,” the episode is officially described as follows:
“Gordon and Bullock set out to stop Gerald Crane, a biology teacher who has been harvesting the glands of his murder victims. Meanwhile, after finding herself in an unusual setting, Mooney continues plotting to gain power, and Falcone attempts to change Maroni’s plan for the Penguin. Then, Bruce takes a treacherous hike.”
“The Scarecrow” is set to air February 9. “Gotham” airs Mondays at 8 P.M. EST.