Recap: Gotham Episode 15, The Scarecrow

Recap: Gotham Episode 15, The Scarecrow

Another adrenal gland murder sends Bullock and Jim on the hunt for the killer. They find Gerald Crane in the high school yearbook and check in with the principal, who says that Crane was a great teacher until he called three weeks ago and quit suddenly. By all accounts, he was a good father, if a bit protective after his wife died in a car accident a few years ago. The principal doesn’t seem surprised to hear that he is a suspect in the adrenal gland killings. He was obsessed with fear, calling it an evolutionary mistake and positing that he could “cure” fear.

The guys figure that if Crane is obsessed with fear, he must be trying to cure his own fear. Some research reveals that Karen Crane didn’t die in a car accident, but she died in a house fire. She was upstairs; Crane and Jonathan were downstairs. He couldn’t save his wife because of a crippling fear. So Jim and Bullock head out to the old Crane house. Despite being halfway burned out, the surviving Cranes still live there.

Crane has been injecting himself with a disgusting concoction of adrenal hormones, until he feels he has built up a tolerance to fear. Then he decides it is time to test his drug on Jonathan. The first injection goes okay, but Jonathan doesn’t want the second one. He rushes from the house and Crane tackles him, injecting him again. In case you are new to the Batman universe, there is a scarecrow in the background to really drive the point home. When the time comes for the third injection, the police are already there. Jonathan tries to talk his dad out of it, but dad believes they still have time to complete the protocol. Jonathan runs again, Crane gives chase again, and they end up – once again – in front of the scarecrow. Crane gives Jonathan a huge dose, and the kid immediately has a seizure. In his drug-addled mind, the scarecrow comes alive. Jim and Bullock are there now, and Crane, claiming to be cured of fear, marches towards the cops. A firefight ensues, and Crane dies.

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Jonathan is taken to the hospital and he survives but the doctors are flummoxed. The hormones have worn off, but the effects seem to linger. CAT scans show that he is in a constant state of intense terror, and can’t be sure it will ever end. While there is some effective, creepy imagery of the scarecrow, I can’t imagine how someone could live in constant terror. I am phobic, and have come face to face with my phobia. Each time it feels like I will die. I imagine that, if a person was in that state for a prolonged amount of time, their hearts would just give out. There was an episode of “Friday the 13th: The Series” (an old 1980s TV show I am obsessed with) that dealt with just that: a curse would cause people to be confronted with their fears until their hearts gave out. I’m not crazy about this origin story for Scarecrow. It’s like the Scarecrow we all know and love is Scarecrow Jr. Gerald Crane seems to be the original Scarecrow.

Enough ruminating on fear. There is a lot going on tonight. Maroni and Falcone meet over the little Penguin problem. Maroni wants him dead, and Falcone understands; however, he wants to keep Penguin around. He is clever and he knows he will never be boss. They strike a deal: Maroni will let Penguin live in exchange for $200,000 and Judge Turnbull’s head on a platter. Falcone does him one better, and reveals he has Turnbull locked up in his mansion, being tortured by a dominatrix. The two will have to share him. Maroni likes this arrangement better. He goes to Penguin and tells him that he will be allowed to live, so long as he doesn’t say anything about him to Falcone. Maroni also warns him that as soon as Falcone is dead, so is Penguin.

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While we are on the topic of Penguin, he has been given Fish’s club to run. For whatever reason, the club isn’t the Iceberg Lounge, but Oswald’s. Terrible, terrible, terrible. It seems silly not to give Batman fans this little shout-out, plus Oswald’s is a terrible name for a club. On opening night, the club is virtually empty, with one hardcore punk rocker (with an enormous mohawk) trying to slam dance to a band whose sound, at its hardest, could be described as pop-punk.

Which leads us to Fish Mooney. She is in some kind of prison that is basically a lawless underground warehouse. She uses her feminine wiles to get close to the “boss” of the Thunderdome (Mace is the boss because he is the only one with a knife). But as soon as she does, she shivs him and announces she is now running the place.

Lee is the new medical examiner for Gotham. The only other interesting thing Lee adds to tonight’s episode is inviting Jim to go with her to the circus. My first thought, of course, is that we are going to meet the Graysons. Since Dick Grayson is quite young when Batman makes him his Robin, we would have to meet Dick’s parents – who couldn’t be much older than Bruce Wayne. That seems like a strange, desperate move that serves no purpose to “Gotham” – at least not in its first season. But then the previews for next week’s episode tell us that we are going to meet baby Joker. So now I am even more concerned – will the Joker have his origins at the circus? A clown perhaps? Besides the fact that that would be a stupidly-easy backstory to give the Joker, the Joker should not have a backstory! If there is one thing I know about the Batman universe, it is that the Joker doesn’t have a definitive backstory. There are plenty of different stories, with a varying degree of detail, which all seem to lend credence to the Joker’s own admission that he doesn’t remember how he became the Joker. Seriously, “Gotham” producers. Slow down. We don’t need every Batman villain in the first season. 

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You can check out the promo for Episode 16 of “Gotham,” in the player below. Titled “The Blind Fortune Teller,” the episode is officially described as follows: 

“Gordon takes Dr. Leslie Thompkins (guest star Morena Baccarin) to the circus, but the day turns quickly when the circus comes under attack. Then, Falcone enlists Butch Gilzean to help Penguin with the night club, while Fish Mooney is otherwise occupied. Also, Bruce Wayne schedules a meeting with the Wayne Enterprises board.”

“The Blind Fortune Teller” is set to air February 16. “Gotham” airs Mondays at 8 P.M. EST on FOX.