Episode 14: “The Fearsome Dr. Crane”
Gordon investigates a criminal who uses his victims fears against them, meanwhile Maroni tests Penguin’s loyalty.
Dr. Jonathan Crane, aka “Scarecrow”, is one of the more well-known villains in the Batman mythos. He has appeared multiple times throughout comics, TV series, and movies; notably by Cillian Murphy in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. The character’s theme is, quite simply, fear. Inducing it, manipulating it, and controlling it. Less well-known is Crane’s father, also Dr. Crane (here named “Todd Crane”), who subjected many people, including his son, to his fear experiments. Previously restricted to expeditionary panels, Dr. Todd Crane is given motive here by the same subject which he studies, fear. In his case, an extreme phobia of failure that pushes him to take his experiments (and test subjects) to their limits in the pursuit of knowledge. It’s a surprisingly poetic motive that sets up Jonathan Crane for a childhood that is severely messed-up, even for Gotham.
Gentlemen, time to spread the word. And the word is, panic.
-Ra’s Al Ghul, Batman Begins
The theme this week is fear. Fighting fear, fighting with fear, releasing fear, circumventing fear, and getting stuck in a car compactor, aka feeling fear. Strap yourselves in, this one is a nail-biter.
Oswald Cobblepot is always a fun character to watch. Whether he’s in power, struggling to hang onto power, or making a play to seize power. However, it must be said that Robin Lord Taylor does his best work when Penguin is squirming with absolute terror. And who better to squirm at than Sal Maroni? Maroni’s main difference from Falcone is that, while Falcone gets violent because he has to, Maroni gets violent because he likes to. Maroni is the kind of man who enjoys crushing bugs under his expensive shoes, seeing it as an ends rather than a means. He is the kind of man to be really, truly, afraid of.
Then comes the reunion between Bruce and Gordon. The show has wisely kept the two separate for some time now, and seems to be continuing that trend for the future. Bruce has made the wise (and surprisingly mature) decision to release Gordon from his oath to solve his parents’ murder. He is, in effect, releasing Gordon from the same fear that paralyzes Dr. Crane, the fear of failure. This child has come incredibly far since the early episodes, allowing for a sense of closure as he begins a new path, alone. This kid could be Batman someday.
Last comes the latest chapter in Edward Nygma’s tale of unrecognized brilliance. Nygma is a charming and lovable sort of guy. Undeniably weird, often annoying, but dependable in a pinch. He believes in something far greater than himself, in his case the pursuit of truth, which gives him the kind of conviction lacking from most GCPD officers. Still, the fact remains that he is a scary sort of fella. Anyone who enjoys digging into corpses and leaving dismembered body parts in lockers probably has a few screws loose.
Fish will hopefully have more to do next week, and hopefully there will be some manor of follow-up regarding Butch, who was last seen at the “mercy” of Victor Zsasz. Other promises are a follow-up with Dr. Crane and the beginnings of Bruce’s fixation on the furry winged creatures he will spend the rest of his life dressing up as. If we’re lucky, there will be more of Dr. Thompkins, who is an absolute ray of sunshine for Gordon, in addition to being a fun and quirky character in general. Barbara who?
Episode Score: 8.6