Like Father, Like Son
A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
In what is a marked improvement from last week (which frankly isn’t that difficult of a job to do), The Fearsome Dr. Crane ought to have been far more interesting than it actually became in execution. There’s something remarkably frustrating about an episode (especially one that is supposed to carry directly into next week) that is supposed to be a mythologically rich hour but instead becomes undeniably mundane. I know it’s tiring to read criticism after criticism about Gotham, but it’s difficult to merely write praise when there is simply an astounding amount wrong with this episode. The Dr. Crane specifically mentioned in the episode title is meant to serve as a sort of dark, gripping journey to the darkness within the eventual Scarecrow’s mind. That darkness never manifests on screen. The episode never truly allows for Dr. Crane to be as fearsome and horrifying as he can. The daring move would have been to try and unlock the secrets within his demented mind, but that becomes a chore for the episode to follow through on. Gotham simply can’t survive creatively (ratings are another issue) by taking every imaginative villain and shuffling them into “case of the week” scenarios. It’s juvenile and the show needs to learn from it’s own mistakes.
That being said, Dr. Crane simply doesn’t get much to do, either. In a Gotham tradition that by this point has become a self-parody, the character in the title of the episode is largely delegated to the sidelines. Even when the narrative focus is on Dr. Crane’s evil machinations, the doctor himself is largely thrust into the darkest of shadows as if there simply no other machinations for him to perform from the script. What drives him? Is there a reason for his darkness, or perhaps even reasons? How differently does he feel for his family? Are there certain victims he specifically singles out and if so, exactly why? These are all valid questions and Gotham deigns it absolutely unnecessary to basically answer any of them. At a critical juncture, we just find ourselves adrift, agonizing that anyone making this show expects us to find something halfway decent and meaningful within it. It feels as if the writers laughing at our stupidity because we keep watching? Well, there are only eight more episodes to go.
Perhaps those eight episodes should only focus on Mooney, Falcone, Maroni, and Cobblepot with dashes of Wayne Manor thrown in (by the way, what happened to the really promising story thread about Wayne Enterprises killing Bruce’s parents being carried to an exciting conclusion?). Those are by far the best aspects of the episode and the ones that actually manage to click because they serve as the only places where we can find a decent amount of character development. When Mooney makes a single phone call to Maroni, the entire sequence tingles with an undeniable suspense and that’s not just because Jada Pinkett-Smith is so darn great in the role, but because it legitimately feels like there actually might be consequences. And when those consequences string together Cobblepot and Falcone, all the better (there’s no treat on this show like seeing the Penguin wiggle his way out of extremely tight corners). We need more of that and in significant doses so that I might actually consider coming back next year.
Title: The Fearsome Dr. Crane
Written By: John Stephens
Directed By: John Behring
Image Courtesy: IGN