Gotham has handled its villains in many different ways. The Penguin is an example of fine craftsmanship, honed over an entire season and becoming the sleezy-yet-genius underworld mobster. Other well-known baddies, like Nygma or Ivy, are narrative caulk used only to fill up an episode’s runtime.
This episode’s main villain, Doctor Crane, falls somewhere in the middle. As the father figure of Bruce Wayne’s fear-obsessed nemesis, Scarecrow, his name holds immediate weight and his personal story arc transcends the uninteresting filler bad guys that have proliferated Gotham as of late. But it’s also the continuation of an annoying trend. Scarecrow is a great Batman villain, and viewers get to see him… as a kid. Poison Ivy? A kid. Catwoman? A kid. I’d be surprised if we don’t see more kid villains in the future. There’s nothing wrong with the kid actors themselves—most of them do an amicable job—but do viewers really need to see Scarecrow, the master of fear, as a scared little kid? It’s the Darth Vader/Jake Lloyd curse all over again.
But before getting too far ahead, let’s start at the beginning. In typical Gotham fashion, the episode kicks off with a murder, a particularly gruesome one as an unnamed, bespectacled man strings up his unsuspecting victim and tosses him off a building’s edge. The next day, Bullock surveys the crime scene, now having to look over his shoulder since his partner, Jim Gordon, put away one of the GCPD’s most-crooked cops last episode. Officer Essen reminds Bullock that some cops wouldn’t mind tossing him right off the rooftop for revenge.
This moment is a perfect example of wasted dialogue. It completely fails to follow Chekov’s Gun. Essen tells Bullock to watch his back, and cops kind of… glower at him… and then it’s never mentioned again. This is all just narrative bloat that Gotham doesn’t need. With a show that has so many characters that need to fight for screen time, Gotham needs every minute it can get and moments like these just seem wasteful.
NEXT: You can’t handle the truth