Synopsis of 1×14: Gordon and Bullock have to track down a killer preying on members of a phobia support group who turns out to be the father of future Batman villain Jonathan Crane. Meanwhile, both Jim and Harvey find love in their lives. Maroni finds out the truth about Penguin, which places Cobblepott in a very nearly deadly situation. And Ed Nygma shows us a small hint at his sinister side.

Rating: ★★★★☆

I have a love/hate relationship with Gotham and I think I’ve finally figured out the reason: it’s just too inconsistent for me. The storyline isn’t necessarily inconsistent. No, each episode generally works well with the others to tell a broader story and fit into the same world. But the quality of each episode varies. You’ve got fantastic episodes followed by episodes plagued with primarily boring, unnecessary scenes.

Fortunately, “The Fearsome Dr. Crane” is one of the better episodes.

Really, any time the power struggle among the various mobsters takes a turn Gotham shines. This week, Don Maroni found out from a fleeing Fish Mooney that Penguin had been Falcone’s lackey the whole time. This puts Penguin on the spot and starts to bring one of the season’s best storylines to a head.

Someone's about to lose a head anyway. [FOX]
Someone’s about to lose a head anyway. [FOX]
He and Maroni go out on their own into the woods where Maroni confronts him and confirms everything. In the end, instead of shooting Penguin, Maroni decides to go for an over the top execution – crushing him inside a car in a trash compactor – from which Cobblepott barely manages to escape. It’s going to be really interesting to see how Falcone reacts to all this and what moves Maroni takes next.

The case of the week wasn’t too bad either. There is a killer stalking Gotham and he’s basically killing people in the ways they fear the most. That’s not a bad set up but the fact that it turns out to be Jonathan Crane’s father kind of irks me. I’m kind of getting tired of Gotham throwing in Batman villains here and there for no real reason. Sometimes it feels like they didn’t think they were going to get renewed so they just decided to throw in as many people as possible in the first season. They’re even throwing in the Joker before the season ends!

In the end, Jonathan Crane himself makes an appearance shortly before his father is about to murder a woman by drowning. Which is interesting. Our future Scarecrow knows everything that’s going on and everything his father is doing.

When your dad is this crazy it's no surprise that you eventually wind up a Batman villain. [FOX/io9]
When your dad is this crazy it’s no surprise that you eventually wind up a Batman villain. [FOX/io9]
The most interesting part of the case this week wasn’t really the case itself, though. The thing I found most compelling was Bullock’s little romance with the woman our crazy Dr. Crane is trying to drown. She’s a witness and a member of a support group for debilitating phobias. After several members are murdered Bullock realizes that’s the link and he’s spurred on to trying to really nail this case. From the moment he meets her he’s kind of stuck on her and she’s surprisingly okay with that. I mean I would be, too. I love Bullock. So it’s kind of cute.

Luckily, she survives after Bullock pulls her out of the water and Crane escapes to terrorize Gotham again.

I guess I do like that a lot of the villains are escaping because it means future conflict. But it also means even more characters to check in with again down the line and that’s getting old. This episode quickly checked in with Selina again after Jim realizes that she’s basically living in Barbara’s apartment. Fish Mooney escapes by boat from Gotham only to have it raided by pirates at the end… or something. We also see Jim and Bruce reunite briefly in a rather tense moment where Bruce basically loses faith in Jim and Alfred tells him to sod off. The Bruce bit was nice to see but could have been saved for another episode that maybe focused more on the kid. These little one to three minute bits we get of various characters still makes the show seem really disjointed.

Already a more believable couple than Jim and Barbara. [FOX]
Already a more believable couple than Jim and Barbara. [FOX]
One character we’re going to see more of, though, is Leslie. She and Jim are starting to see each other more seriously and they even put on a real show, macking in front of everyone in the precinct. Hopefully they still stay cordial when Barbara comes back into the picture (which I assume she inevitably will) since this episode sees Leslie become the new medical examiner after the other one gets fired after Nygma frames him for collecting body parts by shoving a bunch of disembodied limbs into the man’s locker.

Yeah, no joke, this is probably the only time I’ve actually liked Nygma’s storyline.

He got suspended for constantly butting in on the medical examiner’s turf and performing unauthorized examinations. That seems perfectly logical to me because presumably this guy isn’t trained to do anything like that. I don’t care how many clues he finds, can you imagine the nightmare it would be to prove he didn’t tamper with evidence? Juries would question everything he did. Anyway. This was a good move because so far Nygma has been a mostly annoying character who creepily stalks the girl in the basement (who apparently now finds him somewhat charming?) and rattles off riddles.

It makes me wonder how long we’ll really have to go before Nygma goes completely off the rails.

He just looks so freaking crazy! [FOX/Pop Critica]
He just looks so freaking crazy! [FOX/Pop Critica]
Hopefully next week follows along with this episode’s momentum. We really need stronger episodes like this one with more emphasis on the stories and characters that are making these episodes great. It’s been really hard for me to keep up with recaps for this series because most of the time I honestly have a hard time caring about the show. Some things are dragged out too long, some things get forced on us too soon.

I want more from this series and I’m hoping that eventually it’s going to hit it’s stride. But we’re fourteen episodes in now.

At least next week’s episode should be good. And creepy! Dr. Crane continues his murder spree and seems poised to turn poor Jonathan Crane into the Scarecrow we all know and love. And Bruce Wayne is apparently going on a walkabout in the woods alone with Alfred’s permission because, yeah, that sounds like a good idea.

We’ll just have to see how it all goes!

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