Gotham, ‘Fear the Reaper’ – A Great Scarecrow, A ‘Meh’ Episode

Photo Credit: Jeff Neumann/FOX.

Gotham Fear the Reaper Plot Summary:

With the GCPD still against him, Gordon (Ben McKenzie) goes off on his own to apprehend Jonathan Crane (Charlie Tahan) after he takes over Arkham Asylum. Bruce (David Mazouz) continues to put himself in harm’s way, much to Alfred’s (Sean Pertwee) chagrin. Tabitha (Jessica Lucas) and Selina (Camren Bicondova) get an interesting offer from an old friend.

Gotham had some noticeable highlights this week, but laziness plagued most of this episode. As I always try to be Mr. Positive though, I’ll begin with what made the entire episode worthwhile. I alluded to Scarecrow’s cool look in his brief tease from last week. That doesn’t begin to describe what they trotted out here. Holy soiled pants, Batman! The Scarecrow looked absolutely horrifying.

We’ll get to the characterization in a minute, which was definitely a homerun. There’s no way we can start the Scarecrow discussion though without mentioning that terrifying look. It’s impossible to screw up Scarecrow’s costume. Even when the animated series did those lame character redesigns for the later season, Scarecrow was the only one who looked fantastic. Whether it’s a video game or the Nolan movies, Scarecrow has a great costume history. I can honestly say Gotham offers the best look I’ve ever seen for this character.

The ripped cloth. The mask. The eyes! The look of those eyes was outstanding. Remember the episode of The Simpsons where Mr. Burns gets eye drops and is mistaken for an alien? That’s what the eyes looked like here. Perfect. I’ll also credit the voice, which was effectively creepy. I’ll give Charlie Tahan props here, although certainly they distorted the voice quite a bit. Tahan did a great job though out of the mask.

Now that we’ve gotten aesthetics out of the way, let’s actually talk about the Scarecrow. Simply put, he was Scarecrow. He went to an asylum and drove people mad while giving big speeches about conquering fear. What else do you want? Side note: the writers definitely looked at the release calendar and knew It would be a thing. That was blatant.

Scarecrow’s big confrontation was of course with Jim Gordon. This was okay, but a couple complaints. First of all, Gordon overcomes the fear spray way too quickly. That was the first example of this episode being lazy. Secondly, while the scenes between Gordon and Scarecrow were good, a lot of it just devolved into a bunch of lunatics attacking while Gordon punched them. Eh. There was one scene though in a bathtub that was ridiculously intense. I’m shocked they got away with this on network television. That was no holds barred.

One storyline they continue from the previous week is the disconnect between Gordon and the rest of the GCPD. This is a good conflict because you can see both sides of the argument. This isn’t the GCPD being corrupt. These are cops legitimately fed up with their jobs, and truly believe Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor) is a necessary evil. This even leads to a nice clash between Gordon and Bullock (Donal Logue). Again, you can see where Bullock is coming from.

Speaking of Penguin, Robin Lord Taylor continues to do his thing. While in control of the city again, he’s constantly juggling balls in the air, whether it be Gordon, or the return of a noteworthy adversary. Taylor shows his strength and frustration beautifully.

That noteworthy adversary who does return is Barbara Kean (Erin Richards). One of the elements I strongly dislike about Gotham, but I’ve come to terms with it, is that dying means absolutely nothing. It’s annoying they keep referencing it though. Stop reminding us. We’ve accepted characters can come back. Move on. As far as Barbara goes, they made a smart decision to have her come back subdued. They stretched crazy Barbara out as far as they could. I have no doubt nutty Barbara will return once she gets more power, but the calm, cool and collected Barbara is just as scary. They also introduce a nice little mystery with her in terms of who she’s working for.

The character who has the most scenes with Barbara is Tabitha. Tabitha was always a solid character, but she’s been a real focal point early on. She’s been a hit so far, with Jessica Lucas having a real command. After what happened last season, she’s not taking any crap. Anthony Carrigan as Zsasz also continues to be in the running for Most Improved Villain.

The big miss of the episode though was Bruce/Baby Batman. While we see some nifty Batman tricks, this was pretty boring. The obvious conflict between Bruce and Alfred wasn’t all that compelling. And even though Lucius Fox (Chris Chalk) has been great, this is where they got real lethargic. Anytime they take a cue from the Nolan world, I’m on board. This was flat out laziness though. They essentially copy and paste Fox’s speech from Batman Begins when he shows Bruce the suit for the first time. Gotham has always offered a unique spin when they pick from Nolan land. Not here.

I’ve also praised Gotham since the beginning for how they set up their villains. There’s never been a time I felt like they forced a villain too soon, except for Ivy (Maggie Geha). This one simply hasn’t hit since they aged her up last season. All the villains on Gotham have a natural connection to their gimmicks. Not Ivy. The plant/toxin stuff is embarrassingly forced. While we got a cool special effect, something’s got to give soon for me to be convinced Poison Ivy belongs on this show.

While a mediocre offering this week, nothing here concerned me for the long term. The Scarecrow shenanigans will get even better, and the main set up of Gordon going after Oswald’s control of the city is a strong foundation for the season, which also led to a nice tease at the end.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10 (Slightly Better Than “Meh”)

Daniel Cohen is the hard-boiled Film Editor for the Pop Break. Besides reviews, Daniel writes box office predictions, Gotham reviews and Oscar coverage. He can also be found on the Breakcast. If Daniel was sprayed by Scarecrow’s fear toxin, it would be watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on a non-stop loop.