Thursday, 5 February 2015

Gotham Episode 14 'The Fearsome Dr Crane’ Review

So with Maroni having learnt of the traitor in his midst from Fish Mooney, has Penguin’s luck finally run out? Meanwhile a support group for people with phobias are being targeted by a man obsessed with fear. How many of the group will survive ‘The Fearsome Dr Crane’?

It’s a credit to Robin Lord Taylor that he subtly changes his Penguin performance depending on who he’s dealing with. As Maroni questions and breaks down Penguin’s defences, we see the transition from weak victim to confident threat. The scenes with Maroni and Penguin are nice but the conclusion, Penguin’s escape from certain death, stretches credibility to breaking point.

The meat of this episode focusses on Dr Crane and his experiments on the phobia group. The opening shots of the episode show him dangling a man with a fear of heights off the side of a building, before hanging him off the side. Bullock’s interest in the case increases exponentially when he meets Scotty Mullens, a woman in the group suffering from a fear of drowning. Unfortunately Bullock is not the only one to have taken an interest in Mullens... So I’ve got mixed feelings about this episode. The concept of the fear group being attacked by their greatest fears is interesting but the execution leaves a lot to be desired.

For example, the first murder of the man terrified of heights is chilling and sets a certain dark tone. This dark tone is then completely undermined by a scene of Dr Crane menacing a man with a piglet, the man in question having a fear of pigs. I appreciate that we need to establish that the groups’ fears are a mixture of the understandable and the outlandish but this phobia really doesn’t work within the episode. A fear of heights and a fear of drowning are both very easily understandable, even by people not crippled by them. A fear of pigs is only threatening to somebody with a fear of pigs. These scenes are played out to be comedic in tone. A comedic tone does not mix well with a psychotic man killing people by their greatest fears.

I appreciate the introduction of the Crane family, with the suggestion that the son of this Dr Crane will become the Scarecrow of Batman lore, but I wish that they had been treated with a bit more reverie. I am also curious about the introduction of a love interest for Detective Bullock. I’m interested in what this will mean for the future behaviour of the character.

A smaller subplot focuses on the suspension of Edward Nygma from the GCPD. Nygma has been caught investigating outside of his job remit one too many times and is punished. It’s nice to see how easily Nygma ruins a man’s life in order to rectify this situation. It’s a nice nod towards the psychology of the man who will become the Riddler.

So this is another place holding episode of ‘Gotham’, one that seems to be more interested in establishing fallout for future episodes than telling its own story. I feel that the handling of Dr Crane and his obsession with fear should have been better handled, particularly since the episodes featuring Jack Gruber seemed a lot more unnerving. Overall however this episode worked pretty well, despite having the stupidest cliffhanger of the season yet. Hopefully the setting up from this episode will play nicely into the next episode, titled simply ‘The Scarecrow’.

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