Gotham Review: “The Fearsome Dr. Crane” (Season 1, Episode 14)

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The best parts of the episode were, without a doubt, those centering on Maroni and Penguin. Before Fish goes on the run, she makes a phone call to Maroni and informs him (while he’s having lunch with Penguin, no less) that ol’ Oswald has been working with Falcone the whole time. This prompts Maroni, who’s been having a few doubts about his new right-hand man, to drag him into a road trip to take care of “a guy with a thing.”

That “guy with a thing” turns out to be an intimidation tactic. He drags a quivering Oswald out to the middle of nowhere and slowly tries to get answers out of him. He plays Good Cop for a while, but lets loose once he plays a game of secret telling by the fire. He tells Penguin a secret, and in return Penguin is supposed to tell him one.

It’s probably the series’ best written scene to date, as the tension is handled perfectly. It accomplishes a delicate balance between comedy and drama, which the show so often struggles to obtain, and also helps in informing the audience about both of these characters and concludes in a way that, while goofy, works to sever their ties and push them both into new directions. Penguin winds up on the run after slyly weaseling his way out of a compactor, and Maroni is left with the knowledge that Penguin not only betrayed him, but is on the loose.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to see where they go from here.

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Even Edward Nygma, the character I despise most on the series, managed to win me over. His first few scenes delivered the same groan-inducing ridiculousness that makes me mourn the loss of potential a character like him brings to the show, but he has one spectacular moment near the end that totally won me over.

We’ve seen and heard that Nygma likes performing autopsies even though he’s not a medical examiner, and this week he’s caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Er… corpse. As such, he gets suspended. In a final act of retribution, our boy Eddy decides to stuff the medical examiner’s locker full of human body parts, which in turn makes it look like the M.E. had been stealing them. That man is swiftly fired, and Nygma’s brief suspension ends.

Perhaps I responded so well to that moment because it was the first thing Nygma’s done that felt true to his character. Until this point, all of his scenes have been egregious nods to the source material that take away from the episode at large. I prefer a more subtle, nuanced approach to a character like this, and what we’ve gotten so far is something straight out of a Joel Schumacher Batman flick. There were still brief glimpses of that this episode, but they were toned down to a tolerable degree, and the feet-in-the-locker trick was fun, shocking, and darkly twisted. More of that, please.

The Nygma plot also paves the way for us to get more Morena Baccarin, as her Dr. Thompkins is offered the job of taking over as the GCPD’s new medical examiner. I suspect we’ll be seeing a lot more of her in the weeks to come, which in turn will come paired with some relationship drama. Gordon feels like an actual person when she’s around, so the more of her, the merrier.

Speaking of Gordon, I was a bit sad to see that the darker implications of his actions in last week’s episode didn’t spill over here, but considering that there was a lot to chew on this week, I’ll forgive it. All in all, “The Fearsome Dr. Crane” provided a truly compelling, fun, and entertaining hour of television, which hasn’t happened yet in Gotham‘s fourteen episodes to date. Let’s just hope that the show sticks the landing in its two-episode Scarecrow opus.

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