Batman villains… are scary. They may not be your typical criminal mastermind planning a world takeover and most of them aren’t all that strong in the grand scheme of things, but there’s this air around them, an aura of madness that instantly awakens your primal instinct to fight or flee; well, mostly the latter. We’ve already been presented with a poisonous assortment of some of Batman’s biggest as well as some of his lesser-known foes. We’ve seen Penguin’s merciless manipulation, Falcone’s terrifying sway over the city of Gotham and the Electrocutioner’s electrifying schemes. Now, we get to witness the Scarecrow’s sick obsession with one of humanity’s most animalistic instincts: fear. No matter what you do, there’s no way to control it, especially if you have a phobia. GCPD’s Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock however, face fear on a daily basis, for their own lives and for their loved ones. It seems like if anyone can stop him, it’s them. But can they stop him before he takes one too many victims and casts a permanent, ever-present shadow of despair over the citizens of Gotham?
The Scarecrow has always been one of my favourite villains, so you can imagine my joy(and terror) upon setting my eyes upon the episode’s title. My only worry was the show was going to get him all wrong but thankfully that wasn’t the case and Gotham’s scarecrow more than lives up to the name. In this episode, he’s going around kidnapping people who suffer from intense phobia’s and forcing their fear to an extreme level before killing them for his own nefarious ends. It’s a unique premise and a downright frightening one at that. We only get to see three of his victims in this episode but that’s all I needed to get a large dose of chills down my spine from his eerie assaults on the human psyche. He’s become one of my favourite villains in the show so far, up there with Penguin who’s a fan favourite.
Fortunately, this didn’t mean Penguin got sidelined to make room. Like in most episodes, he got the secondary arc. Fish calls Maroni from out of the city to tell him that Penguin is working for Falcone which should be OBVIOUS(seriously, how hasn’t he figured it out by now?). Maroni then decides to test Penguin’s loyalty by taking him out to the middle of nowhere and employing the use of his mob boss mind games to try and get him to slip up. Surprisingly, it works and Cobblepot ends up playing right into Maroni’s hands and ends up in a car in a trash compactor. This is one of the reasons I like Penguin so much. Despite being a cool, cold, criminal mastermind, he still screws up; quite a lot in fact. Yet somehow, he always manages to slip his way out of whatever bad situation he manages to land himself in like an escape artist. I also liked Maroni in this episode who’s been somewhat of a pushover since he gained Penguin. He’s surprisingly fast for a big guy. Too bad he isn’t as intelligent. Why would you leave an incredibly dangerous traitor in a ridiculously slow trash compactor and just walk away?
Bullock also get’s some of the focus in this episode, the most attention he’s got since Spirit of the Goat. It even feels more like Harvey’s case than Jim’s this time around. He gets a love interest called Scottie Mullen; the creator of a group where people can talk about their phobias and what Harvey considers to be the killer’s target. We see him put more work into the case than Gordon for once thanks to Scottie and he does quite a good job. Harvey rarely gets motivated but when he has an incentive, he’s like the Terminator. I like the Harvey-centric episodes and to be honest, I hope we see more of them. In my opinion, he has a more interesting and complex personality than do-gooder Gordon; in a way, he’s almost like an anti-hero and I am personally a massive fan of the new perspectives they provide to the viewer.
Bruce shocked me this episode in the small scene he got where he decided to relieve Gordon from the case of his murdered parents following Selina’s confession that she never actually saw the man. While part of me may hate him for this decision, I think it shows development as well as character and another part of me is glad he’s not still in his early-show stages. Another character that made my mouth hang wide open in awe was Ed Nygma, a.k.a The Riddler. The first tendrils of his insanity are starting to creep through in a grim fashion. When he was laid off at the start of the episode for simply doing one guy’s job better even though he wasn’t required, I was up in arms. Obviously Ed was too, considering his reaction. I won’t spoil it but…. wow. Still one of my favourite characters though.
In conclusion, Gotham continues to be a train that is nowhere near stopping, instead it seems to be getting faster and faster thrilling the passengers who are looking on with glee. It continues to introduce new villains while still allowing some spotlight for the big guys with the fluidity of water. While I do feel like they neglected one or two important character in this episode(where are you Butch), it’s only a minor complaint for an episode that’s brimming with positives. As long as we don’t get another episode like ‘The Mask’, it seems that Gotham is well on its way to an outstanding finale.