A Recap, by definition, WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS! Proceed at your own risk!
“Gotham” borders a fine line between comic book entertainment and engaging drama. As season one continues, “Gotham” has found a balance between the two. Tonight’s episode was no different from what you would expect from FOX’s freshman series and continued to be an exemplary reason for how much fun a show could be in just how much focus is given to particular characters.
We open to a man being tied to a chair, hung, and being lifted over the side due to an enormous mechanical contraption that seems like a device straight out of the Saw movies. The man being tortured to comic book proportions is scared out of his mind and the torturer seems completely at ease with what he is doing. After dangling over the side of the building for a quick moment, he is eventually dropped and properly hung as the chair drops from underneath him and the rope breaks his neck. Unbeknownst to the cleaning lady, lost in her own private world of music, a man has just been killed…
The scene immediately after the opening card finds The Penguin and Salvatore Maroni having a drink. As they toast each other to having finally rid Gotham City of Fish Mooney, Maroni receives a phone call. The Penguin remains at the table and is put off by the sudden interruption. Maroni’s call has come from the believed to be dead Fish. She alerts him as to The Penguin’s flagging allegiance and that he is secretly working with Carmine Falcone. Fish warns Maroni that it’s “time to get your house in order” while he pretends that it’s just a friendly conversation as not to alert the now suspect Cobblepot. After the alarming phone call, Maroni plays it off as if it was nothing, not letting on that Fish is alive and that he knows The Penguin’s true intentions. He then invites Penguin to take a drive with him as they need to see a guy about “a thing.”
Detective Harvey Bullock, Captain Essen, and Edward Nygma are on the roof of the building from the opening. While Nygma investigates the crime scene and looks at the body (while asking one of his obligatory riddles), the Captain warns Bullock to be careful and to not stand so close to the edge. Since the takedown of well protected and corrupt officer Flass from last week, the GCPD is on edge. The arrest of Flass has brought down weight on the shoulders of the good cops as most of the force is filled with corrupt officers on the take.
Meanwhile, Selina Kyle is enjoying herself in Gordon’s apartment loft. She’s interrupted when she hears someone at the door and slinks out of the room. Gordon enters and being the skilled detective that he is, quickly finds her hiding. Selina tells him that she thought he was gone while stationed at Arkham Asylum and that his loft provides a better home for her as opposed to living on the streets. He offers to find her someplace else to stay, but she objects since the last place he found for her was Wayne Manor and assassins had located her. She tells him that she lied to both him and Bruce Wayne and that she didn’t see who murdered the young boy’s parents. Gordon doesn’t believe her, citing that she is scared later on, but keeps it to himself. Before he can escort her out, Selina runs outside and leaps over the railing only to disappear into the city.
Gordon visits Bruce at the manor and tells him of Selina’s confession. Bruce tells him that after he returned from Switzerland, he met with Selina and that she confessed the same thing to him. He believes her, more so to isolate himself from the potential friendship that he had hoped to initiate with her. Resuming his own investigation and self-imposed obligations, Bruce dismisses Gordon and releases him from “an oath he can’t fulfill.” After Bruce leaves the room, Gordon attempts to reason with Alfred, but the boy’s caretaker/butler/valet tells him that Bruce is quite set in his ways once he makes up his mind regarding something. He lets Gordon know that it’s better for him to not try to convince the young boy otherwise and shows him the door. Gordon, leaves defeated as he feels that he has let down Bruce in his quest to bring his parent’s murderer to justice.
Elsewhere, we find Maroni and The Penguin outside of Gotham City. They have driven to a cabin somewhere in the countryside. While it’s just the two of them, Maroni prepares coffee and oatmeal for his guest as they supposedly wait for the “guy with the thing.” The Penguin suspects that Maroni is no longer trusting of him in just the same way that Maroni is now playing with Penguin since learning that Fish is still alive.
At the GCPD headquarters, a young woman named Ms. Skottie Mullins arrives. She goes to speak with Bullock in regards to the man who was killed in the beginning. Bullock learns that she was his sponsor at a phobias anonymous chapter. She tells Bullock that the man was afraid of heights which leads to him connecting the murder to possibly a connection within the phobias anonymous group. He then proceeds to ask out Mullins in an impromptu way shortly before Gordon arrives. Happening somewhere else in the city is another abduction. This time the man from earlier approaches another man while he cradles a little pig. The man grows terrified and as he attempts to run, he is then tased by a much larger man. They put him in the back of a truck and take off.
Back at the GCPD, Nygma examines the dead body. He finds something strange, but is then caught by the coroner who has previously complained to the Captain in regards to his constant interference. Captain Essen then begrudgingly suspends Nygma as the coroner’s threat that he will go above her if something is not done. But while examining the body himself, Nygma found something!
While Bullock and Gordon head to a possible location for the murderer, they have a friendly chat about relationships. Bullock presses Gordon to find out if he really has anything going on with Dr. Thompkins as he reveals that he is interested in Ms. Mullins from phobias anonymous. The mood immediately shifts once they hear screams. As they make their way further into the building, they find the man from earlier unconscious, blind folded, tied to a chair and surrounded by pigs. Another imposing man with a pig’s head over his own attempts to attack both detectives, but they shoot him.
Somewhere on a boat leaving Gotham, Fish is staying in a room. She is told by the captain that they are almost out of the city and that if there is anything she needs to just let him know. She acknowledges him while vowing to make her return to Gotham after biding her time.
Later on and back at the GCPD, Gordon tells Captain Essen that there was something questionable regarding the incision made on the man’s body whom they had rescued. An incision similar to the man hung from the building. He asks for Nygma, but she tells him that she had to suspend him. He requests for her to bring him back, but she says she can’t as they are all being watched since Gordon openly and publicly arrested Flass in front of the whole station. Before Nygma leaves, he visits his crush Miss Kringle. He finds her crying and asks if she is alright, but she does not respond. He then returns a miniature pencil he stole from her when he first met her and leaves.
Back at the cabin, The Penguin finds a gun and waits for Maroni to return as he believes he is in danger. Maroni returns and they both sit down by the fireplace. Maroni tells him that they’re going to play a game in which they both reveal one secret. After The Penguin evades two secrets, Maroni tells him of Fish’s phone call. After things get heated, Penguin pulls the gun on Maroni, but he tells him that there are blanks in the chamber. Disregarding Maroni, The Penguin pulls the trigger and attempts to empty the chamber on him, but immediately learns that Maroni did not lie. Realizing he is in a dire situation, he attempts to make a run for the door, but Maroni grabs him and knocks him out with a punch to the face.
We find Gordon on what appears to be a date with Dr. Thompkins. She is quickly disappointed after he asks for help regarding his current case. She feels that Gordon may be too attached to his job and not as interested in her as she thought. Gordon quickly tells her that she’s wrong and that he did want to take her out, but its been some time since he’s gone out with a woman. Unfortunately their time together is cut short as Bullock calls him to say that the man that they saved has revealed that he was abducted by two men. Gordon leaves, but promises that he will make it up to her.
Bullock is with Mullins at the chapter’s meet. He tells her that he does have fears after goading her about the people at phobias anonymous. Before the meet begins, Bullock heads over to get coffee and encounters an odd man played by Julian Sands.
At a junkyard, The Penguin begs for his life and pleads with Maroni. Maroni is set on killing The Penguin for his multiple betrayals and has him placed in a car that is about to be crushed. Penguin eventually is able to talk his way out of his impending and crushing defeat at Maroni’s hands by informing the man operating the machinery that he is Falcone’s second in command. Threatening that if he isn’t released, Falcone will have him skinned alive, the man stops The Penguin from the final crushing moments of death and makes a run for it. Maroni chases after him, but both men disappear.
Bullock shares with the other members that he doesn’t want to die alone. His greatest fear is that he will be killed on the job and die while someone goes through his wallet. After his turn, next up is Julian Sands’ character, Todd. He confesses that his biggest fear is of failure and before he starts to tell a story about his son, be breaks down and leaves the room. Mullins heads after Todd and Bullock waits a lengthy period of time for them to return. After Mullins does not come back, Bullock heads out after her only to see a van take off.
Back at the GCPD, the main coroner is found with limbs and body parts in his locker. He is then fired and only we know that earlier it was Edward Nygma who broke into his locker to place the arms, hands, and feet. Grimy. But what’s even more startling is that at an undisclosed location, Todd drops Mullins into a pool to drown. Before he drops her, he takes a sample of her blood after waiting for her to reach a level of 10 for fear. Bullock and Gordon arrive (Bullock deduces that she was taken to the pool at her school that she almost drowned in when she was a kid) and Gordon chases after Todd. Bullock jumps in the pool and pulls Mullins out. Unfortunately, Todd escapes but Bullock has saved his own crush, Skottie Mullins from drowning.
Returning to The Penguin’s story, we find him laying underneath leaves. A bus filled with evangelicals find him and bring him aboard after he relates his walk of life to The Bible’s prodigal son and Job. As they head back to Gotham and sing praises, The Penguin stews in the back.
We eventually learn that Dr. Thompkins has concluded that the adrenal glands were taken, something that Edward Nygma discovered earlier but was not given the chance to say. Most interesting about the removal of the adrenal glands is that they were removed when the persons were most fearful. Since the medical examiner was fired, Gordon proposes the idea that Dr. Thompkins takes the job so that they’ll be closer. He then tells her that he’d like to kiss her to which they eventually do after a bit of bumbling.
Back on the boat, Fish is awoken to gunfire. The captain enters telling her that they need to escape and that he’ll keep her safe, but is almost immediately shot. A man then enters the room to which Fish shares a glance of recognition. They growl and then, like a side scrolling panel from a comic book, lunge at each other and… the end card appears – Gotham.
Tonight’s episode of “Gotham” came across as an exciting and enjoyable issue of a comic book that you feel obligated to read. You don’t want to drop it as you are a fan, but you find yourself picking it up again and again with not much of a “must” necessity to keep it up. “The Fearsome Dr. Crane” was another one of those episodes of “Gotham” that happened to be really fun, but filled with enough issues to keep it from being truly great. The problem, as always, with “Gotham” is consistency. Some weeks are balanced terrifically with a focus on the people who make up the city and other weeks it comes across as too much of a “Smallville” rip-off with a sense that every Batman rogue needs to be exploited in the before they became motif. What worked in tonight’s episode was the “consistent” performances of Robin Lord Taylor, John (Maroni), Ben McKenzie, Jada Pinkett Smith, and ultra cool Donal Logue! Even Julian Sands addition to the world of “Gotham” as The Scarecrow’s father was noteworthy. Unfortunately, it’s the case of “Gotham” falling back on the “let’s introduce The Scarecrow before he was The Scarecrow by giving audiences his father” conceit that seems more like a con than an actual reason for us to care. For those of us that have followed from the pilot episode, it’s the value of fleshing out characters like Gordon, Bullock, and the city that have kept us tuning in week after week. Not so much of the “let’s see who the next villain is!” While the show’s story arc quickly became more about The Rise of The Penguin and rightfully so as Robin Lord Taylor has given us a scene stealing, love to hate him character that is advertised in just about every issue of every DC Comic, we don’t necessarily need to see a similar “rise of” for just about every other member of Batman’s rogue gallery. It is my sincere hope that each week gets better and better. So far “Gotham” has given audiences some pretty excellent episodes since its winter return and there is no reason why it should fall off course.
Highlight: Bullock’s bumbling and beginning courtship of (a little red-haired girl) Skottie “Are you Irish?” Mullins was cute and added another layer to Detective Bullock. In lesser hands, this would not have been bought by the audience, but in the capable hands of Donal Logue, the scenes radiate a warmth that makes him all the more reason to watch “Gotham.”
“Gotham” airs on Monday nights on FOX. 8 PM ET. Check your local listings.