FOX’s ‘Gotham’ detects its 14th installment in “The Fearsome Dr. Crane,” as Gordon and Bullock investigate a mysterious killer preying on those with phobias, while Maroni discovers the secret of Penguin’s alliance with Falcone.

Last week’s ‘Gotham’ installment, “Welcome Back, Jim Gordon,” saw the murder of a witness turning Gordon’s suspicions on the GCPD, while a captive Fish sought to reclaim her throne from Penguin, and Bruce reconnected with Selina, so how does the latest episode of FOX’s Bat-prequel drama shine a light on the city’s villainous beginnings?

Read on for your in-depth review of everything you need to know about ‘Gotham’ episode 14, “The Fearsome Dr. Crane”!

It’s become of increasing concern whenever ‘Gotham’ executive producer Bruno Heller speaks publicly of the series, and I wish there were a way to put that less ludicrously than it sounds. When not concocting tone-deaf phrases like “prenatal origin story” or suggesting the Red Hood gang would open up some enlightened perspective on the show’s costumed mythology, Heller today almost backhandedly insulted American audiences in suggesting their impatience sped up ‘Gotham’’s  plan for Joker allusions, a character that by most interpretations has little purpose without an actual Batman to balance.

The more I read quotes like Heller’s, the more apparent it becomes that the creative minds behind ‘Gotham’ have a fundamental misunderstanding of what makes this world and the characters who inhabit it interesting, believing arbitrary name-drops can cover for a shoddily-constructed narrative. Take tonight’s “The Fearsome Dr. Crane” for instance, the first of a “two-part event” with next week’s “Scarecrow” that overwhelmingly alludes to the presence of a great Batman villain, but has no delivery system in place to capitalize on it.

A mysterious man preys on phobic patients and harvests their adrenal glands after death. His previously-unseen son (cough, Jonathan) interrupts the attempt to drown a woman at a public pool, worried about their rape-van’s expired parking meter, and nothing about that sentence should assure you that ‘Gotham’ has even the slightest idea about constructing rational character arcs with even a measured degree of sanity.

Killers are scary, all on their own! Killers with unusual modus operandi are even scarier, and rather than actually explore the characterization beneath, ‘Gotham’ wants only audience reactions to a creepy man stalking victims with a pig in his arm, or to point wildly and shout “Look! The fearsome Dr. Crane has a son! It’s where he learned murder! For Batman! You know, later!” And yes, perhaps next week’s “Scarecrow” will pay off the appearances of either character in some profound revelation, but the use of weak characterization as a means to an end, along with ‘Gotham’’s particular brand of ill-thought out crime breaks my brain of efforts to take ‘Gotham’ more seriously.

As with last week however, areas showing the most growth include Ben McKenzie’s Gordon and the growing rapport with Donal Logue’s Bullock, tonight trading jabs about one another’s lovelife, and separately stumbling through new courtships with flimsy pretexts, only to show true courage in the end. There’s very little material Donal Logue couldn’t make sing regardless, and while it seems some what strange to gloss over the relationship established with Fish last week, Bullock showed quite a few new colors in investigating this week’s case. Not only did the detective’s interactions with phobic victim Scottie* Mullen (the always-welcome Maria Thayer) prove resoundingly sweet, but so too did Bullock’s confession of fearing a violent end prove some of Logue’s most truthful work on the series to date.

*I just now realized that Bullock mistook the woman for Irish, and her name was actually “Scottie.” Damn you, ‘Gotham.’

Elsewhere, Penguin’s duplicity against Maroni finally came to light by a well-timed phone call from Fish, though somewhat unclear is why Penguin remains in Maroni’s employ in the first place. After all, didn’t deposing Fish more or less end any need for Penguin to remain undercover, particularly now that he’d assumed control of the club? Falcone remains absent this week once again, making it difficult to ascertain where any of the gang wars stand, though it seemed uncharacteristically inept of Penguin to end up outsmarted by Maroni throughout the hour. His ultimate escape from the car-compacter seemed equally nonsensical, to simply spy the phone number of the junker, call his cell, convince the man to flip on Maroni and flee a hail of bullets, though we’ve at least established ‘Gotham’’s propensity for bizarrely-staged escapes.

So, what else happened this week? Well, Gordon caught Selina crashing at Barbara’s pad (Seriously, where has he been staying?), learning she may have lied about witnessing the Wayne murder. Bruce seemed pretty moody about it. Then Edward Nygma was extra-creepy about wanting to perform the autopsies, got suspended, filled his boss’ locker with body parts, and was somehow un-suspended by the man’s firing. Miss Kringle was sad about something. It didn’t come up again.

Also, Fish had to fight some pirates, or something. I don’t know. Presumably, she’ll soon return to town, now leading the army of pirates. Fine, ‘Gotham.’ Fine.

AND ANOTHER THING…

  • Also worth mentioning is the continued fallout from Flass’ arrest, as the GCPD seems to be turning on Gordon and Bullock, while Essen feels actualized in doing some good for once.
  • No Barbara this week! Always gotta look on the bright side.
  • Firing blanks in someone’s face would still be pretty loud. It’s called tinnitus, guys.
  • If only Penguin could have thrown “limping little chicken-butt second banana” back in Maroni’s face.
  • Morena Baccarin’s Leslie Thompkins still desperately needs characterization beyond “person who wants to date Jim Gordon,” but the characters’ chemistry has at least improved somewhat. And hey, kudos for Barbara not walking in on their station kiss!
  • Hey, Penguin’s hitchhiking back to Gotham again! Following tradition thus far, he’ll murder every woman on the bus, and take all of their sandwiches.

Well, what say you? Did ‘Gotham’’s 14th episode “The Fearsome Dr. Crane” help set the stage any further for Batman’s beginning? How do you think the prequel drama fared in its latest episode? Give us your thoughts in the comments, and check back next week for our review of ‘Gotham’’s latest installment, “Scarecrow” on FOX!