SPOILER WARNING: the following recap for the Gotham episode "The Fear Reaper" contains spoilers for "The Fear Reaper," as you might expect. So if you are scared of spoilers... I mean, please watch the episode before reading, otherwise this will be a very harrowing experience.
The short version: Penguin blows into the GCPD with the press, and forces Gordon to accept a bet that the GCPD will capture Scarecrow within 24 hours or Penguin will basically take over everything. Can he do that? I don't think so, but what do I know?
Scarecrow, meanwhile, is in the Asylum he'd called home for a while. He gasses the warden (who is afraid of pointy-teethed It style clowns, I guess, since that's what he sees) and Scarecrow takes over there.
Everyone's taking over this week! Barbara Gordon, for example, who is not dead (but has choppy platinum hair now) has taken over a weapons business that she wants to run with Selina and Tabitha. Tabitha is only interested in chopping off Barbara's hand, though, but then she doesn't, because I guess she's just not that into hands after all. She's also not interested in letting Ivy into this new ladies club, so Ivy goes to a wise Asian man, steals his potions, drinks them, and gets a nasty case of CGI face for her trouble.
Gordon, who gets no help from the GCPD, faces Screcrow, gets gassed, has a vision of Lee slitting her wrists in a bathtub (so original, James, like I'm so sure) but snaps himself out of it in time to have a yelling match with Scarecrow, and then Scarecrow runs away. Penguin declares himself the victor on the Scarecrow bet, and invites the GCPD to work for him. James and Harvey aren't interested, so they go get a drink instead, where Harvey accidentally gives James the horrible idea of asking Don Falcone to help fight Penguin.
Oh, and Lucius Fox figures out that Bruce and Alfred are sneaky-Petes fighting crime together, and gives Bruce a cool, not-quite-Batman suit to wear while fighting said crimes. It's just like Tony Stark in Spider-Man: Homecoming, except Lucius isn't a world-class douche.
The good: Harvey's compromise, Babs is back, and Lucius is the best
It's not uncommon in Batman stories throughout different mediums for Harvey Bullock to be a corrupt cop. Gotham's first season starts with him being a really terrible and corrupt cop, in fact. But now Harvey is kind of right to be corrupt, which is really neat. He knows that if he sides with Gordon's grandstanding, most of the GCPD will break rank, so he lets Gordon go off to fight Scarecrow alone. Honestly, that is what I would do, too, and it feels like Harvey is the one truly smart cop in Gotham right now.
I'm also happy to see the Barbara is back. I'm almost 100% positive Ra's threw her in the Lazarus pit, and that's why she's not dead, but I'm still enjoying the whole "why does she have a munitions shop" mystery all the same. Barbara is never not unpredictable, and I'm excited to see what kind of crazy she'll be this season.
But most of all, I just love Lucius Fox. Has there ever been a version of him in any Batman story that hasn't been a delight? I can't think of one. Chris Chalk's take is so wonderfully dry but encouraging. I absolutely believe that he would figure out that Bruce is up to vigilante nonsense, and I also believe Lucius would want to hook Bruce up with a little technological aid. I hope this means Lucius, Alfred, and Bruce will be a team this year. I think the comaraderie the three of them would bring to the show would be really engaging.
The bad: Scarecrow still isn't quite there, too too-easy resolutions, and CGIvy
Last week, I said I was worried that Gotham's Scarecrow wouldn't be able to compete with the version from the Arkham games. I'm still worried about that. Gotham's social media team is really pushing this idea that Scarecrow is, you know, scary, especially since Halloween is only a few weeks away. But, he... isn't? I like the concept of scaring people so much they go homicidal, in theory, but the execution is corny. The warden kills a bunch of orderlies and then puts on clown makeup? Where did he get the makeup? Is he another pseudo-Joker figure? It's not scary, and it doesn't really make sense.
Worse for me was that all it took was water to overcome the fear gas. I know that's sometimes the solution in the Batman cartoons, but this is live action, and drugs don't work on the human body that way. It creates a really pat and unbelievable resolution that takes what wind there was out of this villain's sails. Especially since Gordon overcomes the gas by being... courageous? He literally says, "I overcame my fear," and that's all the explanation we get. Gosh, do I hope there's a better explanation, otherwise Gotham's Scarecrow is gonna gown down like a chump.
But my biggest bummer is reserved for Ivy. I really grew to love her (and her friendship with Penguin) last season, but now, no one seems to care about her? I get that the writer's want to put her in a dire enough situation that she'd drink these mystery potions, but, honestly, Ivy is pretty dumb, so there was no need??? If you handed her the vials and said, "Hey, drink this," she probably would?
And the CGI transformation face is beneath Gotham, frankly. I guess they were trying to save money, and so they used basically the same effect they did for the Scarecrow fear delusions. But that cheapness really harms the impact of Ivy's bad decision here. Hopefully, the practical makeup work they do for her (assuming that's what they go for) will look better.
Update on Bruce's Not-Batman Mask: I dunno. I think I'm getting used to it. Gotta see it in full action with the suit Lucius gave him, and then I'll be able to make a better judgment.
Line of the week
Harvey: "This place smells like death. Reminds me there's a Thai joint not far away if you wanna grab something."
Did Ra's bring Babs back from the dead? If so, why? And what is the real purpose of this weapons supply store?
What powers will Ivy wind up with, and how will they manifest?
Why won't Penguin just point out that Gordon has killed a lot of innocents when he tries to sow seeds of doubt at the GCPD? Seems pretty obvious? And can Don Falcone put a bullet through Jim already? I mean, the man killed his son. Seriously, James Gordon is a constant problem for everyone, basically all the time.
And that's all for this week. "The Fear Reaper" was a little of column A and a little of column B, but I still think Gotham's fourth season is off to a good start. What do you think?
See ya next week, Gothamites.