"The Fearsome Dr. Crane" succeeds where early episodes failed. Can Gotham keep this up?
Early episodes of Gotham tried to tell too many stories, taking too much focus from the arc for the villain-of-the-week. With so many tales developing at once, viewers had to carry too many story threads and relationships from episode to episode. Given all the double and triple-crossing happening in this show, all of that baggage can become unwieldy.
Fortunately, as the show returned from a holiday hiatus, episodes became more focused, building only one or two major stories. This was achieved while simultaneously reducing the amount of baggage fans had to carry each week, making the series watchable even if viewers skipped the first ten episodes.
"The Fearsome Dr. Crane" jumps back into telling a half-dozen stories, but it does so with enough focus and simplicity to make it enjoyable, so none of the episode's bigger arcs really suffer. The price for more direct story-telling is a loss of nuance and surprise throughout the episode, although there are a few moments that should catch you off guard.
Similar to the Electrocutioner story from a few weeks ago, the villain for this tale, "Dr. Crane," will take a pair of episodes (at least) to wrap up. This allows the rest of the stories to flow and react to the episodic narrative without really diminishing anything. The big question is if Gotham can keep this up. Navigating this many interwoven stories from week to week can be messy, and "The Balloonman" writer John Stephens can't be around for every episode.
Overall "The Fearsome Dr. Crane" is one of the better episodes of Gotham, effectively delivering a creepy villain against a disturbed city filled with messed up people. This is where Gotham works best. Maroni and Cobblepot serve up an exciting side-story as well. Everything they say and do is telegraphed, so there won't be any surprises here, but it's all delivered fantastically by David Zayas and Robin Lord Taylor.
Gotham airs on Monday nights at 8/7c on Fox, but you can also catch episodes on Fox's website. Check out our review of the last episode, "Welcome Back, Jim Gordon", or all of our Gotham reviews.