It's been a couple of months since we last saw our favorite fiends, but last night we returned to the titular chaotic city in the Season 4 premiere of Gotham. The last time we paid a visit to the show Barbara was seemingly fried, Butch was seemingly killed and Batman had (sort of) arrived. The hit Fox series made massive progress during the third season when it came to developing the Batman mythology, but the show continues to divides audiences over its desire to deviate from many elements of the comic book source material.
However, for many of us that is enough reason to tune in, because you never know what's going to happen. And this ideology definitely applied more so than ever on last night's season premiere.
The premiere episode of the #superhero drama laid the seeds for the young tortured soul that is Jonathan Crane to become the villainous Scarecrow. While watching the premiere, all I could think about was how awesome it is that we're finally getting to see the Scarecrow's arc dealt with on the hit show; not only because Scarecrow is somewhat of an underrated #Batman villain (although Christopher Nolan's brilliant Batman Begins did shine a light on him), but also because Gotham is finally revisiting one of its greater storylines.
You see, this isn't the first time that we've seen the Scarecrow on the show, and we're delighted that the Fox series is revisiting this character for what will no doubt be an extremely satisfying storyline. Here's why.
Note: This post contains heavy spoilers for Gotham Season 4, Episode 1.
The Foreshadowing Pays Off
While foreshadowing isn't often seen on network television, Gotham certainly deserves to be commended for what it did with Jonathan Crane. No, I'm not being morbid and saying I'm glad that he's become a terrifying psychopath; I mean that, from a storytelling perspective, it's pretty cool that the writers introduced the troubled soul back in two Season 1 episodes, setting up a potential arc that they could revisit in the future.
Many network television series have been bold enough to experiment with foreshadowing, only to get cancelled before the audience can reap the rewards of the eventual payoff. Cable series like Breaking Bad and Game Of Thrones have certainly influenced network television in recent years, but there is still a preferred "plot-of-the-week" format on broadcast TV and I guess it stems from the fear of audiences tuning out. However, Gotham's popularity has awarded the series the rare opportunity to circle back to a storyline it merely experimented with several years ago.
The last time we saw Jonathan Crane was back in Season 1, Episode 15 (which was aptly entitled "Scarecrow"). Back then, it was Crane's father who was wreaking havoc on the city and before he was apprehended, he injected his young son, Jonathan, with high levels of the fear toxin. The last shot of the episode saw Jonathan screaming because he was experiencing visions of, wait for it, scarecrows.
The Season 4 premiere revisited the character, who is still played by the wonderful Charlie Tahan, and the effects of the fear toxin have only gotten worse. Crane now sees the Scarecrow everywhere, so much so that he's resorted to drawing scarecrows in his cell at Arkham. What's worse is that the Scarecrow comes to life, taunting Crane from the corners of the room, which makes his heart race even faster with fear. I mean, considering he's had no-one to talk to except the scarecrow in his head, it's not hard to believe that he went completely insane.
Having Crane suffer off-screen has allowed the writers to return to the storyline with much of the development already complete and this will no doubt make for a faster, more compelling story. The wait for the Scarecrow arc on Gotham has paid off because Crane has had to suffer in his own fear for three years, and that makes him a much more terrifying entity.
The Scarecrow Will Have His Chance To Shine
The Scarecrow has been featured in several on-screen Batman adaptations over the years, from The Animated Series and The New Batman Adventures to the iconic Arkham video game series. However, despite the character's unique abilities, Crane has never really had the opportunity to shine in a series or film before. While Nolan's Batman Begins certainly shone a light on the Scarecrow with Cillian Murphy's wonderful portrayal of the character, the Scarecrow arc was wrapped up early on in the film in favor of a more complex storyline driven by Ra's Al Ghul.
In many regards, the Scarecrow is still somewhat of an under-appreciated Batman villain. In fact, if you think about it, Crane is arguably the scariest Batman villain of them all. Why? Because by simply releasing his vile toxin, he can strip Batman of the one thing he has over criminals: fear.
Now that Crane will be the primary antagonist in Gotham Season 4, we're finally getting the chance to see what he's truly capable of, perhaps to a greater extent than we did in Batman Begins because the Caped Cruader won't be around to stop him. The thought of unleashing a villain that powerful into a pre-Batman Gotham city is not only exciting, it's terrifying. Remember, Bruce is only just starting to find his way in the world as a hero and he's nowhere near ready to battle with Crane and his heinous toxin, which means that Gotham is essentially unprotected when dealing with its most dangerous foe. How the GCPD will be able to overcome a threat of this magnitude has yet to be revealed but I'm going to go ahead and say that regardless of how it turns out, the Scarecrow's reign of terror will have lasting effects on both the city and all of the parties involved in his apprehension.
We've been dying to know what happened to our favorite characters since the end of the third season of Gotham and the Season 4 premiere didn't leave us disappointed. With a series of new storylines to explore, not to mention the arrival of the Scarecrow and birth of the Batman on the way, the fourth season of Gotham could prove to be the best installment yet. Gotham city might need saving, but the show itself is in no need of a savior. Let's hope this trend continues because when Gotham is good, it's really good.
Gotham airs Thursdays on Fox.
What did you make of the Gotham Season 4 premiere? Tell us in the comment section below.