A Classic Batman Villain Undergoes A Terrifying Transition On ‘Gotham’

Jeff Neumann/FOX

Gotham is back for its fourth season, and the series doesn't waste any time getting started. Spoilers for Gotham Season 4 premiere! Within the first few minutes of the first episode, Bruce Wayne is already in costume, working to save the city, and Penguin already has a wild plan of his own to bring peace to Gotham City: issuing criminal licenses so certain people can rob banks, launder money, etc. while the others face the wrath of Victor Zsasz. Jonathan Crane becomes the Scarecrow on Gotham in the last few minutes of the episode, tethering this season to a recognizable character from the comics and bringing some of this Penguin story a little more down to Earth.

After an episode filled with arguments about who has a license and who's willing to honor said licenses as legitimate passes for committing crimes, it's nice to see Gotham go back to its roots: eccentric residents of the city making up elaborate personas to do evil. It's a formula that's worked for DC Comics for decades, and it's a nice throwback to when the show was a little simpler.

If you don't remember, the Cranes first appeared in Season 1, with a little mini-arc about Dr. Gerald Crane's attempts to use a fear toxin in order to harvest adrenaline. This toxin, which was used to murder Harvey Bullock's then-girlfriend, makes the victim experience "complete terror," which manifests itself in similar visions of creepy ghouls and amped-up camerawork to what you've seen in the Christopher Nolan movie, Batman Begins.

Dr. Crane eventually was stopped by Jim and the GCPD, but his son was relegated to a mental institution, plagued permanently by the visions from the fear toxin. But now, with Arkham Asylum in the hands of new administrator who's willing to trade away his patients in order to profit off of an unlicensed criminal enterprise, Crane is made into a victim again, until he's able to turn the tables on the thieves and become the masked villain Scarecrow (based on the fearful visions his father placed in his mind).

Another notable development — the Penguin is now too affected by this gas; his plan to control the city may be affected by his newfound inability to tell the difference between reality and the ghoulish visions of Ed Nygma now plaguing his mind. Does this mean his biggest fear has always been Ed? Well, for some reason a newspaper wrote a report on how the local crime lord was feeling, and Jim and Harvey theorize it could make him lose power. But most of Oswald's usual adversaries (Barbara, Butch, Ed, the Falcones) were absent this week, so that storyline is still to be determined, and his attachment to Ed surely means that the Riddler will wind up defrosted sooner or later.

Less likely to stick around is the newly formed Scarecrow, who will likely be a casualty of Jim Gordon's aggressive policing strategy in just an episode or two. According to a comment executive producer John Stephens gave to ComicBook.com, Scarecrow will only have one episode to himself as the main villain. Stephens said Scarecrow's spotlight will come in "a horror movie episode where we really get to see Scarecrow" and called it "purely terrifying." That's fitting for a character whose power comes from causing the people around him to experience intense and powerful visions of what they fear most, but it will be interesting to see what Scarecrow's motives are going forward.

Now that Jonathan Crame is no longer paralyzed by fear, will he continue the work of the petty criminals and thieves who tortured him, or will he have his own motivations? Revenge on his father? Attacks on Arkham? Gotham Season 4 is just getting started, and he's just one of the foes the good people of the city will face.