Months have gone by since Gotham took a Christmas break, but at last the mid-season premiere is with us. Gone are the days of Theo Galavan, one of the more annoyingly pseudo-sinister Gotham villains. In fact (spoiler!), his murder came with Jim Gordon’s full approval. So who shall be brought into the spotlight now? Perhaps someone more interesting? Perhaps one of Batman’s classic enemies? The aptly titled ‘Mr. Freeze’ says it all. But is our favorite cold-centric villain’s debut memorable? Read on to find out.
Warning! Plenty of spoilers ahead.
We begin with Jim Gordon facing down a panel of investigators. They want to know what happened with Theo Galavan and whether or not Jim was involved. He claims innocence and manages to get off, though Barnes and Harvey Dent have their doubts as to his honesty. Still, Barnes lets it go… for now.
Enter now our new villain – Victor Fries. When a cop stops to talk to a guy regarding a suspected kidnapping, she gets more than she bargained for. Old Vic turns her into a human popsicle before making his escape. Unfortunately for him, this turns the GCPD on to his frozen misadventures and it’s Gordon and Harvey Bullock to the rescue.
Meanwhile, at the house of Freeze, we’re introduced to his wife, Nora. We get all the classic back-story about her being sick and him trying desperately to find a way to save her. In this earlier version of the tale, however, Freeze isn’t looking for a way to cure her. Instead, he’s trying to perfect his cryogenic research so that he can put her into stasis and prolong her life. The big hurdle here is that he can’t figure out a way to reanimate someone once they’ve been frozen. Thus all the kidnappings. Freeze needs test subjects for his mad science experiments.
Everything is moving along for him, even though the GCPD is on his trail, but Victor makes a blunder. When a pharmacist refuses to refill his wife’s prescription, he comes back to get it the old-fashioned way – with a freeze gun and a lot of rage. In the process, he gets a couple of new lab rats to test his reanimation process out on. Unfortunately for him, his moment of anger leads the police right to him.
The GCPD takes Freeze’s wife down to the station. Desperate to make sure she has her medication, Victor is ready to turn himself in. Lucky for him, everything goes wrong and right at the same time. He gets put into a line-up with a bunch of other crazies claiming to be the person the newspapers have labeled as “Mr. Freeze”. While waiting to turn himself in, one of the frozen bodies thaws and walks out of Nygma’s lab and right into the GCPD lobby. Now aware that one of his formulas works, Victor’s hope is renewed and his plans change.
Meanwhile, the other half of this week’s Gotham focuses on Oswald Cobblepot. He gets snatched up by the police and brought into the GCPD. Barnes questions him, but Cobblepot echoes the same story as Gordon, thus keeping the future commissioner out of harm’s way. Furthermore, the former King of Gotham appears to be even more cracked in the head than usual. So they cart him off to Arkham Asylum where he will spend what is the first of many, many stints there.
While at Arkham, Cobblepot runs into yet another classic Batman baddie – Hugo Strange. He’s the chief psychiatrist of the asylum, though he also happens to be one of those in charge of Wayne Enterprise’s super-secret mad-science experiment program. Cobblepot is likely going to become one of his test subjects in the near future, but Strange also has his sights on Freeze and the amazing breakthroughs he’s made in cryogenic technology. Talk about a wrench in the works.
And, finally, there’s a bit of stuff with Butch. Now that The Penguin is gone, he’s taken over the crime world. But Theo’s sister, Tabitha, shows up with a proposal. She wants to be his partner in crime. They come to some sort of agreement, though Selina the spy is watching the entire thing go down.
All-in-all, the mid-season premiere of Gotham was pretty solid. They didn’t try to rush the story and cram an easily digestible conclusion at the end of these 45 minutes, instead letting it play out and giving Mr. Freeze more time to take the spotlight in future episodes. In fact, it looks as if we may see a fairly long story arc involving both Freeze and Strange, which should give the writers of the show some interesting potential as far as which way they can take the rest of season 2. Here’s hoping that they take advantage of the situation and don’t just write them out after a short arc.
I enjoyed the way they brought a little more madness into Penguin’s character, shaping him a bit further into the person he will eventually become. I also hope we get to see more of Butch. He’s been an interesting character thus far, so I’d like to see where they take him. Tabitha I could do without, but you have to take the good with the bad.
And then there’s the presence of the new classic baddies, Freeze and Strange. So far, the actors chosen for the roles have been doing a good job. Freeze is determined and Strange is creepy as fuck. It’s hard to tell just yet, but I have high hopes that they’ll end up as iconic to the series as Robin Lord Taylor and Cory Michael Smith. Gotham has done a (mostly) great job with its casting choices, although the Barbara and Fish Mooney “incidents” have proven that they’ve also made some very shitty choices. Let’s hope this is the former.
And, as usual, Gotham did a great job with the portrayal of madness mixed with humanity. We get Cobblepot the killer, Nygma the sociopath, Freeze the unhinged yet relatable and Strange the utterly remorseless. A nice buffet of insanity and more than enough to make the characters very different from each other even though they’re all on Team Bad Guy. It’s been a strong point since the show began and I’m glad to see the writers are still going strong.
Given that Gotham didn’t try to jump into the second half of season 2 with a huge bang, the show didn’t really get the chance to fall flat on its face. Thus, there aren’t too many things to complain about. I thought Freeze’s irrational actions at the pharmacy seemed a bit over the top. And I’m not a fan of seeing Tabitha back, but I suppose we do need at least a few female characters on the show, even if the writers can’t seem to make any of them interesting (Selina excluded, of course). The only thing to do now is to wait and see how it all plays out.
Come back around again next week when I’ll be reviewing the next episode of the season, ‘A Dead Man Feels No Cold’. It looks like Strange will be turning Cobblepot into his next experiment and Freeze will be getting a bad-ass suit and turning more people into human popsicles. Check out the trailer for that one below.