Last week on Gotham, we were introduced to Victor Fries. We also happened to meet up with a certain Hugo Strange. The city is filling up with even more of the classic bad guys from the Batman mythos and Jim Gordon is looking to have his hands full for future days. In addition, The Penguin was locked away in Arkham and is now awaiting whatever bizarre experiments Strange wants to perform on him. To make matters even more complicated, Strange wants some of Victor’s research, so those two will eventually have to butt heads. This week, ‘A Dead Man Feels No Cold’ promises to deepen the conflicts and provide us with even more Mr. Freeze goodness as Gotham moves into the second half of season 2.
We begin with the GCPD making a raid on a chemical factory. They’re there to stop Mr. Freeze from grabbing up more ingredients for his magical freezy juice. Instead of catching the bad guy, however, they find more of his frozen victims. What’s more, he’s taken a hostage and is demanding that they release his wife… or else.
Instead of complying with his request, Barnes decides that he’s going to set a trap for Victor. So they move Nora to Arkham, a place where she’ll be away from potential civilian casualties so that the GCPD has more room to maneuver. Naturally, Freeze figures out that it’s a trap, but that’s not going to stop him. He can shoot ice beams, after all, so there’s no way he can be defeated. Unfortunately for everyone, Hugo Strange figures the plan out as well and decides he’s going to turn it to his advantage.
Finally, the fun begins. Freeze creates a distraction at the front gate while he ice-rays his way through the walls. And this time he’s in full Mr. Freeze regalia, looking all villainous and shit. He’s tearing his way through the GCPD with Gordon right behind him when Strange contacts him via the comm. system and offers a deal – if Victor leaves behind a vial of his cryonic formula, then Strange will help him escape. For a man trying to save his wife from certain death, this is a no brainer. Victor accepts the deal.
After finding Nora, Freeze heads back home. His cryonic chambers are there and he’ll need one to keep her on ice while he’s away in prison. Gordon and Bullock figure this out, however, and it’s not long before the GCPD has him surrounded. But it isn’t the cops who mess Victor’s plans up – it’s Nora. She’s determined to die, so she switches out the formula in his ice gun. She dies a frozen death and Victor follows suit via a suicide maneuver.
In the meanwhile, poor Penguin is being “treated” by Strange and his staff. They fit him with some sort of crazy mind-fuck helmet but, funny enough, it actually seems to be making him crazier. When Cobblepot sees Gordon roaming the asylum grounds, he tries to get some help. In the process of reaching out, he reveals Gordon’s little secret about being the one who put a bullet in Galavan’s head. Naturally, Strange is listening in and discovers the nasty truth about one of Gotham’s finest.
And finally, back at Wayne Manor, Bruce is going full vigilante. Alfred reveals to him that they may have the identity of the man who killed Bruce’s parents and lil’ Batman wants some revenge. But Alfred, being the bad-ass that he is, only offers to help if he’s the one who does the killing. Bruce agrees, but when Selina comes calling, it looks like the young Batman is determined to be the one who puts a bullet in the head of the man he hates the most.
Then we get the full reveal during the last few seconds. Victor has been resurrected by Strange. He’s now the Mr. Freeze of lore, unable to survive at temperatures above the level of freezing. And he’s now, apparently, a pawn of Hugo Strange.
This week’s episode was pretty solid all-around. There were a few high points, mainly in the portrayal of the various characters. I really love what they’re doing with Alfred, making him a complete bad-ass. It’s not the butler we’re used to seeing throughout most of the Batman Universe’s incarnations, but that’s what makes him so likeable. He’s a hard-edged son-of-a-bitch who’s willing to kill whenever needed. He’s contrary to what we know Bruce is supposed to become, which makes it all the more interesting in that we know Batman is not a killer. So how will all this pan out? I’m eager to see how that unfolds, should Gotham continue into future seasons.
The other highlight this week is one that is familiar to the way Gotham has played out up to this point. We see multiple bad guys working together. Not because they necessarily like each other, but because they need to make a few deals here and there in order to bring their goals to fruition. Thus does Freeze willingly hand over his formula and thus does Strange bring Victor back to life so that he can have another ally to help him with whatever twisted plans he has. It’s not a standard villain-of-the-week format and it makes the show more complex as well as providing more directions for it to potentially spin.
And, finally, (and I may get shit for this) I enjoyed the entire resurrection bit at the end of this week’s episode. One of the classic tropes of almost every mainstream comic series is that people never die forever. Now that Strange has perfected some sort of mysterious way to bring people back, Gotham has a way to recycle villains left and right. I only hope that they use this power to make things more interesting rather than to just bring someone back in order to fill a 45-minute time slot. The resurrection power can be used for good… or for stupidity.
The biggest issue I had with tonight’s episode is one that – I hope and pray – may not even be a real issue. It’s about Nora’s death. The entire character of Freeze is based around one driving goal – to save his dying wife. If you remove that element, what reason is there for Victor to EVER do anything for Strange? Or for anyone? And why would he even choose to stay alive?
I understand that Gotham is changing things up in order to keep the story from becoming just a stale reenactment of what other writers have done again and again, but altering Freeze’s storyline in this manner could prove disastrous. Do they go with the generic “I’ve lost my wife and now I’m EEEEEVVVIILLL!!!” route? If so, they’ve lost the war before the first battle has begun. I’m really hoping Strange pops up with a Nora-sicle to control Freeze’s direction. If that doesn’t happen, then the writers have entered the fail zone and the character of Mr. Freeze is likely to lose all of his flavor.
Next week, Gotham brings ‘This Ball of Mud and Meanness’. The camera changes focus and lingers on young Bruce Wayne for a while. He’s after the man who killed his parents and it looks like he may just find him. Check out the trailer below and see what you think.