A DEAD MAN FEELS NO COLD – 4.5/10.
The strapline for season 2 of Gotham is “the rise of the villains” and they’ve certainly gone all in on that concept. The second half of the season has introduced not one, but two rogues from the Bat-catalogue. What’s more they are fully grown villains whose origin stories don’t require the Dark Knight’s presence. Gotham isn’t canon, there’s no point in getting upset over changes from the comics because it exists within its own continuity. But the versions of Victor Fries and Hugo Strange that were introduced last week were actually quite close to their comic counterparts. While the performances and stories may have been as overblown as ever, they worked within the pantomime context of the show. What I’m trying to say is that last week’s episode was ‘not that bad’.
With Fries now convinced that he can safely unfreeze Nora he stages a vicious assault on Ace Chemicals to steal the ingredients he needs to save her. This results in some ‘cool’ visuals including bullets frozen in mid-air and frozen cops impaled by icicles. If nothing else, the inclusion of Mr Freeze has given Gotham’s art department the chance to shine. Fries leaves the police an ultimatum written in ice; turn over his wife or more people will die. Chief Barnes comes up with the bright idea of moving Nora to Arkham and using her as bait for Fries. This plays into the hands of Professor Strange who wishes to use Fries’ research for his own nefarious ends. Speaking of Strange, he continues his treatment/torture of Penguin, using a form of shock therapy to brainwash him.
For some totally bizarre reason Lea volunteers to travel with Nora to Arkham, this gives them a chance to bond over their remorse for their inability to save their men from themselves. Although to be fair Gordon’s fall from grace isn’t as engaging as Fries’ due to lazy writing and Ben McKenzie’s stifled performance. Frumpy Gordon shares a moment with Penguin in Arkham, where his ‘old friend’ begs for his help. Gordon is, well, frumpy and tells Penguin that he is where he belongs. Feeling betrayed, Penguin angrily rants about how he lied for Gordon while Strange watches on over the CCTV. This will undoubtedly come back to haunt Gordon as evil scientists, bitter villains and brain washing devices aren’t a mix that bodes well for a good(ish) cop with dark secrets.
Fries soon arrives at Arkham, using a decoy to ram the gates while he freezes his way into the asylum wearing a beta version of the classic Mr Freeze suit to insulate himself from the cold. The police try to chase after him but they are trapped by Strange’s security system, however Gordon still manages to squeeze through. Strange leads Fries through the maze that is Arkham, offering him and Nora an escape route in exchange for a sample of his freeze serum. Naturally Fries accepts, he leaves the serum for Strange and makes his way to Nora at the exact same time as Gordon. Fries has an R Kelly moment, trapping Gordon in a closet before demanding that Lea helps him to get Nora back to his lab where he can safely freeze her.
Despite Fries’ vow to be with her no matter what, his crimes are too much of a guilty burden for Nora to bear. When Victor isn’t looking she swaps the serum in his gun for one of the older ones that failed the human tests. Victor freezes her and is then forced to watch the serum fail just a few moments later. Totally dejected, Fries lets Lea go free and then uses the serum on himself so that he can die with Nora, although his Romeo and Juliet style suicide doesn’t exactly go as planned either. He wakes up in a sub-zero chamber in Indian Hill. Strange informs him that his work with the serum has altered his physiology. While Victor Fries may have died in that basement, Mr Freeze lives on and has a place in Professor Strange’s plan; a plan that appears to involve Theo Glavan’s corpse.
While the Freeze/Strange elements of the episode were actually reasonably good there was plenty of nonsense involving Gordon and Bruce Wayne that really fell flat. Having obtained the name of the prime suspect in the murder of his parents, Matches Malone, Bruce has begun plotting his bloody revenge. Unwilling to let the young man carry the burden of a murder Alfred convinces him to let him do it instead. Bruce agrees but secretly asks Selina to get him a gun as he wants the kill for himself. Meanwhile the schism between Gordon and Lea continued to grow as she confronts him about his part in Galavan’s murder. Both Gordon and Bruce are walking very dark paths, could Gotham do the unthinkable and rewrite the histories of its most iconic characters?
Watching Gotham actually becomes a lot easier when you accept certain realities and just let the stream of excremental nonsense wash over you. But even then it is still a very frustrating viewing experience, especially when it has a constant habit of taking three steps backwards for every one step forwards. So while this week’s episode was also ‘not that bad’ it still wasn’t very good. All the elements that have consistently undercut the show were in play this week; inconsistent writing, contrived dialogue, terrible acting and a general disregard for the intelligence of the viewers. I am sorry if you feel I am being too harsh on the show, but it’s only because I believe that it is capable of being so much more than the constant disappointment that it has been thus far.
POINTS OF INTEREST
- Are the study and the mini Batcave actually the only rooms in Wayne Manor? We’ve seen a hallway and a kitchen but that is as far as it seems to go.
- Despite Gotham’s prevalence for rewriting history it’s doubtful that Nora is actually dead as keeping her alive has always been such a huge part of what motivates Mr Freeze. (see point 4)
- Barbara Kean is being kept in a vegetative state at Arkham, I’m surprised Strange hasn’t moved her to Indian Hill to use as a guinea pig for his experiments.
- So it seems Strange has an interest in reanimation, could this be how Nora, Galavan and Fish Mooney return to the show. I hope not, Fish was always the worst thing about Gotham.