This Gotham review contains spoilers.
Gotham Season 2, Episode 12
Gothamis back, and it’s introduced some intriguing new villains in Hugo Strange and Mr. Freeze. As always, Gothammanages to make things somehow work by throwing many zany, disparate plots and characters at the wall and seeing how many of them stick. With this midseason premiere, season 2 seems poised to continue its run as mostly entertaining, nonsensical TV. Here’s everything that went down in “Mr. Freeze”…
Jim Gordon is still kind of the worst.
The episode opens with Gordon delivering his testimony about what happened the night of Galavan’s murder, intercut with flashbacks from the midseason finale. Whie Gordon tells Harvey Dent that he had nothing to do with Galavan’s untimely (though not unjustified) death, we see Gordon shoot him in cold blood. The city of Gotham has no evidence that Gordon was involved with the murder — though you better believe that both Dent and Barnes suspect Gordon might have been involved.
When Penguin eventually backs up Gordon’s version of events (presumably, because he wants to cash in more Gordon favors later on), Barnes chooses to believe Gordon. We’re less sure about Dent’s position, though hopefully Future Two-Face will place a larger role in Gothammachinations moving forward in season 2.
Much like in the first half of the season, there’s not much new to say about Jim Gordon. He’s still kind of self-righteous. He’s still morally conflicted. He still makes some terrible, illegal decisions and sweeps them under the rug. I still think he’s the least interesting part of this show. (Though, often protagonists in large ensembles have to be the most boring part. Driving the narrative is often a selfless task as a main character. See also: Harry Potter.)
Gothamdoesn’t have anywhere to go with Gordon, at least not if they insist on keeping him as this linchpin between the dark underworld of Gotham and the sometimes-moral institutions committed to cleaning up the streets. Luckily, Bullock is also often in Gordon’s storyline, so at least we get some great one-liners. Never change, Bullock. Otherwise, I’ll have to spend more time writing about the incompetency of a police force equally fueled by machismo and a high-turnover rate.
Oswald and Ed are still BFFs.
Penguin’s stay at the GCPD is short-lived. He’s pretty much only there long enough to tell Barnes that he murdered Galavan without any help from Gordon, and to ask Penguin to be sure to leave flowers on his mother’s grave. This dynamic is so great I was almost sad to see Penguin plea insanity and move to Arkham. Almost. Because, in Arkham, we finally got to meet Hugo Strange…
Guys, Strange is great. Just the right amalgamation of creepy, mysterious, and emotionally intelligent. His scene with Penguin is one of the best of the entire episode, as we see these two great characters go head-to-head (though, unlike the viewer, Penguin doesn’t seem to realize what Strange is truly capable of). It’s so great to have a potential Big Bad who isn’t just lusting for power or centuries-old vengeance. Instead, Strange’s obsession with Arkham, its patients, and Gotham is in as a playing ground for one big social experiment. I can’t wait to see his storyline play out.
Meet Mr. Freeze.
Speaking of experiments, we’re introduced to another scary scientist in tonight’s episode: Victor Fries — aka Mr. Freeze. Like Strange, Fries is a man with a high intelligence and a villain with motivations a bit more interesting than Gotham‘s usual villain fare. Gothamdoes a good job making Fries’ motivations sympathetic and scary at the same time. He is a man who loves his wife and who is desperate to save her.
This point is driven home in the sequence that sees Fries ready to turn himself in, only to leave the GCPD when it becomes clear that his latest experiment in cryogenic freezing has been a success. Fries really does just want to cure his wife — at least for now. That doesn’t make what he is doing to innocent bystanders any less criminal or terrible, but it does make him slightly more relatable as a character and — on a show like Gotham, prone to frequent bouts of farce— that can make all of the difference.
Butch is now the King of Gotham — kind of.
In D-plot news, Butch has taken over as the king of Gotham — but his heart doesn’t really seem in it. Luckily (or not), Tabitha Galavan shows up to make things interesting, proposing that the two become partners and sealing it with a kiss. In an episode that saw such fascinating villain-characters as Hugo Strange and Victor Fries introduced, Tabitha is an example of how tropey and one-dimensional Gotham‘s villains can be.
While we have only just met Strange and Fries, their motivations are clearer and more interesting than Tabitha’s — and we have known her since the beginning of the season. I’m not sure if this is Gotham‘s continued struggle to craft well-rounded female characters within this narrative or not (it’s at least part of the problem), but I care less about this development than I did the three-second glimpse we got of Selina eavesdropping from the window.