This review contains spoilers
2.13 A Dead Man Feels No Cold
Holy pacey plotting, Batman! Gotham has whizzed past the intriguing Victor and Nora dynamic and got straight to Mr. Freeze turning blue and teaming up with Hugo Strange. Personally, I wish we’d spent a bit more time with the pre-transformation Victor and got to know him better.
Season 1 concluded with The Ogre being gifted three full episodes to unfurl an evil scheme of his own invention, but here Victor Fries has been co-opted into a larger, more crowded narrative within just two episodes. Now he’s one of Strange’s stooges, and will presumably help him bring back the likes of Fish Mooney, Theo Galavan and possibly even the junior Joker Jerome.
This arc is bound to have some interesting results, but it’s a shame that a villain as iconic as Mr. Freeze has been bundled in with it so soon. Nathan Darrow didn’t need to put on a spacesuit and change colour in just his second week on the show, and the result is that his arc feels rushed and my personal engagement with the character has plummeted. The guy who just wanted to help his loved ones seemed rather relatable last week, but already he’s become something campy and subservient to other narrative strands.
Similarly, Robin Lord Taylor’s Penguin – a performer/character I used to rave about only a weekly basis – has also been chucked into Arkham as a means to establish Hugo Strange as a threat. BD Wong has been promisingly creepy so far, but I can’t help but feel that the effectiveness of Gotham’s other villains is suffering as a result of his character’s schemes.
Oswald pretending to be a goose this week was a low-point for the character, and in all honesty I feel bad for Lord Taylor who has to stoop to this cheesy madman level after being the show’s MVP for so much of last season. Oswald and Victor could each hold a season as the main villain on their own, and so, wherever this Hugo Strange arc is heading, it had better be good.
A Dead Man Feels No Cold did have a few solid scenes away from Arkham, though. Leigh finally stood up to Jim over his Galavan lies, Selina failed to sneak up on Bruce (a nice nod to his growing reflexes), and Alfred promised to take brutal action if he ever manages to corner the supposed Wayne murderer Matches Malone. These were all interesting character moments, which could lead us down some interesting paths in the coming weeks.
There were also some neat little moments for comic book fans. The revelation that Gotham’s version of ACE Chemicals is a Wayne Enterprises subsidiary has interesting connotations for the Joker’s origin story, while Bullock’s ‘damn!’ in reaction to Mr. Freeze stopping a bullet in mid-air expressed the kind of shocked bewilderment that we’d all exhibit if this ever happened to us. Speaking of Bullock, the writers should really lean on Donal Logue more, since he always brings the laughs.
And so, this week’s Gotham was an episode that I didn’t love, but that did have some interesting elements to it. Last week’s Mr. Freeze teed up Victor to be one of the show’s greatest villains, but this follow-up seemed like a step in a more generically campy direction. Of course, we’ll have to wait and see how Victor and Strange’s collaboration works out before passing final judgement on either of those characters. Fingers crossed that it’ll be an entertaining team-up…
Read Rob’s review of the previous epiosde, Mr. Freeze, here.