After a phenomenal first half of the season, Gotham has finally returned, and the “Wrath of the Villains” has begun. And in this episode, two major villains were brought to the forefront, while another has entered his own personal heck.
“Mr. Freeze” really brought things to a head with many of the loose ends we were left to wonder at the end of the midseason finale. Mainly, “What happened to Jim Gordon?” “What will happen to Penguin now that Galavan is dead?” “Why did Mr. Freeze ice that guy? LITERALLY!” This were answered in full, and in some surprising ways.
First off, Gordon was tried for both his “crimes” as a “fugitive” and in the disappearance and death of Theo Galavan. Not so ironically, he was cleared of all charges, as there was no evidence to convict him. However, both Dent and Barnes don’t fully believe what he told. Barnes basically told this to Gordon’s face, and though he’s back on the force, he’s got eyes weighing down on him.
And, what’s a first day back without a “weird one” for good old Jim? And yes, that weird one was Victor Fries. If we’re being technical, this is the first time in a show that we’re seeing Victor Fries as Victor Fries. Yes, he’s got the cold gun, but he’s not using it to “get revenge” or “commit crimes for power or money”, he’s using it to experiment with his cryogenic formula and save his wife Nora. Whom, is alive, for now. Another first.
I actually liked the simple touches they made to both Victor and Nora in their portrayals. They didn’t need to go big with them. All they needed to do was show Victor as a concerned and dedicated husband trying to save his wife, and they did that in spades. Having Nora show her love and passion for his trying to save her was a bonus I fully appreciate.
Of course, he did snap a few times, and froze people because of it. But you could tell that with the exception of one person (who totally deserved what he got) he felt bad for hurting those people. This truly shined when he asked bystanders to help him, then told them to flee when the cops show up. Heart of ice he is not right now.
Now yes, the cliched “wife finds out what the husband was doing” was a bit on the nose, but it served a greater purpose by the end. Fries knows his formula works now, and with that in mind, he’s going to save his wife. One way or another.
The other big addition was Huge Strange, who was finally introduced to the world as one of the heads of Arkham, as well as the man running Indian Hill. B.D. Wong did a magnificent job playing the soft spoken but very intimidating Dr. Strange. It’s clear that he is as power hungry as he is insane in his own right. And he’s willing to do numerous bad and frankly torturous things to get what he wants. I look forward to seeing how this character evolves in the episodes going forward.
Then of course there’s Penguin, who honestly had the oddest story of the bunch. In the course of twenty minutes, we found out that he apparently lost his whole gang (somehow), he was on the run (for reasons that technically he was on the run for all last half of the season), and then was caught and put into Arkham. While I’m not opposed to jumps of time, this one felt very forced. Especially since Jim noted how Penguin and his men took Galavan. So with them now apparently in a new found place of power after killing one of Gotham’s most powerful people…why did they flee Penguin?
Now sure, I’m positive that “Penguin in Arkham” will just build Penguin’s character, but I’m hoping we find out that Strange himself arranged for Penguin to be there instead of just “it happening”.
Overall, “Mr. Freeze” was a very solid return for Gotham. Yes, it could’ve gone “bigger” but it didn’t really need to. This was a rather tight episode that introduced numerous story points that’ll continue as the season unfolds. And remember, we didn’t even see Bruce in this episode…