Gotham S02E12 “Mr Freeze” REVIEW

Gotham S02E12 “Mr Freeze” REVIEW

Mr+freeze_gotham

stars 3

Airing in the UK on Channel 5, Mondays, 10pm
Writer: Ken Woodruff
Director: Nick Copus

 

Essential Plot Points:

  • PREVIOUSLY, IN THE HAPPIEST DYSTOPIA IN THE STATES!
  • Oh all sorts. There was a mayor, he was evil. There were some monks. Jim killed a guy. It was a whole thing.

• Jim

  • Jim is testifying in front of Harvey Dent and Captain Barnes about why he wandered off after Galavan was arrested and just before he was shot. Jim says he went to check on his pregnant fiancé. The disgust coming from Barnes and Dent is just about visible if you squint, as they realise Jim is actually hiding behind Lee. Or at least, he might be…

• Dent

  • Anyway, he’s reinstated and instantly given a new case. A GCPD officer has been frozen to death. Instantly. Have a guess if she was black and female.
  • YOU WIN!

• Frozen

  • The poor officer, who interrupted a man with a frozen corpse in the back of his car, is very dead.
  • Anyway, Jim and Harv investigate. This involves them talking to Ed and Ed explaining the cop was killed using super cooled helium. It’s very rare so tracking down a manufacturer shouldn’t be too hard. Oh and Harv picks on Ed and Ed is clearly very, very not happy about it.

• Harv ed and Jim

  • MEANWHILE, AT FORMERLY PENGUIN TOWERS!

• Butch

  • BUTCH! Hi buddy! We’ve missed you! Butch is now running Penguin’s operation while Penguin is hiding out on the streets, suspected of killing Galavan. Butch, magnificently, now has a power drill for a hand. Even better, Tabitha shows up and talks herself into being his partner. We are very happy about this.

• Barnes

  • Captain Barnes has clearly taken the Strike Force off Jim because he keeps breaking them. He’s also captured Penguin who has been living on the streets since killing Galavan. The cops applaud and Barnes yells at them about not doing their jobs. Thanks Captain BUZZKILL.
  • Barnes interrogates Penguin who confirms Jim’s story. Barnes is still having none of it whatsoever.
  • MEANWHILE, AT THE FRIES RESIDENCE!

• Victor

  • The man who killed the cop returns home. He’s Victor Fries, a scientist desperately trying to perfect cryogenic suspension so he can preserve his terminally ill wife long enough to cure her. The problem isn’t freezing her, but getting her back to room temperature without melting her.

• Nora

  • This deeply weird science opera aside, their relationship is really sweet and genuine. The cryogenic lab where he keeps his corpsicle research bodies is somewhat less so. He takes one out, begins experimenting with a new compound and waits for the man to revive.
  • MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE INVESTIGATION

• Fox

  • LUCIUS! Lucius tells the cops that Wayne Enterprises produced the helium and they were working on some promising cryogenic research. It and other promising projects were shut down by Thomas Wayne not long before he was killed.
  • In the immortal words of Detective C&C Music Factory: Things that make you go hmmm.
  • MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE GCPD
  • Ed and Penguin talk and Ed agrees to look after the grave of Penguin’s mom. It’s actually very sweet. We’re warming to these two. They’re interrupted when Penguin is told he’s being transferred to Arkham.

• Penguin at Arkham

  • Once there, and, apparently, in the Victorian era, he tries to intimidate the other inmates. This goes very very badly.
  • MEANWHILE, BACK AT SCIENCE!

• Melting test subject

  • The corpsicle melts. Worse still, Nora has a really bad attack. Victor helps her but realising she’s almost out of medicine, goes to a local pharmacy to get more. The pharmacist refuses to fill the subscription and Victor vows to return.
  • MEANWHILE, BACK AT ARKHAM!

• hugo strange

  • Penguin is taken to see Hugo Strange, his new counsellor. The man is quiet, calm, urbane and terrifying. Penguin is told he’s going to be rehabilitated. He’s unsure how to feel about this, until he sees the last man who saw Strange in his cell. The inmate has pulled his eyes out and is laughing hysterically.
  • So obviously this will go well.
  • MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE PHARMACY

• frozen pharmacist

  • Victor returns dressed in his cold weather gear. He freezes the guard and the pharmacist. He then, in a move which is either brilliant or awful, asks the other customers to help him with the bodies. Amazingly, they do.
  • Harv and Jim get the call and arrive in time to see him make his getaway. They also run over the guard who has been left as a frozen booby trap in the middle of the road to satisfy this episode’s pointless gore quota.
  • MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE HOUSE OF SCIENCE! AND DEATH!
  • Victor returns home and takes his victim downstairs. Nora hears him come home and heads downstairs. She sees the lab for the first time and is horrified.

• the lab

  • At the crime scene, Harv and Jim do actual police work and discover Nora’s pill bottle. They arrive at the house and discover the lab. Nora is taken into custody. Victor watches nearby.

• victor tries to confess

  • Nora admits Victor did the awful crimes but refuses to give him up as he did them for her. Victor tries to confess but is assumed to be a crank. As a result, when the pharmacist actually does revive Victor flees. He’s left Nora behind but he knows it can work now.
  • MEANWHILE, AT ARKHAM!

• Strange at Indian HIll

  • Strange takes an elevator down to Indian Hill. It’s beneath Arkham! TWIST! There he’s shown the news about Victor’s crimes. Indian Hill hasn’t been able to perfect cryogenics yet. Perhaps Mr Freeze, as the papers call him, can help…

 

Review:

That’s better! Mostly.

This episode benefits massively from how pared down it is. We’ve got Jim’s bad call rumbling along in the background, Penguin in Arkham and Victor Fries and that’s pretty much it. Even better, the Arkham plot is explicitly going to dovetail with the Victor plot. Well done, Gotham! Narrative coherency is pretty much yours!

It helps that the Freeze plot is played so straight too. There’s the right element of tragedy to it and Darrow and Hager anchor their scenes very nicely. Plus this is a welcome piece of moral ambiguity for a show that’s dealt with mostly flat-out bad guys for a while. Victor’s doing awful things but he’s doing them for love. And the lead detective on his case knows a bit about bad calls for what seem like good reasons…

Even better, this is a welcome style change for the show. As well as the more concentrated focus there’s also a sense of space. Victor’s identified this episode certainly but he’s not arrested. This is going to be a major case and the A-plot here is essentially the first part of a serial. That works really, really well. Firstly because Gotham benefits hugely when it concentrates like this and secondly because it’s nice to see someone other than the Joker getting the A-List treatment. Mr Freeze fits the ‘SCIENCE GONE MAD!’ stuff Gotham is particularly good at like a chilly, padded glove and it’ll be fun to see how this plays out.

It’s not all good, of course, and the episode leans on a couple of things it really shouldn’t but this is a welcome do over for Gotham. There’s a new sense of purpose, some cracking new characters and a really fun central vision. If you’ve not bothered with the show up to now, this is a pretty good jumping on point too. Fun, nasty and mostly well behaved this isn’t Gotham at its best but it is certainly Gotham getting better.

 

The Good:

  • BUTCH! With a new stupid hand!
  • Tabby! She and Butch are really good fun together already. Can’t wait to see the trouble they cause.
  • The image of Butch’s power drill hand and Tabby’s knife striking sparks off each other is simultaneously OTT and perfect. Good work, Gotham and the shot of the week to boot.

• Sparks

  • “I’m smarter than I look.”
    “Oh you must be.” More of this please!
  • “That’s it? No hug, no kiss, no welcome back?”
    “You don’t deserve these lips.” Never change, Harv. But maybe don’t go back to the joke once it’s lit, okay?
  • “It’s FREISS.”
    “What do you mean?”
    “It’s pronounced FREISS.”
    “How do YOU know?”
    “I’m REALLY good with names.” It’s our fervent hope that when Gotham gets to the stunt episode phase of its life we get an entire episode which is Jim and Harv on stakeout. The non sequiturs will be epic.
  • Lee’s scarf game is on POINT. For real.
  • The opening sequence is a surprisingly great recap and it’s nice to see Jim both on the stand and far from out of the hot seat. Also nice that the show’s finding lots of little bits for Harvey Dent to do.
  • Nathan Darrow is great as Victor. He’s got that slightly earnest, slightly desperate energy the character needs. He’s also got a lot of natural authority which helps immensely and actually manages to bring gravitas to scenes where he’s wearing a parka and firing a freeze gun at people. Admittedly Wentworth Miller on The Flash brings exuberant, super smooth joy to his scenes of freeze gun action but Darrow’s style works too.
  • BD WONG! Hugo Strange is a great fit for this show and Wong seems to be a great fit for the character.

 

The Bad:

  • OH LOOK! A female black GCPD officer! I wonder if sh… No she’s dead.
  • The practical effects on the frozen victims are often pretty lousy.
  • There’s some very on-the-nose dialogue this week. We didn’t need Victor saying, “I WILL SAVE YOU NORA,” basically to camera for one. The lovely non sequitur about Harv being good with names gets trodden all over too, in a manner that’s immensely insensitive to Nora too.
  • We’ve talked before, a lot, about the GCPD being… well… idiots. That continues here as the desk sergeants watch a naked, frostbitten man stumble into the room and wait for him to scream before doing anything. See also the pharmacist literally screaming, “YOU!” and gesturing at Victor. Not a single one of them connects the dots. Not a single one FINDS THE DOTS.
  • Also, the actor playing the pharmacist turns a performance so broad strokes it plays as clunky and unsubtle. EVEN ON GOTHAM. Seriously he’s so OTT you half-expect Daffy Duck to run in as Victor leaves and call him ‘DETHPICABLE!’
  • So Victor needs live subjects for the trials, right? And he leaves the guard in the office chair in the road because… reasons? It doesn’t add anything, the episode is already plenty gory and it’s the one genuinely malicious thing we see Victor do. Which on the one hand is a nice character note but on the other, it’s a dick move by both character and episode.

 

And The Random:

  • The “Previously On” montage completely rearranges several events and actually makes the first half of the season look a lot better than it was.
  • NATHAN DARROW! Darrow is best known for his excellent turn on the US version of House Of Cards as Meechum, the Underwood’s bodyguard. He’s also a recurring presence on Billions.
  • BD WONG! BD Wong is an, “Oh it’s that guy! I’ve seen him in something!’ character actor. More importantly, he’s the voice of Shang in Mulan. Wong’s also been Doctor Henry Wu in both Jurassic Park and Jurassic World and appeared in epic cockroach musical movie Joe’s Apartment. Search YouTube for the opening theme and try not to still be humming it until someone hits you. WE DARE YOU. He’s also appeared in countless TV shows but is best known for his 230-episode run as Doctor George Huang on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.
  • Kristen Hager! This plot is just full of awesome new actors to the show. Hager is best known as Nora from the US version of Being Human. She’s appeared in numerous other TV shows and also Aliens vs Predator: Requiem.

Review by Alasdair Stuart


 

Read our other Gotham reviews

 

 

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