Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Review - Gotham: 2x12 - "Mr Freeze"


Gotham
Episode 2x12 - "Mr Freeze"

Synopsis

Both Jim Gordon and Oswald Cobblepot must deal with the consequences following their part in the murder of Theo Galavan, whilst Victor Fries resorts to human experimentation in order to perfect his cryogenic formula and save his wife from a deadly disease.

Review

Gotham returns after its mid-season break and immediately addresses the aftermath of Theo Galavan’s murder, placing Jim Gordon under suspicion as he is interrogated by Harvey Dent and Captain Barnes about his involvement in the crime. Deftly weaving flashbacks alongside Gordon’s statement not only recaps the events of the mid-season finale for those with short memories but also allows viewers to see where Gordon’s “truth” diverges from the real events. Begrudgingly cleared of all wrongdoing by the board, Gordon is quickly put back on duty, but given Barnes’ suspicious looks and Cobblepot’s penchant for blackmail, I suspect this particular sub-plot will be revisited at the most inopportune time for Gordon. Aside from this opening sequence, the episode dedicates little time to exploring how committing murder has changed Gordon, which will hopefully be rectified in future episodes as killing Galavan was a massive change for the character, symbolising Gotham’s corruption finally infecting him and it would be disappointed if it got swept aside.

With Galavan out of the way, Gotham wasted no time in introducing the next “big bad” for the season with the enigmatic Hugo Strange making his debut as the chief psychologist at Arkham Asylum. It was great seeing the Penguin stripped off his power and thrown into the insane asylum as the character was beginning to stagnate in his position as “King of Gotham” and works best as the underdog, calculating schemes and manipulating others, although it looks like he might have met his match in Hugo Strange. B.D. Wong looks absolutely fantastic as the character, with the iconic chin beard and rounded spectacles made famous by his comic-book incarnation. I also liked the odd cadence to his voice when he spoke with Cobblepot – it added to his creepiness and heightened the cryptic and mysterious nature of the character. I look forward to seeing him interact further with Robin Lord Taylor’s Penguin as the pair look set to lock horns in the Asylum.


Continuing to showcase Batman’s greatest enemies in their infancy, this episode of Gotham also introduced Mr. Freeze with an origin story that appears to be surprisingly accurate to the comic books. The introduction of the character and his super-freeze gun once again sees the show straddling the line between realistic science and comic-book physics, much like with the Venom and Fear drugs seen in the first season episodes, “Viper” and “The Scarecrow”. With Hugo Strange’s illegal laboratory, Indian Hill, achieving more prominence during the second half of this season, I suspect we’re going to see more of these science-fiction elements brought into the show. While I doubt that the series will fully embrace the fantastical side of the DC Comics Universe like the other DC TV series such as The Flash and Supergirl, I do think that there will be an influx of ‘powered’ criminals appearing in these remaining episodes of Season Two, which has been dubbed “Wrath of the Villains”.

This was a strong returning episode for Gotham which managed to quickly and effectively set-up the new status quo for the remaining episodes of Season Two. While most of Galavan’s story-arc seems to be brushed aside in favour of this new Indian Hill plot-line, key elements such as Tabitha Galavan joining up with Butch and the Penguin’s incarceration have spun directly out of the aftermath of “Worse Than a Crime” and hopefully future episodes will continue to focus on plot threads generated by events of the mid-season finale. The Mr. Freeze origin story was well-handled and I loved the CGI effects used – it certainly beats Arnold Schwarzenegger’s attempts to bring the character into live-action in the dreadful Batman & Robin, although I may have to rethink that stance if this incarnation dares to utter “Ice to See You” to anyone. It’s certainly shaping up to be a strong second half for Season Two with B.D. Wong’s Hugo Strange already appearing more deadly and sinister than Theo Galavan ever managed. While I thoroughly enjoyed the first half of this season, the promise of more Batman villains being introduced into the series excites me, and if they’re introduced as skilfully as Mr. Freeze was here, then we might be looking at the strongest set of Gotham episodes yet.


Score - 9.4 out of 10

Next Episode - "A Dead Man Feels No Cold"
As Gordon, Bullock and Barnes continue the search for Victor Fries, they are forced to look to his wife, Nora, for help.

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