Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Review - Gotham: 2x13 - "A Dead Man Feels No Cold"


Gotham
Episode 2x13 - "A Dead Man Feels No Cold"

Synopsis

Desperate to free his wife from GCPD custody and cure her of her deadly disease, Victor Fries embraces his Mr. Freeze personality and embarks on a crime-spree against the cops, forcing them to lay a risky trap for the sub-zero criminal.

Review

Opening up with a grim frozen tableau inside Ace Chemicals Factory with numerous police officers frozen to death, or impaled with ice shards, this episode of Gotham sought to shift Victor Fries from a desperate man driven to desperate means into a fully-fledged super-criminal, out to terrorise the GCPD until the release of his wife. I’ve largely considered Mr. Freeze to be a bit clownish and ineffectual, mainly because of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s camp portrayal in Batman & Robin where his ice-gun merely incapacitates its victims, rather than kill. Here, however, we are given a whole new insight into his powers as his victims melt into goo upon defrosting or are impaled by shards of ice. This darker approach gives audiences an idea how Mr. Freeze may have ended up if Tim Burton had stayed with the franchise following on from Batman Returns.

With a brisk pace, the show’s writers quickly developed Mr. Freeze’s origin story, including a surprise twist for fans familiar with the character’s history in the comics. Rather than having his wife remain forever frozen until he could find a cure, the writers have her commit suicide by switching the cryogenic formula for a faulty variant and melting herself. With this change to continuity, Mr. Freeze’s descent into madness takes a slightly different route as he attempts to follow in her footsteps, but accidentally causes his iconic disfigurement. This episode might mark Gotham’s first proper foray into science-fiction with Mr. Freeze’s unique body chemistry now requiring him to remain in sub-zero temperatures to stay alive. Hugo Strange’s oblique reference to resurrecting the dead, complete with test-tubes filled with the series’ past (and deceased) villains seems to indicate that the show’s writers will continue to push the boundaries of realism with some kind of interpretation of the Lazarus Pit from the Batman mythos.


My fears that Gotham was planning to sweep Jim Gordon’s recent descent into darkness under the carpet appear to be unfounded as this episode made a concerted effort to draw comparisons between Victor Fries and Jim Gordon – positioning them both as men who would do anything to protect the ones they love. Also, Penguin’s loose lips surrounding Theo Galavan’s murder seems to have gained Hugo Strange’s attention, and with his penchant for torturous interrogation, I have a feeling that Gordon’s darkest secret may come to light. Only two episodes in and I’m really enjoying B.D Wong’s turn as the manipulative psychiatrist, experimenting with both minds and bodies. The grim, secret laboratory beneath Arkham Asylum seems to be filled with all manner of ‘enhanced’ criminals promising to wreak havoc on Gotham City during the concluding half of this season.

While Mr. Freeze’s sub-plot dominated this episode, the series touched based with Bruce Wayne and Alfred, following the discovery of a potential suspect in the murder of his parents. After being forcibly removed out of the city for his own safety, Bruce is back in Gotham and sporting a much darker, teen angst than we’ve seen before. The conversation between Bruce and Leslie was particularly interesting as David Mazouz showcased some real growth as an actor, beginning to channel the brooding elements of Batman’s character. As much as I enjoy the scenes with Bruce and Alfred, part of me wishes the series would do something shocking and break away from the fixed template of the Batman origin story. It would be a huge surprise if Bruce actually did kill Matches Malone, considering the character’s strong anti-killing stance, but I doubt it will happen that way.

Returning from its mid-season hiatus, Gotham continues to go from strength-to-strength with the inclusion of infamous villains, Mr. Freeze and Hugo Strange. The show seems to be its strongest when it subverts and challenges the established history of the DC Comics Universe and I hope it continues to shake continuity to the core with its upcoming episodes.


Score - 9.5 out of 10

Next Episode - "This Ball of Mud and Meanness"
Alfred and Selina help Bruce on his quest to find his parents' killer Matches Malone. Meanwhile, Gordon follows up with Edward Nygma on Kristin Kringle's whereabouts as Hugo Strange continues his treatment to reduce Penguin's aggression.

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