It’s been so long since the last episode of ‘Gotham’ (early December) that the new winter premiere feels like the start of a whole new season. Most of the big storylines from the first half of Season 2 have already wrapped up, so it’s time to bring in some fresh blood.
Theo Galavan, the evil mayor of the city, is dead. At a deposition, Harvey Dent questions Jim Gordon about his part in Galavan’s murder. Gordon lies and says he wasn’t involved and didn’t see it happen. Captain Barnes (Michael Chiklis) remains suspicious, but all charges are lifted and Jim is reinstated to his job as detective.
The Penguin has been declared Public Enemy No. 1 and is currently on the lam. In his absence, his former underling Butch has taken over as the city’s new crimelord. Tabitha Galavan, the woman who’d tortured and brainwashed Butch, sucks up to him and asks to be his partner.
A new weirdo roams the streets of Gotham. This one’s an average-looking thirty-something guy (Nathan Darrow from ‘House of Cards’) who carries around a freeze ray to blast people with and collect their frozen bodies. Comic fans hardly need more information than that to recognize him as Victor Fries, a.k.a. Mr. Freeze.
Barnes captures Penguin and hauls him in for questioning. Jim worries that Penguin will roll on him or that his story will fall apart, but Penguin takes the fall for killing Galavan and leaves Jim out of it. Barnes transfers him directly to Arkham Asylum. (Wouldn’t he need a trial for that?)
Victor Fries has a lovely wife with an unspecified fatal illness. As a scientist, he’s been working to develop a method to cryogenically freeze her and stop the illness until a cure can be developed. Unfortunately, he has not had luck reanimating any of his test subjects. The wife, Nora, is unaware that he’s been experimenting on human beings in his dank basement lab.
After Fries blasted a beat cop and was forced to leave her frozen on the street, Jim and Harvey Bullock catch the case. With Nygma’s help, they determine that the liquid helium used in the attack must have come from a Wayne Enterprises lab. They meet with Lucius Fox to ask for his help.
Penguin tries to establish himself as the new man of power in his prison surroundings, but the other loonies in the asylum just ridicule him.
Fries believes he’s having a breakthrough when his latest test subject thaws from the deep freeze, but his hopes are dashed when the body proceeds to melt into a grisly puddle before his eyes. Gross!
When Nora runs out of medication, Victor tries to refill the prescription but is turned away by an unsympathetic pharmacist. An enraged Victor returns later with his freeze ray and turns the pharmacist into a popsicle. It would seem that he has some anger issues and his motives aren’t entirely pure.
Separate from Victor, we’re also introduced to Dr. Hugo Strange (BD Wong), the new Head of Psychiatry at Arkham. He announces his intention to “rehabilitate” Penguin, but seems pretty creepy himself.
Eventually, Victor’s wife goes down to his basement lab and discovers all the bodies he’s been working on. Horrified, she calls the police. Jim and Harvey arrive and find the freeze gun. Victor watches them from across the street.
Later, a guilt-stricken Victor goes to the police station and asks to speak to Jim Gordon to confess. He’s told to wait in line with a bunch of other nutjobs who’ve also claimed responsibility. What he doesn’t realize is that one of his freeze victims has thawed out and woken up in Nygma’s lab. The man stumbles out into the station, questioning “Am I dead?” Victor is ecstatic. His plan may work after all. He promptly slips away from the station.
The episode ends with Dr. Strange at the mysterious Indian Hill facility. He’s been following the Mr. Freeze story in the news and is fascinated by it. He may have plans for such a man.
Not a lot happens in this episode, honestly. It’s all setup for the rest of the season. Both Mr. Freeze and Hugo Strange are major characters in the ‘Batman’ comics, so I hope the show has interesting things planned for them.
I’m not enamored with the way Mr. Freeze is portrayed here. He seems too young and blandly handsome. On the other hand, I suppose anything is better than what Arnold Schwarzenegger did to the character. I don’t recall hearing any terrible ice-themed puns in the episode, so that’s promising, I suppose.