Gotham “Mr. Freeze” Review (Season 2 Episode 12)

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In the mid-season premiere of “Gotham,” the first half of the season’s plotlines were more or less wrapped up, as the seeds were sown for the rest of the season, in “Mr. Freeze.” Thankfully, those of us worrying that the show might go the deadly Schumacher/Schwarzenegger route had a load lifted off our shoulders when it became relatively clear that this version of the iconic character would not be making corny quips of the “Ice to see you!” variety.

Oh, I’ve no doubt there’s some of you who love that sort of thing, and I’m the first to admit I love a good silly Schwarzenegger highly-literal movie commentary my own damn self, but when it comes to Batman, I’m sorry, I just can’t. If I want the goofball version of the show, I definitely stick with the original 60’s series, which is cheesy in all the right ways. But Schumacher’s camp-fests…pass. You can keep your Bat-codpieces, Mr. S. thank you very much.

Of course, there’s still time for “Gotham” to go that route, but I sincerely don’t see it happening. This is obviously Batman by way of the Nolan pictures, with a dash of Burton at best, thanks to the occasional surreal dark comedic touches, i.e. the whole Balloon Man thing. The show is not without a sense of humor, to be sure, it’s just not particularly camp, which is fine by me. If I want camp, I’ll watch a John Waters movie, you know?

Instead, the Mr. Freeze we got here was a tragic figure who was simply going to unfortunate extremes to save his ailing wife, which I actually really liked for the character. While, yes, that part of it was present in the “Batman & Robin” iteration, this actually hews closer to the “Batman: The Animated Series” version, as well as the more modern comics version, rather than the jokey versions of the character in the old-school comics and “Batman” show.

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Here, we meet Victor Fries (Nathan Darrow, “House of Cards”), who pronounces his name in the sort-of French version (like Frey-ez, more or less), as Bullock correctly guesses, rather than the more literal “Freeze” pronunciation one might assume. His wife, Nora (Kristen Hager, from Syfy’s “Being Human”) is deathly ill and not getting better anytime soon, so Victor is working overtime to perfect his formula for cryogenically-freezing humans so that he can freeze his wife and stop her disease in its tracks until such time as he can find a cure.

The problem is, things aren’t proceeding as quickly as he’d like with his various formulas, and his experiments on mice just aren’t cutting it. So, naturally, in time-worn “Mad Doctor” fashion, he starts testing it on humans, with decidedly mixed results, including an icky melt-down sequence that gave me “Evil Dead” flashbacks. (The original, of course, accept no substitutes.)

The thing is, he’s definitely getting close, but then tragedy strikes when his wife loses track of the number of a certain pill she’s taking and almost runs out before Victor can refill the prescription. Making matters worse, when he goes to do so, the pharmacist isn’t exactly cooperative, so he’s forced to go get his freezing gun to take the guy out- after he gives him the pills he needs, of course.

Between the rash of disappearances he’s responsible for and the fact that he’s also forced to use his freeze gun on a cop, killing her in the process, the heat is clearly coming down on Victor Fries, if you’ll pardon the semi-pun. Indeed, Bullock and Gordon use a prescription bottle to track down his address, taking his wife down to the station, much to his horror. Though she doesn’t rat him out, even after finding out what’s he’s done, it’s clear that he needs to act fast.

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Fortunately for him- and his wife- as it turns out, his latest batch of formula actually works on the pharmacist, meaning it will finally be safe to use it on his wife and go through with freezing her. Victor finds this out just in time, after he’s attempted to turn himself in, in order to get his wife her needed meds, but before anyone has really taken him seriously.

The cops having confiscated his subjects, everyone concerned is shocked when one of them gets up from the slab at the morgue and proceeds to walk into the lobby of the precinct near-naked! Everyone, that is, besides Victor, who recognizes the significance of the moment and bails out to plan his next move, which one assumes will be to break his wife out of jail.

Not that she’s been arrested, per se, but being as how she’s not cooperating, one assumes she will be held until further notice, if not at the precinct, then at a hospital. Either way, we’ll have to wait until next week to see what happens there. If it’s anything like the comics/animated series, then Nora will end up frozen and Mr. Freeze forced to protect (and fund) her hiding place by literally icing anyone who gets close to it.

As a potential wrench in his plans, though, there’s Hugo Strange (BD Wong, “Law & Order: SVU”), the current man in charge of running Arkham Asylum, who is clearly up to something that seems to involve storing and experimenting on the various villains he’s been assembling as they have been killed and/or caught over the first half of the season. That would seem to include the Firefly, Jerome (aka the person most have pegged as The Joker) and Barbara and possibly even Theo Galavan and Fish Mooney, among potential others.

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Strange somehow hears that Victor has succeeded in his plan to be able to freeze people in seconds and later revive them without causing harm to them- seemingly not long after Victor himself finds out, almost by mistake. This would seem to imply that Strange has eyes and ears at the police station as well, which is, one assumes, how he was able to find out about various villains’ fates and take advantage of that.

In addition to that, he also has a new inmate on the premises in Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor), aka The Penguin, who he clearly has plans for as well. Oswald ends up being caught by Captain Barnes (Michael Chiklis), who then has him immediately committed to Arkham after Oswald confesses to murdering Theo Galavan, despite the fact that Gordon (Ben McKenzie) actually did it.

Claiming insanity, Oswald thinks he should have no trouble ruling the roost in the institution, but a speech in the lunch room proves otherwise, as his fellow inmates have a lot of fun at his expense by declaring themselves also the kings of Gotham and tossing food at him. I’d say don’t count on him staying there long, but I suspect that Strange will do whatever he has planned before Oswald has the chance to get out of there on his own.

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That was about it, save the revelation that Butch (Drew Powell) has taken Oswald’s absence as an opportunity to fill the void of being the main crime boss. He’s also installed a drill onto the stump of his missing hand, which makes him a bit more fearsome than before. This doesn’t seem to faze the woman responsible, Tabitha Galavan (Jessica Lucas), who actually uses it as an excuse for helping Butch find his inner bad-ass and cozies up to him sexually, claiming she wants to help him rule the city.

I don’t think Butch trusts her as far as he can drill her, but I can’t say I blame him for taking advantage of the situation, either. Girls that hot probably don’t come his way that often without a price tag, I’m guessing. Still, he’d do well to keep her at, um, drill’s length, as it were. But she could also come in handy, being as she is a bona fide bad-ass who needs no help in that department. Tigress, hear her roar.

All in all, a decent enough episode that couldn’t help but be mostly resolution of previous plotlines set into motion in the first half of the season and set-up for the rest, but that’s almost to be expected. Gordon has officially been cleared of all crimes and reinstated- although Captain Barnes is obviously still a bit wary of him- and The Penguin is behind bars, more or less, on the former end; and two solid new villains have been firmly established on the latter end.

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Hopefully, with that part of it behind us, we can get down to the business of going from the “Rise of the Villains” to the actual arrival of some of them in the forms we all know and love, or at least be firmly headed in that direction by season’s end. My bet is that by season’s end, we’ll have gotten a lot of them firmly established and in place, but we’ll see. One can only hope.

What did you think of the latest episode of “Gotham”? Did you enjoy the Victor Fries storyline? How about the Hugo Strange one? What do you think he’s really up to at Arkham? Who is his mole at the GCPD? What other villains do you think we’ll see next? Might the eye-gouging Colin be one of them? What would you like to see happen in the second half of the season? Sound off down below and see you next week!