The back half of Gotham’s second season appears to have been titled “Wrath of the Villains,” as opposed to the “Rise of the Villains” that was the first half. Just as Galavan was the big bad throughout the first part, I suspect they are positioning Hugo Strange to be the serious behind the scenes menace this time around. I’m amused that they are so carefully avoiding calling him Dr. Strange, no doubt due to the movie coming out later this year. For the record, Hugo showed up in Detective Comics back in 1940, Dr. Stephen Strange not making the scene until 1963, well over twenty years later, in the appropriately, but coincidentally, titled Strange Tales.
This week’s episode, “A Dead Man Feels No Cold,” opens at the famed ACE Chemical Plant. ACE is where the Joker got his makeover, including the white skin and green hair. ACE is apparently the only place in Gotham that Fries can get a vital ingredient for his freezing process. Gordon and Bullock show up with several other officers, who are apparently the second wave. The first wave has been flash-frozen, with some really nice visuals. I’m not sure intense cold would actually stop a bullet in mid-air or freeze the muzzle flame solid, but it was pretty. In addition to dead cops and missing chemicals, Gordon and company find a scrawled note in the ice: “FREE MY WIFE.”
Out at Wayne Manor, Bruce has returned from a month abroad at the family’s Swiss chalet. Lee Thompkins is interviewing him, largely because Alfred is worried that Bruce might have suffered trauma when Galavan kidnapped him. Bruce’s answers during the interview worry and surprise Leslie. It’s some of the most Batman-like Bruce has been on the series, aside from the deception he set up with Selena to fool Silver.
Back at GCPD, Barnes is furious about the death of seven more cops. He manages to rein in his temper and comes up with a way to trap Fries, or attempt to. Since they aren’t going to let Nora go, Fries is going to come after her. Since they can’t secure Gotham General, and Nora needs medical care, they decide the best approach is to very publically bring her to Arkham, because nothing bad ever happens there, right? Even in the pre-Batman era, that place is terrifyingly malignant. Lee isn’t happy about the idea of Nora as bait, and argues that she’s going too since Nora is under her care. While she’s out there, Lee gets an unpleasant surprise encountering another inmate.
This brings up another interesting point about the series. What in hell is it that Leslie supposedly does? She’s been a medical doctor, the Medical Examiner, a therapist, and some kind of counselor. Being called “Doctor” doesn’t mean you know how to do all those things. While it’s not impossible to be qualified in all those fields, it’s unlikely and would require an amazing level of discipline and/or genius intellect. Leslie is a fun, smart character, but we haven’t seen those qualities in her.
Penguin is definitely not enjoying his stay at Arkham. If he wasn’t insane when he went in there, he probably will be by the time he escapes/is released. Strange is plotting and planning, and there’s something seriously amiss with his aide, Miss Peabody. All in all, it’s a recipe for disaster, which will be repeated over and over again at Arkham.
Freeze comes to Arkham, of course. I’ll give points for his clever diversion to get in. I have a lot of questions about his showing up in what looks like a prototype version of the armored suit he wears in the comics. It was a nice nod to the source material, but where’d he get this from all of a sudden? He’s been researching one narrow field that had nothing to do with building powered armor. There is a lot of chaos in Arkham as Strange and Peabody are on their own side, Penguin desperately wants out, Freeze wants his wife, and the various other factions stewing out there.
Wayne Manor has a few more scenes of Bruce. He’s training in the future Bat-cave, which was nice to see. He and Alfred are having a lot of differences of opinion on what to do next. Bruce is also trying to get different help from Selena. The alleged murderer of the Waynes is finally revealed as Patrick “Matches” Malone. In the comics, Matches Malone is a name that’s an important part of the Bat-mythos, first turning up during the initial clash between Batman and Ra’s al-Ghul.
The episode ends in tragedy. If you’re familiar with Victor and Nora Fries’ story, you can probably guess where they are heading. How they got there was a surprise to me, I’ll say that. Leslie also reveals she knows, or strongly suspects, more about Galavan’s death than she’s said so far. The two interesting reveals at the very end show how far into the dark Strange is. He has two people of interest down in his hidden Indian Hill facility. One isn’t really a surprise, although they did nice makeup effects for it. The other surprised me a lot, and bodes ill for some of our heroes potentially.
What I liked: Mr. Freeze is a classic Batman villain, so it was good to see him here (although he’s another one that is older than Bruce now). Lee is a clear-sighted, intelligent woman who keeps getting put in bad situations. The Victor/Nora story was nicely done. Strange is smart and manipulative. The special effects for about everything with Freeze were very nicely done. I liked seeing Bruce train in the cave and catch Selena trying to sneak up on him.
What I didn’t: As I mentioned above, Lee’s doctor status is being used as badly as most comic book characters being a “scientist,” which apparently means master of all disciplines. The appearance of the Freeze armor with no explanation was kind of a big plot hole. And there was no Nygma this episode, and he’s one of my favorite recurring characters.
This wasn’t badly done, but the series has had a lot of problems in the past they still haven’t fixed. I’ll give this one a 3 out of 5, the better portions being off-set by the odd choices/mistakes.