[This is a review of Gotham season 2, episode 13. There will be SPOILERS.]
Gotham delved deeper into the origin story behind Mr. Freeze (Nathan Darrow) following last week's return, which set up the collision course that would bring the character in contact with Arkham's own Hugo Strange (B.D. Wong). In this respect, this second episode of 2016 certainly marked the end of a particularly chilling (pun intended) two-parter and revealed the most blatant hint yet at what viewers can expect in the coming weeks. First, let's discuss this week's new episode, "A Dead Man Feels No Cold".
LICENSE TO CHILL
After learning that his reanimation process works, Freeze heads to Ace Chemicals -- a division of Wayne Enterprises, natch -- to get the necessary liquid hydrogen and escapes long before the cops arrive. The icy crime scene they discover was a cool way to reminder viewers just how visually interesting Freeze can be, especially the bullet that Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and Bullock (Donal Logue) discover sitting in mid-air. Deciding that the safest place to lure Freeze into a trap is Arkham Asylum, Barnes (Michael Chiklis) orders Gordon to escort Nora (Kristen Hager) there, though Lee (Morena Baccarin) expresses her concern about how that plan may pan out.
One of the strongest elements of this episode was the parallels it draws between Freeze and Gordon. Both men are treading morally ambiguous waters in the service of good intentions, and their respective significant others are idly standing by frozen because of their love. Hager and Baccarin, in many ways, underscore the primary theme of the episode, and it further develops the doomed relationship that Lee and Gordon are in this season. That being said, the show didn't really take much advantage of Lee's proximity to Barbara (Erin Richards), though it's likely Miss Kean will recall Lee's dark moment with her when she inevitably awakes.
Only two episodes in, and it seems that this second half of the season has replaced sinister, conspiring Theo Galavan with the equally devious Hugo Strange. As delightfully portrayed by Wong, the character is very much the puppet master responsible for steering the narrative for the remainder of this season, and his deal with Freeze -- one cartridge of his cryonic formula in exchange for his and his wife's freedom -- is the key moment that the story hinges on, as revealed by the preserved bodies of Theo Galavan, Jerome and Fish Mooney in the final shot. Sadly, Freeze's attempt to save his wife fails. After she switches out the correct cartridge, her body begins to crack, and Freeze exposes himself to the formula, hoping to die but instead emerging as the Mr. Freeze fans know all too well. As Strange says, "death" is indeed a new beginning. Perhaps Nora isn't as dead as we may think?
HUNTING FOR MATCHES
Finally, we get a glimpse of Bruce once again. Following Bruce's abduction by Galavan, Alfred swept the boy billionaire out of town for a few weeks -- to a chalet in Switzerland, of course -- to recover, but he hasn't stopped obsessing over finding his parents' killer, the elusive "M. Malone" Silver previously mentioned. Wise to Bruce's thoughts, Alfred presents him with the details on the alleged killer, Patrick "Matches" Malone, and makes Bruce promise to allow Alfred to kill Malone when they track him down. He agrees but has other plans in mind.
This episode again went a long way in establishing that this teenage boy is already on the road to becoming the masked vigilante known as Batman. Of course, his desire to kill will likely subside, but his focus, determination and obsession with justice is already in place. The most egregious moment of his destiny with the cape and cowl takes place in a session with Lee, as Bruce reveals that he wasn't traumatized during his encounter with Galavan. In fact, he felt alive and is already turning into the adrenaline junkie that will be flying on rooftops in no time. "People can be two things at once," he says, referring to his honest side as "the other Bruce". If Gotham is renewed for season 3, we need more of this and less of everything else.
A BIRD WITHOUT WINGS
As evil and manipulative as he is, Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor) has always been positioned as Gotham's greatest anti-hero. Sure, he's murdered countless people in a desperate bid for power, but his love for his now-deceased mother humanized him. Plus, he's just so damn much fun to watch. For that reason, his torture at the hands of Strange is an unfortunate turn of events for viewers, even if we know that Penguin will emerge victorious and more than likely deliver his promised vengeance to Strange's assistant in the episodes ahead.
Moreover, he will almost certainly strike out against Gordon, who leaves Penguin in Arkham for more "therapy". In retaliation, Penguin shouts that he lied for Gordon, the true killer of Theo Galavan, and Strange catches it all on video. If this is the secret he was hoping to squeeze out of Penguin, he has succeeded faster than he may have anticipated. It remains to be seen exactly what Strange will do with that information, but the rest of Gotham (and its viewers) can safely say that it won't be good. When Galavan is finally reanimated, he will likely be out for revenge, at the very least.
What did you think of "A Dead Man Feels No Cold"? Share your thoughts on the episode in the comments section below.
Gotham returns with "The Ball of Mud and Meanness" next Monday at 8pm on FOX.