Well, I get to talk about Mr. Freeze again, so I’m raring to go. Let’s get into this week’s Gotham, “Dead Men Feel No Cold”.
We open with a bunch of squad cars, sirens blaring, arriving at the Ace Chemicals building. Gordon and Bullock are among the second batch to arrive, and there’s no sign of the first group beyond their abandoned cars. Fries was spotted breaking in to get his precious liquid helium, and they’re looking to stop him. Exposition: Delivered.
Inside, they find a bunch of frozen cops, even bullets frozen in mid-flight. Some of the cops are riddled with ice shards like shrapnel. It’s grim. They find the night janitor’s ID, but no sign of him. Finally, they find one last cop encased in a block of ice bearing the message “FREE MY WIFE”.
Hey, it’s Wayne Manor! Leslie’s checking in on Bruce, who’s just back from Switzerland. She says Alfred’s worried, and she wants to make sure he’s not traumatized. Bruce insists he’s not scared – he said the whole experience made him feel alive. Leslie thinks he needs closure and has to give up this obsession with finding his parents’ killer. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the story of Batman, but he’s not letting that go anytime soon. He’s very formal and distant in this scene.
Back at the GCPD, Barnes is furious. Seven more dead cops and Fries is making demands, and Barnes is not having it. However, they’re worried that Fries will come after Nora at the GCPD and it’s not safe to move her to the hospital. He thinks the smart play is to move her to Arkham. And it’s actually not a bad plan, provided you don’t know what’s going on at Arkham. Leslie is not on board with this plan at all, and Gordon parrots back Barnes’ logic. She gives in, but insists that she’s going along with Nora. Gordon tries to talk her down, but she makes it clear that he can not cite her pregnancy as an excuse for anything.
And over at Indian Hill, Hugo Strange failed to extract Fries’ formula from one of his victims. So he’s thrilled when Peabody informs him that the GCPD is bringing Nora over. During this scene, there’s a four-fingered hand pressed against a window in the corridor. Keep it creepy, Gotham!
Fries hangs out at the docks, listening to radio news. He hears about Nora being transferred to Arkham and immediately knows it’s a trap. Dude takes that as a challenge. And then he lobs an ice grenade into the water and freezes it all. I’m not sure what the body of water he froze actually is, but it’s big. Like, so big that I assumed it would be a plot point later on. Nope. The people of Gotham City have enough other stuff to worry about, I guess.
Over at the Asylum, Peabody is prepping Penguin for treatment. Basically, big dudes are strapping him into a chair for rehabilitation. He insists that nobody lives long after they vex him and she should choose her next move very carefully. So she shoves a bit in his mouth and pushes his head into what looks like a cheap VR helmet. Nothing happens at first, which makes me hope that it’s really just showing him images of unlikely animal friends, but then she hits the juice and poor Penguin gets zapped.
Later, the patients play a game of “Duck, Duck, Goose” while Oswald tells himself it was only a dream. When he’s selected as the goose, he insists he’s a penguin, but he can barely get the words out. Peabody assures him that playing along is fun and he should definitely do that. Or else. And this is what Gordon and Bullock see when they pass through with Nora. Strange assures them that Oswald’s just under a mild sedative. Oh, and Nora’s sharing a room with Barbara! She’s still in a coma, but it’s unsettling. I miss you, Barbara.
Penguin catches sight of Gordon as he’s being escorted to his next session. He tells Gordon that he’s being tortured and he needs help. Gordon is really cold when he tells Oswald that it’s all in his head, so as they drag Penguin away, he starts screaming about how Gordon killed Galavan. Strange seems to take an interest in this little nugget.
Back at Wayne Manor, Alfred and Bruce have a talk. Bruce is back on his search for “M. Malone”, which is the name Silver volunteered when she thought she was going to be tortured. It’s not a great lead, but it’s all he’s got. Alfred offers to help, but insists that Bruce can not kill Malone if they find him. He says he’ll do it, but Bruce can’t have that on his conscience. Once Bruce agrees, Alfred presents a dossier on Patrick “Matches” Malone, a known criminal who fits the basic description and was in town that night.
In the medical ward at Arkham, Leslie taunts Barbara. Not cool, Leslie. When Nora wakes up, she does her best to explain what’s going on without using the word “asylum”. Nora says her husband isn’t evil and she didn’t notice him becoming more obsessed. Leslie replies with this, which is worrisome:
“It’s hard when you love someone. You see the person they were, the person they could still become. You close your eyes to the truth.”
That does not bode well for her relationship with Gordon.
Gordon and Bullock wait outside when they get the signal that it’s about to go down. An armored truck crashes through the gate, but when it finally stops, they see it’s driven by the missing janitor, his hands frozen to the wheel. Meanwhile, Fries ices up a wall and kicks through it like a murderous Kool-Aid Man. He’s in full Mr. Freeze regalia in a suit that seems to be based on the Batman ’66 version of Freeze.
And with that, he’s back to lobbing ice grenades and freezing cops. Watching Gordon and Bullock give chase, but Hugo Strange (watching from the control room) seals off the hallway to trap them. Gordon gets through in time, but Bullock and the uniformed officers are out of the fight.
As Fries makes his way through the building, Hugo talks to him through the intercom. He offers a deal – keys to an escape vehicle in exchange for one canister of his formula. Fries takes the deal.
Gordon rushes to find Leslie so they can get Nora out of there, but he only gets there about two seconds before Fries. Oh, poopie. Gordon tries to talk sense into the guy witth the freeze gun who’s killed about forty people in the last two days. Fries insists that Leslie come with him to push Nora’s wheelchair. Gordon offers himself up, but nobody in the room accepts that. Fries locks Gordon in a closet and leaves with his wife and Leslie.
Gordon kicks his way out and gives chase, just in time to see Fries speed away. Strange passes off the way he locked Bullock and the others in the hallway as an electrical malfunction and nobody’s the wiser. Gordon and Bullock try to figure out where Fries is headed and they work out that he must be going home – he needs to freeze Nora right away and he needs the equipment in his basement to keep her frozen. Cut to the Fries home, where it did not go well for the cops assigned to guard the place.
Nora begs Victor to let her die, but he insists there’s hope. She finally asks him to get the necklace he gave her on their first anniversary before the procedure. He heads upstairs and Nora tells Leslie she can get away, but she refuses. So she asks for some water. And while nobody’s looking, she switches the freeze canister with one of the older, failed formulas. Once Victor comes back, she asks him not to blame himself and then he begins the freezing process.
Back at Wayne Manor, Selina breaks in to talk to Bruce. Bruce immediately asks for a favor. Specifically, he wants a gun so he can kill Matches. Selina knows he’s not a killer, but Bruce insists he has to be the one to do it.
Gordon and Bullock arrive at the Fries home. Bullock and the uniforms set up a perimeter while Gordon heads inside. Just then, Nora starts to crack and shatter. Victor realizes what she did and then asks Leslie to go out and tell the cops that he’ll do as they say. She heads upstairs, and Fries connects the cryonic system to his own suit, freezing him solid. Gordon arrives too late.
Later, he’s back at home with Leslie. He explains that Hugo called and reported that Victor died in the Arkham infirmary. Then Gordon says Leslie shouldn’t have put their baby at risk, and that is not what he needs to say right now because she brings up Galavan and says that Gordon didn’t tell her the truth about what happened.
Back at the asylum, Penguin gets more “treatment”. And then we see Victor at Indian Hill, very much alive. His hair has turned white and his eyes are piercing blue now. Hugo explains that he’s been through a change and he can’t survive in any temperatures that are above freezing. Also, they have a project for him later. And we end on a shot of the body of one Theo Galavan, floating in one of those tubes.
Hey, if they bring him back to life, then Gordon really didn’t kill anybody, right? It’s a technicality, but I think it’s defensible.
–This was an episode that I liked a lot better on the second viewing. It was plenty of fun to watch the first time, but the ending seemed mostly inevitable if you know Mr. Freeze. But then there was just enough of a twist with Nora actually dying. Mr. Freeze’s whole thing is trying to cure his wife, and now that’s off the table. So the one thing that keeps him human is gone. Batman: The Animated Series went another route to get to the same point – on that show, Nora was eventually cured but wanted nothing to do with the monster her husband had become. That’s when he devoted his life to just destroying things people loved. (Seriously, Animated Series Mr. Freeze is amazing.)
I like whenever Gotham tweaks the established mythology, so the episode suddenly went from being a revised version of a thing I know to being a new thing and that made me like it more.
Plus, it looks like Mr. Freeze and Hugo Strange are sticking around for a while. But then, this is Gotham and that could all end at any moment. I may have forgotten somebody, but at this point the show has killed off Sal Maroni, Black Mask, and Nora Fries, all people who are traditionally alive when Batman comes to town.
It seems weird that the episode was based around Strange’s plan to get Freeze’s formula and then he ends up recruiting Freeze anyway, making that canister seemingly redundant. It’s weird plotting but it’s not like Hugo knew how things were going to go down. And than canister could turn out to be important later.
Weird thing that occurred to me while writing this – you can really tell just how long Batman’s been around by the fact that this show has already introduced two major characters named “Harvey” and two named “Victor”. In the comics, they were introduced some forty years apart so by that point, name re-use was inevitable. But when you condense it down to a “greatest hits” lineup, it seems weird.
It looks like next week is all about Bruce and Matches Malone, so I’ll keep my thoughts to myself until I see how it plays out. But the idea of young Bruce wanting a gun is chilling, and I hope this is where Gotham gets across that Bruce/Batman is never going to kill anybody.
I’m very worried about Gordon and Leslie – since the idea of them as a couple is unprecedented, there’s no roadmap for where this is going to go. But they’re definitely not in a good place right now and Jim Gordon is not a guy who’s good at fixing relationships. Between this and Venture Bros., all my recaps right now are about failing relationships in a world of insanely high body counts.
This week’s only new Bat-reference is Ace Chemicals. In any version where the Joker’s a guy who falls into a vat of chemicals, that’s where it happens. And I guess there’s partial credit for Hugo Strange communicating via PA system, since that’s a big part of Arkham City. Actually, it struck me how similar BD Wong sounds to Strange’s portrayal in that game. Did he do some serious Hugo Strange research? I like the idea of BD Wong playing through Arkham City just to get to the Hugo Strange scenes.
By the way, I feel bad that I identified him as “B.D. Wong” last week – as a guy with initials for a name who chooses not to use periods after, I should have noticed that’s also what Wong does. (Though he used to, and those Oz credits are burned in my brain.) I hope this doesn’t ruin my shot at interviewing him. (Sample question: “You were on Oz and also play a Batman villain. Can we be best friends?”)
I also want to note that Tonya Pinkins, who plays Ethel Peabody, is also on Hulu’s 11.22.63 right now. Literally right now because I’m watching that as I write this and she’s actually on the screen. Way to go!
I’ll wrap it up now – I’m still recovering from having been sick for a week and I’m getting punchy. I’m halfway certain I had Nora Fries disease, frankly. See you next week for “This Ball of Mud and Meanness”, which is an amazing title that has me sort of expecting a Clayface reference.