TV Review: Gotham – “Mr. Freeze”

Mr. Freeze
Warning: this review contains spoilers. You can find my review of the previous Gotham episode here.
Gotham‘s back, and with it are the usual ups and downs.
“Mr. Freeze” was mainly concerned with setting up its titular villain. Freeze’s plot was fairly standard, not deviating from his comic book origin in any major way, which is both good and bad. Bad mostly because Gotham has tackled so many similar villain origin stories in their case-of-the-week episodes that Freeze’s feels a bit too familiar. Gotham is a world full of proto-villains that get an origin story before getting shelved. Still, there was comfort in the familiarity, and Freeze’s story was engaging enough to carry most of the episode. And at least he’s there for more than just one episode.
Gotham‘s tone is still inconsistent. It remains a notably violent show, with this episode featuring a dead body melting into goo and an inmate gouging his eyes out. Yet it also has cartoonish elements that clash with rather than balance out the darkness. For example, the cheesy, over-the-top rude pharmacist that refused to give Victor the medication. It’s gotten better since Season 1, but these little details still annoy me.
Hugo StrangeMeanwhile, Penguin’s subplot was interesting, even if it took narrative shortcuts. For example, Penguin getting arrested offscreen was a letdown after the episode set us up to expect a manhunt. Plus, is it really that easy to evade prison? Just say the words “I’m insane” and get transferred to Arkham, no questions asked? Come on, Gotham, put in some effort.
Despite that, there was plenty of strong material for Oswald. He was clearly at a low point despite Galavan’s death, having lost not just his mother but also his empire. Arkham may be a step up from prison, but it’s clear that he’s in a terrible situation. Gotham has done well making Penguin walk the line between villain and co-protagonist, and this episode continues that trend. Plus, his friendship with Riddler has become quite endearing.
This episode also properly introduced us to Hugo Strange, played by B. D. Wong. Even in his limited screen time, Strange was an instant success. Wong’s strong performance sold the character’s intrigue and the menace very well. He instantly fit into the stylized world of Gotham while still coming off as enough of a threat. Hopefully the show can live up to his potential as a season-long villain in a way it didn’t for Theo Galavan—who had a promising start that was lost to messy storytelling and weird warrior monks.
Amidst all of this there was an odd scene establishing Butch as the new crime lord of Gotham and bringing in Tabitha as his ally. I guess we needed the update on where those two characters were, but that lone scene had no follow-up or relevance to anything else that was happening, so it felt out of place in this episode.
All of these developments with other characters made Gordon feel like more of a side-character in “Mr. Freeze”. This is unfortunate, as we failed to have a proper follow-up to Gordon’s potential slide into darkness after his execution of Galavan in the midseason finale. The most we got was some tension between Jim and Barnes. Hopefully future episodes will capitalize, otherwise this’ll be another case of Gotham going in circles with Gordon’s characterization.

Rating: 3.5/5 (Good)

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