TV Review: Gotham – “A Dead Man Feels No Cold”

A Dead Man Feels No Cold
Warning: this review contains spoilers. You can find my review of the previous Gotham episode here.
“A Dead Man Feels No Cold”, the second half of Mr. Freeze’s origin story, was a slight improvement over last week’s installment, but it was still plagued by some of Gotham‘s usual weaknesses.
The predictability of Mr. Freeze’s origin carried over from last week, but I can’t blame the show for not wanting to stray from a tried and true story, even if it felt by-the-numbers at times. Victor and Nora’s love for each other was well-portrayed and successfully elicited empathy from the viewers. This alone was enough to make “A Dead Man Feels No Cold” stand out from both last week’s episode as well as most of Gotham‘s villains-of-the-week.
The problem was that “A Dead Man Feels No Cold” took quite a few narrative shortcuts, something Gotham does a bit too often. Take Victor breaking into Arkham, for example. Victor knowingly walked into a trap without any tricks or even an escape plan, but was luckily rescued by Strange. Why was Victor so unprepared? Well, because the writers knew Strange would be there to help. The fact that Victor would have failed had it not been for Strange was completely glossed over. The sequence’s narrative purpose—rescue Nora, have Strange obtain the cartridge—was fulfilled in the most routine manner. It’s yet another case of the plot driving the characters, not the other way around. An easy fix would have been to have Freeze use his wits to avoid the police’s trap, get cornered anyway, and then be rescued by Strange. It would have added a bit of dramatic tension and made both Freeze and the police look competent.
Hugo StrangeHere’s another example. When Victor escaped Arkham, he went… home. Where the police easily found him. Because that’s what the plot demanded: Freeze getting cornered by the police. How hard would it have been to have him go to another hideout? A casual bit of dialogue establishing that he had an offsite lab just in case? Have Gordon and Bullock actually make some effort to locate him and Lee, adding to the urgency of their search? Nope, he just went home, and they followed suit.
Yet another example. How did Victor’s supposed corpse end up at Arkham? Shouldn’t it have gone to the morgue? Or the hospital, at least? Again, one simple line of dialogue could have explained it, but the episode didn’t bother. The plot demanded Victor to end up at Indian Hill, and that’s what happened, no explanation.
These may seem like nitpicks, the kind of needless plot hole-hunting that I usually despise, but it’s not. When the story takes shortcuts and moves in an unnatural way, it draws attention to itself in a bad way.
Despite that, the Freezd storyline succeeded thanks to a few factors. The bond between Nora and Victor was a strong one. The awesome freezing effects and the action sequences they entailed was another. The third was Hugo Strange, who continues to be an enigmatic and dangerous character, especially now that he potentially knows Gordon’s dark secret. I wonder what he’s planning to do with Penguin.
Speaking of Gordon, “A Dead Man Feels No Cold” tried to draw attention back to his dark side by juxtaposing Nora’s love-fueled blindness to Victor’s darkness against Lee’s similar mixture of apprehension and caring for Jim. I commend the episode for thematically tying the main plot with Gordon’s character arc, even if it was a bit unsubtle. The issue is that Gotham still hasn’t sold the idea of Jim’s dark side well. It hasn’t been a continuous thread. His characterization is roughly the same aside from one or two random instances of darkness. And just like last week, Gordon felt more like a supporting character than the lead.
The MVP of the week was easily Harvey Bullock, whose humourous witticisms and one-liners lended a lighthearted feel to an episode that, like most of Gotham, was tonally inconsistent.
Meanwhile, the Unrelated Plotline of the Week went to Bruce Wayne. Now that Galavan’s out of the picture, Bruce is back to having his own special little side-plot. The subplot itself was good, featuring Bruce toeing the line of darkness and light in a much more believable way than Gordon. Bruce and Alfred planning to murder Matches Malone may be inconsistent with their portrayal in the comics, but that might not be such a bad thing on this show. Alfred’s… unconventional parenting, to say the least, and his relationship with Bruce continue to be some of Gotham‘s highlights. I just wish these events weren’t so disconnected from everything else that was going on.
“A Dead Man Feels No Cold” was a strong enough episode, but it was bogged down by Gotham‘s patented poor storytelling choices and inconsistent tone.

Rating: 3.5/5 (Good)

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