Gotham recap: Wrath of the Villains: Mr. Freeze
“My name is Freeze. Learn it well. For it’s the chilling sound of your doom.”
No, Gotham didn’t turn into a bad Schumacher film (you know the one I’m referring to), but we did get our first taste of Mr. Freeze in the series’ midseason return Monday night. “Mr. Freeze” not only introduced us to the episode’s titular character and his Gotham-ized origin story, but we also finally saw some more action on the Indian Hill front thanks to the introduction of the one and only Hugo Strange.
We begin with Gordon’s testimony of the events surrounding Theo Galavan’s death. As we all know, Gordon is the one who actually pulled the trigger and ended Theo’s life, but he chooses to cover his ass and hide the truth from everyone by pinning the murder on Cobblepot and explains that he disappeared from the city out of concern for his newly pregnant fiancée. (Note to self: Apparently pregnancy is a good excuse for not doing your job?)
Gordon testifies to Harvey Dent as Barnes watches on the side with a suspicious, cold stare (a look that Michael Chiklis wears expertly). Barnes knows something’s up but doesn’t seem to reveal his worries/doubts/theories(?) to Dent after Gordon is cleared of all charges. Instead he just maintains his assurance that the GCPD will catch Oswald Cobblepot even into day 27 of the manhunt. And of course, Lee is still out of the loop regarding just how much darkness is inside of her fiancé.
Bullock and Gordon have a hilarious reunion, but it’s cut short as the two are on a new case where a cop was frozen to death, an incident we get to witness firsthand thanks to our first glimpse of Victor Fries (played by House of Cards vet Nathan Darrow), his freeze gun, and his experiments. We quickly learn Victor’s reason for wanting to freeze people: Similar to the comics, Victor Fries’ wife, Nora, has a fatal illness, and Victor’s plan is to freeze Nora and kill the disease, then bring her back to life (And that’s essentially where the similarities with DC starts and stops). But Victor’s dreams of reanimation are constantly dashed as the bodies begin to essentially melt once they reach threshold temperature rather than come back to life in, you know, solid human form.
So when you have to find a dude who likes to freeze people to death, who do you call? Gordon and Bullock head to Ed Nygma’s office, who shows his scary/psycho side a little too much to the two detectives, scaring both and causing Bullock to apologize for his haste and insults. Nygma plays ball and offers to do some research on places that might sell liquid-cooling hydrogen rather than nitrogen, but when Bullock leaves to continue the case, Gordon stays behind to find out whatever he can about Oswald’s whereabouts. Unluckily for Gordon, Barnes walks Oswald into the station at that precise moment. Talk about timing.
Gordon looks understandably worried, but there’s no fear as Oswald confesses to killing Theo when questioned by Barnes. We also get one of the best lines of the night during the interrogation: “I’m not a criminal. I’m just… Insane.”
Barnes tells Gordon that he’s willing to put his truth back into his favorite detective, but there’s still too much doubt in his eyes for that statement to come off as confidently as he might have hoped. (Did anyone else notice in this episode how Gordon’s voice gets louder when he lies? That’s kind of a big tell no one is acknowledging.)
So with Oswald behind bars and his people having abandoned him, who has taken over control of Gotham’s underworld? Oswald is transferred to Arkham (after asking Nygma to visit his mother’s grave for him occasionally), but he believes he’s still “the king.” Unfortunately, no one else does, especially not at Arkham. Instead, we see that Butch has taken his rightful place on the throne, and funnily enough, Tabitha Galavan wants to partner up with Butch now that he’s on top. The two share a moment of violence and a little kiss, all witnessed by Selina. Wonder what she’ll try and do with that information…
NEXT: Hugo Strange’s true villainy is teased…
Meanwhile, Bullock and Gordon chat with Lucius about Wayne Enterprises’ recently closed cryogenics department, which used liquid helium as a fast-cooling agent instead of liquid nitrogen. As the two detectives continue working the case, Victor’s wife, Nora, is having a bad spell, and her medication is almost out. Victor rushes to a local pharmacy to get the prescription refilled, but the pharmacist refuses in a rather obnoxious, rude way. After calling Fries a kook, Fries threatens the man and returns later that night to freeze him and the pharmacy security guard.
Bullock and Gordon get the news off the scanner and race over to catch the man, but not only are they too late, they also accidentally run into the frozen security guard on the road and are traumatized for life when they see him shatter into a million pieces as his head comes flying at the windshield. Eventually the two catch a break and find the prescription bottle for Nora. They head to her house and find her as she discovers her husband’s experiments that are certainly not done on mice as she had previously believed. Despite the threat of going to jail for obstruction of justice and the shock of her husband’s murderous, psychotic ways, she refuses to betray him, which sends Victor to the police station to confess.
Oswald, in the meantime, makes his acquaintance with the head psychiatrist at Arkham: Mr. Hugo Strange. The two have their first session together, where Hugo attempts to goad some reactions out of Oswald by bringing up the murder of Theo and his mother’s death. Oswald is a no-go on emotions, but Hugo expertly and eloquently threatens Oswald with the “many treatment programs” Arkham has to offer so Oswald can be “cured of [his] sickness.”
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As Oswald returns to his room, he comes across a gruesome image that proves Hugo means business: His fellow inmate Nigel’s eyes have been gouged out (presumably by Nigel himself) as he continues to mutter a lesson from Hugo himself, “See no evil, do no evil.”
We return to Victor as he heads to the GCPD to confess his crimes and get his wife out of jail, while the frozen body of the pharmacist starts to thaw out on Edward Nygma’s table. When Ed leaves to get coffee and returns, the body is gone. Mr. Pharmacist has made his way into the main precinct, creepily asking “Am I dead?” over and over again. Thanks to no one believing Victor is who he says he is, he is placed with the other crazies hoping to confess to their crimes. And it gives him a front-row seat to the pharmacist’s reanimation reveal. The pharmacist sees Victor in the crowd and freaks out, but no one is paying attention when Victor slips out and vows to save his wife now that his experiments have worked.
“Mr. Freeze” ends not with Victor himself, but with Hugo Strange as he opens a secret elevator at Arkham and goes down into the secret Indian Hill facility as he records his diagnosis of megalomania and narcissism for Oswald. A colleague meets Hugo by the elevator to reveal some Indian Hill updates (including a nice little shoutout to Bridgit Pike). But what strikes Hugo the most is the newspaper article that reveals Victor’s official bad guy moniker and the fact that he has discovered reanimation, a feat that is supposed to still be years away from discovery. Hugo is clearly more dangerous and powerful than he appears, we know that from the comics and from his tease-worthy intro alone. But what is really going on at Indian Hill? Can’t wait to hear your theories and DC comics knowledge below, Gotham fans! It’s so good to be back.