The second half the second season of Gotham (FOX, Mondays, 8/7C) is well underway with new villains Hugo Strange and Victor Fries getting a significant amount of screentime – and Bruce Wayne returning from Switzerland.
A Dead Man Feels No Cold might sound like a Ross MacDonald novel (or a Stan Lee comic), but it’s very much a DC Comics tale dealing with life, love, torture (in the name of mental health) and death.
This week, Dr. Hugo Strange (B.D. Wong) moves ahead with his therapy for Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor); Chief Barnes (Michael Chiklis) comes up with a plan to stop Victor Fries (Nathan Darrow) – who only wants to save his wife’s life; Lee (Morena Baccarin) figures out that Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) isn’t being entirely honest with her; Alfred (Sean Pertwee) plays detective; Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) shows a darker side of his already somewhat darkened self, and Selina (Camren Bicondova) puts in a brief but impactful appearance.
Although Penguin is in Arkham (and if he wasn’t insane when he entered, he almost certainly will be when he escaped/is released), it seems that – if insanity is doing exactly the same thing over and over again and expecting different results – Gordon and Barnes just might be the crazy ones. There is virtually nothing new in the way they try to stop Fries – fortunately, he really does just want to save his wife (Kristen Hager). Unfortunately, in obtaining materials for his cryogenic gun, more people die (an image of a bullet frozen just out of a gun barrel is a scary visual).
Fires is a tortured villain in that he didn’t want to hurt anyone but without doing so, he couldn’t put Nora into a frozen state so that she could be awakened when a cure presented itself. He even seems willing to go to jail, though only after Nora has been properly taken care of.
Strange, on the other hand, is more than a little sadistic – he enjoys the messier aspects of his work way too much. Certainly, Oswald Cobblepot is aware of that. What makes Strange so beautifully creepy is the way he is so polite and engaging on the surface. Wong has taken a less-is-more approach to the character that comes across as possibly more maniacal than Jerome (remember him?).
As always, Gotham is lit in several different tones depending where we are, or which characters are being featured – despite his growing darkness, Bruce and Alfred are shot in earth tones; Arkham is blues and greens, and so forth. Occasionally an odd angle pops up, or the score veers into an unexpected path – further adding to the ep’s atmosphere.
Seth Boston’s script is filled with surprises – including two unexpected appearances by… but that would be telling – and weaves its multiple threads together well.
Director Eagle Egilsson keeps the tension ratcheted up without sacrificing character moments. A Dead Man Feels No Cold may contain multitudes, but it never feels rushed or overstuffed.
Final Grade: A-