So pretty much only a few people in Gotham City have good ideas, since most of the decisions made with good intentions this week ended up backfiring. With Nora in holding, Victor must race to save her, but Gotham’s finest have a mix-up with Hugo Strange as their plans go awry. Also, Bruce Wayne returns. Let’s check in on him.
The episode begins with police arriving at Ace Chemicals, which makes the liquid helium Victor uses for his weapon. Jim warns the officers to be careful since Victor is desperate enough to do anything. GCPD enters the facility and find frozen officers during their search. Some canisters are gone, and the cops find a frozen body with the words ‘Free My Wife’ scrawled across in ice.
At Wayne Manor, Bruce updates Leslie on his trip to Switzerland. Alfred is apparently worried about Bruce concealing trauma from his abduction. Leslie tells Bruce that it’s normal to feel scared, but he isn’t. Instead, he feels alive. He asks Leslie if he thinks that he’s abnormal, but she just finds it unusual. At least he’s being honest. As for now, Bruce feels invigorated with a second chance at life, but his plans remain unchanged: find his parents’ murderer.
So yeah, Bruce needs closure with what could be an endless obsession. He believes that he can be both a schoolboy and homicide detective. Leslie asks what Bruce what will do, and his truthful response is that he’ll let the law take its course. Not the honest answer, but then, that’s the other Bruce. This conversation has been clarifying.
At GCPD, Barnes is enraged about Victor wanting Nora freed. No demands on the hostage yet and Nora still in a holding cell. She could die soon if not moved to a hospital, but Gotham General is hard to secure. Barnes then suggests the ER facility at Arkham, as she can receive care and Victor can be abducted there. Lunatic idea, but it could work. Barnes wants word put out to the press.
Leslie, meanwhile, finds it unbelievable that Nora would be used as bait. It’s the least bad of several bad options and there are other sick patients at Gotham, but this is the rational way to go. If there was a better option, Jim would choose it. So Leslie elects to go, as Nora is her patient. And if Jim uses Leslie’s pregnancy on her, Leslie will scream. How does that help anyone?
At Indian Hill, Hugo Strange emerges with one of Fries’ victims, having failed to extract traces of Fries’ formula from the victim’s tissue. Miss Peabody tells him of GCPD’s plan to move Nora Fries to Arkham. Strange figures that Victor is doing this all to save his wife. Luckily, everything Hugo needs may be hand delivered to him.
Over at the docks, Victor learns of Nora’s transfer and figures out that it’s a trap. He says as much to his hostage before throwing a capsule into the sea, freezing the water instantly.
Penguin, meanwhile, is chained in a very special chair. He wants to speak with Professor Strange, but Peabody will deal with him instead, as Penguin is the face of the rehabilitation program. How great would it be to cure someone like Oswald Cobblepot? But Oswald refuses to take part, even though he’s in no position to argue. The procedure begins.
Sometime later, Penguin is in the main room, playing ‘Duck, Duck, Goose’ with the inmates. He doesn’t want to play, as he’s a penguin, not a duck or goose. Peabody enters, telling Oswald that it’s fun to participate. Against his best judgment, he stands up and begins to act like a goose.
At the same time, GCPD bring Nora into Arkham and meet Professor Strange. The officers set up around the main gate while Leslie and Nora head off with Peabody. As it turns out, Nora is sharing a sleeping wing with Barbara Kean because of course.
Gordon wants obstacles to keep Victor from entering, including placing a shooter on the roof. Penguin spots Jim and calls out for him. Jim asks for a minute as Oswald tells him about his mental torture, but Jim calls it therapy. Despite his pleas, Penguin is hauled off, screaming that he lied for Jim. And Strange is watching this play out on a monitor.
Bruce takes out his aggression on a punching bag when Alfred enters. Alfred says that they left the city because Bruce is at the end of his emotional rope. He asks Bruce an important question: are they in this together or not? I thought this was established, but Bruce says yes anyway. Alfred does have news: he’s got a friend who did some digging to find any M. Malones that fit their description.
The closest is Patrick Malone, who goes by the nickname ‘Matches’ and committed his first murder at the ripe age of 15. Alfred asks what Bruce plans to do next if they find this man. Well, obviously, Bruce wants him dead, but Alfred says that he’s too young to have a death on his conscience. Alfred knows that Bruce’s parents deserve justice, but he will do the killing, not Bruce. Bruce just wants him to talk.
Back in the medical wing, Leslie calls a sleeping Barbara a bitch because for drama’s sake. Nora awakens to learn she’s in a more secure place than Gotham General. Nora says again that Victor only did terrible things because of her and he believes that the good outweighs the evil of his actions. Leslie tells Nora that she’s stable, but fragile.
Nora laments that she could have saved Victor, but he became more and more obsessed as he went down this dark path. Leslie admits that it’s hard when you love someone: you love who they were and who they can become, so you close your eyes to the truth. Gotham, don’t spell things out like that. Nora asks Leslie if she knows her child’s gender, lamenting that she always wanted a girl. Nora says that Leslie shouldn’t be there, but hey, this isn’t about her.
Outside, a van crashes through Arkham’s gates and into a bus. The driver is frozen to the steering wheel, so it’s not his lucky day. Before the cops can make a move, they hear an alarm from inside Arkham.
Indeed, Victor Fries breaks through the walls in his best Buzz Lightyear costume. He freezes some cops and begins searching for Nora.
Strange, meanwhile, traps some of the police except for Jim, who manages to slip past a closing gate. Fries enters the chamber where Penguin once sat and overhears Strange’s voice. Strange asks what Victor will do once he rescues Nora and tells him about the keys that work for a vehicle by the loading docks. In exchange for Strange keeping the police at bay, Victor must surrender one cartridge of his formula. Victor agrees, leaving the cartridge on the chair.
Jim informs Leslie that Victor is in the building. They have to take Nora with her, but then Victor enters as he freezes one of Jim’s hands. He’ll take it from here. Jim tries to reason with Fries, who has gone through too many lives to give up now. One Nora is safe, he’ll give himself up to the authorities. Leslie counters that Nora could die if she’s moved, so she’ll accompany Victor. Fries seals Jim in a room while he escapes with Leslie and Nora.
Peabody returns the capsule to Strange while Jim escapes the frozen door in no time. He rushes after Victor, but he manages to escape. The others soon join Jim. They realize Victor can’t go home and Nora has to be put on ice. He can still freeze her, but needs a way to keep her frozen. Not without a cryo-chamber, so chances are he’s going home.
We then return to the Fries’ household as Victor tells Leslie that she and the rest of the city will care for Nora while he’s in prison. A tired Nora wants to rest and tells Victor to let her go, but Victor promises her that this will work. He promises to be there for her when she wakes up, for there’s hope as long as she’s alive. Nora agrees, but then asks him to fetch a particular necklace.
While Victor goes off, Nora urges Leslie to leave, but she won’t. As Leslie gets some water, she swaps a canister. Nora saw who Victor became, but she did nothing because she loved him. And Leslie knows what that’s like because of course. Nora thanks Leslie for her kindness just as Victor returns. Nora begs Victor to not blame himself. The two have one final kiss as Victor Fries begins the process of freezing his wife.
Back at Wayne Manor, Selina fails to get the drop on Bruce, as he felt a breeze. After showing her the file, Bruce needs Selina to get him a gun since, yes, he’s going to kill Malone. Selina wonders how Bruce expects to do this, and it’s simple: this guy killed Bruce’s parents. Selina warns Bruce that he won’t ever be the same. Luckily, Bruce is counting on that.
GCPD eventually arrives at Victor and Nora’s home. As Nora’s body begins to crack, Victor finds that Nora switched out the planned cartridge with a failed one. He then hears GCPD calling out for him so there can be no more sadness.
He asks Leslie to tell the police that he’ll do as they say. Leslie agrees, saying that she’s envious of the bond Victor had with his wife. Victor then begins to freeze himself. Jim is the only cop who enters soon after and finds the two frozen bodies.
Following this, Leslie can’t sleep. Hugo Strange called Jim to inform him that Victor died at Arkham and could not be revived. Jim and Leslie bicker over who was put at risk, but then Leslie asks about Galavan and the way he died. The truth isn’t what Jim said because Leslie knows when he’s lying.
Back at Arkham, Penguin is once again strapped in for his Clockwork Orange treatment while Hugo Strange visits his new patient: Victor Fries. Legally, his corpse is in the morgue, but Victor is now in Indian Hill. Hugo introduces himself and finds it astonishing that Victor isn’t dead. His body underwent a transformation and absorbed some of his formula which, in turn, lowered his core body temperature.
Based on this, Victor can only survive in hypothermic temperatures, but never fear. He won’t be here for long. Modifications have been made to his costume. Victor feels that he should have died with Nora, but Hugo tells him to pretend that he did die. Death is not an ending, but rather, a new beginning.
So “A Dead Man Feels No Cold” illustrates an occasional issue I have with Gotham: any attempts at themes and messages are done without subtlety. That doesn’t give viewers much credit when the show, balancing that line between seriousness and silliness, spells out what you can already infer.
While someone could pick up on the obvious similarities between Nora’s relationship with Victor and Leslie’s with Jim, the fact that both have to talk about knowing who someone is, who they may become, and the sacrifices they make for the people in their lives doesn’t let us figure it out for ourselves.
I doubt Nora, in her condition, could have done much to stop Victor from becoming the madman that he is, but he has good intentions. Again, he’s motivated by desperation and will do whatever it takes to save Nora, but his emotions blind him to rational thinking.
I’m being literal when I say that. Like Jim, he’s taking the least bad option. Until Hugo offered him a trade, I’m not even sure Victor had an escape plan or way to ensure Nora’s safety. And no way should he have thought putting Nora’s safety in Gotham City’s hands was a good idea. I get it. Victor is racing against the clock with Nora’s condition. But considering how much work he’s put into tests so far, you’d think he had a final plan for Nora.
And he did, by freezing Nora, but even that went wrong for both of them. I’m guessing Nora didn’t want Victor to spend the rest of his life trying to save her when she was too far gone. So she removes herself from the equation to alleviate her suffering and hopefully set Victor on a path towards redemption. Instead, he’s headed to a darker place.
Another thing Gotham isn’t too subtle about is how characters believe that the good of their questionable actions outweigh the bad. Rarely has that worked on this show. Whether it’s Jim’s decision to keep Penguin alive, Jim hoping to work with Galavan…Jim agreeing to place Nora in Arkham, pretty much half of Jim’s decisions have come back to bite him in the ass.
Now his relationship with Leslie is on the ropes again as she also sees him as a man worth saving from a dark path. She’s smart enough to realize putting Nora in Arkham is a bad idea, but still feels a responsibility to accompany her. This puts her in harm’s way, it’s her decision to make that ended up backfiring when she encountered Victor.
Oh, and what the hell was up with that moment between Leslie and Barbara? First off, convenient enough that a maniac like Barbara would rest next to other inmates, but Leslie’s anger served no purpose for the story. How was this even a scene? Did someone convince Erin Richards that she’d have a big role in this episode for all of a few seconds?
I imagine someone has that same conversation with Camren Bicondiva, since that’s the only reason I figure Selina Kyle keeps popping up in at random points. Selina is funny in this episode. For as many dark things she’s done and how she influenced Bridgit, she still wants to keep Bruce from making a decision that she feels he’ll regret.
But she’s already tried many times to get Bruce out of his shell and make him see the world beyond Wayne Manor. She egged him on to kill Reggie, and now that Bruce is taking a chance to kill, Selina wants to stop him. Wouldn’t she be glad he’s making a conscious decision to take a life on his terms? She already couldn’t save one of her friends, so it’s pointless of her to try with someone like Bruce, who has great incentive to go after his parents’ killer.
We don’t spend much time with Bruce, but I like how newfound resolve to find his parents’ murderer. The abduction by Theo and deception from Silver have given him a new outlook where he’s blurring the lines between justice and vengeance. But again, Gotham’s lack of subtlety means Bruce has to spell out feeling like he can balance two different personalities.
As with the previous episode, I found Hugo Strange to be the most interesting because he seems to keep tabs on everyone. Though overhearing Jim and Penguin talk may have been of convenience, Strange has an incentive to keep Victor around so he can use his serum and later unleash him on Gotham City.
“A Dead Man Feels No Cold” was a decent enough follow-up to Victor and Nora Fries’ debut. While I still don’t feel the level of anguish here that I did with “Heart of Ice,” both characters are presented as tragic and under pressure with Victor doing whatever it takes to save Nora. In the end, he failed for now, but Strange has plans for him. Meanwhile, Jim and Gordon’s relationship is again on rocky territory. Bruce’s return is a welcome one since he’s had some time to mature, but now to see if and how he exacts vengeance against Malone.