Spoiler warning: Do not read on unless you’ve seen the “Gotham” midseason finale, titled “Worse Than a Crime.”
As one chapter of “Gotham’s” Rise of the Villains story arc closes with the apparent death of Theo Galavan (James Frain), another opens — with the final minutes of the Nov. 30 fall finale introducing an altogether chillier enemy from the Batman pantheon: Mr. Freeze.
“House of Cards” alum Nathan Darrow is playing Victor Fries, and while he’s a far cry (thankfully) from Arnold Schwarzenegger’s controversial big screen iteration of the character in 1997’s “Batman and Robin,” it’s clear from the episode’s closing moments that he still presents quite a threat, thanks to his freeze gun.
According to Fox’s character description, “Though ferociously smart and eminently capable in his work as one of Gotham’s preeminent cryogenics engineers, Victor struggles to make meaningful connections with others. The one exception is his wife, Nora (Kristen Hager), who has tragically fallen ill with a terminal disease. Victor’s love for Nora knows no bounds, so as her condition worsens, he goes to extreme measures to figure out a way to freeze her before she dies. This harrowing journey leads to his transformation into the legendary DC villain, Mr. Freeze.”
We won’t have to wait long to learn more about the frosty foe, since “Gotham” exec producer John Stephens told Variety sister site TVLine that “we’re going to be telling a heavy Freeze story in Episodes 12 and 13.” Episode 12 is the show’s midseason premiere, debuting February 29.
Darrow recently spoke to USA Today about his experience stepping into the boots of the iconic Batman baddie, and he shared a couple of hints about the character: “Victor has one central intimate human connection, and that’s with his wife. There’s something really, really interesting and vulnerable and difficult about that,” he teased. “He’s pretty focused on what he’s doing. He is on a very special, independent project. I feel like he does go to work each day, but I think he gets time to work from home and it feels like his bosses are OK with that because he’s specially talented and he’s working on something that could be potentially of great value for who he works for. So he’s pretty much involved in this pursuit and it’s rather solitary, as you might imagine.”
The midseason finale also took a trip back to Indian Hill, the secret Wayne Enterprises-funded research facility that’s hidden under a toxic waste dump, where we last saw a severely burned Bridgit Pike (aka Firefly) being taken in for testing. This week, Theo Galavan was the latest subject, and the doctors didn’t seem too concerned by the fact that he was dead, having been beaten by Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor) and shot in the head by Jim before having Penguin’s umbrella shoved down his throat.
But Theo’s potential return wasn’t even the most fascinating revelation in those closing moments — it was the mention of another iconic Batman villain: Hugo Strange, namedropped by one of the doctors who, upon Theo’s arrival ominously noted, “Professor Strange has high hopes for this one.”
What does that mean, and what is Strange planning for the inhabitants of Indian Hill? We’ll find out when “Gotham” returns for the second half of its sophomore season on February 29.