The Batman Series in Review-Season 2

And so I begin the next round of reviews for "The Batman", this time for what it is to me the second best of all the seasons: Season 2. Let's dive right into it:

And so I begin the next round of reviews for "The Batman", this time for what it is to me the second best of all the seasons: Season 2. Let's dive right into it:

S201: The Cat, The Bat, and the Very Ugly

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Season 2 opens on a relatively light/fun note, which is perhaps only right given the bittersweet note Season 1 ended on. While Catwoman planning to betray Penguin and break his heart only to then act offended when he betrays her first is this version of the character at her most unlikable, it's quickly amended when she's forced to work with Batman after they're chained together, at which point she shifts back to her more fun, banter-heavy self. Ignoring for a moment how ridiculously easy it was for them to knock Batman out in the first place, the pay-off is as good as expected. Seeing Batman and Catwoman work together usually makes me happy, and this time is no different. The addition of them being chained together is especially fun for how it forces them to work together in a particular way (for instance they can't ever go too far from one another, which affects their fighting styles and forces them to improvise).

As was the case in her debut episode, Catwoman is in top form where all aspects of the character are concerned: fighting skill, sex appeal, and above all, snark. I especially love her "he gives his number to all the girls" line, as well as this:

Catwoman: You read Ancient Egyptian?

Batman: The pictures help.

The action remains just as good as always. The battle on the lighthouse is the obvious highlight, and given that I'm not crazy about the Kabuki Twins, I can't exactly claim to mind seeing them get a beatdown from my two favorite DC characters.

Penguin for his part is at his arguably most menacing and evil in this episode, given that he's not only trying to use a solar-powered super-laser to blackmail all of Gotham, but also threatens to blow up a children's hospital just to get his foes to stand down. A pretty cliched villain move, threatening to destroy a building full of kids, but I don't think we really expected anything less from Penguin. As it is, I like that it was technically Catwoman who saved said children's hospital by using her whip to grab one of the statues powering the weapon. I suppose you could be cynical and argue that it was just because she wanted the statue for herself, but I prefer to think that it was at least partially because she had some scruples.

The ending is a bit disappointing (and hard to imagine considering the mutual betrayals and resentment Penguin and Catwoman have for each-other at this point), but a somewhat sub-par finish doesn't detract too much from the meat of this episode. As I've noted before and elsewhere, a good Batman/Catwoman team-up story is liable to get my vote, and this fits the bill.

Final Grade: A-

S202: Riddled

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"Bravo! Someone is very bright. Step into the light...so The Riddler, can see you."

Robert Englund is an awesome Riddler. It's such a true statement that it deserves to be said right away. While his design is definitely a bit on the weird side and to me inferior to the classy green tuxedo with bowler hat and purple mask, it's better than his goofy Pre-Crisis outfit, and in any event, it matters little, because Robert Englund is an awesome Riddler. He nails the character's taunting, narcissistic, "I'm smarter than you" quality dead-on, but while making him a simultaneously fun and menacing villain, rather than an annoying or insufferable one. Kudos to the show also for giving some legitimately good riddles for Riddler to use (which every good Riddler story needs). The "riddle with no answer" was especially good, and it was a nice touch for Batman to note that Riddler can't resist leaving riddles or clues even when he shouldn't, and that he leaves them within other riddles. Another great moment is in the climax, where Riddler has gone berserk and is screaming out random yes/no questions to Batman while simultaneously trying to kill him.

Besides it's home-run take on Riddler though, this episode was a good showing for Ellen Yin. Even granting that Batman did most of the brainwork in this episode, Yin still distinguished herself multiple times, also impressing with her willingness to let herself be tortured to protect Batman's secret. She gets to kick some butt too. Chief Rojas meanwhile, is made even more painfully stupid than before, which makes him look more pathetic than amusing. But, the character was already designed on purpose to be as unlikable as possible, so it's not as if we're really lamenting the writing decision. Still, it's hard to imagine that any police chief could be so stupid, even a sub-par one.

This episode is noteworthy for making use of a large variety of different sets, but the underground databanks is obviously the best one. The action is okay, but not the show's best, especially considering Riddler and his goons bring Batman down and capture him way too easily. But, that low showing for Batman aside, the action's serviceable. But really, this is a rare case where the action takes a bit of a back-seat to the mind games, but it wouldn't be a good Riddler story otherwise. And not every episode could be action-centric.

In all, this episode did a fantastic job introducing it's special take on The Riddler. I think I might be prepared to say that this is the single best cartoon Riddler I've yet seen discounting his portrayal in the "Assault on Arkham" animated movie. Even the BtAS version is not unambiguously better in my mind (though that is also a great portrayal). This one's a winner in my book, and along with the previous episode, a good start for a season filled to the brim with excellent episodes.

Final Grade: A

S203: Fire and Ice

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This was a fun episode just for the change in scenery, or more accurately, the change in weather. You rarely see seasons change in cartoons and comics except for holiday specials. So to see a non-Christmas episode set in the dead of winter is nice. Mr. Freeze and Firefly teaming up is also fun, even if they're turning on each-other at the end is painfully predictable. I like the irony of how Firefly would be in on a plan involving freezing a city, and his laid-back and flippant nature contrasts nicely with Mr. Freeze's utter lack of a sense of humor beyond occasional sadism (which is also on full display in this episode).

I do find it kind of ridiculous that Batman wasn't vaporized by an oil-filled truck getting blown up though.

That nitpick aside, I enjoyed this episode well enough. As I've mentioned in my review of "The Big Chill", I don't like this Mr. Freeze's characterization anywhere near as much as his characterizations elsewhere, but everything else about him is cool, and that continues to be the case here. His plan is fairly uninspired (freeze all of Gotham, what a shock), but at least the manner in which he tries to go about it is fairly well-thought out. And, the action is good as always.

Honestly though, I think it was actually some stuff not involving the villains that I liked best about this episode. Yin realizing that Bruce really does care about his charity work was a nice, quieter moment between the two, and almost makes you wish that something had come of their relationship beyond being partners in crime-fighting. The scene of the police (except for the ever-imbecilic Rojas), applauding Batman was a nice moment as well. Batman may not be the celebrity that Superman is in-universe, but that doesn't mean it's not nice to see him get the respect and admiration that he deserves.

Basically, as a "Mr. Freeze teams up with another villain to threaten all of Gotham" type story goes, this beats the pants off "Batman and Robin".

Final Grade: B+

S204: The Laughing Bat

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Gimmicky, thy name is "The Batman". But, when the gimmicks are fun (and they usually are in this show), who am I to say no?

This episode definitely goes for a blatant gimmick with Joker deciding to impersonate Batman. But, once again, it's the show doing a fun gimmick. Joker as a wannabe Batman who is really just as twisted and sadistic in the batsuit as he is out of it was a fun twist, and the writers clearly enjoyed themselves having Joker torment the most minor offenses imaginable under the disguise of "heroism". I also have to admit that there is something kind of cool about seeing Joker in the Batman costume, and of two Batmen duking it out (a concept the DCAU did twice with the HARDAC Batman episode and the Justice Lord two-parter "A Better World"). An especially nice touch is that we also get a special Joker variant of the "suit up" montages that this cartoon is so fond of (and ones I've neglected to mention up to this point).

Penguin's inclusion felt almost entirely arbitrary to me, though there was admittedly some comedic pay-off from it (I still feel that they could have afforded to have him show up just a little less often though). The three-way fight between Batman, Joker-Batman, and Penguin was certainly fun, and almost makes one wish that more three-way fights had shown up in the cartoon.

Less entertaining though, was Bruce Wayne steadily being turned into a new Joker. They were clearly trying to go for "funny" with that, but Joker as Batman already has a lot of comedic value, and tacking on Bruce Wayne laughing hysterically with a wide-eyed, open-mouthed smile that's more goofy than disturbing feels a bit too much. That we also never got to see Bruce Wayne or Batman adopt Joker's color scheme also feels like a wasted opportunity. What a cool visual would it have been, to see a Jokerized Batman fighting Joker dressed up as Batman? But instead, the premise of Batman becoming Joker as a counter to Joker becoming Batman, was wasted.

Still, that missed opportunity and unnecessary attempt at humor aside, this was a fun enough episode. Joker running around in a Batman costume obviously couldn't have stuck around for long, but as a one-off thing it's pretty fun. This will also not be the last time Joker has a one-off gimmick, as he gets another one in Season 3 (but that's for another blog!)

Final Grade: B+

S205: Swamped

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Yes, I know, that picture is awful, but it was all I could find for this episode. Fortunately, the episode in question was anything but awful.

Once again, we get a take on a major Batman villain that's fairly different from the norm. But in this case, it really serves the character. Killer Croc in the comics was long a pathetic, incompetent, and often just plain dumb jobber who got his butt kicked by everyone from Batman, Wildcat, and Bane without Venom, to the likes of Harley Quinn, Huntress, and even Two-Face. There's a reason why hardly anyone here on Comicvine takes him even remotely seriously.

This take on Killer Croc though, is something different. Not only is he a much more worthy foe for Batman where combat is concerned, but he's also got brains to complement the brawn. His scheme in this episode is the most intelligent I've ever seen Killer Croc (though his debut episode in BtAS also gave us a smart Croc), and Ron Pearlman also does an admirable job giving Croc a deceptively friendly Southern accent and speech patterns, that only add to his menace. I love that he has a tail here too, which is only right for a humanoid crocodile monster. In all, this may just be my single favorite take on Killer Croc ever (rivaled only by the Arkhamverse portrayal in this respect).

Even outside of that, the writing in this episode just feels "smarter" for lack of a better word. Not that the writing in earlier episodes was dumb by any stretch (though it was usually fairly simplistic and straightforward), but this episode still feels like it had an especially tight script. One that portrays both Croc and Batman as people with brains and brawn (as shown with how Batman beats Croc in the end). The visual of a flooded Gotham City that Batman and his enemies are traversing in ski-boats is really cool, especially given how the water level is so high that the upper halves of buildings are now all that's visible. Also praise-worthy in the visuals department is Batman's wetsuit, which frankly is the costume I wish he wore as his default. It's a much better looking outfit than the underwear-on-the-front look.

This episode also begins the longstanding tradition in Batman lore of the Batcave being filled with trophies taken from the villains, which is yet another point in it's favor. In all, this episode is a winner, and one of the best of this or any season. DC should really get around to making comic book Croc more like this one (if they haven't already).

Final Grade: A

S206: Pets

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Oh look, another Penguin episode. But also one with a fun twist, as well as the second (and last), major appearance of Man-Bat on the show.

If I had to name the moment when Penguin in this show went from fairly menacing villain to mostly comic-relief, it would be this episode. Having said that, unlike most of Penguin's comic-relief appearances in this show, this one is actually funny. At risk to my credibility, Penguin's lecturing/browbeating each of his pet birds one by one was kind of funny, and the notion of him controlling Man-Bat via a sonic-emitter device was interesting enough. I also did like the brief interaction between Penguin and Langstrom, and the clear fun Penguin has in having a giant bat monster at his literal beck and call.

The action scenes are as good as they were in the first Man-Bat episode, and in fact I prefer the way this episode ends: with Batman taking control of Man-Bat and turning him on Penguin in a particularly satisfying "shoe is on the other foot" type moment. The touch-and-go that comes before that, with Batman having to play keep-away from Man-Bat in a fairly enclosed area, is also a good action scene.

On the weaker side of things, the B-plot of a raccoon that finds it's way into the Batcave is an attempt at humor that just falls flat. I didn't find it painfully bad or anything like that, but I also wasn't laughing, or even chuckling. Again, Penguin's yelling at his pet birds was funnier than anything involving the raccoon, which to me felt almost like the episode's attempt at padding due to not having enough with the Man-Bat/Penguin story to fill their 22 minutes.

But, that one quibble aside, this is a fun enough episode. Maybe it's just my soft spot for Man-Bat, but I really liked this one, and in fact regard it as a bit stronger than the first Man-Bat episode, if only because of it's superior ending and less of the Kirk Langstrom I view as a step-down from the classic version.

Final Grade: B+

S207: Meltdown

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Greg Weisman returns to give us another episode featuring the Clayface he helped to create. This episode proves a major turning point in Ethan Bennet's story, and while a subsequent episode did try to undo the damage done in this installment, there's still a good, tragic punch to this tale.

Admittedly, Ethan's embracing of Clayface and rejection of his old self seems just a little forced (basically chalked up to the idea that the more he uses the power, the more addicted he becomes to it, almost like a Jedi using the Dark Side). But, it's not so contrived that I'm not still buying Ethan Bennet's fall from grace. If "The Clayface of Tragedy" was a bittersweet ending, this episode ends on a full-on downer note. In fact, this episode has an arguably sadder ending than any other one in the series. Yin being forced to take down her now feral and villainous former friend is a poignant moment, and Ethan's struggle to resist the dark temptation before slowly but surely succumbing is well done enough that even if it is a little forced, it's still mostly believable. It works because we want Ethan to do the right thing and succeed, so his failure to do so is especially tragic.

Switching gears before I risk rehashing what I've already said, this is also another good Joker episode. His viewing Clayface as a sort of symbolic "son" speaks to a recurring theme in Greg Weisman's works (Thailog as a "son" to Goliath, Superboy as a "son" to Superman, etc.), but it does actually work here. And having Joker as the devil on Ethan Bennet's shoulder is only right for obvious reasons. And while I wouldn't want to see those "Stilt-Man"-esque extending mechanical legs to become a recurring thing, they work as a one-off gimmick (something this version of Joker is very fond of). I also love his sarcastic "they grow up so fast" line towards the end of the episode.

For some other good moments, the trial of Ethan Bennet, which was a nice change of pace for the show (more courtroom drama in Batman's world would not be unwelcome methinks), Batman briefly remembering his slain parents when Clayface/Ethan appeals to his desire for justice, and the big fight scene in the elevator shaft (and also just the action in general, as Clayface lends himself so well to fight scenes).

Final Grade: A

S208: JTV

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Two Joker episodes in a row? Fair enough, when they're this good.

Once again, Joker brings a specific gimmick to the table, but it's also a pretty brilliant one from a writing perspective. The Joker turning his crimes into a demented and deliberately horrible TV show is a pretty fun twist, and has more than a few moments of comedic pay-off. The "Me and the Mayor" segment alone is pretty funny, and I do also appreciate the references to the 1960s Batman show sprinkled throughout the episode: from Adam West's Mayor Grange being a major character in the episode, to Joker's "same Joker-Crime, same Joker-Channel" line, to the "Biff!" "Pow!" sound effects in the construction site battle, this whole episode feels almost like a love-letter to that iconic (and extremely corny), show. I may not love the 1960s Batman show, but I can still appreciate a well-done love-letter like this one.

Once again, Kevin Michael Richardson gives a great performance as the Joker. Joker is a perfect character for this sort of story, and KMR gives the appropriate level of hamminess as the villain basks in his own self-created spotlight.

Also noteworthy is Alfred's quips in this episode, which are especially good:

(After Joker first announces his JTV): "Shall I tape it for you, sir?"

(When Batman asks him how things are going): "The Gators are trailing miserably, sir"

But, for all of the fun that Joker running his own TV show brings, plus reliably good action and some especially strong humor all around, there is one major flaw to this episode; and that is Ellen Yin's one-time new partner. I get that he's supposed to add to the comic relief, but...he doesn't. He's annoying. Insufferable, even. I'm well aware that that was a deliberate move on the writer's part, but it was also clearly deliberate that he be funny, and he just isn't. Almost like the show's Jar-Jar Binks, he's an obnoxious and irritating (and incompetent), waste of space whose simply not as funny as he's intended to be. Truth be told, I actually kind of wanted the dose of laughing gas he got from Joker to be fatal, especially since it would have prevented his horribly misguided return appearance in Season 3 (not looking forward to talking about that).

But, not even the pretentious idiot cop can ruin an otherwise fun Joker episode. Even with it's seemingly light tone, the Joker's sadism and cruelty still shine through, but that's why it's such a good episode for the character; it captures that right balance of humor and horror that makes the Joker one of the best villains ever. And for me personally, that's my money's worth.

Final Grade: B+

S209: Ragdolls to Riches

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Who'd have thought an episode involving Ragdoll of all characters would get my vote?

In fairness, it's really more to do with Catwoman's presence, but having said that, Ragdoll may not be the coolest of Batman villains, but the episode did a great job writing him as an "Affably Evil" lovable rogue, whose also voiced pitch-perfectly by Jeff Bennet. All of this is of course to make him more of a rival to Catwoman, and it does work. Everything about him from his outwardly sophisticated and friendly tone, to his greed, to his lean and slick nature, make him seem like the evil(er) counterpart to Catwoman, and that also highlights the rivalry they have in this episode. Honestly, I like this take on Ragdoll better than the Complete Monster he is in the comics (a role much more well-suited to Joker and Black Mask).

For her part, Catwoman finally gets to meet and interact with Bruce Wayne as Selina Kyle. Not much comes of it, but it's still nice to see, and much like with Bruce Wayne and Yin's scene in the "Fire and Ice" episode, one really feels from watching it that the show had the opportunity to tell a good love story (or two), and totally missed it. I've never liked it when Batman is made celibate, and this is no exception. Especially when (again), this episode does a nice job of teasing a growing attraction/fascination on Bruce's end without there ever being a real follow-up. Disappointing, but not really this episode's fault.

As it is, Catwoman is as good here as ever, and in fact I can pretty easily say this is the best of her (sadly limited) appearances in the show by far. I particularly love how the episode ends with a delightful subversion of expectations. Call me cynical, but I for one fully expected the show to go the predictable route, and have Selina make off with the money like a true thief-to-the-core. But, to my (and Bruce's) pleasant surprise, she actually donated the money and in turn rewarded Bruce's faith in her. A nice moment, and one more thing that makes the lack of any real follow-up for Catwoman's story in the series very disappointing. That she also chose to not run off with the jewels when Batman demanded she give them to him earlier, is also to her credit (even if she did it very begrudgingly).

Finally, I would be remiss to not mention the fight scene inside the clock-tower, which to me is easily one of the five best action scenes in the entire series. The setting is great, the back-and-forth game of "keep away"/hot potato with the jewels is incredibly fun, and it's also an excellent three-way fight that sees Batman, Catwoman, and Ragdoll taking turns duking it out among themselves, and having temporary alliances against the common foe. Even the fact that it goes on for a while doesn't bother me, because it deserves to. This is a Batman cartoon that is heavy on the action (as I've already noted), so for this one action scene to be one of the Top 5 is saying a lot.

In all, this is (as I've already noted), the best Catwoman episode in the show by far, and proof positive that she should have shown up more, and her story with Bruce/Batman develop more than it did. Her subsequent appearance unfortunately, goes in a much poorer direction, and her final appearance doesn't amount to much. But, at least we got this episode. And it's a gem.

Final Grade: A

S210: The Butler Did It

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This was a very trippy episode, one that made good use of a minor Batman villain, and also gave Alfred a little bit more to do (even if most of it was technically in service to a villain controlling him).

First off, I love the design they gave Spellbinder, and the voice actor did a terrific job giving him an appropriately cold-blooded and soulless tone that added to his ghost-like design and mystical powers. The illusions he summons also gave the animators an excuse to cut loose and put in all manner of things that wouldn't normally fly in the setting, such as a fire breathing dragon and flaming demon monkeys. It's very off-kilter, fun stuff. A case could be made that Batman overcomes Spellbinder a little too quickly and easily in the end, but it's still a fun acid trip that he gets put on in the meantime.

A good thing too, since the plot of the episode is actually nothing special. Spellbinder's motives are pretty ho-hum/stock for a villain, and he is ultimately more interesting for his powers, design, and backstory than any kind of deep or compelling motives. His mind controlling rich people's butlers to steal from their bosses is an interesting idea, and it did put Batman in the unenviable (but interesting), position of having to fight his longtime friend.

I will say though, that the scene where Alfred solves the mystery of who Spellbinder is and how he's going about doing what he's doing, is kind of corny, in the sense that Alfred says the whole thing out loud for the audience's benefit, but with no clear in-universe explanation for why he would blurt out such a lengthy bit of exposition to an empty room. I get that it would have been tough to convey it any other way, but perhaps having it be Alfred's inner thoughts rather than him saying it out loud? Just an idea.

In any case, that's my only real quibble with this episode. Otherwise, it's a solid, fun episode that is (again), a nicely trippy adventure for Batman, and thus a fun change of pace. It's not every day that Batman fights more mystically-oriented villains, so that alone makes it stand out.

Final Grade: B+

S211: Grundy's Night

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Batman needs more Halloween stories.

No, seriously. Given the nature of the character and his city, Batman is the most perfect superhero there is for a Halloween-based story. In fact, "The Long Halloween" is generally considered one of the best Batman stories ever, so I think that goes a long way towards proving my point. And so does this episode (even if it is, admittedly, no "Long Halloween").

I used to not like Solomon Grundy very much, but I've since warmed up to him as a character. I think I prefer him as a Batman villain then as a Justice League or Superman villain, and I especially love this episode's take on the character. Not only is his design pretty good (going for a less "I'm Evil-DC Hulk!" look), but I also found his backstory very interesting. I'm a history geek almost as much as I am a superhero one (and that includes fictional histories as well as real-life ones), so an origin story rooted in Gotham City's 19th Century history is going to get my attention. It was interesting, and also recasting Grundy as more of a "supernatural avenger" instead of an evil expy of the Hulk, and the former is to me more compelling (even though I can live with the latter too).

Of course, the big reveal is that Solomon Grundy is really just Clayface in disguise, a twist I admittedly didn't see coming and for my money works as not only a legitimate surprise, but also a clever writing move. Certainly Clayface's reasons for doing it are pretty well justified, and it also gives the story a nice "unmasking the culprit" feel. From there, the episode becomes another Batman Vs. Clayface affair, but the setting of a horror-oriented wax figure museum makes it feel fresh (along with the fact that, for once the Joker is not involved in Clayface's activities).

You also can't go wrong with Alfred dressing up as Sherlock Holmes, however briefly.

In all, this was a fun episode, and one that reinforces my belief that Batman is the best superhero by far to do Halloween stories for.

Final Grade: A

S212: Strange Minds

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Now this was a very fun episode.

Not that the other episodes were not fun, mind you. But this one still stands out. The notion of Batman going inside the Joker's mind is the kind of premise that immediately gets one's attention, and just thinking of what the Joker's demented imagination is like on the inside causes our own to go wild with possibilities. It's clear that Greg Weisman had a ton of fun writing this episode, giving us a look inside the Joker's head that's plenty twisted and crazy, but still managing to be darkly amusing and entertaining, as is only right for the character (again, that balance of humor and horror is key for the Joker). From Joker's face being on the moon (and talking to Batman), the streets and opera house being filled with Joker copies, peeled off mouths laughing on their own, a Joker chicken asking Hugo Strange why he does in fact, cross the road, and Gotham City re-imagined as Joker's personal domain, there was a lot of loving, manic detail put into this interpretation of the Joker's mind. Special mention should also be given to the brief glimpse we get of the Joker before he became the Joker, which was a particularly nice touch.

This episode is also noteworthy for being the first real appearance of Hugo Strange sans the earlier episode with Clayface. He's definitely plenty over-the-top himself, but still a solid take on the character. Honestly, he may be a lot "heavier" here, but his characterization is actually pretty close to the comic version, right down to his unhealthy obsession with Batman (as revealed at the end of the episode).

But perhaps one of the best parts of the episode, is when Batman turns the tables on Joker and tricks him into unintentionally revealing Yin's whereabouts to him. It's a great moment in how it fools the audience as much as it does the Joker (or at least is supposed to). It's always nice to see Batman make use of his wits as well as his fighting skill, and this is one such moment.

And, because I find it hilarious, a particular high-light of the episode:

(After Hugo Strange enters Joker's mind and notices "kid Joker")

Hugo Strange: Little boy, come here! I have questions to ask you!

Random Joker Copy #1: He didn't even ask about Yin-In-The-Box!

Random Joker Copy #2: What's with that?

Final Grade: A

S213: Night and the City

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Given how good the Clayface two-parter that ended Season 1 was, Season 2 was going to have a tough act to follow. But "Night and the City" is just as good as that two-parter, and also stands on it's own as a one-part finale that introduces some big changes to the status quo of "The Batman". It is also (sadly), the final appearance of Ellen Yin, but more on that later.

Firstly, the three-way contest between Joker, Penguin, and Riddler was a very fun premise, as the three of them each tried to first remake a section of Gotham in their own image, and then each took turns trying to bring down Batman, all the while making use of whatever advantages they could. The brief face-off between the Kabuki Twins and Punch and Judy was an especially nice little touch, as was Penguin and Joker teaming up against Riddler and his men.

That Ellen Yin's alliance with Batman was exposed, and Rojas' irrational hatred of Batman escalated to the point that he was devoting more energy and resources to chasing him instead of the villains, added to the tension as Batman and Yin found themselves truly alone and on the run with so many different parties gunning for them. Add to that the power-outage Gotham gets hit with, and there's a nice sense of the deck being stacked against our two heroes. There was never a good time for Yin to lose her badge and she and Batman to become full-blown fugitives, but with Gotham's three A-List supervillains all duking it out for Batman's head and cutting the power, it comes at the worst possible time, and from a writing perspective that's just brilliant.

Of course, the two come out pretty unscathed in the end, but even so, the sense of tension and overwhelming odds is still there, and the final fight on Riddler's boat is pretty well-done as Batman and Yin work together to bring down all three of his arch-foes (who also do a pretty good job of bringing each-other down too).

And of course, how can we not mention the introduction of James Gordon and the Bat-Signal? (Discounting a flashback cameo by the former earlier). Two of the most iconic parts of Batman's world finally make their debut on the show, and while purists may grumble that they weren't there from the start, I think their inclusion here is pretty organic and well-done, and I don't think that the show was at all the lesser for having waited to include Gordon and the Bat-Signal. It's especially nice to see Gordon finally shut down the bumbling Rojas and give Ellen Yin her badge back.

Which leads me to those changes to the status quo: Gordon is now the major police ally to Batman that he always is elsewhere. The Bat-Signal now shines in the sky. And Ellen Yin lost her badge only to get it back after Rojas is at last swept aside. The only downside? This is the very last we see of Ellen Yin.

While I do understand that having both her and Gordon as "Batman's main police ally" would seem a bit redundant, and Batgirl would soon become Batman's new female partner in crime-fighting, even so, I do wish that Yin had been written out of the show much more organically than she was. Instead, after this episode, she vanishes without a trace and is never even mentioned again except in the episode "Artifacts". It's very disappointing, and more than that, jarring. I understand that Yin's story arc had sort of run it's course by this episode, but again, they should have at least tried to give some reason for why she was gone. It wouldn't have taken much. And it's that lack of an effort that frustrates me.

But, none of that is this episode's fault. No, this episode gives Ellen Yin's story a pretty good conclusion, and it's also just a very well done episode in general. Definitely ending Season 2 on a high note.

Final Grade: A

Overall:

Season 2 was, perhaps unsurprisingly, an improvement over Season 1. While Season 1 was not bad by any means, Season 2 was still stronger on the whole: the animation was at least good if not slightly better, the same was true of the action, and the stories were overall better, more well-written, and just plain more interesting. This season also introduced fantastic takes on Riddler and Killer Croc, a fairly comic-accurate Hugo Strange, and even a solid Ragdoll! Add to that it's containing the best of Catwoman's episodes by far, a solid (and tragic) Clayface episode, a well-done Halloween episode, a very well done "Batman in Joker's mind" episode, and an excellent finale that changes up the status quo for the show, and you've got a superior season. One of the two best in the show's run, in fact.

Final Grade: A-

Top 10 Episodes:

1. Night and the City

2. Ragdolls to Riches

3. Strange Minds

4. Riddled

5. Swamped

6. Grundy's Night

7. Meltdown

8. The Cat, the Bat, and the Very Ugly

9. Pets

10. Fire and Ice

And that's all for now. The next blog, will take a slight detour away from the main show, and review the (excellent) tie-in movie: The Batman Vs. Dracula.

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