DCAU #91: Second Chance

IN THIS ONE... Someone has it is for Harvey Dent and won't let a crucial facial reconstruction on Two-Face happen.

CREDITS: Written by Gerry Conway, Paul Dini and Michael Reaves; directed by Boyd Kirkland.

Another story of failed reform, this one hinges on Two-Face getting reconstructive surgery to complete his therapy and "kill" the Big Bad Harv persona, but he gets kidnapped right out of the operating room and Batman and Robin must track down who's holding him. They split up - and there's a bit of manufactured conflict between them that's unnecessary and annoying at that point - and each get into trouble with their mark. Robin is caught by Thorne's goons and almost thrown off a bridge, while Batman is almost owned by Penguin's trained pigeons when they push him off the ledge of his cell. In each case, and in their combined actions at the start and end of the episode, the Dynamic Duo bounces back from these challenges with impressive stunts punctuated by strong, subtle expressions. This is an intense episode with lots of great bits, and you believe the danger as much as the solutions. (And hey, speaking of reality, have TV standards changed so that they can use real pistols instead of retro tommies, etc.?)

Making Thorne and Penguin real threats is key to making you not think of the actual solution until just before it's revealed. But of course, Two-Face kidnapped himself. HE'S the one who doesn't want Harvey Dent to be free of his malign presence. It's a nice reveal, and Batman's ultimate scheme is to pass Two-Face a trick coin that always falls on its edge, which completely paralyzes him. Obsessed, he lets the heroes escape and his men get trounced while he runs after a rolling coin right off a different edge. The climax, with Two-Face both holding on to Batman's hand for dear life and punching him with the other is a perfect encapsulation of his psychology and of his relationship to Batman/Bruce Wayne.

It's a nice little production too, with noticeably good sound design - the musical cues, the eerie wind blowing through the final act - and interesting shots like Batman's POV at the Batcycle's controls. Good lighting cues throughout, percussive action, vertiginous falls... A thoroughly exciting episode.

IN THE COMICS: Fixing Harvey Dent's face to restore his sanity has happened in the comics on more than one occasion, but it always ends the same - either by someone re-scarring him, or his psychosis reasserting itself and doing it himself.

REWATCHABILITY: High - Two-Face brings out the best in the show's writers, and every aspect of the production has shown up to give its 100%.


LiamKav said...

I agree about the manufactured conflict. Robin apologises for his failure, Batman says "I'm sure you did your best", and then Robin gets all pissy. It might be that Batman's remark was supposed to come across as more sarcastic/angry, but it sounds about as genuine as you'd expect, especially given that these are especially stressful circumstances. It doesn't help that Robin then goes and gets captured because he wasn't checking behind him. Not your finest moments, Dick.

On the other hand, bouncing the batarang off the wall to hit the elevator button was extremely cool, and probably enough to make up for it.

They re-animated Two-Face rather than just re-using the original (extremely nice) animation. Maybe because of the change in companies (the original was TMS, whereas this episode is Doug Yang. It still looks great, and they add in a lovely panning shot of Thorne running away. (Weirdly, he's also kept in shadow, as if to not confuse people as to who he is. I say weird, because he turns up later in the episode, so you'd think making it clearer who he is would help.) They also change the "nooo", which was always the weakest part of that sequence.

The whole car chase is gorgeously animated, by the way. Doug Yang have always been one of the top animation companies on this series, but at points there they reach TMS levels of quality. I guess by this point in the series it's easy to take them for granted. With the removal of Akom and tighter controls from Timm et al, almost every episode looks amazing.

So yeah, great episode. Interesting how BTAS(and the DCAU) continues to move from individual stories to creating a continuity that plays off prior ones, something that will only increase.


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