The 5 Best Episodes of Batman: The Animated Series

In Comics, General
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I grew up on Batman: The Animated Series, watching every single episode growing up but I hadn’t seen an episode in several years so decided that needed to change. I recently tackled it in its entirety courtesy of the lovely people over at Netflix and thought I’d pick out 5 of the episodes that I jumped out as me as the picks of the bunch. 

Heart of Ice

Story: Paul Dini
Director: Bruce Timm

Synopsis: Bitter scientist Victor Fries, as Mr. Freeze, attacks several divisions of GothCorp, each time stealing a piece for a secret weapon he intends to build. Batman investigates the connections, and discovers that the start of Freeze’s vendetta against GothCorp was a bitter falling out between Fries and GothCorp’s CEO, Ferris Boyle (Mark Hamill), during which Boyle almost killed Fries (mutating him into Freeze) and presumably killed Fries’ terminally ill wife, Nora. Batman must find a way to bring Boyle to justice before Freeze carries out his revenge.

Thoughts: “Heart of Ice,” is one of the most tragic tales of “Batman: The Animated Series,” and by far the best of them. We see a scientist trying to save his wife with experimental technology destroyed by his boss and in the process losing all ability to physically feel. There is a reason this episode has won awards before.

Almost Got ‘Im

Story: Paul Dini
Director: Eric Radomski

Synopsis: Joker, Killer Croc, Penguin, Two-Face, and Poison Ivy all meet at a poker table, each telling a tale of times when they almost defeated Batman. At the same time, Harley Quinn is about to kill Catwoman. Will Batman be able to save her?

Thoughts: Told in the style of “The Canterbury Tales,” the villains Two-Face, Penguin, Poison Ivy, Joker and Killer Croc recount their exploits on how they almost killed Batman. You clearly see why Penguin, Two-Face, Poison Ivy and the Joker are the strongest of the popular rogues. The dynamic between them all consists of a crazy combination of jealousy, animosity and friendship is a good watch.

Two-Face (Pt 1 & pt 2)

Story: Alan Burnett and Randy Rogel
Director: Kevin Altieri
Synopsis: PT 1 – Mobster Rupert Thorne attempts to use Harvey Dent’s secret split personality to blackmail him. But when Dent meets with Thorne at a chemical plant, “Big Bad Harv” takes over, and the resulting confrontation leads to an explosion that horribly scars half of Dent’s face. PT 2 – Harvey Dent, now calling himself Two-Face, resurfaces and starts robbing Rupert Thorne’s illegal businesses, preparing for a final confrontation with the crime boss, and Batman must stop his former friend before he and Thorne kill each other.

Thoughts: “Two-Face,” is one of the greatest tragedies of this series because in the beginning he was a well intentioned District Attorney who we see as a flawed but good person through his friendship with Bruce Wayne. It makes Rupert Thorne’s blackmail of him all the more powerful since he uses Harvey’s past and vulnerabilities against him, which in turn creates a monster who becomes one of the best of Gotham’s finest villains.

Joker’s Favor

Story: Paul Dini
Director: Boyd Kirkland
Synopsis: After a man named Charlie Collins accidentally curses at the Joker on the road for bumping him, the Clown Prince of Crime corners him and intimidates him into doing him a “small favor”. Two years pass, and the Joker finally decides how to use Charlie: to sneak a bomb into the Peregrinator’s Club, where Commissioner Gordon is to give a speech at an award ceremony. Charlie, who merely has to open the door, is skeptical at first, but for the sake of his family, he reluctantly decides to obey. But is the Joker really the type to let someone who insulted him live?

Thoughts: “Joker’s Favor,” is the episode that shows just how petty and cruel the Joker can be. Charlie is a guy having a bad day, he yells at a car that happens to have the Joker in it and he is blackmailed for the rest of his life. The Joker and Harley (her Batman Universe debut) later use him to almost wipe out the Police Force. Harley Quinn is also the reason this episode is so perfect, given the plan would not have succeeded without her and Charlie. The ending is perfect too and we’re left wondering if Charlie snapped because of everything the Joker put him through…

Mad Love

Story: Paul Dini

Director: Butch Lukic

Synopsis: Harley reflects on her first meeting with the Joker as she plots to eliminate her main competition in his attentions – Batman. She captures the Dark Knight and she wants to gain Joker’s favor by doing away with him. But of course, the crazy clown’s massive ego would never allow anyone else the “honor” of doing away with his mortal enemy.

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