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BTAS Review: Two-Face


 

Episode 10: Two-Face

Story By: Alan Burnett

Teleplay By: Randy Rogel

Directed By: Kevin Altieri

Original Air Date: 09/25/92

 

After making appearances in two previous episodes (“On Leather Wings,” and “Pretty Poison”)  Harvey Dent takes his tragic fall into darkness in the awesome two-part episode, “Two-Face.”  Having Harvey Dent appear in two prior episodes was a great decision by the producers. It gave us a chance to know the character better before turning evil, but more importantly, it showed us that he and Bruce had a really close friendship, which made his transformation into Two-Face that much more tragic and serves as a better story emotionally for both characters.

 

Another great thing that worked really well in this episode, was that producer Alan Burnett gave Harvey Dent a great psychological background story. It is a change from the comics, but it’s a change that makes the character better and makes his turn into Two-Face more compelling and more believable than his comic book origin, where a mobster just  threw some acid on his face at a trial and he became evil. The difference with the character in the Animated Series than how he was in the comics, was that before he even became Two-Face, Harvey Dent had a dark side to him. Harvey suffers from a severe case of split personality disorder, but he has always been able to repress this other, more angry personality. When you watch the episode, you know that Harvey really is a good person, and tries really hard to fight his evil side. But with the stress of trying to get reelected as D.A., and trying to put away mob boss Rupert Thorne, his other personality starts showing up more frequently, usually whenever some little thing upsets him, or causes him stress. When we see Harvey’s personality change during the episode, it makes for some of the most stand out scenes throughout  the whole series. With awesome voice acting, and great directing throughout those scenes, they really make this episode stand out as one of the best.

 

I liked how the episode started with an eerie dream that Harvey was having, where we see him running scared from a menacing voice calling his name. He is then standing in front of his own self hiding in the shadows, flipping a coin, and telling him: “It’s time Harvey. It’s time.” Harvey then wakes up screaming: “No!” As his assistant is there telling him: “It’s time Harvey. It’s time.” Harvey shakes off his nightmare when his assistant tells him it’s time for him to leave for the raid that he has been planning to nail mob boss Rupert Thorne, so he heads out to where the raid will take place.

 

We next see Commissioner Gordon and the Gotham Police force about to move in on Thorne’s men in an abandon building, who are in there with some heavy weapons stolen from Gotham’s Armory. This whole police raid sequence was done really well. As one of Thorne’s men says: “There is no one who can get in here alive,” we see Batman enter the room from behind in the shadows, and takes out one of Thorne’s men. What I liked best about this sequence, was that after we see Batman take out one guy, we don’t see anything else that happens in there. But instead we see the police’s reaction to the whole thing, and hear a bunch of commotion and men screaming, as Batman is taking everyone out. My favorite part was when we see someone trying to get out through a window, and we then see Batman’s hand grab him right back in. It's a great sequence that worked real well, even though we didn’t get to see all the action going on from the inside.

 

As all of the crooks are getting rounded up by the Police, Harvey is giving his statement to a news crew, and it’s here that we get our first look at Harvey’s other personality. As one of Thorne’s men is being escorted by an officer, he passes by Harvey and kicks some mud on his clothes as he makes a threat to him. Harvey just loses it here, and goes right after the detained crook, screaming at him, and ready to punch him in the face. The animators did a great job of showing Harvey’s rage here. The way his eyes were ready to burst out, and the way his face is covered in sweat, you definitely see that he is unstable. I also liked how every time we see Harvey’s other personality surface, the background always turned red. This was a nice touch by the animators, as it was another great way to visibly show Harvey’s rage. But before Harvey could do any damage, Gordon is able to snap Harvey out of his rage before he hits the crook. But his outburst was all caught on camera, and this gets the attention of Rupert Thorne. Now seeing that Harvey might not be as good as he appears to be, Thorne now wants his men to dig up some dirt on Harvey, so he can use it to ruin him.

 

Harvey’s next outburst comes at another bad moment, where he is at a fundraiser thrown by Bruce, and there are a lot of people present, including his fiance Grace. It was great that we got to see Harvey act as charming Politician, but then see him snap right away again when he learns that a Judge has thrown out the case against Thorne’s men and releases them. This of course gets Bruce’s attention, especially when Harvey was about to hit him. Grace didn’t seem too shocked by this though,as she later reveals to Bruce that Harvey is already seeing a psychiatrist about his condition, after Bruce makes that suggestion to him.

 

The next scene with Harvey seeing his psychiatrist is one of the more creepy scenes that we’ve seen throughout the whole series. It’s a really cool scene, but I’m actually kind of surprised that it made it into the show. I don’t think any daytime cartoon show before this ever had a scene where a main character is visiting a psychiatrist about his mental condition, and then tries to kill the psychiatrist in the same scene. There were a lot of great things here that made this a cool scene to watch. The thunder storm going on outside sets the mood and the atmosphere perfectly. The little hints of what Harvey will become as Two-Face were also a nice touch. The way he immediately starts flipping his coin when he changes his personality, and the quick glimpse we get of his scarred face during a flash of lighting were all really cool to see. And last but not least, the voice acting by Richard Moll as Harvey Dent here was fantastic. He makes two distinct voices for both personalities of Harvey Dent, and gives a really good emotional and dramatic performance, not just in this scene, but throughout the whole episode. The way he voices Harvey here though, was probably my favorite part of his performance.

 

The psychiatrist gets Harvey to bring out his other personality (which is revealed to be named Big Bad Harv here) and things take a turn for the worse. As she tries to talk to Big Bad Harv about leaving Harvey Dent alone, he gets furious with her as he throws a lamp through the window, and is then about to throw the psychiatrist out next, but she is able to literally snap Harvey back to normal before it’s too late. Harvey cant believe what he has done. She tells him that if he intensifies his sessions with her, she may be able to get rid of Big Bad Harv for good. Harvey agrees, saying he’ll do whatever she says, but also tells her to keep it a secret. But as Harvey tells her this, we then see Candice, a woman who works for Thorne, eavesdropping on their session, and is about to leave to tell Thorne what she has just found out.

 

Things are now starting to look good for Harvey. He looks to be doing better with controlling his other personality, he’s about to win the election by a landslide, and he is also about to announce his wedding date to Grace in his acceptance speech. But on that night where he is about to win the election, his life would be changed forever, when he receives a phone call from Rupert Thorne. Thorne reveals to  Harvey that he has obtained his psychiatric file, and is going to use it to blackmail him. Harvey of course doesn’t want this information to get out to the public, so he has no choice but to listen to Thorne, and meet him at a chemical plant. Bruce sees that Harvey is about to leave his own victory party, and goes over to him to see if he’s alright. Harvey at first tries to tell him it’s nothing, but Bruce knows that’s not the case, and showing concern for his friend, he gets into his costume, and follows the limo that Harvey gets in to.

 

At the chemical plant, Thorne wants to cut a deal with Harvey, wanting a few favors from the DA’s office, in exchange for his psychiatric file. This is another great sequence that leads up to Harvey’s actual transformation into Two-Face. You see that what Thorne is telling Harvey is just eating him up inside, until eventually Big Bad Harv comes out. I love the delivery Richard Moll does for the line Harvey says here, when Thorne asks him if they have a deal, and he replies: “There’s just one problem… You’re talking to the wrong Harvey.” I just love how he immediately changes his voice from normal Harvey, to Big Bad Harv there. Harvey then picks up Thorne and tosses him into his men, and a fight ensues with Harvey taking on Thorne’s men, but gets some help from Batman. This actually was not a real exciting fight scene. There were some silhouette shots of Batman fighting Thorne’s men that I thought were cool, but the overall fight was pretty short.

 

Thorne eventually makes a run for it with the file in his hand, and Harvey goes right after him. This is where Harvey actually gets his scarring, and it’s probably the one complaint I have with the episode. I never really liked how Harvey got turned into Two-face here. What happens is that while Harvey is running past some tanks with chemicals in them, one of Thorne’s men opens fire on him, but Batman shoves him from behind, messing up his shot. So instead of hitting Harvey, the bullets hit an electrical switchboard, which causes some live cables to fall into the chemicals, and causes an explosion that hits Harvey. What I didn’t like about it, was that the explosion seemed way too big to just cause some scarring to one side of his face. The explosion looked big enough to actually kill him, but it only ended up scarring half of his face. But before “The Dark Knight” provided what I think is the best origin of Harvey actually turning into Two-Face, I did prefer this origin scene to what happened in the comics. I never did like the fact that Batman was at a public trial on the witness stand when Harvey became Two-Face in the comics, so the sequence done here in the animated series was definitely an improvement over that version.

 

The first part of “Two Face” ends on a perfect note. Harvey is in the hospital about to have the bandages on his face removed, and he is of course terrified of what he sees. This part reminded me of the scene in the 1989 Batman movie, where the Joker gets his bandages taken off his face after he fell into some chemicals. But instead of laughing hysterically like the Joker did after seeing his face, Harvey lets out a scream of shock and terror that is done perfectly by Richard Moll. Harvey then storms out of his hospital room where he then sees Grace, who was walking up to see him. This is where we get our first true look at Two-Face, and I love how they did this reveal. As Grace sees Harvey running out of his room, she asks him whats wrong, and Harvey slowly turns his face to her, showing his disfigurement. The way he slowly turns his head to look at Grace, the horrified look he has on face, and again with the thunder storm going on in the background, I thought it all made for a great and powerful reveal, for one of Batman's greatest villains. Once Grace sees Harvey’s face, she ends up fainting and falling to the floor. Harvey then walks over to her, and just tells her goodbye. No doubt also saying goodbye to his old life, and also making a perfect ending, to a great episode.

 

As someone who prefers it when different adaptions of Batman stick closely to the comic origins of the characters, this episode clearly shows that sometimes changes made to some of the character’s origin stories can be for the better. Which is something that Batman: The Animated Series has done to quite a few characters. “Two-Face” also is an episode that feels like it was made for the adult Batman fans. It didn’t have very many action sequences, and Bruce Wayne was featured in it more than Batman was. It was an episode that featured great character development and drama, a great story that was brought to life by excellent voice acting from the whole cast, great animation throughout the whole episode, as well as some great music. The music theme of Two-Face fits the character perfectly. All of these things come together for a truly fantastic episode of "Batman: The Animated Series." The first of many great episodes where the villain's origin story is greatly improved on from their comic book origin.

 

 

Batman: The Animated Series-Two-Face:

 

4.5 out of 5 Batarangs

 

Reviewed by Tim Geraci

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