Batman: The Animated Series: A Definitive Viewing Order Season One *REVISED AND EXPANDED*

Batman: The Animated Series: A Definitive Viewing Order Season One *REVISED AND EXPANDED*

The complete Season One, including the Forward to the Revised and Expanded Edition. See the classic Batman: The Animated Series in a whole new way! Seasons Two through Four coming soon!

**SPOILERS ARE DISCUSSED BELOW**

FOREWORD to The Revised and Expanded Edition:

What would you call this? a *DEFINITIVE* Definitive Viewing Order? All joking aside, although I was pleased with how my previous list turned out, I was never satisfied with it, structurally and narratively. It worked, certainly, but not well enough, to my mind. Seasons Three and Four still seemed…muddled? Unfocused? It worked as it was, certainly, but with the exception of the latter half of Season Four, I felt that Season Three and Four lacked the ‘tightness’ of the first two seasons.

                By degrees, a solution finally dawned on me: Mr. Freeze should be the primary focus of Season Four. It had never felt quite right to place ‘Heart of Ice’ unceremoniously in Season Three, and I realized that I just wasn’t giving this episode as much respect as it deserved…and with the Series Finale being about Mr. Freeze, and (in this viewing order) the first episode of The Adventures of Batman and Robin being about Mr. Freeze...well, I was surprised it hadn’t occurred to me before. As I began evaluation based on this new framework, I realized that by placing ‘Heart of Ice’ as the Season Opener of Season Four, three purposes were accomplished:

1) Season Four now has an extrospective feel, which contrasts nicely with the introspective nature of the First Season;
2) Season Four now reflects the *overall* structure of Season Two, giving Season Four an even number of episodes, giving the entire season layered meaning with another mirrored structure, and having Harvey Dent/Two-Face playing a major part in the end of the series (and keeping in-theme as well, with him being in the second and second-to-last episodes);
3) Season Four reflects the *opening* structure arrangement of Season Three (with a standalone first episode followed by a 2-parter), which reflects the opening momentum of the previous season, and now has a three-act structure that reflects and completes not just Mr. Freeze’s narrative arc, but Batman’s arc as well (and arguably a number of other side characters, too);
4) Season Four now has the most viewing time of any season (with the addition of the SubZero movie as the Finale), matching with the ‘Culmination’ theme.

In other words, Season Four is now fully a compendium of elements from all three of the first three seasons of the watch order, in addition to being a proper pinnacle of the series with ‘Heart of Ice’ being the emotional lynchpin of the series. Of course, I was aware that making this change meant completely rearranging Season Three, which was a house of cards as it was. As much as I dreaded it, I knew Season Three needed an overhaul. As part of the rearrangement process, several decisions were made that I believe changed Season Three (and the overall viewing order) for the better:

1) ‘Mad As A Hatter’ was placed into Season Two. This increased the number of episodes in Season Two to 22 episodes (better reflecting the theme of the season) *and* makes it a Season Two/Season Three transition episode (looking ahead to the decidedly science-fiction bent of Season Three). The episode’s placement towards the end of Season Two also creates a larger gap between appearances of the Mad Hatter (giving him one starring episode each between Seasons 2-4),  and makes it more of a surprise when he reappears unexpectedly at the start of the mid-Season Three break.

2) Speaking of which, the Scarecrow episode ‘Dreams In Darkness’ was moved to the middle of the now 25-episode Season Three, making it the bridge between the first and second halves of the season. This creates another link to Season Two, with Scarecrow acting as the heroes’ catalyst for personal growth in both of the mid-season break episodes for Seasons Two and Three.

3) The new Season Three order creates a proper escalation spike as we progress towards the middle of the season, making this season unique. Batman comes to the very limits of his physical and spiritual endurance. It is Shakespearean in its scope: ‘Perchance to Dream’ (an episode title which was a reference to Hamlet’s musing soliloquy about death) leads to ‘Almost Got ‘Im’ (about Batman almost dying over and over). This, in turn, leads directly into ‘Dreams In Darkness’, which shows Batman being poisoned by the Scarecrow and slowly being ‘scared to death’ by his own joint fears of failure and abandonment. This properly makes the episode a climax of everything that’s happened up to this point. The suffering he experiences in this season only increases his compassion for others and makes him into a better person and a proper hero, with his allies noticing going into Season Four.

4) I moved ‘See No Evil’ and ‘The Clock King’ into the first and second halves of Season Three, respectively, reasoning that after Robin’s injury in ‘The Terrible Trio’, Bruce would have had Robin recuperating in Wayne Manor to avoid answering questions and raising suspicion. This, in turn, would have given the two an opportunity to catch up a bit and would allow Batman a chance to share some of his more unusual cases with Dick that occurred during his absence (starting at the end of ‘What is Reality?’). This explains nicely why Robin knows about the events of these episodes in the Season Four episode ‘Time Out of Joint’ after the show is rebranded The Adventures of Batman and Robin.

5) Joker’s/Harley’s appearances were rearranged. My previous arrangement never felt like an accurate progression of their relationship, so I placed ‘Harley and Ivy’ in the 2nd half of Season Three, but still before ‘Joker’s Wild’. This makes a more natural evolution of Joker and Harley’s relationship (“familiarity breeds contempt”, as they say), makes more sense of Ivy’s disgust of the Joker in ‘Joker’s Wild’, and makes Joker’s words at the end of the same episode more impactful when he muses about not having women in his next gang and yells, “NO WOMEN!” out the window at Harley. In this new order, it’s clear he meant every word.

6) And last, but not least, I switched the ‘Heart of Steel’ and ‘Feat of Clay’ 2-parters between the beginning and the mid-season break, which had several effects:
                A. By placing ‘Heart of Steel’ at the beginning of Season Three, we place Barbara Gordon’s introduction at the beginning of Season Three; Barbara, who will be the third part of the soon-to-be dynamic trio. It also breaks up her appearances a little bit better, with each appearance showing us, sequentially, that both Bruce Wayne (in ‘Heart of Steel’) & Dick Grayson (in ‘I Am The Night’) both know her. And ‘Heart of Steel’ being at the beginning of Season Three also juxtaposes with the Season Four (*Culmination*) episode, ‘Shadow of the Bat’, where she emerges completely as a new costumed heroine.
                B. ‘Heart of Steel’ being at the beginning of the season allowed me to be able to place ‘His Silicon Soul’ comfortably right after the mid-season break in Season Three, which fits nicely into the timeline the episode gives to us.
                C. ‘Feat of Clay’—being in the latter half of the Season Three break—structurally points it toward Season Four, with all that implies. It allowed me greater freedom in placing ‘Mudslide’, which I felt needed to be in Season Four but didn’t fit tonally with the beginning of said season. Batman’s recent recovery from the previous episode’s events (in ‘Dreams in Darkness’) lend additional weight to his offer of help for Matt Hagen in ‘Feat of Clay’, being a touching reminder of the growth he’s been experiencing over the course of the series.

Following the new Season Three, we have the reworked Season Four, which didn't get quite the makeover that Season Three did. Nevertheless, 'Heart of Ice' as the Season Premier necessitated some slight changes in the order of the episodes, which makes the season more theamatically distinct:

1) The most notable change is also the most potentially timeline-breaking—I added ‘Harlequinade’ as the first episode following the ‘Shadow of the Bat’ 2-parter. This now makes a link between Season Two and Season Four, echoing the similar ‘distorted mirror’ structure (with Two-Face this time playing ‘second’ fiddle to Mr. Freeze). So now, not only does the end of Season Four reflect the beginning of Season One, but it reflects the beginning of its *own* season as well. The problem here is that this adds some potential timeline inconsistencies, as Harley name-drops a number of villains that will show up between one to three episodes later. The question is: if they were locked up at the time of the events of ‘Harlequinade’, how did they escape so quickly? How much time has really passed? These were questions that deserved answers.

I reasoned that Harley, being locked up, might see the other villains from time to time, but—not being intimate with Arkham’s administration—would not have known that they had escaped/already been released. This is easy to see given her asylum cell in the episode has no windows (ha). An even better explanation might be that Harley *knew* that not all the Rogues were at Arkham but was rambling stream-of-consciously with the *associations* she had of Arkham Asylum, rather than referring to the inmates/patients *at* Arkham Asylum at the time. After all, Joker’s atomic bomb would kill indiscriminately, regardless of location, and this is Harley Quinn we’re talking about. This second explanation is definitely in-character.
               
2) Following the opening episodes, the remainder of the episodes in the first half of Season Four are now structured [roughly] to either complement or reflect their opposite placement in the ending half of the season, which was untouched. Mr. Freeze, Batgirl, Two-Face, and Joker make descending/ascending appearances in Season Four, with a few other rough complements afterwards, such as:

A. Batman vs. extremists: Ra’s Al Ghul and Lock-Up
B. A woman (Selina Kyle) having left her old life behind but returning to it (after the manipulations of a ventriloquist/doll) and a woman having left her old life behind but returning to it (Mary Dahl)
C. Pamela Isley *pretending* to leave her old life behind and Harleen Quinzel *trying* to leave her old life behind (with Ivy making a cameo)
D. Episodes following up Roland Daggett’s previous criminal activity; wrapping loose story threads towards the end of the series

 The remaining episodes surrounding the mid-season break are not necessarily related narratively or structurally (with the possible exception of the Penguin’s appearance and cameo in ‘Blind as a Bat’ and ‘Riddler’s Reform’) but are important for continuity, as they ‘set the board’ for the remainder of Season Four.

3) During the editing process, I made more arbitrary ‘FLASHFORWARD EPISODE’ markers to certain episodes to minimize potential timeline issues. I made multiple new designations based on cues in the episodes themselves and in the episodes immediately preceding them. The complete and final list is below:

Season One: ‘Joker’s Favor’
Season Two: 'Two-Face Part One', ‘"If You're So Smart, Why Aren't You Rich?"’, 'Moon of the Wolf', 'Mad As A Hatter'
Season Three: 'Sideshow', 'Feat of Clay', 'The Clock King', 'Birds of a Feather'
Season Four: 'Heart of Ice', 'House and Garden', 'A Bullet For Bullock', 'Deep Freeze', 'Lock-Up', 'Batman and Mr. Freeze: SubZero'

4) Last but not least, I made numerous major and minor alterations to the Episode Breakdown, ranging from complete rewrites to simple spelling and grammatical errors (including correcting the embarrassing spelling mistakes I made, such as misspelling Ra’s Al Ghul’s name).

                I really consider this ‘THE Definitive Viewing Order’, as I am unlikely to make any further alterations to it. When I began this undertaking in late May 2019, it was a piddling effort, but it grew in scope as time went on. It’s been a great pleasure to revisit the series and explore other ways to bring out the complexity of the show. I hope you get as much pleasure out of this viewing order as I had in researching it.

On a final note: I have been requested to do a similar treatment for the sequel series, The New Batman Adventures, but it is my personal opinion that—despite the good work done by Bruce Timm and company within the wider DCAU—Batman lost something in the transition from Fox to the WB Network and never recovered it. Much like the MCU—which I also like, but don’t love—the DCAU rarely elevated beyond ‘pretty good’ overall. The new episodes following the revamp were frequently delightfully ‘comic-booky’ and paid lip service to broader themes, but without ever properly exploring them. Let’s be honest: The New Batman Adventures would *not* be as cherished if it was not riding on the wave of goodwill generated by Batman: The Animated Series. That said, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention highlights like the Frank Miller and Dick Sprang homages in ‘Legends of the Dark Knight’, the redemption of Arnold Wesker in ‘Double Talk’, Nightwing’s debut in ‘You Scratch My Back’, Harley Quinn’s tragic backstory in ‘Mad Love’, or—of course—the absolute tour de force of ‘Over the Edge’ (an episode, which admittedly, would *only* have worked in TNBA). But I digress: I believe that when viewing the Batman of BTAS within the larger context of we know happens later in TNBA, Batman Beyond, and Justice League, it diminishes BTAS rather than supplementing it. Instead of ending on a note of hope for the character of Batman, we end on the hopeless: Bruce as a forsaken, curmudgeonly old man—and with the exception of Terry McGinnis—with no friends, no family, and no love. Of course, one can argue that a life like Batman’s was *always* going to end like this, perhaps from the moment he put on the cowl. Regardless, it is for this reason alone (although there are others, as well) that I decline to go further in my analysis and leave that to others.


INTRODUCTION TO A DEFINITIVE VIEWING ORDER:

Batman: The Animated Series, as superb as it is, is heavily episodic. That works in its favor for the most part, with anyone really being able to just jump in and enjoy...but can the series be arranged in such a way that it tells an ongoing story more in the line of a standard serialized comic or television show? ‘Jordacar’ at comicbook.com provided a simply excellent viewing order that answered that question. It was so good that I couldn’t resist tinkering with it to try to make it better, and it became the sturdy skeleton for what follows. I am also indebted to Steven Padnick for his insights in his Batman: The Animated Series Rewatch column at tor.com, as they influenced a number of my placements in the list. Jordacar, I went to Arkham and back, and this viewing order is dedicated to you.

Episode Key:
00 - 0 00 P0 000 V0 D0/S0 D0
 ^ Definitive Viewing Order (DVO) Total Episode Number
00 - 0 00 P0 000 V0 D0/S0 D0
     ^ DVO Episode Type (P—Premier, —Standard, B—Block, F—Finale)
00 - 0 00 P0 000 V0 D0/S0 D0
        ^ DVO Season Number (1, 2, 3, or 4)
00 - 0 00 P0 000 V0 D0/S0 D0
             ^ DVO Season Episode Number
00 - 0 00 P0 000 V0 D0/S0 D0
                  ^ Official Production Season Number
00 - 0 00 P0 000 V0 D0/S0 D0
                         ^ Official Production Episode Number
00 - 0 00 P0 000 V0 D0/S0 D0
                                ^ DVD Release Volume Number
00 - 0 00 P0 000 V0 D0/S0 D0
                                     ^ DVD Release Disk Number
00 - 0 00 P0 000 V0 D0/S0 D0
                                            ^ Blu-ray Release Season Number
00 S 0 00 P0 000 V0 D0/S0 D0
                                                  ^ Blu-ray Release Disk Number
Example(s):
01-P101-P1031—V2D1/S1D3 The Cape and Cowl Conspiracy
                The first episode of the watch order, being the Season Premier/first episode of season one; from production season one, episode thirty-one; can be found on Batman: The Animated Series DVD Volume 2, Disk 1; or on Season One, Disk Three of the Blu-ray set.
28-B212-P1018—V1D3/S1D2 Beware the Gray Ghost
                The twenty-eighth episode of the watch order, being the twelfth episode and part of the the mid-season block of season two; from production season one, episode eighteen; can be found on Batman: The Animated Series DVD Volume 1, Disk 3; or on Season One, Disk Two of the Blu-ray set.
63-F326-P1060—V3D1/S1D5 The Demon's Quest
                The sixty-third episode of the watch order, being the twenty-sixth episode and the Finale of season three; from production season one, episode sixty; can be found on Batman: The Animated Series DVD Volume 3, Disk 1; or on Season One, Disk Five of the Blu-ray set.
87--F423-MOVIE: Batman and Mr. Freeze: SubZero
                The eighty-seventh episode of the watch order, being the twenty-third episode and Finale of season four; BTAS movie separate from DVD release (but not from Batman: The Animated Series Blu-ray release).

                 In how the episodes are organized, I kept to Jordacar’s original guidelines for the most part. I deliberately avoided having two ‘poor’ episodes back-to-back (subjective, I know), and having the same villain appear two episodes in a row (excluding 2-parters). I also tried to be mindful of continuity between episodes and to not be too jarring with seasonal weather changes. As I continued to organize the episodes in this format, I noticed trends in episode structure which organically evolved into themes in the ‘seasons’ themselves. To my delight, I realized that each season could be structured in such a way as to provide additional meaning to the series as a whole, as well as Batman’s development as a character, including mid-season blocks/breaks for episodes that do one of three things: break up the action, offer retrospection, and/or refocus/progress the overall narrative of the season. There are four seasons, just like in a year. The seasons’ themes are: Grounding, Transition, Escalation, and Culmination.
                I wanted, throughout the course of season procession, to start with knowing nothing at all about Batman and gradually pull the curtain back to reveal what he looks like, from outside to inside. As such, Season One keeps closely to the format laid out by Jordacar and is structured with more personal stories in mind, with less of the outlandish, which will come into play later. That way, when we see Batman’s shock and disbelief in episodes with more gothic fantasy-inspired elements, it makes these reactions more understandable. Season One is standalone, ending with ‘Mask of the Phantasm’; however, ‘On Leather Wings’ introduces a heavy science fiction aspect to the show which will gradually become more prominent as the viewing order goes on.
                Season Two—‘Transition’—is about two things, the relationship between Bruce Wayne/Batman and Harvey Dent/Robin, and the gradual change from Gotham City being primarily characterized by crimes by the Mafia to crimes by Batman’s Rogues and/or monsters. By the time we get to Season Three—‘Escalation’—we will have progressed from threats to ordinary citizens to city-wide and even global threats. Season Four—‘Culmination’—is primarily about Batman’s legacy; where he’s been, how he’s changed, and what impact he’s had on others: both on his ‘enemies’, who are forced to examine themselves and take responsibility for their own behavior; and on a new generation of crime fighters, all inspired by Batman’s example.

 

SEASON ONE DESCRIPTION:

After years of operating in Gotham City, the masked crime-fighting vigilante "Batman" has established an uneasy relationship with the Gotham City Police Department via Commissioner James Gordon. As Batman begins to make headway in his systematic dismantling of the city's organized crime families, wariness begins to grow within the Gotham P.D. and City Hall of his methods.

SEASON ONE EPISODE LIST:

01-P101-P1031—V2D1/S1D3 The Cape and Cowl Conspiracy

02---102-P1013—V1D2/S1D1 I’ve Got Batman in My Basement

03---103-P1004—V1D1/S1D1 The Last Laugh

04---104-P1035—V2D1/S1D3 Night of the Ninja

05---105-P1019—V1D3/S1D2 Prophecy of Doom

06---106-P1006—V1D1/S1D1 The Underdwellers

07-B107-P1015—V1D3/S1D2 The Cat and the Claw

08-B108-P1016—V1D3/S1D2 The Cat and the Claw Part 2

09-B109-P1020—V1D4/S1D2 Joker’s Favor

10-B110-P1012—V1D2/S1D1 It’s Never Too Late

11---111-P1055—V2D4/S1D5 The Mechanic

12---112-P1008—V1D2/S1D1 The Forgotten

13---113-P1026—V1D4/S1D2 Appointment in Crime Alley

14---114-P1003—V1D1/S1D1 Nothing to Fear

15---115-P1001—V1D1/S1D1 On Leather Wings

16--F116-MOVIE: Batman: Mask of the Phantasm

END SEASON NOTES—Season One Theme: ‘Grounding’
It is common for the first season of a television show to be hit-and-miss, with both highlights and perhaps a few stinker episodes. Much like the comics' early stories, the focus in Batman's early years is primarily on organized crime with a sprinkle of the Rogues as a hint of what's to come. This approach plays to both outcomes: getting the stinkers out of the way early and playing as an introduction to an ongoing theme. Batman and the Joker are the primary focus of Season One, and Joker is the main link between the ‘Year One’ era where Batman mostly dealt with thugs and drugs, and the ‘Freaks’ era where Gotham City is practically overrun with them (AKA Season Three). Using Mask of the Phantasm as the Season Finale acts as the bridge between these two eras, with the obvious link being The Joker.

 

BTAS: A DEFINITIVE VIEWING ORDER SEASON ONE ANALYSIS AND EPISODE PLACEMENT BREAKDOWN

Additional Notes:
1. All references to ‘firsts’ and ‘seconds’ are of course, in reference to this watch order
2. Included recurring character introductions of all characters that make speaking appearances in more than one episode
3. ‘FLASHFORWARD EPISODE’ markers, designating a possibly significant passage of time from a prior episode due to indications in-episode, production format changes, or arbitrary designation by organizer



**THE INFORMATION BELOW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS**

THEME OF SEASON ONE: GROUNDING
(Definition: basic training or instruction in a subject.)
--The Number One: number most associated with independence, self-sufficiency, determination; in mathematics, is the building block of positive integers
--Sixteen total episodes: the number 16 is associated with spiritual kindness or purity; with one who seeks wisdom to teach or help others, much like Bruce does with Andrea Beaumont in the Season Finale
--Introducing Batman/Bruce Wayne, and the first appearances of nearly every supporting character
--Introduction to Batman’s world, Gotham City: the look, the feel, the tech, the people, the police, the criminals, the Rogues

Episode-Specific Notes:



1. ‘Season One’ needed a fairly generic opening episode that still leaves an impression of what the show is like and where it’s going, so ‘The Cape and Cowl Conspiracy’ fit the bill. Establishes right off the bat (so to speak) the relationship between Batman and Gordon, the origin of the Bat-Signal, and that the public officials are uneasy about working with him for fear of both endorsing vigilantism as well as looking incompetent. We also get introduced to the odd mix of retro-futuristic tech that occasionally pops up in the show [holograms in this episode, robotics coming up in ‘The Last Laugh’]. The episode also shows very little about Batman himself other than that criminals are terrified of him and that he is both daring and clever.
*RECURRING CHARACTER INTROS: Jim Gordon, Batman



2. ‘I’ve Got Batman in My Basement’ is basically ‘Batman and Encyclopedia Brown team up against the Penguin’, which is pretty cool if you’re a kid. This is another episode that reveals almost nothing about the main character. As far as what it contributes to the larger series, it shows how Gotham City middle-class children see Batman and also the barest hint of how long Batman has been in operation, given the urban legends that have grown up around him (surprisingly spot-on about the Batcave). It also serves as an introductory episode for The Penguin, be that as it may. It’s good to get this one behind us; with the occasional dip, the show’s quality is uphill from here.
*RECURRING CHARACTER INTROS: Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot/The Penguin



3. Jordacar was right that ‘The Last Laugh’ is a good Joker episode to start with, not too dark or scary just yet (that will certainly come later). The episode establishes that Batman and Joker both know each other and have tangled a few times already. This is also the first episode to feature Batman without his mask and we confirm that his first name is ‘Bruce’ via the first appearance of Alfred Pennyworth.  Lastly, we get a little more tech with Captain Clown, a pretty impressive robotic henchman; and the first appearance of the Batboat/Batsub, complete with remote control options and laser cannons. (Awesome!)
*RECURRING CHARACTER INTROS: Alfred Pennyworth, Bruce Wayne (private), Joker, Summer Gleason (cameo)



4. The name of the show is ‘Batman: The Animated Series’, but we don’t want to go too far before introducing Dick Grayson/Robin! ‘Night of the Ninja’ works well as an introduction to the character and he works as a great contrast to Batman’s broodiness. This is also the first time we hear Bruce’s last name, see some of his background, and how he learned to fight. Via Summer Gleason, we get to see how the press and/or the public views Bruce Wayne. The ninja Kyodai-Ken accuses Bruce of being a ‘rich man’s pampered son’. The truth of who Bruce Wayne *really* is makes for a good contrast to what we observe of other wealthy Gothamites in the very next episode.
*RECURRING CHARACTER INTROS: Bruce Wayne (public), Kyodai Ken, Dick Grayson/Robin, Summer Gleason, Yoru-Sensei (in flashback)



5. In ‘Prophecy of Doom’, we see the *actual* pampered rich men of Gotham City and what they do to pass the time with all their money. The haplessness of his peers makes one wonder why Bruce isn’t the same way…so why is he Batman? A question built up and answered in the remainder of the season.


6. ‘Underdwellers’ is the first episode that really shows Batman’s compassion for children and his rage against abuse, even threatening to kill said abuser. Season One definitely plays with the idea of whether Batman is a hero at all, which will be further explored more as towards the end of this season and beyond. At this point in the series, however, we still don’t know why Bruce dresses up as a Bat and fights crime in the first place, so this is the first hint into where that drive comes from. Also shows a lot of Batman being awesome with his unstoppable trip through the sewer and more Batmobile coolness ahead of ‘The Mechanic’. Another reason for keeping it early: continuity issues with the rest of the series, especially with Alfred Pennyworth.


7-8. Here we have the first two-part episode in the viewing order as part of the mid-season break. These four mid-season break episodes contain all the elements that will coalese in the Season Finale: Batman’s love-life, the Gotham Mafia, and the Joker. But that said, there are good reasons why ‘The Cat and The Claw’ [Part One] was a good first episode to be broadcasted in the series. I also included it early for a number of reasons, detailed here: Selina’s relationship with Bruce Wayne/Batman is an ongoing element of the show that is revisited even to the end; this is the first time we’ve seen Batman sacrifice his own feelings for the sake of his mission (and again, getting our first foreshadowing of the Season Finale when he speaks in passing of past flames in his life with his line to Selina: “I haven’t felt this way about anyone in a long time.”); we glimpse more of Batman’s presence and reputation in Gotham City’s criminal underworld after briefly seeing it in the first episode, ‘The Cape and Cowl Conspiracy’ [ahead of ‘It’s Never Too Late’]; and it’s also the first time we see Batman face a criminal threat from outside Gotham City. To top it off, this is the first appearance of the Bat-glider, with a cameo of the Batwing ahead of its first full appearance in ‘The Forgotten’.
*RECURRING CHARACTER INTROS: Selina Kyle/Catwoman, Secretary Maven, Red Claw



9. **FLASHFORWARD EPISODE**
‘Joker’s Favor’ gives more background on the Joker, that he’s been an active presence in Gotham City long enough for the general public to have known and feared him for years. Since the first part of the episode takes place in flashback, it can be implied that some time has passed between the end of ‘The Cat and The Claw’ and this episode (post-flashforward). This episode also shows more of Joker’s sadistic and cruel personality. We see what the average middle-class citizens of Gotham are like via Charlie Collins, and we get to see Harley Quinn briefly before a long absence (which will certainly help us accept her evolving personality starting with ‘The Laughing Fish’ in Season Two). A few other continuity notes: Joker makes a comment about arranging ‘another early parole’, which implies the episode takes place before the founding of Arkham Asylum; Harvey Bullock makes his first appearance prior to the audience seeing his open animosity for Batman (starting with ‘Nothing to Fear’); and we have the first [non-speaking] appearances of Detective Renee Montoya and Mayor Hamilton Hill.
*RECURRING CHARACTER INTROS: Harley Quinn, Harvey Bullock, Reneee Montoya (cameo), Hamilton Hill (cameo)



10. ‘It’s Never Too Late’ is one of my favorite episodes, a great redemption arc for an aging gangster based on the James Cagney film ‘Angels With Dirty Faces’. Is also the first appearance of the unrepentant gangster Rupert Thorne, who will soon become very important on an ongoing basis as the face of Gotham’s organized crime. The path to power is cleared for him as his strongest rival retires, with Gotham’s other aging crime bosses soon to encounter their ‘Angel of Death’ in the Season Finale.
*RECURRING CHARACTER INTROS: Arnold Stromwell, Rupert Thorne



11. ‘The Mechanic’ was an end-season episode of production season one, but I thought it made sense to include it here for several reasons. First—despite the fact that it entered production later—it feels (to its detriment) more like the first batch of 10 episodes where the show was finding its footing. Its placement here is also a convenient way of explaining where Penguin has been when he reappears an entire season later. Kidnapping is a major charge which would certainly result in serious jail time. It would only be amplified if the authorities found the body of the drowned accountant—the big yellow duck would be a pretty big tipoff (not to mention the signed check). Although he managed to beat his petty theft and breaking and entering charges before, his sentence here would certainly be worse than what he’s been accustomed to in the past. On an unrelated note, with the Batmobile being out of action, I made sure to include an episode next in which it did not appear. At some point, Earl must have cut his ties and retired, because there are episodes after this one where we see Dick or Alfred working on the Batmobile instead. Although we have not seen it yet, we later find out that Dick Grayson had recently started college at Gotham State University, where he remains until after the Season Finale and the beginning of Season Two. Given what happens in said Finale—this really hammers home what was already discussed in the episode ‘Night of The Ninja’: that Batman doesn’t rely on *anyone* and only opens up personally on a need-to-know basis, even to those who might otherwise be considered his family. This attitude will gradually change as the series progresses. One final note: this episode is the first appearance of the Batcycle(s), which will reappear in the Season Finale.


12. In ‘The Forgotten’, Joker gets a cameo here ahead of his reappearance in the Season Finale, ‘Mask of the Phantasm’. This episode also gives us our first close look at what was hinted at in ‘It’s Never Too Late’: Gotham City’s ‘forgotten’ homeless population. ‘The Forgotten’ and ‘Appointment in Crime Alley’ (the forgotten versus the remembered) juxtapositionally build to the climax of the season, including a recap of Batman’s origin. Thomas and Martha Wayne also make their first of many cameos, and the Batwing makes its first full appearance here ahead of its reappearance in the Season Finale.


13. ‘An Appointment In Crime Alley’, along with ‘The Forgotten’, gives us the first glimpse into what drives Batman to do what he does. In this viewing order, this episode is the first appearance of both the corrupt businessman Roland Daggett, as well as friend and confidante Doctor Leslie Thompkins; and it is the first time we see disapproval in the rank-and-file of the police with Batman’s interference (“Good thing you showed up”, an officer says sarcastically. :).
*RECURRING CHARACTER INTROS: Roland Daggett, Leslie Thompkins



14. ‘Nothing to Fear’ ends with Batman capturing the new villain, Scarecrow, but not before he crashes a burning zeppelin in the heart of Gotham City. Harvey Bullock makes his dislike of Batman known clearly, carrying over to the next episode with Gotham City’s officials finally declaring war on Batman.  This is another episode that peels back who Batman is, with the ‘remembering’ theme from the last two episodes concluding here. After making cameos in the previous two episodes, Thomas Wayne makes the first of many appearances in the series (voiced by different actors) as a personification of Bruce’s fear of tarnishing his father’s legacy. Scarecrow rarely makes cameos (with the exception of Season Four), so when he does have an episode to himself, it’s a big deal. Each time he appears, either Batman or Robin get pushed to their limits, ultimately resulting in their personal growth. By the end of this episode, Batman remembers and re-embraces his goal, his means, and his identity (“I am VENGEANCE. I am THE NIGHT. I..AM…BATMAN!”). This sense of identity will be turned inside out and backwards within the next two episodes as Season One builds to its climax.
*RECURRING CHARACTER INTROS: Dr. Jonathan Crane/The Scarecrow; Thomas Wayne



15. ‘On Leather Wings’ works best as a prelude to the Season Finale, with the two even sharing the same sardonic ‘pest control’ joke. Batman’s sense of duality is horrifically inverted here with the first episode in the series to go full gothic science fiction: Batman matches up against an *actual monster* in the tradition of Robert Lewis Stevenson’s ‘The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’. As such, it helps set the tone for Season Two and the rest of the series going forward. We get to see the diplomatic tightrope that Commissioner Jim Gordon must’ve been walking for years on Batman’s behalf, finally brought to a head by Detective Harvey Bullock. The unrest that Batman has caused in the Gotham City Police Department spills over into the public eye, with Mayor Hamilton Hill finally ignoring Jim Gordon’s intuition and authorizing a manhunt for Batman after he is blamed for a series of pharmaceutical robberies. Bullock leads the manhunt, with District Attorney Harvey Dent (making his first appearance here) agreeing to prosecute Batman once apprehended. Although Batman is exonerated from *that* crime by eyewitness testimony, the suspicion of Gotham authorities for Batman still remains, leading to the Season Finale. This episode gives many examples of the morally gray area in which Batman operates: disturbing a crime scene, attacking the police, and deceiving suspects; while in the same episode: saving the lives of his attackers, solving crimes and helping to [essentially] detox a drug junkie.
*RECURRING CHARACTER INTROS: The Man-Bat, Kurt Langstrom, Francine Langstrom, Dr. March, Hamilton Hill (speaking), Harvey Dent (cameo)



16. After ‘On Leather Wings’ inverts the dualistic nature of Batman’s character, we have the Season Finale, which explores the foundations of who Batman is and what difference makes a vigilante heroic or villainous. ‘Batman: Mask of the Phantasm’ masterfully explores the limits Batman places on himself as he walks the knife-edge in in his pursuit of ‘vengeance’. Much like the protagonist, the film also straddles a line between that of sci-fi/fantasy (with the Phantasm’s ‘powers’), and that of gritty noir (a ‘whodunit’ featuring the mafia). We get more background on Bruce Wayne/Batman and the Joker, as well as confirmation that at the time of the film, it’s been roughly ten years since Bruce Wayne first assumed the identity of Batman. After two prominent mobsters are murdered by a shadowy caped figure, the Gotham City authorities led by City Councilman Arthur Reeves renew the manhunt for Batman. After having seen evidence of Batman’s innocence again and again, the exasperated Gordon recuses himself from command and hands it over to Harvey Bullock and Reeves. With the sudden collapse another three of the Five Families, the Gotham Mob is thrown into disarray, allowing for a clean takeover by Rupert Thorne. Joker is presumed dead at end of the film at the Phantasm’s hand but unbeknownst to Batman, is spared for two reasons: Beaumont realizes that Joker is insane, and is no longer the same man as the contract killer 'Jack Napier'; and sparing Joker is one last acknowledgement of Bruce’s words before their parting. As part of the manhunt, the Batwing is impounded by the Gotham City Police Department. Between the results of the police investigation into the meeting between Joker and Arthur Reeves, Reeves’ confession and testimony to Batman and/or in court regarding his conflict of interest (Batman could have had a wire on him during his interrogation), and Joker’s alleged video recording release of the Phantasm (not to mention the people Batman saves), the matter of Batman’s innocence is closed and never reopened.
*RECURRING CHARACTER INTROS:  Jack Napier (cameo)

END SEASON ONE
'TRANSITION' TO SEASON TWO HERE!

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