This is 500 words about a Batman episode. This is the BATMAN 500.
“Two-Face Part 1” and “Two-Face Part 2” are important for two big reasons. The first is that they introduce a story that would become one of the main selling points of Batman: The Animated Series: taking famous villains and making them sad. And I mean that in the most positive way possible. Some of the best Batman episodes start with an unstoppable super criminal and end with a man in costume laying on the floor, mumbling “Please, why won’t you hug me, mommy? What is so wrong with me that makes you not love me?” Taking your favorite comic book characters and turning them into weak, pathetic victims of their own obsessions is one of Batman’s greatest legacies. Every time a guy finishes his world domination scheme by screeching in terror at his own reflection, you have this show to thank, at least a little bit.
The second is that both episodes represent the two kinds of stories that Batman told really well. “Two-Face Part 1” is a crime story about a normal person trying to fight back against or escape his inner demons. “Two-Face Part 2” is a more typical superhero story that never manages to lose sight of, and I don’t mean to sound like the teacher pulling you off of that inadequately-punched nerd, the fact that villains are people too.
“Two -Face Part 1” introduces Rupert Thorne and his moll, Candice, and they’re both welcome presences. Remember a few of the last couple episodes, where Batman would base plots about violent, terrifying crimes, and then balance them with hilarious kids or bumbling fried-chicken endorsements that were as wide as most tractors? Rupert Thorne is enough of a mob boss and a monster that the show never has to make sudden leaps to try and cute up their story about real-life crime. He makes everything run way smoother when he’s around so we don’t have to worry about a sudden avalanche of puns during a plot about dangerous drug dealers.
Harvey Dent is the only man who knows what Harvey Dent is capable of, and it’s a secret that he keeps from everyone around him, including Bruce Wayne and his wife, Grace. He constantly soft boils with rage, both at the things around him that he perceives as wrong, and at himself for being so angry all the time. Feeling eternally guilty for what he’s done or what he feels like he may have to do has created a separate personality inside Harvey: “Big, Bad Harv.” It’s the kind of name that a child would give himself, which makes sense since it’s revealed that Harvey has been trying to suppress his emotions since he was a young boy. Big, Bad Harv removes all the blame and guilt from his actions by criticizing Harvey Dent as “weak.” And it’s Big, Bad Harv that takes over when Harvey Dent has his injury at the end of Part 1. Big, Bad Harv makes things easier. Harvey doesn’t have to fight anymore.