We come to the first of many two part episodes for Batman: The Animated Series and what a one to start on, Two-Face Part 1 was first broadcasted on September 25, 1992 with a script by Randy Rogel from a story by Alan Burnett and directed by Kevin Alteri.
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.
Going back to what I said about the way this show sets up characters nicely in Pretty Poison, the show did such a good job of establishing the character of Harvey Dent before he eventually becomes Two-Face, only know do we get the tragic backstory of how this famed villain came to be.
One of the interesting aspects about the character of Harvey Dent was the voice. Of course, it’s Richard Moll, best known as Bull from Night Court, as the voice but did you know who they wanted to get in the first place? Al Pacino. I’m not even kidding, Al Pacino was originally intended for the voice of Harvey Dent and I don’t know, if we’re talking for a live-action movie than, yeah, most definitely, but for an animated series, all I’m going to think to myself while watching this is, “hey, it’s Al Pacino as Two-Face.” The fact that it’s somebody like Richard Moll who had just spent the last eight years on a sitcom as kind of this bumbling bailiff and then for him to come in as Harvey Dent makes the performance of Moll’s all the more interesting. It shows that “hey, this guy has range I never thought before” and Moll does fit the character more than I think Pacino would’ve done.
This episode does such a good job of giving this impressive and yet also chilling backstory of Dent and his psychological issues. Most people can agree that the signature moment of the entire episode is when Two-Face is in that therapy session with the lightning revealing the man Harvey would become later on, it still gives me chills watching that and that scene alone is just a perfect scene, the animation is top-notch and the voice work by Moll and Tress MacNeille as the therapist is great.
The episode really hits the intense high mark at the end, the last four minutes are just such a perfect sequence of events, just watch:
Where do you even begin the conversation? First off, the animation is really good, second, the way the scene moves, you’d think “well, okay, we’re heading into the final climax here” and then, it just takes this terrible turn and the way Batman just says Harvey’s name after he’s had this happen to him, knowing that he’s struck such a friendship with him over the years, it’s like you can hear Batman say “I’m horrified by my friend’s tragic accident, but I have to keep my identity secure.” The way he says no in that scene, you can just tell how distraught this makes him. And then, the hospital scene is such a well acted and well animated sequence of events and it does a successful job of keeping you invested and wanting you to come back for the conclusion.
Part 1 of Two-Face does a great job developing the backstory of the character of Harvey Dent with a solid strong performance by Richard Moll, great animation, great music, a great story, and great stylistic choices all around. Can the conclusion of Two-Face’s origin story hit as big of a high mark as the first part? Check back tomorrow to find out.