It’s Never Too Late was first broadcasted on September 10, 1992 in its’ regular weekday timeslot, however, it also has a primetime premiere date for January 17, 1993.
Yeah, not a lot of people remember that back in the 1992-1993 season, Fox actually put Batman: The Animated Series in primetime on Sunday nights to help boost the series’ popularity more, the move only lasted about a few months but still, it goes to show how much of an impact the show had back then.
The episode we’re talking about today was written by Garin Wolf from a story by Tom Ruegger and directed by Boyd Kirkland.
A mob war between crime bosses Rupert Thorne and Arnold Stromwell is nearing its end, and comes to a climax when Stromwell is set up to be killed in an exploding restaurant by Thorne. Batman saves him at the last moment, and aided by Stromwell’s brother (now a priest who lost his leg years before, an accident for which Stromwell carries a secret guilt), tries to persuade him to give up his life of crime and help the police bring Thorne down by testifying against him.
What a great episode this is, this is another one of those episodes that I don’t think gets as much attention as I think it should because it showcases Batman trying to save the day in a different approach than just punching around the bad guys.
So many great memorable moments all over this episode, one that always comes to mind is in the beginning, there’s this terrific scene where Batman enters this priest’s office and tells him it’s going down tonight and the priest automatically says the name of Arnold and he even contemplates why he even bothers with him and Batman simply just says “I don’t believe you’d give up on anybody, father.” And then he tells him to be there. To me, that is such a powerful and brilliantly handled scene because they do such a good job of hiding the identity of who the priest really is at first, it’s later revealed that he’s the brother of Arnold, who he calls Arnie, and that he lost his leg because of the train accident set in the flashbacks.
Speaking of the flashbacks, that’s another great aspect of this episode, the flashback sequences that show Arnie and his brother as kids is so nicely done, the sepia tone style animation is pitch perfect and the music is once again phenomenal. I also liked how we got the same flashback in two different versions that are also very similar to each other.
Eugene Roche and John Vernon work off each other very well as Rupert Thorne and Arnold Stromwell and have a really solid scene in the diner, that’s very reminiscent of the scene from The Godfather.
I also really do like that Batman is actually doing some good here trying to help a criminal see that what he’s been trying to do all this time is hurting him and the people who love him. There’s very few moments in this where Batman actually is fighting the criminal except towards the very end as this is more focused on trying to show us, the viewers, the cons of breaking the law and the after effects of what harm can come. You could even say that there’s even a little bit of a story structure similar to A Christmas Carol, we see a little bit of the past, we see a lot of the present and we see a glimpse of the future and what it might hold if nothing changes.
There are a few little nitpicks here and there, probably the most notable one is where Batman is taken to Stromwell’s office for the files to take down Thorne only to see that Batman is being conned by him and that Stromwell still can’t get it through his head that what he’s doing is wrong. I mean, you’d think after everything Batman had shown him up to that point, he’d have some idea that maybe he’s got no other option but then again, I understand why that scene is there, it’s there to be that final push that finally gets Stromwell to testify against Thorne.
Despite those nitpicks, It’s Never Too Late is another classic episode from early on in the run, I don’t think it gets as much attention as some of the other episodes does but it’s definitely one that shows us a more different and more unique way Batman fights crime, not with a lot of violence but with more reeling with common sense. You can tell that Batman wants to help this guy find a way to clean up his act without resorting to violence and he does his best and the episode shows that. Gorgeously animated, very tension filled, very thought provoking, well-written, well-acted, this is definitely a must watch episode to check out.