Many developers have been going darker with the tones of stories lately. It's time we stop asking definitively if this is a good or bad thing and consider the artistic value at hand.
Beware the Batman: “Allies” Review – Uneasy Bedfellows
I think it would be better to change the title of the show to “Trust the Batman”, in the hopes that Lieutenant Gordon will take the advice to heart and just do it. If he says he will do something, he will do it. Unless he doesn’t, in which case it was probably beyond impossible to begin with and you should have resigned yourself to failure. Though he does have some leeway considering the fact that his daughter had been kidnapped in ploy by Tobias Whale to get out of jail scot-free.
[Though it should scarce bear mentioning, spoilers resides ahead. Ye hast been warned.]
It’s tough being the Batman. Working late nights, patrolling the dark alleys of Gothamn City, and being rewarded with threats of arrests when you speak the truth about the law enforcement’s legal limitations. With a rather liberal dollop of foreshadowing, Batman remarks that there are some places the police just can’t go and things they can’t do. Rather than accept that fact, Gordon gets all uppity and tries to get Batsy clapped in irons though he is defeated by a well-placed smoke grenade. His reluctance to follow up on his orders to catch Batman show, to some extent, that he doesn’t hate Batman and that makes the next parts of the show much more believable.
Back at the Batcave, Tatsu is trying on outfits because Batman is refusing to allow her to take the field without a suit and slew of weapons that meet his meticulous specifications. Discarding her roly-poly ruby armor, Tatsu grabs a sword and dons a mask and the codename “Katana” which is evidently the same name she used while in the League of Assassins. [I couldn’t help wondering how many mini-masks Batman has just lying around.] While it’s easy for us to see Bruce is holding Tatsu back because he cares, it is also understandable why she is so annoyed as we have seen how capable she is.
Back at the precinct, in the bravest and boldest display of reverse psychology I have ever seen, Whale and his lawyer demand Whale’s freedom by midnight which Gordon reasonably laughs off the table. Then we are treated to a scene of burning hands and screaming Barbara’s. If anything, this episode is proof you should never open the door. Ever. Gordon confronts Whale and, unsurprisingly, gets nothing from him before being stopped by his own officers. It is at the depths of this despair that we given the privilege of having a giant wave of nostalgia punch us right in the gut. After staring at a wall of voyeuristic pictures of Batman, and we can only assume mulling over Batman’s words at the beginning of the episode, Lieutenant Gordon creates the light that so many of us are familiar with. The tension is still there, between two men that want to do the same job in different ways, but Gordon’s concern for his daughter supersedes all that.
Back in the Batcave, we get a bit of a history lesson about the Ghosts, a group of small time criminals, and the land that the city seems to have just ceded to them. It is a bit confusing to think that a city would just give up a sizable tract of land like that. I mean, if they were a big enough problem that the police force couldn’t subdue them, then one would think that the national army would get involved. I guess things work differently on Earth-55, or whatever universe this show takes place in.
The ghosts make a spooky entrance while dealing with Milo Match, Whale’s lawyer, and at the same time I had an almost constant fear for Barbara’s life. If this were the real world, she would have been “disciplined” for all the bad-mouthing she was doing during the transactions. At every quip she felt compelled to splurge out by hormones and teenage indiscretion, I winced in dread anticipation. On a side note, this is putting out a very bad example for children to follow if they get kidnapped. Don’t antagonize your captors. That just makes things worse.
But things worked out in her favor as Batman pummeled his way through dozens of Ghosts to find the Commissioner’s daughter. He was joined by Katana and it was fun to see both of them back in action again. There were only a few times where they fought together like they did against Lady Shiva but I wish there had been more of it. Everyone knows that they can kick butt solo, what I want to see is how their styles mesh. I did like, however, that the issue of Batman’s skill was bypassed in this episode. Not a single one of those Ghosts posed the slightest hint of threat to him, all the fights were just exquisite chances to show the finely honed technique Batsy has developed for apply Batfist directly to the forehead.
My opening statement was directly referencing what happened next, as Gordon gets antsy and decides to take matters into his own hands. Or “shotgun” as he uses it to persuade Whale to follow him to warehouse to trade for Barbara. The ensuing fight between Batman, Katana, and “Phosphorous Rex” is enough to take my mind off of Gordon’s lack of faith for a few minutes. Everything happens so fast but I would be interested in seeing how everyone reacts to having just fought a man who skin didn’t feel like being skin anymore and decided to try its hand at being fire instead. Batman and Katana have obviously seen some supernatural stuff (R.I.P. Bethany; you’re still a ne’er-do-well traitor in my books) but are occurrences like these commonplace? I need to know more!
In the aftermath, we are treated to a scene heavily reminiscent of The Dark Knight movie by Christopher Nolan and I feel like the bonds (they exist whether Gordon wants them or not) between the two men have been strengthened. It seems like this might be the point where Lieutenant Gordon stops viewing Batsy as a threat to Gotham on par with the villains the two of them are working together to put away. Also, I appreciate the correction on Batman’s part during Barbara’s enthusiastic questions . It was such a small moment but, put together with the awkward silence and quick departure after the next question, I feel it shows how unused Bruce is to being admired.
“Allies” is much more relaxed than “Family” before it, as it cannot ride the wave of a strongly-driven story. But don’t let that discourage you; Beware the Batman hasn’t suddenly become a stinker. The episode is still fun to watch, especially if you are a fan of watching Batman place his fists in places that used to be occupied by faces and other body parts.