Mob boss Tobias Whale is caught dead-to-rights, but the tables turn in his favor when Whale’s men kidnap Lieutenant Gordon’s daughter. With only 4 hours to find his little girl, Jim Gordon must turn to the vigilante Batman and his new sidekick Katana for help. Directed by Rick Morales. Written by Erin Maher & Kathryn Reindl. 

As you can tell by the name “Allies” this episode promises a great deal of attention on those few individuals who aid Batman in his war on crime, namely Tatsu and Gordon. Alfred hardly makes an appearance, but it’s been made apparent over the past 7 episodes just how tight he and Bruce are so we can forgive his absence. No, instead this is about strengthening the bond between the Dark Knight and his two newest allies, one of which is trying to prove herself and the other has yet to full trust the Caped Crusader. The progress we see in Batman and the police lieutenant’s relationship is certainly the most important of the episode. Not only is this a giant stride forward for these two personally but it brings us closer to the traditional world of Batman most folks are accustomed to. Perhaps the biggest sign of the classic Batman world being realized is the first appearance of the bat signal! I was admittedly giddy when it was lit for the first time as it proved that things are definitely going to be changing around here. I have to applaud the show for never getting stagnate. Beware the Batman evolves with every episode.

The episode begins with Tobias Whale and some of his goons raiding a Stagg warehouse and gloating about how Stagg was arrested recently (episode #6 “Toxic”). The good guys intervene and Whale is apprehended, but in an interesting twist we are told by Whale’s attorney Milo Match that if Whale is not set free in the next 4 hours then Gordon’s daughter will die. It was a pretty intense way to start the episode and I swear that I even heard a henchman’s leg break during the opening fight scene. My only nitpick about the first act would be that there was no reason for Tobias Whale to be on hand at the warehouse. It’s very reminiscent of the scene from Nolan’s Batman Begins where Carmine Falcone is at the docks when he really should’ve been as far away from that crime as possible. Those are the perks of being the boss after all. Interestingly, this was not the last Nolan-esque moment in this episode.

From here we go to the Batcave where Batman has suited Tatsu in some hilariously over-padded armor. Throughout the episode we actually see how overprotective Batman is of her and it’s a nice change of pace. After all, we’re usually shown a Batman who first decides to team-up with a teenage boy who is only given a few months or so of training and then Batman seems to expect the most from his new sidekick. But in Beware the Batman he casts a former CIA operative and League of Assassins member and yet still worries that she might not be able to handle the streets of Gotham. It’s in Tatsu’s first scene that we also see her officially take on the name of Katana and her reasons for choosing that title (besides the fact that she wields a Japanese sword).

Soon enough our heroes are alerted to the dilemma Gordon is facing and the remainder of the episode is spent in the Cauldron, which is described as being a “no man’s land” and the worst part of Gotham City. It’s yet another surprising, esoteric Bat-reference. In recent years “The Narrows” have been described as Gotham’s worst district and initially the Cauldron has never been given much attention at all besides a mention here or there and it was never as horrifying as it is depicted in this cartoon. However, I like the name “Cauldron”, I like the way it’s portrayed in the show, and the design of the gang members that inhabit the area and their mysterious nature actually made them more interesting villains than Whale or Milo Match (at least in my opinion).

And that’s really the weakest link of the episode: the villains. Which I suppose should be expected in an episode titled “Allies.” Every scene with Gordon, Batman, Katana, and especially Tara Strong’s charming Barbara Gordon is fantastic, but Whale and Match fell flat for me. A shame since their evil plot was actually very threatening and deeply personal. But when the time came for a confrontation I never found myself shifting to the edge of my seat the way I did when Batman fought foes like Silver Monkey or Magpie. Whale himself is taken out like a chump.

Spoiler
It’s here that I’ll go ahead and say that Match turns out to be the Grant Morrison creation Phosphorus Rex, the 3rd member of the Circus of Strange to be introduced to the show (Professor Pyg and Mr. Toad were the first). He’s portrayed as Whale’s top enforcer and he looks quite similar to how he was shown in the comics. He’s simply a man in a suit and his hands and head are consumed in flame, which oddly isn’t that threatening looking. If it were a skeleton consumed in flame, sure, but something about just a regular guy surrounded in flame just doesn’t do it for me. And the fight– which was mostly made up of Batman and Katana running away from the fire– was something I didn’t find quite as fun to watch as the street fight with the Ghost gang. But what I did like was that the villain was actually apprehended by the episode’s end. I do hope that we get some explanation of how Phosphorus Rex came to be in future episodes and it would also be cool to actually see him team up with Pyg and Toad to form the Circus of Strange.

And if you’re wondering what the other Nolan-like moment was, it’s the ending where Batman takes the fall for Gordon letting Whale go. They have a very similar exchange of “NO, you can’t, you’re not!” and “I’m whatever Gotham needs me to be!” before Batman runs away between some canisters as more cops arrive.

The animation looked good, very fluid. I never had a moment of “Wow, Gotham looks empty” because the setting of our story literally was a Ghost Town and even that looked fairly well populated with thugs. The use of fire was well done and the fight scenes continue to be wonderfully choreographed and I’m telling you, I know I heard a leg snap! But I will say that the laser-guns were more evident in this episode because we see Gordon use a shot gun that really lacked a big, booming sound-effect.

Anthony Ruivivar, JB Blanc, Kurtwood Smith, and Sumalee Montano all did a terrific job as usual too and you can’t go wrong with Tara Strong as Barbara Gordon.

Overall

The villains could’ve been more memorable, but this is the best Batman and Gordon episode yet and a major step toward the Gotham City we all know and love.

SCORE: 8.5/10