Chill of the Night!
Original Airdate - February 26th, 2010 (Online); April 9th, 2010 (US Cable)
The Spectre and The Phantom Stranger observe Batman as he uncovers the mystery of who killed his parents and travels back in time to team up with his own father.

Written by Paul Dini
Directed by Michael Chang
Animation by Digital eMation, Inc.
Review by Andrew
Media by Warner Bros. Animation
Cast
Diedrich Bader as Batman
Jeff Bennett as Abra Kadabra/Joker
Kevin Conroy as Phantom Stranger
Zachary Gordon as Young Bruce
Jennifer Hale as Zatanna
Mark Hamill as Spectre
Richard Moll as Moxon
Julie Newmar as Martha Wayne
Peter Onorati as Joe Chill
Adam West as Thomas Wayne

Music
Theme Written and Performed by Andy Strumer
Music by Michael McCuisition, Lolita Ritmanis, Kristopher Carter
Media


Video Clips

 
Clip 01 (QuickTime)
 
Clip 02 (QuickTime)
 
Clip 03 (QuickTime)


Review
The teaser, which surprised me at its presence, gives us the introduction to the madam of magic known as Zatanna, she and the Dark Knight team up to take down the similarly magical villain Abra Kadabra. Not much can be said about it other than that itís a short, but very fun romp and a great introduction to Zatanna. It seems they didnít worry about putting too much complexity into the introduction of these characters so as to not take away from the main story. However, I have to note that I sensed some influence from Harry Potter. No, not simply because it deals with wands and wizardry, but rather the taunting from Abra Kadabra about Zatanna having to speak her spells came off as very similar to the taunting by Severus Snape to the young, and incorrigible, Harry Potter during their short showdown in The Half-Blood Prince.

The main story starts with the introduction of the omnipotent superheroes known as Spectre and Phantom Stranger, the latter voiced by the Bat-legend Kevin Conroy, whom recently had a guest role on the show in ďThe Super-Batman of Planet X.Ē This time, however, heís not an interpretation of our horned cowl-wearing hero. They exchange a foreboding monologue about Batman that is pulled off with a proper amount of eeriness that captivates the viewerís fascination, but never comes across as over the top. This is not only appropriate because exaggerated theatrics would be uncalled for, but also unneeded because it would over-power the point that this is supposed to focus on Batman. Once finished with their mysterious mystical monologue, weíre finally introduced to Batmanís involvement in the story - only we donít know it. At least, if you donít listen to the voice, as Batman is in disguise. This is actually a strange way to introduce us to Batmanís investigation, since Batman is in disguise of a Priest giving a deathly ill criminal his last rights. Even though itís a clever ruse, it really shows the least respecting version of Batman that weíve seen on the show so far. Considering it is seen as a sacred right to some religions, itís actually very surprising for this more friendly Batman to audaciously deny someone their religious beliefs.

Eventually Batman eventually gets the bit of information he needs, although itís a bit poorly handled. The audience has already been told that Joe Chill was responsible for the death of Batmanís parents, and because of this weíre left to assume that when Batman hears ďchill,Ē he knows exactly what is going on. However, it turns out that heís unaware of Joe Chill completely, and so it would have been best to not reveal this to the audience either - even though we might have already suspected. Even more disappointing is that despite getting the feeling that Spectre and Phantom Stranger would be ambiguous in their involvement of these events, they directly interact with Batman to eventually answer everything for him. We only get a mere tease of our favorite Detective doing what he does best. It should be noted, though, that their attempts to preserve continuity were well done, as we see Thomas, Martha and Young Bruce mere moments before the tragic incident in a way that consistently meshes with the flashbacks seen in ďInvasion of the Secret Santas.Ē The art is slightly difference, especially in their faces, as the flashbacks were most likely meant to have little detail in mind, but their clothing appearance has been accurate replicated. Nice work, guys.

The episode inevitably ends with Batman tracking down Joe Chill at a villainous auction filled with several notorious rogues of Batmanís mythos. The Dark Knight then shows us a side of him that hasnít been depicted on the show before; his vengeful side. Batman, overwhelmed with understandable anger, takes it upon himself to exact a brutal form of justice on Chill, even revealing his identity so that Chill knows exactly what is happening and why. Of course, our beloved Caped Crusader canít go through with it, and eventually shows mercy on Chill. This inadvertently turns the table on the criminal, as Chill runs towards the other villains that had gathered for the auction and asks for help, vaguely explaining that heís responsible for creating Batman. This inevitably leads to Joe Chill being killed, though accidentally, but still shockingly tragic.

Overall, the episode has its fair share of flaws that apparently serve to hasten the pace, which makes me think that this episode should have been written so that the introduction by Phantom Stranger and Spectre should have started the episode, as opposed to the Zatanna romp. However, it still turned out fanastically due to some clever writing, brilliant depiction of a dark tone that they havenít delved into much since season 1, and the unexpected use of Joe Chill.

I know that, so far, Iíve praised most of the episodes of season 2, if not all of them in some way or another, but Iíve attempted to properly gauge the good and bad with each episode. It simply seems that season 2 has been full of far more consistently solid writing than season 1 had, and ďChill of the NightĒ continues to solidify that theory. Itís not without its problem areas, like all episodes, but this is truly one that will most likely be seen as a defining episode for the series, no matter how many seasons it may last.

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