"I Am the Night" is the thirty-fourth episode of Batman: The Animated Series. It first aired on November 9, 1992.
On the anniversary of the death of his parents, Batman sits in the Batcave, tired. Alfred points out that he hasn't eaten or slept for a while, but Batman says the problem isn't his body, but his spirit. He checks the newspaper and discovers that the Penguin's conviction was overturned due to a technicality. Seeing this only makes Batman wonder if he's really doing any good. Alfred assures him that he is, but Batman claims that in spite of what he's done, the war against crime continues. Alfred gives Batman a package and sadly watches as he leaves.
Meanwhile, a young boy asks a couple people for some bus fare which he receives. Taking the money, he happily walks away claiming, "It works every time". As he walks along he sees a child wearing a Batman costume and scoffs at it. To this boy, Batman is a joke.
Out in Crime Alley, Leslie Thompkins accompanies Batman to place roses on the spot where his parents were gunned down. Batman tells her that he keeps wondering if it should be the last time. Leslie tries to assure him he's doing the right thing but Batman still argues against it. Meanwhile, the boy, Wizard, is assaulted by a couple of thugs that demand payment for allowing him to work the corner. Wizard claims that he doesn't have the money so the thugs prepare to kill him. Batman stops them with ease but Wizard is ungrateful and one of the thugs falls on the roses left in memory of Bruce's parents. Angered, Batman takes Wizard and hands him over to Leslie to take him into the Mitchell Street Mission.
Unfortunately, the fight makes Batman late for a police raid that turned out to be a setup and in the battle that takes place, Commissioner Gordon is severely wounded by mob-boss Jimmy "The Jazzman" Peake. Although Batman apprehends him, the damage has been done: Gordon's life hangs by a thread.
Gordon is taken to the hospital and Batman visits him feeling guilty over his failure to make it to the crime scene first. Barbara Gordon doesn't blame Batman for her father's condition, but Harvey Bullock does. Sadly, Batman decides that Bullock's words are the ones he should listen to. Returning to the Batcave, Batman destroys his forensics equipment and screams in despair.
While Batman is wallowing in his self-pity, Jazzman is sent to Stonegate Penitentiary (due to Gotham City Jail being overcrowded at the time) until his case can go to trial. Jazzman is not at all happy about this and knows that there's more than enough evidence against him. A flunky of his tells him that there's a way out of prison and Gotham, but first, Jazzman wants revenge on Gordon, the man who caught him once before.
Worried about Bruce, who has been moping around for three days, Alfred calls Dick Grayson to try and comfort him. Dick tries to talk to Batman, but his despair is too great, since he has come to see Gordon as much more than a friend, possibly a surrogate father figure. Batman wonders about whom else will be a victim of his failures. As far as Batman's concerned, if he dies, there is no regret, but if someone else dies as a result of his actions, it's unforgivable. What's worse is that he's become little more than a marketing item for the tourist trade. Caught up in his despair, Batman takes off his mask and throws it into one of the Bat-Cave chasms, deciding that it may be time to quit.
Things take a turn for the worse when the Jazzman escapes from Stonegate through the sewers and heads for the hospital to finish Gordon. Learning that Jazzman has escaped, Dick goes to see Barbara and her father. Barbara is worried but Dick insists that only Batman can save Gordon. However, when he tells Bruce about it, Bruce refuses to even respond. Dick, fed up of his pleas falling on deaf ears, suits up as Robin to hunt the Jazzman down. Batman, however, comes to his senses at the last minute after realizing just how much danger his friend is already in, and stops Robin, determined to go after the Jazzman himself.
The Jazzman arrives at the hospital with a gun, and knocks a window cleaner out to steal his platform. He raises it until he is level with the window of Gordon's room, and prepares to finish the sleeping commissioner off with another gunshot. Fortunately, Batman arrives just in time and a violent fight ensues. Batman throws the Jazzman through the window and into the hospital room, where he pushes Barbara and the security guard aside and raises his gun once more. Barbara shields her father with her own body, but Batman throws a batarang directly into the gun just as the Jazzman fires, causing the bullet to backfire and destroy the gun, injuring the Jazzman's hand. Bullock bursts in with more guards, and the Jazzman is re-captured just as Gordon wakes up, much to Batman, Barbara and Bullock's relief.
Gordon tells Batman that they have to keep fighting and cannot give up. He tells Batman that he wanted to be like him, a hero. Batman tells him that he is a hero and leaves with a renewed spirit.
On his way home, Batman bumps into Wizard again, only to learn that this time he has reformed and is now heading back home, mostly because of what Batman did for him, and he thanks the Dark Knight warmly. Realizing how much good he has truly done, and can still do, Batman overlooks the city he has vowed to protect with a newfound sense of purpose.
- Barbara Gordon makes her first appearance since "Heart of Steel".
- Judge Vargas makes her second and final appearance in Batman: The Animated Series. She first appeared in "The Strange Secret of Bruce Wayne".
Home video releases
- The Adventures of Batman & Robin: Batman the Dark Knight (VHS)
- Batman: The Animated Series, Volume Two (DVD)
- Best of Batman (DVD)
- Batman: The Complete Animated Series (DVD)
- Batman: The Complete Animated Series (Blu-ray)
- Batman: Gotham Knight (2DVD, Blu-ray only)
- When Dick says to Bruce, "Okay, then I'm going after him", Bruce is wearing a red robe, but in the next shot, it changes to his usual brown suit, then changes back to the robe.
- Though "Heart of Steel" was Barbara Gordon's first appearance in production order of the series, this episode was aired first.
- The police dispatch mentions the "corner of Adams and O'Neil", a reference to the comic book artist/writer team of Neal Adams and Dennis O'Neil.
- Batman's words to Leslie, "I have promises to keep", echo the well-known first lines of the last stanza of Robert Frost's poem, "Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening". The following line is "And miles to go before I sleep", so the reference is apt.
- Upon seeing Gordon lying wounded, Harvey Bullock gasps "Oh my God!", making it the second time the utterance is used in the series, after "Heart of Ice". (See List of "God" utterances in the DCAU)
- Seth Green, who voiced Wizard, would later go on to play another youth caught up in the criminal world: Scott Evil, the conflicted teen-angst filled son of Austin Powers' rival Dr. Evil.
- During his sorrowful talk with Dick Grayson, just before throwing his mask into the chasm, Batman says "When you look too long into the abyss, the abyss looks back through you". This is a reference to Friedrich Nietzsche, though the actual proverb is: "He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you".
- The story arc "Batman: Officer Down", which ran through mainstream Batman comics several years after this episode's production, bears many similarities to this episode.
- The convict that the Jazzman confers with in prison strongly resembles Spider Conway from "Vendetta".
|Robert Costanzo||Detective Bullock|
|Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.||Alfred|
ER Doctor (uncredited)
|Mari Devon||Summer Gleeson|
|Melissa Gilbert||Barbara Gordon|
|Loren Lester||Dick Grayson|
|Diana Muldaur||Leslie Thompkins|
|Carmen Zapata||Judge Vargas|
Batman: A weary body can be dealt with, but a weary spirit... that's something else.
Batman: Sometimes, old friend, I wonder if I'm really doing any good out there.
Jazzman: Let's just say it was time to pay the piper.
Jazzman: It ain't going to trial. They got enough on me to play the funeral march.
Batman: He's a friend. More than a friend. Jim Gordon's the same age my father would be if he hadn't... Now he's hanging by a thread. If I'd gotten there five minutes sooner...
Batman: When all is said and done, how much good have I accomplished? They sell T-shirts of me. I've become a cliché. More good for the tourist trade than the streets.
(Robin prepares to go after the Jazzman)
Gordon: Got to keep fighting. Never stop. What I try to live by. Maybe if I'd been younger, I could've been like you. Always wanted to be a hero.
Wizard: Y'know, I was kinda hopin' I'd run into you. I'd been in those places like where you left me before. Heard the rap, wasn't impressed. But this time, it made sense. Maybe I was ready to hear it. So I'm heading back home. I guess I kinda owe it to you, Batman. You probably saved my life.