"Shadow of the Bat" is the two-part second season premiere of Batman: The Animated Series. It originally aired on September 13 and 14, 1993. It depicts the first appearance of Batgirl, a new identity adopted by Barbara Gordon when her father is arrested on charges of corruption.
Rupert Thorne is supervising a loading at a warehouse late at night. They are interrupted by a squad of GPD officers, led personally by Commissioner Gordon and Deputy Commissioner Gil Mason. Thorne tries to run, but is caught on the roof by Batman. This makes Thorne the third Gotham City mob boss who has been apprehended thanks to information supplied by Mason, supposedly from a secret informant, but Bruce Wayne is suspicious.
At their home, Barbara Gordon is practicing a gymnastics routine, while her father teases her about her burgeoning relationship with Mason. Then Mason himself appears at their door and reluctantly places Gordon under arrest. Evidence found in the warehouse raid implicates Gordon in taking bribes from Thorne. Elsewhere, Bruce becomes enraged and even more suspicious when he reads the newspaper report about Gordon's arrest.
Outraged, Barbara complains to District Attorney Janet Van Dorn, who says the evidence is solid, and also that there are warnings that Gordon might flee the country if allowed bail. Bullock encourages her to trust her instincts, and tells her the police department will be holding a public rally to gather support for Gordon.
Batman sneaks into the police evidence room to examine the evidence. He communicates with Gordon in his cell, and tells him that the evidence looks as though it was forged by someone other than Thorne's gang, and that there have been rumors on the street of a new organization moving in. Gordon asks him to look in on Barbara.
Batman does so, and Barbara begs him to make an appearance at the rally, to show the public that he is also on Gordon's side. Batman refuses, saying the most important thing is for him to find evidence of Gordon's innocence. He tells her that it's best she stay out of it for her father's sake. But once Batman's gone, Barbara resolves that one way or another, he will be there.
Instead of Batman, Bruce decides to investigate in his disguise of "Matches" Malone. Dick Grayson protests at not being allowed to come with him, but Bruce suggests that Robin appear at the rally in his stead.
At the rally outside police headquarters, Gil is giving a speech on behalf of Commissioner Gordon. Robin prepares to swing overhead, but then a figure dressed in a bat costume does it first. It turns out that Barbara has donned her own Batsuit for the sake of appearances. After the crowd's enthusiastic reaction, she plans to slip away, but then a car speeds past the podium and the rider opens fire with a machine gun.
Instinctively, Barbara leaps into action, catching the banner over the street and pulling it down over the car's windshield, causing it to crash. As she starts to run, Robin catches up with her and grabs at her cowl, tearing away a piece of it and letting her hair fall loose. Summer Gleeson catches footage of the mysterious "Batgirl" fleeing into an alley.
Barbara chases one of the masked thugs into an alley and pulls off his mask, getting a good look at his face. He manages to get away, however, and she has to run before Robin catches up with her.
Watching the news report of the incident, Dick notices something strange: in slow motion, it is clear that Mason ducked well before the guns appeared out of the car's windows, as if he expected it.
Barbara slips into police headquarters and looks through the mugbooks, finding the face of the thug she tackled, Mad Dog. Excitedly, she goes to Mason's apartment to tell him, but stops short when she sees Mad Dog himself sitting in his living room. Mason passes him off as a friend. Barbara hurriedly excuses herself, much to Mason's confusion.
Meanwhile, Bruce is undercover at the Stacked Deck as Matches Malone. He sees Mad Dog make a phone call from the booth and, through lip-reading, realizes where he's going next. He follows him to an abandoned theatre, but is disabled by its security systems as he is entering. He comes around as a prisoner, confronted by the leader, who is actually a resurfaced Two-Face, having laid low since his last battle with Batman while gathering his own crew. Bruce claims to be interested in joining his gang, but Two-Face, as always, lets his coin decide. It comes up scarred, and Bruce is knocked unconscious by Mad Dog.
With Batman mysteriously absent, and deciding that she can trust no one except herself, Barbara dons her new costume and prepares to enter the night as Batgirl.
Batgirl and Robin run into each other on a rooftop outside Mason's apartment. Robin tells her that she's an amateur and should stay out, but she refuses. Just then, Mason receives a phone call summoning him to a meeting. Each spies in their own way, learning where to go, but they don't share the information with each other.
They follow him to an old subway entrance, where Two-Face shows Bruce, still disguised as Matches, to Mason, asking if he's an undercover cop. Mason says no, and complains about being called out for such a trivial thing. Two-Face reminds him who's boss, revealing his plan to the eavesdropping heroes: as Harvey Dent, he had Mason instated as Gordon's assistant, but after his transformation into Two-Face, he has been the one giving Mason tips, eliminating his gang rivals while boosting Mason's popularity. Soon, Mason will replace Commissioner Gordon while Two-Face himself becomes the biggest mob boss in the city. However, due to the recent snooping, Two-Face has decided to break Gordon out of jail that night and then do away with him.
Batgirl is tripped by the trussed-up guard, revealing their presence. Two-Face and his thugs open fire, then flee with Mason, using explosives to collapse the building entrance. To make doubly sure, Two-Face detonates a bomb left on the wall of the abandoned line, letting in the river to flood the tunnel.
Bruce is reunited with Robin, who returns his costume to him. Batman speaks severely to Batgirl and, despite not knowing who she really is or why she's involved, warns her to stay out of their way. In the ensuing flood, however, Batgirl manages to save Robin from being swept away, proving her worth. With the tunnel rapidly flooding, Batman blasts a hole in the roof of the tunnel, then sends Batgirl up with his grapple gun. Before she can lower it down again, another surge of water sweeps both of them away.
Batgirl calls the police station, but it is too late: Commissioner Gordon has already been broken out, and the damage to the phone lines caused by the explosion makes it impossible for them to understand her warnings, leaving it up to her now. In the tunnel, Batman and Robin manage to escape by throwing the brake of an old subway car, which skids to the end of the abandoned track and smashes a hole in the wall, emerging above the river, and head for the wharf.
At Bayshore Wharf, Gordon is being held prisoner by Two-Face and his gang, and Mason is preparing to execute him personally while gloating about how he will become the next Commissioner and likely eventually Mayor. But Batgirl appears and distracts them with a gas grenade, letting Gordon escape. Batman and Robin arrive and quickly subdue Two-Face and his gang. Mad Dog grabs a gun and opens fire until Robin throws him overboard. When Mason jumps into a boat and speeds away, Batgirl runs after him and grabs one of the mooring ropes.
As Batgirl is dragged along, Mason empties his gun at her, but misses. Catching up to him, there is a struggle in the boat, and he rips off her mask. Momentarily shocked to see it is Barbara, Mason lets go, and she delivers a kick that knocks him back and he hits his head on the transom so hard that he loses consciousness. As the boat careens toward the Gotham Statue of Liberty, she reluctantly pulls him free before it crashes.
At a press conference, an exonerated Gordon reports that Mason is still in a coma, but has been indicted nonetheless. In response to questions about Batgirl, Gordon gives his blessing for her to operate in Gotham. Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson are also in attendance. Dick asks Bruce what he thinks Batman would have to say about all this. Bruce says he supposes there's always room for one more and muses that they will see her again someday. Barbara, standing nearby, beams and says "I wouldn't be at all surprised" as her father hugs her.
- Barbara first appeared in "Heart of Steel", where she aided Batman before donning a costume.
- Woobie, Barbara's cherished teddy bear, reappears from "Heart of Steel".
- Although Barbara Gordon and Dick Grayson are shown dating in later episodes, he does not become aware of her secret identity until The New Batman Adventures. Bruce Wayne learns it sometime before, but keeps it from Dick to avoid hurting him.
- Gil Mason is never seen or mentioned again. Either he never awakes from his coma or has lost his memory, because if he does wake up intact, his first act would likely be to expose Barbara.
- Janet Van Dorn returns in "Trial" where she has a bigger and more significant role.
- Though Two-Face made brief appearances in "Almost Got 'Im" and "The Strange Secret of Bruce Wayne" alongside other villains, this episode marks his true return since the events of his eponymous episode, and establishes that since then, he has been laying low while gathering his own crew (to make it look as if they are moving to Gotham), infiltrating the police force and eliminating his rivals in order to take over the Gotham underworld, and through his police connections, City Hall as well.
Home video releases
- The Adventures of Batman & Robin: Two-Face (VHS)
- Batman: The Animated Series, Volume Three (DVD)
- Batman: The Complete Animated Series (DVD)
- Batman: The Complete Animated Series (Blu-ray)
- When Batgirl makes her official debut at the end of Part I, her cape and cowl feature the same black-with-blue-highlights color scheme as Batman's. In Part II, however, blue becomes the predominant color for her cape and cowl, and remains that way for Batgirl's further appearances in "Batgirl Returns" and Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero.
- Robin does not put on a helmet before riding off on his motorcycle in Part II, but is later wearing a helmet when riding off after listening in on Gil Mason's phone call.
- Two-Face is the only supervillain to appear in more than one two-parter episode in the series. He ironically appears in two.
Bullock: Batgirl, sheesh! What's next? Weasel Woman?
Matches Malone: Robin, look out!
Matches Malone: Robin! I see you brought a date.
Batgirl: What he said about the commissioner... is that true?
Commissioner Gordon: You're sick, Gil! A lot sicker than him! At least I can see his bad half!
Commissioner Gordon: Batgirl, I presume.
Commissioner Gordon: That's a first: a coin flips Two-Face.
Mason: Now let's see who you really are! (rips off her mask) Barbara?! I didn't know it was you!