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Recap / Batman: The Animated Series E49 "I Am the Night"

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Batman questions if he's doing the right thing when Commissioner Gordon is shot and grievously wounded during a police raid.

Tropes in this episode include:

  • 10-Minute Retirement: Batman messes up a stakeout, and Commissioner Gordon is shot as a result. In the wake of this, he goes into a deep, irrational depression and nearly gives up the cape and cowl, even when he hears that the gangster has broken out of jail and plans to finish the job. Only when Robin tries to save Gordon on his own does he finally snap out of it.
  • Anger Montage: After visiting Gordon in the hospital, Batman vents his rage by tearing apart a bit of the Batcave before dropping to his knees and letting out a Skyward Scream.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Bruce's final answer to Dick's attempts to talk him out of his funk:
    Batman: How long before I let someone else I care about down? Leslie? Alfred? You?
  • Blasting It Out of Their Hands: Batman tosses a batarang as Jazzman is about to shoot Gordon. The tip of the batarang lodges in the gun barrel, causing a backfire that injures Jazzman's hand and leaves him in no condition to resist when Bullock charges in.
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  • Collateral Angst: The episode is all about Batman's distress about Commissioner Gordon being wounded on the field. So much that Gordon himself and Barbara are the ones who comfort him and Bullock is clearly expected to be viewed as incredibly mean for chastising him.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • When Batman first visits the hospital, the establishing shot shows a window cleaner at work, foreshadowing how the Jazzman will get into Gordon's room later.
    • Batman's line saying he may be killed by "some punk who gets lucky" calls to mind "The Man Who Killed Batman", which aired just two episodes later.
  • Gratuitous Laboratory Flasks: The equipment in the Batcave includes a bench covered with them. They get smashed when Batman lets his feelings out after Gordon is shot.
  • Grave-Marking Scene: Batman visits the site of his parents' murder in Crime Alley (and then stops a couple of thugs from beating up a local runaway) on his way to the stakeout.
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  • He Who Fights Monsters: 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".
  • Heroic BSoD: Batman gets a brief one after he blames himself for Commissioner Gordon getting shot. And Bullock's words don't help one bit (see Nice Job Breaking It, Hero).
  • Heroic Fatigue: Batman suffers an emotional breakdown like this.
    Batman: When you look too long into the abyss, the abyss looks back through you.
  • Heroic Self-Deprecation: Batman falls into this when Commissioner Gordon is wounded during a police bust. Batman bitterly reproaches himself for his failure, thinking he does more to help merchandise salesmen than the people who really need it. This trope is Lampshaded by Robin, who points out that Gordon is fully aware of the dangers of his job, and tries to remind Batman that Gotham would probably have fallen apart without him. Eventually, it's subverted when a disgusted Robin gives up trying to cheer up Batman and goes to the hospital to protect Gordon, since "Jazzman," the mobster they busted, has escaped from prison and is probably going to pay the Commissioner a "visit." Subverted again when Batman snaps himself out of his depression and goes to the hospital himself. Jazzman tries to whack Gordon, and runs into Batman...
  • I Regret Nothing: Batman contemplating his eventual demise.
    Batman: It might be the Joker, or Two-Face, or just some punk who gets lucky. My decision. No regrets.
  • If You Won't, I Will: After Jazzman escapes, Dick tries to get Bruce to pull himself together, and finally declares that if Bruce won't go after Jazzman he will. However, just before he heads out Bruce interrupts him, suited up and ready to take up the hunt himself.
  • It's All My Fault: Batman blames himself for arriving too late to prevent Gordon from being shot, causing him to temporarily give up.
  • It's Personal:
    • Dick decides to go after the Jazzman alone, but Batman breaks out of his Heroic BSoD just as Robin gets on his motorcycle.
      Batman: No, Dick—this is my hunt.
    • Also invoked by Bullock as Batman leaves the hospital after visiting Gordon.
      Bullock: Hey! Where you goin'? This ain't over yet, outlaw! Ya hear me? I ain't talkin' law! I'm talkin' you and me!
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    Bullock: You should have been there, pointy ears, then maybe Peake might have shot the right guy. Thought you were supposed to know what was shakin' on the streets. How come you didn't tell us this was a set-up?
    Batman: I didn't know.
    Bullock: Yeah? In my book, that makes you just as responsible for him being here as the Jazzman.
    Barbara: Harvey, please! It wasn't his fault.
    [Batman leaves through the window]
    Bullock: Hey! Where you goin'!? This ain't over yet, outlaw! You hear me!? I AIN'T TALKIN' LAW! I'M TALKIN' YOU AND ME!!!
  • Off-Model: In one of the scenes Dick is scolding Bruce for giving up, Bruce is wearing a red bathrobe. In one brief shot showing his back, Bruce wears his usual brown jacket, then he again wears the red bathrobe in the next shot (showing Bruce's torso and face).
  • Parental Substitute: Suggested by one of Batman's comments when his Heroic Fatigue causes him to let his guard down:
    Batman: He's a friend. More than a friend. Jim Gordon is the same age my father would have been if he hadn't...
  • Precision F-Strike: When Bullock sees Gordon shot, he shouts, "Oh, my God!"
  • Pungeon Master: Despite being a serious, realistic character with a relatively mild "gimmick", almost every single thing Jazzman says has some kind of musical reference.
  • Revenge Before Reason: Jimmy the "Jazzman" is more focused on making sure Gordon is killed than getting out of Gotham and laying low.
  • Samaritan Syndrome:
    • The episode featured Batman making his annual visit to the site of his parents' murder, where he runs into and busts up a mugging, which makes him late for a sting operation that he helped set up. He arrives in time to help subdue the crooks, but finds that Jim Gordon has been severely wounded. Batman's guilt (which is not helped at all by Detective Harvey Bullock) over not being there in time to save Jim sends him into a Heroic BSoD.
    • Batman is saved from Heroic BSoD because he stops another attempt on Jim Gordon when he wakes up and finds out Jim has the same doubts.
  • Senseless Violins: Used by the Jazzman.
  • Shout-Out: 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.
  • Skyward Scream: After shoving over a table of Gratuitous Laboratory Flasks in the Batcave, Batman screams his frustration about Gordon's injury towards the ceiling.
  • So Proud of You: After defending him from the Jazzman, Gordon regains consciousness long enough to thank Batman for all of his hard work, throughout all of the years. Jim mentions that if he were younger, maybe he would have been in Batman's shoes. Batman returns the compliment.
    Gordon: Maybe if I'd been younger, I could've been like you. Always wanted to be a hero.
    Batman: You are a hero, Jim.
  • This Is Something He's Got to Do Himself: Batman withdraws into the Batcave after he arrives too late to keep Jim Gordon from being shot. Dick tries to snap him out of it, and then suits up to go and protect Gordon from the assailant (who broke out of prison and is likely to come back to finish the job). That brings Batman back to himself:
    Batman: No, Dick — this is my hunt.
  • Tuckerization: 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.
  • You Did Everything You Could: Robin tries this argument to snap Batman out of his Heroic Fatigue. It doesn't work.
  • You Should Have Died Instead: Gordon gets shot during a raid and Batman blames himself for it because he arrived too late due to it being the anniversary of his parents' death (he was putting two roses at the spot their bodies lay). Later, Batman visits Gordon while in critical condition to apologize for not being there in time, then Bullock appears and agrees with him, and then says maybe the shooter Jazzman would have gotten Batman instead.