Bullock is heading home on a snowy night, when suddenly a masked man nearly runs him over. Later, the Bat-signal lights the sky and Batman arrives, only to discover that Bullock sent it, not Gordon. Bullock explains that someone is sending him death threats, and given the number of criminals he's put away, it could be anyone. He does not want to go to the department for help, due to his checkered past. Batman agrees to help and takes some of Bullock's case files. As Bullock heads back to his apartment, his landlord, Nivens, complains to him about his filthy habits—and he's got a point, as Bullock's apartment is falling apart, overflowing with trash, and infested with roaches.
Bullock and Montoya go after a gang of robbers. Bullock chases one to the roof and nearly gets shot, but Batman knocks the thug unconscious. An ungrateful Bullock tells Batman to meet him later. Batman arrives at Bullock's apartment and shares his theory that the culprit is trying to scare Bullock, but not kill him. A professional would have killed him in his home, not on the street.
Batman approaches a distressed Bullock at work and brings up Vincent Starkey, a.k.a. "Vinnie the Shark," a drug dealer Bullock arrested 8 years ago. Vinnie is out on good behavior, and seeing how Bullock cost him an empire, Batman suspects him. Bullock goes to see Summer Gleeson, who might know something, having done a piece on crack houses. Summer seems reluctant to help, but agrees to speak to Bullock after she finishes her work. Impatient, Bullock goes through her files without permission. When Summer catches him, she is furious and kicks him out.
Batman has discovered where Vinnie the Shark is and takes Bullock there. They take down Vinnie and his thugs, but Batman is not sure Vinnie is the culprit. At police headquarters, Bullock interrogates Vinnie, who maintains he knows nothing about the letters. Bullock is not convinced but he cannot do anything.
Bullock returns home, where the masked man appears, ready to shoot him. Batman stops the culprit and unmasks him, revealing Nivens. Nivens was trying to scare Bullock away because he is fed up with him, and because Bullock's rent-controlled apartment would skyrocket in value if Bullock moved out. As Nivens goes hysterical, Bullock mentions he was thinking of moving anyway. Bullock thanks Batman, but Batman just leaves.
Tropes in this episode include:
- Brutal Honesty: Bullock makes no bones about his view of Batman, even when asking for his help:Bullock: Let's get something straight from the get-go: I think you're a freak and a menace, and those are your good points. But the Commish says you serve a purpose, so I go along.
Batman: I appreciate your honesty.
- Cowboy Cop: Bullock enlists Batman's help in a private matter, claiming he does not want Internal Affairs looking too closely at him. Batman immediately asks if he is on the take; Bullock vehemently insists that he does not take bribes, but he admits he might be a little careless with suspect rights and police brutality.
- Day in the Limelight: As the title suggests, this episode focuses on Harvey Bullock, who gets more screen time than even Batman.
- The Dog Was the Mastermind: Bullock's landlord.
- Driven to Madness: After all his threats and hits are not enough, the landlord goes for the direct approach of just shooting Bullock, but when Batman stops him, he goes insane because he couldn't get Bullock out of the apartment no matter what he did.
- Grudging "Thank You": Bullock gives one to Batman.
- Irony: The whole episode is the result of Bullock's landlord wanting to force him out of the apartment and find a more desirable renter. As he's taking him away, Bullock admits he was thinking of moving out anyway.
- Jerkass: Detective Bullock seems rough around the edges, and his main claim to fame is merely distrusting Batman. Then he gets his Day in the Limelight and spends it proving that he is nothing short of an asshole. He brushes off his landlord's perfectly reasonable complaints about his filthy apartment, which turn out to be the root cause of the whole problem. Also, Summer Gleeson offers him help figuring out who tried to kill him, but she has work to do and asks him to wait an hour before she shows him whatever he needs to see. Bullock decides to break into her office and dig through the files like a burglar instead of just waiting like he agreed to.
- Kick the Dog: The episode consists largely of Bullock kicking every metaphorical dog he sees. Before this episode he seemed like a sour cop who bent the rules a little too much (although he prides himself on never taking a bribe), but he establishes himself as an absolutely unsympathetic Good Is Not Nice dick when Summer Gleeson, the Gotham news reporter and anchor, offers to help him if he waits a little while, and he rummages through her office instead of waiting. Heck, Bullock's treatment of Nivens, his landlord, is what prompts the landlord to try to kill him in return.
- Merry Christmas in Gotham: It's the week between Christmas and New Year's. Batman is asked for help by, of all people, Harvey Bullock, and the Aesop is that you should always be helping people, even if they don't like you.Officer Montoya: So what are you doing for New Year's, Bullock?
Bullock: The same thing I did for Christmas. My laundry.
- Not So Different: Bullock suggests this to Batman while explaining that he (Bullock) doesn't want Internal Affairs involved in a case, because Bullock is implied to have leaked information to the press and violated the rights of suspects. Batman rejects it, but considering that a few minutes later he intimidates a drug dealer for information by dropping him off a building, catching him with a grapple a foot above the ground, and then leaving him there in front of an oncoming truck...
- The Pigpen: Bullock, to the point that Nivens, his landlord, tries to scare him to make him move out of the building, and when that doesn't work he tries to kill him. The roaches are so thick in Bullock's apartment that he momentarily mistakes their movements in the dark for an intruder and draws his gun on them.
- Pragmatic Adaptation: This episode was adapted from Detective Comics #651, and unlike Batman: TAS' other adaptations of issues and storylines from the comics, it is played almost word-for-word. There are, however, a few differences:
- Robin (Tim Drake at the time) is excised and his few bits of dialogue transferred to Alfred.
- The Summer Gleeson bit is exclusive to the episode, mostly serving to make Bullock look more like a Jerkass.
- Bullock's landlord is hit with a bit of Motive Decay; he originally wanted Bullock out because due to rent control, the untidy slob pays far less than a new tenant would. Though Bullock suggests this motive in the cartoon, the landlord quickly dismisses it, instead saying he was sick of Bullock being a terrible tenant and constantly insulting him before hysterically claiming that no jury would find him guilty after all that Bullock put him through.
- In the comic, the whole story is narrated by Bullock. Batman: TAS actually did this in an earlier episode, but chose to forgo it here.
- Red Herring: Vinnie the Shark seems like an obvious suspect, a recently released felon who lost a great deal when Bullock arrested him. Though he has indeed restarted his drug smuggling in the brief time he's been out of jail, he isn't the one threatening Bullock.
- Shout-Out: Bullock's landlord Nivens bears more than a passing resemblance to a certain English actor
- Stealth Hi/Bye: As per usual, but probably happens a record amount of times in this episode. On the other hand, Bullock is one of the few people to actually catch a glimpse of Batman disappearing out the window.Bullock: How does Gordon put up with it?
- What Does This Button Do?: Harvey Bullock asks this about one of the Batmobile's buttons. Batman half-grins and says, "Passenger ejector seat."