The Court of Owls is not to be trifled with–even Batman is often on his back foot when facing off against Gotham’s oldest cohort. The Gotham Knights, though, think they can save their friend without giving the Court what it wants. Spoilers follow for Gotham Knights, Season 1, Episode 9, “Dark Knight of the Soul.”
“Dark Knight of the Soul”
After one of their own is captured by the Court of Owls, the Knights find themselves in a race against the clock. Stephanie (Anna Lore) and Harper (Fallon Smythe) work together to locate a crucial piece of material that could save their team member. Elsewhere, Harvey (Misha Collins) takes steps to protect himself, only to have his worst fear confirmed.
In Batman: The Animated Series, we meet Harvey Dent much as we do in Gotham Knights. He’s a District Attorney with a strong moral compass, trying to right wrongs in the most corrupt city you can imagine. When he struggles with his dark side there, he refers to his dark half as Big Bad Harv. So far, we’ve only seen the good side of Harvey, but this week we finally–after a very long wait–get to meet Big Bad Harv.
Harvey, wake up
This story picks up from the previous episode’s cliffhanger, in which Harvey awoke in an abandoned sawmill holding a bloody Court of Owls mask and something like 12 hours unaccounted for. To protect himself, Harvey records a self-defense video, talking about how even if his body was responsible for his actions, he was not conscious during them. When he goes to pull the recording, though, there are two, and one is from Harv, who knew exactly what Harvey would do once he figured out what was going on.
I’m still not convinced Misha Collins is the right person to play Harvey Dent, but this is long overdue for the character and satisfying to see. At the same time, Harv doesn’t feel quite different enough from Harvey thus far, and an important move for the show will be to let us get a look at Harv in the flesh so that we can see how different he is (or isn’t). Can Collins adopt a different posture and physicality for the character? Can he chew the scenery with Harv in a way he doesn’t with Harvey?
The kids come up with a plan
With that said, the brunt of this episode focuses on the kids as they try to come up with a plan to rescue Turner, who was captured by the Court after beheading their Talon and trying in vain to rescue Cressida.
The writers are doing a good job of coming up with clever-feeling, multi-layer mysteries for the kids to solve with their various forms of expertise, though the end effect can sometimes feel like watching someone solve a dramatized escape room puzzle.
As the kids work to figure out the locations of both the immortality-imbuing Electrum and their kidnapped friend Turner, he’s suffering through the same toxin-induced hallucinations that his adopted father and others have experienced at the hands of the Court. This marks the first appearance of Turner’s dead parents who raise questions about his relationship with Bruce Wayne. Why did Wayne adopt him? Why did he never solve the mystery of who killed them? Maybe, they suggest, Batman is responsible for their death and adopted Turner to soothe his guilt.
It’s hard to tell here how much of this is actually leaving a mark on Turner. At times it seems like he’s about ready to admit that there’s a grain of truth to the idea. At other times, he’s steely-eyed and ready to fight back through the hallucinations. Duela shows up with a trenchcoat full of grenades and a handful of fake Electrum, and Lincoln Marsh, who has revealed himself to Turner as a high-ranking member of the Court, calls their bluff, slashing Turner’s throat open and forcing them to give up their leverage.
At the same time, feelings are developing between some of the Knights. Harper admits begrudgingly to her brother that she might be interested in the cute, rich, and probably-straight blonde girl they’ve been hanging with; Cullen notes that that last part isn’t a new one for her, as she falls for people who literally can’t return her affection.
After the Knights rescue Turner, he and Duela have a moment. The music is swelling in the background, and it’s the kind of CW-specific moment where you know some attractive young people are about to stuff their tongues down each other’s throats to some popular-sounding but not terribly memorable music–only for Turner to fall to the ground ill.
It seems like the writers are trying to pair up Turner and Duela so that the show can be about how the Joker and Batman’s children are now kissing each other and isn’t that ironic? The problem is that while Duela is a lot of fun, the chemistry isn’t there yet. She instantly becomes more vulnerable than she’s ever been with him, and it just feels like a huge leap for this character. There are so many times where shows have tried to force one couple to work, only to find they don’t have great on-screen chemistry and end up pivoting to other couples. But when you have roles like these, they end up kind of locked into place. The son of Batman and daughter of Cluemaster just doesn’t have the same dramatic, headline-grabbing ring to it.
Overall though, this ended up being a pretty fun episode of a show that has continually surprised me with how much it has grabbed my interest via the Court of Owls mystery and the way that lets it play with Gotham lore–despite a total lack of Batman.