Plot: Crime boss Arnold Stromwell believes his son is yet another victim of his on-going mob war with Rupert Thorne. But Batman shows him that his son is rehab for his addiction to the drugs Stromwell himself sold, and then offers him a chance at redemption.
First off, Thorne? Again? Didn't we just see him carted off to jail? *Checks* Yes, yes we did. Clearly, this episode should have come earlier in the season, as Thorne is the head of all gangs in Two-Face, but here he's an upstart taking on the more established boss. Or it might have made sense to make Stromwell the upstart, taking advantage of Thorne's weakness after Two-Face crippled his operation.
Really, the audience for this episode is supposed to identify with Stromwell, which is admittedly a little difficult. Unlike Two-Face, he's not seeking justice. He has no problem with Thorne taking advantage of people. He just doesn't want the competition. He's clearly rationalized his career as a drug dealer by saying he doesn't make anyone take drugs. And even after seeing the effect of his drugs on his son, he doesn't feel the need to repent or make up for his mistakes. There doesn't seem to be anything to save.
Arnold Stromwell was created for the series, and like Thorne he's a mafioso type with an Anglo-name. However, in this episode, the writers' desire not to create a stereotype butts up against gangster movie conventions. Stromwell's brother is priest, suggesting Stromwell is Catholic. And "Pete's", where Thorne tries to have Stromwell killed, is an Italian restaurant (with "the best cannoli" according to food connoisseur Det. Bullock). And of course, the Mafia are Italian. Everything would just make more sense if Stromwell was Falcone. But whatever.
This episode also marks Batman: the Animated Series complete move into the never-was past. Not only are TVs now black and white, but flashbacks travel even further back. Young Arnold and Michael are dressed like turn of the century newsies.