My Batman the Animated Series reviews continue with episodes 66-70! My reviews will use an A(Great), B(Good), C(Ok), and D(Bad) rating system as well as my thoughts on the episode.
66. Sideshow: Killer Croc escapes while being transported via train to an upstate prison, only to be pursued by Batman through the forest. After escaping, Croc is rescued by a friendly gang of Circus people who quickly accept him into their family. When Batman discovers their private hideaway, he finds them unwilling to give up their new friend. Batman struggles to convince the Circus family at that Croc isn’t who he says he is at first but when Croc tries to kill him they ask him to leave. After Killer Croc locks up the circus people, they all work to escape so Batman can challenge Croc in a final battle. Croc is detained and proves that he’s just a rotten person. An underrated and surprisingly dark episode, I always remembered this one from when i was young and now I remember why. First I must gush about the animation. It’s nearly flawless. It’s so beautifully done throughout the entire episode. The easiest way to spot good animation in this series is Batman’s cape, but everything just flowed so beautifully. The action, the faces, the everything. The story itself was more of an emotional character investigation than a mystery. The Circus Family was just so wholesome and sweet, you can’t not fall in love with them. The major theme in the episode is Croc’s heart. A cold-blooded killer by nature, Croc’s frigid and selfish heart is seemingly warmed by the Circus family when he puts back the box of money. Even though in the end, he says being himself means being bad, you have to think that if he had stayed with the family, could he have changed? Batman is clearly out of his element in the wilderness, which is always interesting to watch. Also, I pride myself in noticing the cop that was obviously Bruce in disguised and we get a nice throwback/reference to Almost Got ‘Im, when Croc nearly kills Batman with a big rock, (in my mind this episode takes place before Almost Got ‘Im). The only complaint I have at all is the seal boy’s stupid anime eyes. Ugh, they just look so glaringly out of place with the rest of the animation style. Granted, he is half boy half seal, but still it bothered me. Overall, a beautifully animated episode that packs an emotional punch and some powerful suspense. Rating: A-
67. A Bullet For Bullock: Detective Harvey Bullock is being threatened and targeted, so he goes to Batman for help. The two begrudgingly work together to find who is out for Bullock’s blood. But after they follow a couple leads and bust a few gangsters it turns out the entire conspiracy turns out to be someone completely unexpected. The episode channels a really powerful crime noir vibe which is a lot of fun. It definitely connects to Vendetta, where Bullock took center stage as the semi-crooked cop. Bullock may be a slob and a jerk but he’s a fun character, if not only for his rivalry with Batman but also his ability to carry a cop story. I don’t want to spoil the mystery of the episode but it’s a pretty clever twist. The episode has some funny quips and great dialogue. The music was excellent, and really channeled the 40’s pulp vibe of the story. The animation was pretty decent with excellent use of shadow. Seeing all of Bullock’s relationships with the other characters like Montoya and Gleeson was fun too. The final reveal was just a sliver too silly for me to really get behind, although I thought it was funny and clever. Overall, a quality story about Bullock and Batman with a powerful noir pulp vibe. Rating: B+
68. Trial: Poison Ivy is sentenced to Arkham for rehabilitation because she had been captured by Batman, and Harley promises her a surprise is coming. Meanwhile, District Attorney Janet Van Dorn strongly opposes the Batman and his vigilantism to Gordon and Bruce Wayne, but when she is kidnapped and captured alongside the Dark Knight after a trap is set, she is forced to defend him in a mock trial being held in Arkham Asylum! The rogues of Arkham claim that their existence is Batman’s fault, a notion Janet had formally supported. But after her interrogation of the criminals, she comes around and the court run by Judge Joker finds Batman innocent. Only to change his mind and decide to kill them both anyways. Luckily Janet is able to help Batman escape and they get away, making amends when Janet accepts Batman’s place in Gotham. This is a fantastic episode! It’s a clever and funny plot wrapped around a pretty interesting investigation into the dynamics of Batman and his rogues and their impact on Gotham City. Janet Van Dorn is an interesting character, and one we’ve met before. She’s a tough as nails DA and actually makes a lot of compelling points on both sides of the argument. We get so much in this episode it’s hard to squeeze into one review. There’s a lot of throwbacks to previous episodes and a very clear understanding of who the characters are. No surprise, Dini and Timm are behind this episode! I have nothing bad to say about this episode at all other than I wish it had been longer! We could’ve seen some of Two-Face’s prosecution against Batman. Overall, a really awesome Batman story that encompasses so much of the Bat-Universe! Rating: A
69. Avatar: The new Egyptian exhibit attracts the attention of Ra’s al Ghul, surprisingly back from the dead which leads Batman to seek out Talia and enlist her help in finding her father. They follow him across the world and end up in Cairo, Egypt where Ra’s finally discovers the lost tomb of Queen Thoth Khepera and attempts to learn her secrets to power and immortality. After Batman saves Ra’s, he plans to turn him into the authorities, and is double crossed by his supposed “Beloved” whose loyalty still remains to her father. It was inevitable that the infamous Ra’s al Ghul would return after his climactic defeat in The Demon’s Quest. This episode had big shoes to fill and I think it did a pretty decent job. Definitely not your run of the mill Bat-tale, this episode radiates a heavy Indiana Jones vibe! But the episode felt short and the thrills were a little anti-climactic. Mostly this episode just left me wanting more. I think if they had skipped the prologue in ancient Egypt and expanded more on other things, the episode would’ve been more solid. I’m not a huge Talia fan, but this episode definitely did her more justice than The Demon’s Quest. She’s actually a capable human here and she proves to be duplicitous which makes her more interesting. I like the Batman/Talia dynamic only in the passionate flirtation/fling sense, but they’re just not destined for each other. One part that I didn’t really like was when Bruce said the only thing that him and Ra’s agreed on was their feelings for Talia. My reaction “I hope not!” I would like to think that Bruce and Ra’s feel a little differently about Talia, seeing as Batman wants to sleep with her and Ra’s is her father. Just saying. Anyway… Overall, a great and thrilling episode that does fall a little bit short on filling in the shoes of it’s predecessor. Rating: B
70. House and Garden: A mysterious string of poisonings of wealthy men in Gotham leads Batman right to Poison Ivy, but it would seem that Pamela Isley has forsaken her life of crime after her rehabilitation in Arkham and settled down into a family with her new husband, Professor Chris Carlyle and his sons. Batman refuses to let his suspicions go, and trails Ivy after Dick Grayson is kidnapped to get to Bruce Wayne, and after Pam seems to have turned over a new leaf, Bruce pays the ransom to the kidnapper. The bizarre plant-beast attacks Wayne but Batman is able to escape with Robin in tow. When Robin reveals that Carlyle has daughters, Batman goes directly to the Carlyle residence and faces Poison Ivy and her mutant plant-children. This is another episode I remember very distinctly from when I was young, so I’m a little biased towards it. I did enjoy the episode, even if the mystery wasn’t very surprising and there weren’t many thrills. I really like Poison Ivy, I think they always do a great job in this series of making her both a dangerous villain and a character you can genuinely empathize with. Her goals here are greed based in her extortion schemes, but also motivated by her desire to have children when she physically cannot. The plant-babies were genuinely creepy with their Invasion of the Body Snatchers feel. I will complain a little about the final form of the Plant-Monster “children” because I just didn’t like the design of them. I thought they were kind of cool but too monstrous and clunky. I thought everything after the dock scene was all really great. The rest of the episode felt a little weak to me. I’m a little torn on my feelings towards Robin in this episode. We see, yet again, Robin the Boy Captive, where Batman has to save his sidekick. But we also get the playboy Dick Grayson and someone else to fight the monsters. I thought the animation was decent, but especially good with the plants and the melting plant-people. Overall, the suprisingly dark and mature Poison Ivy story is interesting but could have been a lot better, espeically since it was written by Dini. Rating: B