After watching this episode again, I got a weird Dark Knight Rises vibe from it. Super-smart, super-strong villain with a cool coat? Who commits a robbery that Batman is utterly unable to stop? Whose goal is to defeat and humiliate Batman? And leaves Bruce Wayne penniless due to stock fraud? And has a secret mastermind behind him who pretends to be an ally of Bruce Wayne?
...am I reading too much into this?
I’m just going to say it: DAVE may very well be
the most effective villain Batman’s ever faced. (That may be a bit hyperbolic... let's narrow that down to the villains in this show.) Unlike villains like,
say, the Riddler who boast about their crimes-to-be and then get
defeated because of the announcement, DAVE did the same thing because he can. He said to Gotham, “I’m going to win this one” and he does.
episode basically serves as a deconstruction and a reconstruction of
the villain clichés. The clichés are identified and then
pulled off with spectacular success before Batman turns the tables. Writing
a villain who can anticipate any outcome is tricky to do. I myself
created a villain in my last Dungeons and Dragons campaign who was one
of the PC’s from the future, and would therefore know exactly what the
PCs would do to overcome every obstacle. To accomplish this, I had to
do what DAVE did and put the heroes in situations that had solutions
Solution 1-> Outcome 1
Solution 2-> Outcome 2
Solution 3-> Outcome 3
Bypass the situation entirely -> Outcome 4
And then you have 4 plans to get each outcome to further your overall goal.
the audience will either respond positively or negatively to a villain
who prepares for everything that happens. When you do it right, you get
episodes like this. When you do it wrong, one of your players will
ragequit the D&D campaign, as I discovered.
This episode had to
be carefully written in order to work, and it was. The animation and
voice acting were as strong as ever (including Richard Green, in his
first appearance as Hugo Strange, taking over for the late Frank Gorshin).
Strange has appeared before, but this episode marks his transition into
villainy. Unfortunately, it goes downhill from here. Of most note after this
point are the time he rips off the Scarecrow, and the time that aliens
betrayed him. But those are stories for another time.
This episode was a real treat, and I would go so far as to say that it’s one of my favorites from the series.
I hope to return to this series soon.
See you then!