Monday, October 20, 2014

Recap: Beware the Batman "Tests"

Previously, on Beware the Batman:
Alfred: "Tatsu is more than capable of being your bodyguard and driver. Test her. You'll see."
Bruce: "Let the tests begin."

I guess all that stuff about fighting Magpie was just filler, then. And so, Episode 3, "Tests," begins.

Lesson 1: Heroes? There is no such thing. Except for Batman. There's always Batman.
Specifically, it begins with the camera passing over a place called "Castle Hardware." A real business, by the way. Several real businesses, probably. Either this is just a coincidence, or this is some very odd product placement. Anyway, it turns out that the place is being trashed by two hoodlums named "Junkyard Dog" and Daedelus. In a nice little bit of continuity, they're the same hooligans that Batman threw a Batarang at last episode.

JD and DD (as I shall take to calling these scalawags) are busy in their creative endeavors, which pretty much consist of trashing and vandalizing Old Man Castle's store in retaliation for him not "appreciating" their artistic expression. What, did he criticize that you were painting "DDLS" on his wall? Because that's what you were doing. "Art," my foot; you're just removing the vowels from your name. You're not going to get an NEA grant for that, I'm sorry to say. Same for that shelf you're taking a saw to, JD.

'Cause vowels are for dorks.
Daedalus: "Down with creative oppression! This is justice!"
Batman: "No. I am justice." 

Protip: Batman waits for good opening lines like this. If you're going to commit a crime in Gotham, just stay quiet and he'll never show up.

"Come and see the violence inherent in the system!"
In the ensuing fight, DD begins spray-painting Batman's face, as Batman... just stands there and lets him do it, I guess. Either way, the two stooges get curbstomped and cuffed. After wishing them a nice night, Batman grapples away. Lamenting their luck, the duo is approached by a guy in an all-white outfit with the anarchy "A" on his chest. He compliments their "art," talking about it in a way that sounds.... Well, quite frankly, like he's enjoying himself  bit too much for a kid's show, if you know what I mean. 

It's actually fairly disturbing, although I'm not sure if it was intended to be disturbing in that way. He equips them with a rail-gun-lookin'-thing and an uber-chainsaw, and calls this a donation to their art. With that, he introduces himself as"Anarky." Oh, God. This is just the character that a 14-year old boy would create as a hero. Like chaos, hates authority, name's spelled wrong, etc. Can you tell that this character was popular in the 90's?

I would not be surprised if this is how the character came about.
Cut to STATELY WAYNE MANOR, where Tatsu walks down a corridor that seems to be directly taken from the opening of Star Wars: Episode IV. She dodges a few ridiculously dangerous traps, and talks to Alfred on a nearby camera, apparently still unaware that Bruce Wayne is Batman. Even though she's using a training room set to kill.

Alfred walks over to Bruce, who's standing at a nearby chessboard and tells him that Tatsu did remarkably well at his deathcourse "workout room." For a man who decided to take Alfred's advice, Bruce really seems to ignore Alfred's points. This must be the "depression" part of Bruce's manic-depression.

Alfred moves his king as he continues to praise Tatsu. Bruce moves his rook as he counters by referring to his own past traveling the world, training at various dojos. In response, Alfred moves his king, which Bruce then takes with his queen.

Now, for those of you who don't play chess, let me put it simply. The object of chess is to put your opponent in "checkmate."

To paraphrase Wikipedia, source of all knowledge....

Checkmate is a game position in chess in which a player's king is in check (threatened with capture) and there is no way to remove the threat. Checkmating the opponent wins the game.

So you think, "Okay, so Bruce won by taking the king with his queen." Nope. As Wikipedia goes on to say, in chess the king is never actually captured – the game ends as soon as the king is checkmated.

For those of you keeping score, Alfred broke the rules by putting his own king into checkmate position. Not only is that stupid (because you lose by default), but it's an illegal move. I don't know if that move was supposed to be symbolic of their conversation or something, but if that's the case, the fact that Bruce went along with the illegal move is just... bizarre. No, my personal theory is that either the showrunners, animators, or possibly the characters didn't actually know the rules of chess.

Sorry, let's move on. After all, it's not like this chess game is something they'll keep talking about.

Alfred: "I don't know why we bother even playing this game. You never lose!"

Well, maybe you shouldn't make illegal moves with your king that make you lose automatically, Alfred!

Sorry, let's move on for real.

Bruce: "Because you keep me sharp."

HE ILLEGALLY MOVED HIS OWN PIECE INTO A LOSING POSITION.

Look, I know I'm probably nitpicking, but it's a big mistake! It's not like Bruce's watch keeps switching wrists, or a lamp disappears between cuts; things happen, that's an understandable mistake. And honestly, I could ignore this as a background gaffe except that they don't stop talking about Bruce's skill at chess to beat Alfred!

"But, Newt, you admitted you were nitpicking! Why can't you just ignore this small mistake?"

Because they zoomed in on it so the chessboard filled the whole screen, and it's hard not to notice the things that fill the whole screen.

In order to not notice this, I would literally have to be blind. Not hyperbole, literally-literally.
Anyway, rant finally over. Bruce says that Tatsu needs more than an agility test to convince him, and we cut to Tatsu in her room, looking at a sword she hid in her closet. Ooooh, the Soultaker Sword! Oh, wait, I'm not supposed to know that yet. Oops.

Bruce's voice on the STATELY WAYNE MANOR PA System asks Tatsu to meet him in the trophy room. She gets there, and Bruce isn't there. What a horrible boss. She notices a scuff on the wall, and uncovers the secret entrance to the Batcave. Was this a test, too? And now she'll find the Batcave? Nope. The handscanner doesn't accept her print.

We then cut to the Queen Street Gallery, ostensibly an Art Gallery, and JD and DD start tearing the place up with their electro-gun and mega-super-saw. Guys, your art needs work. Anarky, watching from above, seems to like it, though. Thankfully for art lovers, Batman shows up in the Batmobile, and a fight ensues. JD breaks his saw on the Batmobile, and DD accidentally kicks up enough smoke for Batman to sucker punch both of them.

Cut to Batman arriving at the cave. Alfred hands a glass of orange liquid to Batman, calling it "dinner." He notes that "Dumber and Dumber" can't be smart enough to become as much of a threat as they are, and Batman deduces that they must be working with someone. Bats tells Alfred to do a background check on those two, and notices a shoeprint on the car left by JD. He tells Alfred to get on analyzing that, too.

Bruce walks through his halls before encountering Tastu, and they compliment each other on their 1337 quiet-walking skills. They talk a bit about the training and the job, and they shake hands. Tatsu peels off a plastic coating on her hand as Bruce leaves, revealing to us that she has Bruce's handprint! Um, didn't the Mythbusters disprove that technique?

Cut to JD and DD lamenting their current incarceration. Anarky busts them out, and gets them even better gear; a robot chest-claw, and a hazmat suit with an acidic squirt gun. 

Cut to Bruce reading up on Gotham Transit in his library, while Alfred fills him in that DD and JD were booted from every gallery in town. The goo that Bruce found in the shoeprint (industrial lube) had traces of rare pollen from the "chess flower." Bruce deduces that this means that someone's playing metaphorical chess with him. (Uh, why?) And he shows Alfred CC footage of the two ruffians at it again, telling Alfred to man the Batmobile. 

Back with the two losers, they're doing their thing. DD tags a wall in acid.

JD: "I can't believe I used to sculpt things with my hands!" 

And before I can caption a picture in any sort of humorous maner, he actually says "Stupid hands!" before I can. It's rare that I see a TV show or movie give itself the MST3K treatment.

Then the Batmobile shows up and starts firing actual missiles. Dang, Bats, maybe cool it a bit? Actually, it turns out that Alfred's driving by remote control. He takes down the two by button-mashing, and they run away to the "rendezvous-point," which seems to be a tramway station. Anarky's there already, monitoring the Batmobile while Batman sneaks up behind him. After a sarcastic slow-clap and remark, Anarky and Batman begin to fight. It's a good fight, with a lot of skill shown by both combatants.

Flashbombs? Who do you think you are? Batman?
Meanwhile, Tatsu uses her handprint that she obtained, and the scanner accepts it after a second (my guess is that it denied it at first because she got an upside-down handprint). Entering the elevator, she presses a button and emerges at... not the Batcave, but Bruce's private library.

Beware the Batman, you're a tease.

She grabs the book that Bruce was looking at, and wonders why he was looking at it. Meanwhile, Bats and Anarky are still fighting. After they get separated, Anarky begins talking.

Anarky: "Well done!"

Now, I recognize the tone of his villain speech as being rehearsed. Makes sense to me. As a Dungeon Master, I can guarantee that there are some villains who require really good speeches, and rehearsing is just natural and sometimes necessary. If I were a villain, I'd be rehearsing them all the time. But he's not doing a good job of having it sound natural.

Maybe you shouldn't point at the obvious target on your chest? Just a suggestion.
Batman responds that what he's doing isn't a game, and that someone could get hurt. Anarky responds in his way-too-happy-wink-wink tone of voice.

Anarky: "It's the sort of action that makes me...."

Okay, I don't want to know what that makes you, but my guess is "hot and bothered." 

Anarky: "...the better player." 

Whew. He finishes his speech with a chess metaphor, calling Batman the Black King, Order, and himself, the White King, Anarchy. What, is he going to make an illegal move to...  all right, no more.
 
After that stinger of a line, he runs in to attack, and they fight some more. Batman declines to play the game, but Anarky says he needs a worthy opponent, saying they'll write songs about their struggle. Hate to break it to you, Anarky, but "Batdance" isn't about you.

Suddenly, the tram-post over yonder explodes. Like a DM who really wants his players to know that he's been clever, Anarky says that was just a distraction and, as Batman finishes, the real bombs are on the gondolas, and they'll explode when they gondolas going in opposite directions cross. He also calls the plan "obvious." Anarky says that regardless, there's only time to save one. Isn't that always the way? He also whips out a dead-man's switch and says that if Batman simply turns the gondolas off at the station, instant detonation. Hmm, replace the gondolas with boats, and I think the Joker did something similar in a movie back in 2008.

JD and DD show up, and Anarky sets them on him.

Anarky: "Not such an obvious move now, is it?" 

Look, Anarky, sometimes the players are going to figure out your twists, and you have to not be bitter about it. I myself had a player in my D&D campaign figure out that the enemy he had been chasing was himself from the future before I was ready to reveal it. You just have to roll with it.

JD and DD surrender, and Batman punches them out before motorbiking away to the sky-trams, then gliding off of his bike to land on said trams. Batman outlines his plan to divert the magnetic signals on the trams so that neither one will explode. Good plan. He lands at the tower, and begins hotwiring, only stopped by Anarky kicking his chest.

Punches, too.
They fight again, and Anarky congratulates him on figuring out the solution to his test. 

Batman: "It wasn't much of a test."

Anarky has a simultaneous "arrgh" of frustration and....  I'm just gonna say it, arousal? And says that Batman has no idea what an honor it is to be Anarky's enemy, like he's telling his parents that they just don't understand him. He even caps it off by whining a bit.

Anarky: "It's a really big deal!" 

Hilarious. Possibly unintentionally so.

Batman puts him down, deactivates the dead man's switch with a frequency jammer, then punches out Anarky, who falls off the tower. Batman then glides away and successfully reroutes the signal, saving both trams. Looking down, it seems that Anarky has disappeared. I bet we'll see that whiny, petulant, unintentionally creepy, unintentionally hilarious teenager soon. Yep, he's just a teenager in the comics, and whiny enough to be one here.

JD and DD are taken away by Gordon, and DD taunts the cops. JD begins to consider that maybe they're not talented, so there's hopes for these two. Tatsu rides up and looks at the tramway, comparing it with Bruce's book. Bruce congratulates her, to himself, saying that she passed his test. Uhhhh....  what test? The test of stealing his handprint, pushing the button to go to his library and not the one that goes to the Batcave, finding the right book out of hundreds, and following him to a tramway? ....I would definitely need multiple choice for that test.

Batman: "Perhaps I judged you too quickly, or perhaps you just got lucky. We'll see."

I hope we finally will, because this character who's been advertised as "Katana" and "Batman's partner" hasn't lived up to either yet, I'm sorry to say. But enough of that, let's review.

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