Monday, May 11, 2015

Recap: The Batman "Call of the Cobblepot"

Welcome back to The Batman.

Today we have another typical Season 1 plot. A new villain appears, does what they do best, and then gets defeated by our titular hero. Expect this for the next six episodes, too.

But that's not to say this is a particularly bad formula; although it hinges on the villain of the piece. The more memorable the villain, the more memorable the episode.

Today, we have a truly unforgettable villain.... whether you like it or not.

So, uh, how well can you tolerate Spongebob's voice actor? No reason....
The episode begins as a snooty old rich lady is entering her penthouse apartment. She has one of those small, yappy dogs that seem to have been specifically bred to fit inside a purse. As dictated by yappy dog naming practices, the dog is named "Princess." As far as cutesy names for dogs go, it could be worse. A great aunt of mine has owned at least two chihuahuas that I know of. The first one was named "Henrietta Penelope Pooh Bear," and the current model is named "Wiggle Waggle Woo." All things considered, "Princess" got off easy.

But this old dowager has more on her mind than her dog at the moment. Apparently, she just got back from some terrible rich people party. I mean, the guests were B-list. B-list! The horror! To wash away the shame of being seen with such riff-raff, the old lady takes off her jewelry and goes to prepare a nice, hot bath for herself.

As she gets the water running in the bathroom, Princess notices that the window is suddenly open and does what any small dog does best. She barks at it. The dowager, thinking that her dog is barking at nothing (which these types of dogs usually do), throws a shoe at her. Princess shuts up and simply contents herself with looking at the avian intruder, which reveals itself as a red-eyed owl. The feathery fiend quickly snatches the jewelry and flies away, knocking over a lamp as it does.

As the dowager exits the bathroom to find her necklace gone, she wails in that way only rich people can.

"But without my items of monetary value, I've no way of proving I'm better than those worthless middle class peons! Noooooo!"
After the theme song.... Wait, go back.

She was wearing makeup in the bath?
Anyway, after the theme song, Ethan Bennett and Ellen Yin are on the scene. Apparently, there's been a rash of high-rise robberies lately. No forced entry or anything, no prints, and no actual physical evidence left behind. A classic "locked room" mystery. Except for the open window, of course. 

Ellen Yin: "I'd say it sounds like our Batman. If he were a burglar."

As they exit the crime scene, the Batman himself arrives. In classic intruder fashion, he enters intruder window. He whips out some kind of flashlight... scanner... eyepiece... thing and uses it to locate the only bit of physical evidence in the room. It's a set of tiny claw marks in the dresser that glows when he looks at it through his Detective Mode gadget.

It's his crimey-wimey detector. It goes "ding" when there's stuff.
The only other thing he finds is a tattered feather. As he puts it in a small container for future analysis, Yin and Bennett return. Upon seeing the Caped Crusader, Yin follows proper escalation protocol by whipping out her gun and aiming it at him. I'd like to point out that this is only proper escalation protocol in Gotham City. Luckily, Batman was just leaving anyway, so he zips away on his Bat-Line. Later, at the Bat-Cave, Batman identifies the feather as belonging to a "strix nebulosis lapponica," a rare Chinese owl. A real bird, too.

And according to the database, the claw marks are a match for the owl's talon span. Alfred takes this in stride and gently reminds his boss that Bruce Wayne is supposed to be hosting a party.

Bruce: "Right, Alfred. Tomorrow night."
Alfred: "Sir, it is tomorrow night."

And so, the party is on. Now, keep in mind. This show's version of Bruce Wayne is more like what we expect from Tony Stark. So instead of a hoity-toity ball with top hats and tails, Bruce is throwing a rave.

Bruce: "Hello, ladies."

And yet again, here Bruce is with two women at once. You know, I’m actually starting to think that Bruce wants people to think they’re just his beards. I mean, this version of Bruce is always with multiple ladies at once while never actually doing anything with them beyond being seen in public. I think Bruce figures that if he can drum up some "Is he secretly gay?" headlines to rival Tom Cruise's, then the media will be too distracted to stumble upon his double life as Batman.

"So, do either of you want to kiss me? Because kissing girls is a thing that I like to do."
As the paparazzi take pictures of the various superstars entering the party, somebody starts beeping their horn. Turns out, it's the next arrival. Two masked geisha appear, followed by a small, fat little man voiced by Tom Kenny. 

Little Man: "The Oz-Meister is in the house!"

The little man, ridiculously out of place in his top hat and tails, makes his way over to Bruce and introduces himself.

Little Man: "Cobblepot! Oswald Cobblepot. Of the Newcastle Cobblepots?"

Yeah, we all know he's the villain.  Even if you don't recognize the name "Oswald Cobblepot" as belong to the Penguin, a classic Batman villain, the simple fact that the ugly little spud runs around with two henchgirls in plain sight should be a dead giveaway.

Oh, you're from Newcastle, England?
Sorry, I should have realized from that thick American accent you have.
...Unless you mean Ontario. Or perhaps Delaware. Or Jamaica.
But Alfred, serving hors d'oerves, does recognize the name from across the room as Oswald tries to buddy-buddy with Bruce. Apparently, "Ozzie" just got back from a tour abroad and he brought back souvenirs from Asia. Two of them. They don't talk much. I'd make a pun on the word "abroad" in reference to Oswald's henchgirls, but I won't. 'Cause I got class. 

Oswald: "Speaking of 'a broad...'"

Oswald, however, does not. This version of Oswald Cobblepot is pretty darn polarizing, but I'll go into more detail when I review.

Oswald goes off to act like a general creeper to some random blonde as Alfred comes over and tells Bruce all about the unfair conditions his grandfather faced while buttling for the Cobblepots back in England. Horrible people. And we see that Oswald's no different than the rest of his family as the random blonde he was chasing loudly tells him to get lost. And if you pay careful attention to the sound of his giggling beforehand, it's quite likely that he was taking full advantage of the fact that his eye level is just below her waist level.

As Bruce rushes outside after the woman to try and make amends, Oswald quickly scarfs down all the food on Alfred's tray. The woman introduces herself as Amanda Raymond (I think; she pronounces it Ray-MOND), and says other things, too. But Bruce's attention is on the unmarked cop car on the mansion grounds.

He goes over to the car, greets Ethan, and introduces himself to Ellen.

Ellen Yin: "Detective Yin."

"We've met, actually."
"Really? When?"
"Uh.... Sometime when I wasn't dressed as Batman. I do that a lot. Not being Batman."
"...."
"Always, in fact. I'm always not Batman."
"Um... Okay?"
"Nailed it."
Ethan tells his buddy Bruce that Chief Rojaz wants them to keep an eye on the shindig, what with the rash of robberies. Speaking of, a crow suddenly flies down at Amanda. She screams, and Bruce and the cops run over to investigate. Apparently, the bird had grabbed one of her earrings, but dropped it when she put up a struggle.

Back inside, Alfred is checking the guest list as Oswald consumes yet another tray of food. The police, presumably, are back in their car.

"Ethan, what was with all that stuff about not being Batman?"
"I think he says stuff like that to distract people from figuring out that he's gay."
Alfred prepares to unleash his British fury upon the little man in front of everybody. For some reason, the rave music isn't playing and the lights are considerably less seizureish, so all eyes are on Alfred. Bruce re-enters, wondering what the matter is, and Alfred lets his boss know that Oswald isn't on the guest list. Oswald demands to see the list, and he does indeed find his name missing. 

Oswald: "An oversight."

Alfred continues to inform Oswald that since this is an event being held for charity, you can't get in unless you make at least the minimum donation. Oswald responds by reaching into his coat, pocketing the guest list in the process, and grabbing a roll of bills to throw into the fire. Oswald leaves in a huff as Alfred rescues the money from the fire, discovering that it was a roll of one-dollar bills. He may have been burning money, but it looks like Oswald doesn't have money to burn.

Later that night... at least, I assume it's night. The stylization of the show has resulted in a green sky yet again, so I can't tell if it's nighttime or if Lex Luthor is trying to use Kryptonite clouds to defeat Superman.

Whenever it is, the party's over and Alfred is telling Bruce about the rumors that say the Cobblepots had squandered their entire fortune. Bruce tells Alfred to get some sleep and forget about it before rushing off to the Bat-Cave. But before Alfred can hit the hay, he notices that his silver serving tray is missing.

Remembering that Oswald was eating off of it the last time he saw it, Alfred deduces that the little hobgoblin stole it out of spite. And in the name of avenging Grandpa Pennyworth, he decides to go steal it back. Unfortunately, this is "stiff upper lip" Alfred, not "former black-ops" Alfred, so this is bound to end in failure.

Batman is soon on the rooftops of Gotham, watching the skies. He sees what appear to be stars twinkling in the night sky and takes a closer look. Okay, how polluted is Gotham City when not only is the sky green, but seeing stars is something to be suspicious of?

Also, who moved the moon so close?
The twinkling lights turn out to be many different breeds of birds carrying shiny jewelry in their talons. He follows the feathered fiends on his Bat-Glider (sold separately), and follows them to their destination. The birds all drop their loot into the trunk of a car, with one of Oswald's geishas overseeing the operation.

Batman: "Where's Kabuki Twin number two?"

His question is answered when she drops out of the sky and slices a wing off his glider. He sticks the landing, but now both the Kabuki Twin have him in their sights as they remove their kimonos to reveal that they are apparently the unholy spawn of Edward Scissorhands and Lady Deathstrike.

Hmmmm... did Wolverine have any daughters while in Japan?
Within ten seconds, Batman is knocked on his rear. He fares better in the second round, but the femme fatales still manage to drive off with their ill-gotten booty. The next day, Alfred arrives at the rusty, broken-down building that is Cobblepot Manor. He enters through the unlocked door and ends up finding his silver tray on a narratively convenient table. But just because the tray was ridiculously easy to find doesn’t mean Alfred will get a smooth getaway. No sooner than Alfred recovers his tray, Oswald returns home.

Meanwhile, Bruce is back at the Bat-Cave reading up on a rash of high-rise thefts in Asia, just like the current spree in Gotham. And since Oswald said he just got back from a tour of the Orient (not to mention stealing Bruce’ guest list as a potential list of targets), it’s clear that the little man has been masterminding the whole scheme. Bruce tries to call Alfred on the intercom, but there’s no answer, so he tries Alfred’s cell.

Back at Cobblepot Manor, Oswald gleefully scarfs down what he claims is anchovy pizza.

Those anchovies look a lot like pepperoni.
Alfred’s phone goes off in the other room, alerting Oswald that there seems to be an intruder in his house. He grabs a spike-tipped umbrella and goes to take care of the unwanted guest himself. In his attempt to hide, Alfred accidentally stumbles upon Oswald’s aviary, which contains his birds, his stolen loot, and his henchgirls. Oswald corners Alfred while dual-wielding spike-tipped and flame-throwing umbrellas. Unfazed, Alfred declares that he had merely stopped by to take back what was rightfully his.

Oswald: “Fine! You can use it to serve me more of those shrimp puffs.”
Alfred: “The days of Pennyworths serving Cobblepots are long since over.”

So, up until this point, Oswald had been calling Alfred “Jeeves,” apparently mistaking Bruce Wayne’s butler for Bertie Wooster’s valet. But with the revelation that Alfred is a member of the family that used to buttle for his family, he brags about his upcoming plans to restore his family fortune, blah blah blah, which ends with Alfred being tied down to feed to Oswald’s trained birds. Luckily, Batman comes in to save the day.

Batman: “What are you doing here?”
Alfred: “Long story.”

Batman uses a convenient sonic device to annoy the birds out of the house, meaning that he still has to contend with the Kabuki Twins. He contends with them in a few seconds, thanks to a conveniently human-sized cage he locks them in. But Batman still has to defeat the mastermind.

Oswald: “Please, call me Penguin.”

…Why?

Oswald: “A flightless bird, but one with style!”

Well, I guess it makes sense, considering that tuxedos are often called “penguin suits,” but it seems like Penguin’s just giving himself a villain name for pretty much no reason. I mean, what kind of person just goes by the name of an animal for no real reason? That’d be like if I decided my name was… wait….

Fine, you win this round, Penguin.

Anyway, Penguin proves himself to be just as surprisingly agile as the Joker, thanks to a little training during his Asian expedition. Thanks to Penguin's flips and kicks (and a little dirty fighting), the two are almost evenly matched. That’s when Penguin whips out an electrified chain-whip umbrella, gaining the upper hand. Luckily, Batman overcomes the tasering through sheer force of will and lands a single, solid punch on the little bird to win the fight.

Batman and Alfred head off to exit the house, but Penguin soon wakes up and attacks again. After getting knocked back again, Penguin get buried in about a metric ton of birdseed. While he may be caught, it seems that the Kabuki Twins have disappeared, leaving only their masks behind.

Sometime later, in a mild case of tonal whiplash, Bruce and Ethan are shooting some hoops in the ‘hood. Ethan makes the winning basket, meaning that Bruce has to buy the hot dogs. After eating said hot dogs, Bruce congratulates his pal on the “Cobblepot bust.” But Ethan says he had barely anything to do with it; he just showed up after Batman did the dirty work. Ethan starts getting all philosophical about how he’s almost glad that the “freaks” bring out the Batman.

Bruce: “Hopefully, it’s not the Batman who brings out the freaks….”

Well, maybe a freak like you needs company.

And as a crow lands to scare away the pigeons they were feeding, the episode ends. Now let's review and see just what has some people crying fowl. I'm not apologizing for that pun.

4 comments:

  1. Oswald had been calling Alfred “Jeeves,” apparently mistaking Bruce Wayne’s butler for Bertie Wooster’s valet. But with the revelation that Alfred is a member of the family that used to buttle for his family"

    Nice Clue reference :)

    Anyway, I never noticed before but Mulan/Agent May is the voice of Yin on the show which in hindsight is pretty cool (though sucks when she gets dumped off the show in season 3).

    What are your thoughts of the Penguin on Gotham? I enjoy him, he's like the Penguin from Batman Returns but with a better performance.

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    Replies
    1. Gotham, Gotham, Gotham.

      I have 18 unwatched episodes on my dvr. I lost interest after Fish hired a henchlady to start kissing her.

      I have no problems with homosexuality, but I DO have problems with Fox's ongoing obsession with shoving sex in their shows.

      Fox demanded a "space hooker" (their words) for Firefly, aired Almost Human out of order to skip to the sex bots, and seemed to be asking for lesbians left and right in Gotham for no reason than because sex sells.

      Having said all that, Oswald's story was ALWAYS the most interesting part of the show for me. I would have been content with a show that was just about showing Penguin's descent into villainy.

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    2. Gotta say, Fish's name is totally set up so Oswald can kill her and say something like "I'm not Oswald anymore, I'm the Penguin and penguins eat fish!"

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    3. And then cannibalism. Because Fox wants to see how many times they can tease a "shocking" new episode of their latest show.

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