Sunday, July 21, 2013

Recap: Beware the Batman, Ep. 2

In this episode, will secrets be revealed? Yes, but not the ones I thought. Well played, show.

Turns out Alfred's a furry. Who knew?
The episode opens with the shortened theme, and a quick recap of the last episode. Apparently, Batman got his butt kicked, and Alfred will be dead someday, so his replacement will be a young Asian woman. Everybody got that?

"Secrets" opens with someone's mind getting fried by a strange helmet inside a warehouse. A woman tells "Joe" that he's doing good, and just needs to last a little longer. As the camera changes angles, it becomes apparent that this week's villain is... Lady Gaga in leather fetish-wear? ...okay, I'll admit I was not expecting that.

Are those fake nails, or was she Born This Way?
Joe slumps over, and Lady Gaga removes the helmet, admiring it and actually saying "Shiny, shiny!" in a very possessive tone of voice. I could make a "Women are hypnotized by shiny objects" joke, but I'm better than that, so instead I'll start calling her "Lady Gollum" for now.

She looks over, and finds another shiny! This one's a stapler that has "PROPERTY OF MISKATONIC PSYCHIATRIC HOSPITAL" engraved on the bottom. And now, I am confused; I'll explain why.

So, H.P. Lovecraft. You know, the Cthulhu mythos? Men being driven mad by revelations of gods and monsters? Well, in the fictional town of Arkham, Massachusetts lies Miskatonic University, where all sorts of weird cultish stuff happens. In the Batman comics, Arkham Asylum was named in tribute to Lovecraft's work, and a reference to the mind-bending results of tampering with forces beyond one's ken. 
So...  is Miskatonic Psychiatric Hospital going to be this show's stand-in for Arkham Asylum, or what? Maybe it's just a "cute" little reference? Maybe it'll be Arkham's predecessor? Maybe we'll see DC Comics characters obtaining knowledge beyond our ken that mankind was simply NOT MEANT TO KNOW?!?

Anyway, she slips it into her satchel and runs off.  Suddenly she's kicked by Batman. Wow. That was kind of brutal, Batman. Lady Gollum agrees with me.

LG: "Hey, you just hit a girl!"
Batman: "No, I just hit a criminal."

Touche, Batman. It's like I've always said: "There's no right way to hit a woman.  But if she's got her finger on the nuke detonator, you might have to do it the wrong way." 

Banter between the two reveals that she's been stealing all sorts of high-tech gadgetry and machinery from various warehouses. Allegedly, Lady Gollum just likes the sparkles. They introduce themselves to each other as Batman and Magpie. Eeehh....  I'm still going to call her Lady Gollum until I get bored with that. Speaking of whom, she spies Batman's belt and instantly wants it. Batman offers her a shiny pair of handcuffs instead, and they fight. Lady Gollum pulls out her Lady Deathstrike claws and slashes away. Bats cuffs her, but she ninjas away to the roof. Batman checks on the guy she was torturing, and he seems to have lost his memory. Hmmm.... I'm thinking... plot point? We cut to the home of Lt. (not Commissioner) Gordon, where his jailbait daughter tries to negotiate with him in order to "meet" Batman... by making him breakfast.

She wouldn't be as interested in Batman if he still wore the nipple-suit from the Schumacher films.
 (Just for fun, I paused during the close ups of Gordon's newspaper to see the headlines, but they're all generic "Robbery" and "Mob" and "Crime Wave" articles. Hate to say it, but Ultimate Spider-Man knows how to insert Easter Eggs into their fake news.) As they talk, I'm completely distracted by the fact that Gordon's body seems to be made up of various cubes. 

Gordon and Officer No-Name are then at the crime scene, and No-Name says it resembles several other mind wiped crime scenes. Gordon detectives, and finds some psychiatric files, one of which is on some guy Gordon recognizes as "Lunkhead." Lunkhead either has the mother of all brain tumors or a baseball implanted in his head. Any thing else is hard to determine, seeing as his whole file is filled with standard "Loren Ipsum" gibberish. 

Back at STATELY WAYNE MANOR, Tatsu asks Alfred about Batman, and Alfred gives the standard "not much, I hear he fights crime or something" answer, or at least something similar. 

The only type of answer that could have been more cliche was if Bruce were there and said "not much, but I hear he's handsome." They talk about Batman's sanity for a bit, then Tatsu does a mini-spiel on living at Wayne Manor. 

Once again, I find myself distracted by the production design. Every once in a while, when the camera's at the right angle, and her eyes are pointed in the right direction, the stylization of Tatsu's eyes makes her look rather lazy-eyed.

This isn't what Alfred meant by "Keep an eye on Bruce at all times," Tatsu.
But Bruce comes in to distract me, and he gives the blandest delivery of small talk I've ever heard. Seriously, it has to be heard to be believed. Bruce then whips out his (stop smirking) detective skills and rapid-fire deciphers her past as a little kid, knowing Alfred, and having an MI-6 dad. Hey, Bruce? Eat a bran muffin; you're going to need a lot more fiber in your diet if you insist on pulling that much out of there. 

Later, Batman asks Alfred why he never told him that he had a partner who died. Alfred deflects the question, and Alfred reveals that Tatsu is his god-daughter. Kudos to the show-runners on making Alfred more mysterious and interesting. Bruce doesn't take the info as well as I do, and Alfred remarks that Bruce's reaction is exactly why he never mentioned her. Cue the most hypocritical Batman line in 3...2...1...

Bruce: "I don't like secrets, Alfred." 

Unless they're yours, right, Bruce? Whiner. And Alfred agrees with me. He also tells Bruce to give Tatsu a chance. 

In the Batcave, Bruce quickly suits up and says that he found all the info he could on Joe Braxton. Two things.

1: When did we establish that his last name was Braxton? 
2: Joe looks nothing like Richard Pryor. (There's, like, one guy out there who gets that. That was for him.) 

Apparently, Joe was part of a research team at Blackgate Penitentiary, which is backed up by the presence of Blackgate boxes in the warehouse. There was another researcher on the team, a one Bethanie Ravencroft. Again, two things. 

1: She looks like Magpie, so it can't be her. That'd be too obvious. 
2: Magpie's name in the comics is Margaret Pye, so it can't be her. 

But Batman can't read the official DC wiki, so he stakes out her building instead. But he gets distracted by some punks spray-painting the side of a building and batarangs them. 
Way to prioritize, Bats. Then Magpie shows up. That was too fast for anyone to get out of the building and change and get up onto the roof of another building, so Magpie can't be Dr. Ravencroft.

Magpie punches Batman out, and we go to commercial. Batman wakes up and gets up, with Magpie still there. Well, that was pointless. How long was he even knocked out for? Magpie tries her hand at sexy Catwoman-style banter, but it's a no-go, and they start fighting.

"You and me could write a Bat-Romance."  (No, I'm not ashamed of the puns.)
Then they quickly stop after Batman gets shoved off a roof. Boy, this is kind of a schizoid fight scene. Batman gets back up and gives chase to Magpie, asking about Braxton's mind. Then Magpie jumps off of a building. Batman saves her with his Batrope, but she cuts the rope. We see Batman looking down as a metal crunch sound is heard. I can't help but think that a big THE END card on the screen right now would be hilarious. But no, she gets up in a shot that I'm convinced is an homage to something or another and runs off. Bruce figures out her story from her various comments: she was a prisoner at Blackgate. He gets Alfred to check for inmates fitting the description. 

Meanwhile, Gordon found Lunkhead loading a truck in an alley. After bribing the mentally-handicapped man with candy, he gets information on the mind control experiments at Blackgate. Slowly, but surely, we get to watch Lt. Gordon figure out things that both the audience and Batman already know.

"Lunkhead only pawn in game of life."
Apparently, the lady they're looking for is named "Margaret Sorrow," as Bruce exposits on the way to Dr. Ravencroft's office. She was a kleptomaniac, so it all seems to fit. In the doctor's office, Bruce is shown in by Cassie, Dr. Ravencroft's assistant. In Ravencroft's office, Bruce looks at an inkblot on the wall and flashes back to his parents dead bodies. Yep, that was dark. Bruce signals to Alfred in the Batcave, who calls up Ravencroft's office, puts on one of those horrible Southern accents that only foreigners can seem to pull off, and Cassie freaks out over his comments of lawsuit, and she and the good doctor leave to sort that out in the reception room.

Bruce takes this golden opportunity to snoop. In her desk drawer, we see a key with a fancy "A" in a circle (the symbol popped up in last week's episode too, it's obviously a reference to an upcoming villain, Anarky), as well as the stuff Magpie stole. Well, it looks like Dr. Ravencroft's Magpie, so I bet she won't be. 

Through a scene transition, Batman ends up at Miskatonic Psychiatric Hospital. After wandering around the place, he's attacked by Magpie and they scuffle for a bit. It's a really good fight scene; this show can do fight scenes really well. Apparently, Magpie can't feel pain. Still doesn't explain how she escapes injury, but we'll let it slide unless it becomes really stupid. Oh, wait, she survived falling off of a building by not feeling the pain. Sorry, it's already stupid, but in that glorious Silver-Age way, so it still gets a pass. Magpie exposits that it was "stolen" from her, Batman offers to help, she declines, you know the drill. She slashes Batman with curare, and he blacks out. She finally gets his belt, just like she wanted.

Control your poison, babe; roses have thorns, they say.  (Yes, I'm running out of songs to reference.)
After the break, Batman wakes up to see Magpie wearing his belt and swinging on a hanging fluorescent lamp. Awww. He tries and fails to escape his shackles, and she assures him that she didn't look under the mask. ...why didn't she? Eh, doesn't matter. 

She kicks him in the faces, politely apologizes, and exposits that she's going to wipe his mind with the mind-wiper they used on her, then she's going to put her own memories back. She turns the machine on, but Batman escapes by picking the lock with a feather from her costume. Smashing the helmet, he runs after Magpie, after reading the file on Margaret Sorrow quickly. Impressive feat, considering it was filled with more "Loren Ipsum." He barges in of Magpie terrorizing a strapped down woman and knocks her wig off revealing her to be... Cassie! Just as I suspected, but only because they did something similar with Moriarty's identity on BBC's Sherlock.  Come on, I watch Steven Moffat's shows, DC. You'll never reach his level in plot twistery. Unless Grant Morrison's involved. 

Turns out, Magpie doesn't recognize her own face. Magpie's convinced that the doctors erased her memories, but Batman informs her that the experiment (eliminating the evil personality form the good personality in a person) split her personality into two separate identities, each one not knowing about the other's existence. In a twist, Margaret Sorrow's gone forever, replaced by the amnesiac Magpie and the law-abiding Cassie.... Lastnamegoeshere.

Okay, so this whole episode was a retelling of The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde. Wait, if Cassie was Magpie, then why were all the stolen "shinies" in Dr. Ravencroft's desk? 
Moot point, because Magpie goes after Dr. Ravencroft, getting her nine-inch-nails shot off by Lt. Gordon. Welcome to the plot, Gordon, glad you could finally make it. 

Magpie throws the nails at Gordon, and uses the distraction to escape. Gordon tells Batman he's under arrest, but Batman tells Gordon that there's no time for that and instructs him to save the Doctor. Grudgingly, he does. Magpie freaks out about the destruction of her mind-machine and begins an epic (but short) fight with Batman that ends with her getting knocked (by a shooting gas tank) into a bit of high-tech machinery that proceeds to electrocute her in the most violent way I've ever seen that didn't result in electrical superpowers. At first, she appears to be dead, but she can't be.  It's a kids show. Batman takes his belt back.

Batman: "No more shiny-shiny." 

Okay, Batman, go marathon all the Connery-era Bond movies.  Then you'll learn how to do a one-liner.  Here's a freebie:  "Looks like this jailbird's about to be caged."

Batman asks the gun-toting Gordon if the doctor's safe. She's fine. Batman and Gordon debate "justice" for a bit regarding putting Magpie back into the place that created her. Gordon promises to arrest Batman next time, and Batman pulls his signature leaving-in-mid-sentence disappearing act. Back to STATELY WAYNE MANOR, where Tatsu enters the manor, stating that the car's ready. She spots Bruce (who seems to be ignoring her) and follows him into the fireplace room that leads to the Batcave, and he's gone. He turns out to be watching her on the Batcave monitor, and says, "Let the tests begin." And the episode stops. Wow, way to be a jerk to your chauffeur. What, is Alfred going to walk in and pretend that Bruce Wayne never existed?

Final Thoughts 
I am getting a bit sick of the lack of catharsis in these episodes, but I have to admit that Episode 2 is pretty good and I'm starting to like how these things are shaping up. We'll see if things finally resolve into a status quo in Episode 3, "Tests."

No comments:

Post a Comment