Sunday, August 11, 2013

Recap: Beware the Batman, Ep. 5

Well, here we are again. ...I really have no introduction for this one, I just hope it's good.

Let's hope that this episode doesn't need fixing.
Again, after the shortened theme, we get the customary "Previously On..." segment. So, apparently, last episode, ninjas happened, and Silver Monkey tried to steal Tatsu's Soultaker Sword. I guess Batman was involved somehow?

Now, some people have complained that Tatsu's past (that a lot of us already knew by the fact that it's freely available online, and not being hidden at all) took up too much of the last episode, and they should hurry up and make her into Katana. Well, seemingly in response to that, this episode has almost zero Tatsu within. 
Is this good? Is this bad? Let's find out!

We begin with an overhead shot of a table, with fake grass, bushes, and a castle on it.  A large, shadowy man places toy soldiers on it, reciting
"...all the King's horses, and all the King's men...."
before fading from a shot of a toy soldier to a shot of a similar solder, life sized and on a Gotham sidewalk.

Random Guy:  "What the heck?  Since when did the city of Gotham start putting statues on the sidewalk?"

Wrong, good sir. The correct answer to seeing a life-sized toy soldier in Gotham City is "Oh, God, run!  It's a supervillain trap!" Then you run; then you call the cops. Thankfully, the cops quickly arrive and tell the man and his girlfriend?/wife?/sister?/cousin?/call girl? to step away and be on their way. A cop named O'Brian calls the situation in to the station, and the statue's arm clicks down, aiming a flintlock. Laser sounds occur as it start firing bullets, and the cops respond in kind, firing their own laser guns that shoot bullets.

So, I did promise at the beginning of the first recap that I wouldn't judge the decision to replace all the guns with lasers.... but that's exactly what I'm going to do. I would like to point out that I respect the decision and especially their reasoning; I take issue with the execution, not the decision itself.

The showmakers' response to the 2012 Aurora Tragedy was to make all the firearms in the show "less realistic," which apparently means "they look and sound like guns from sci-fi, but they're obviously shooting bullets, and they even need to be reloaded with bullets (as seen in Episode 1)." So, their response to a tragic shooting was to redesign all the guns in a stupid way? If I were them, I'd put more work into removing gun violence. But I'd replace it with other violence.

Have Batman incapacitate the gunmen, or take out the guns with batarangs, and rely more on showing Batman going fist-to-fist with thugs. Oh, and also.... Cops in real life aren't so trigger-happy, guys. Maybe you could have kept the guns looking the same, but just make the cops shoot wildly fewer times? As I've said, I respect the decision and the reasoning, though. To be fair, the fact that they were quite far in the animation before the change was implemented likely didn't help either.

So where were we? Ah, yes, the cops were firing round bullets out of square gunbarrels with square holes in them that sound like lasers. They shoot its eye out, and take out part of the horse the soldier's on,which electrifies it, disabling the gun. They cautiously approach, and a man's muffled voice calls for help. In the hole where the statue's right eye used to be, part of a man's face can be seen. And that's why cops don't discharge their weapons on a regular basis, because they might hit innocent bystanders or hostages. In fact, the way that bullet hit the statue's eye, they barely missed this guy. Geez.

Anyway, backup's called, and Lieutenant Gordon (yeah, he's not the Commish, yet. Give it time!) is soon there, inspecting the scene. He calls for the jaws of life to rescue the guy, but a Batarang whooshes past his face, embeds itself in the ground, and "STOP" is heard from above. The Batarang opens up, and scans the statue like this is Star Trek or something, and Batman reports to the cops that the suit is actually also a bomb, which is likely set to go off if they try to remove him. After Batman disappears, they call the bomb squad.

Cut to STATELY WAYNE MANOR, and Tatsu is searching the pot that she stashed her sword in last episode. Except it's gone. Alfred asks what she's doing, and she claims she lost her keys and walks away. Alfred smiles in a way that makes it really obvious that he's got the sword. Fifteen seconds? Wow, that was a short scene. Get used to that for these two, this episode.

Cut to an underground parking lot where Gordon's overseeing the bomb technicians trying to get into the statue, and he's standing much closer than I would to that thing.  The guy inside's freaking out.

Man: "Where'd you jokers take me?"

No, my friend, the Jokerz aren't appearing in this series. Neither is the Joker, for that matter. Batman calls Gordon, having hacked his phone, and Batman reveals the the man in the statue, "Icepick Joe," works for a local gang boss who goes by the name "Tobias Whale." Gordon tells Bats to stay away from Whale, but Batman hangs up. Gordon tries to alert the force, but he can't get cell service. Gordon's not impressed.

"Can you hear me now? ... Good!" Wow, I bet the kids these days won't even get that reference.
This is his 2nd appearance, technically;
his first was in the comic prequel.
We cut to a warehouse, where Whale (yet another bald guy in this show; even some of his goons are bald. What's with all the bald people?) and his goons are confronted by Batman, who calls Whale a fat tick using fancy words. He asks about Icepick Joe, and Tobias knows nothing; he thought Batman got him. Tobias walks away, and his incredibly casually-dressed mooks go ahead and engage Batman in fisticuffs. Some of them cheat, because they have guns and knives. In a good fight scene, Batman takes almost all of them out. When only one remains, the guy puts his arms over his face to guard himself and begins to whimper in fear. He peeks through his arms to see if Batman's there, and Batman punches him between his arms. Geez, Bats, that's really kind of mean. The guy surrendered, and you go ahead and inflict blunt force trauma right in the face. Then again, something similar is my favorite thing to do in the "Arkham" video games, so I can't complain.

Batman follows after Whale into the other room, but only finds signs of a struggle, an open door outside, and a toy soldier, which fades back to the diorama from the beginning, where a meaty hand sets up toy cannons.

???: "Set the cannon on St. Mary's wall... and it shall surely, surely fall. And three-score men and three-score more, cannot set it as it was before...."

Yep, that's creepy. Actually, the whole episode sets a really nicely creepy tone. The soldiers and cannons end up aimed at each other, before fading in to a Gotham intersection where the same thing is set up for life-size. A taxi drives up and the driver hears the muffled voices for help as the statues begin lowering their arms to light the cannon fuses. He... well, he just kind of stares with a blank expression. After we come back from commercial, Batman shows up, and knocks down a signpost in the middle of the street, successfully deflecting the cannonballs.

Cut to Gotham City PD, where Batman places a file on Gordon's desk.

Batman: "Somebody is sending Gotham a message, Lieutenant."
 Gordon: "How did you get in here? Why do I even ask..."

Batman names all the victims of the toy-soldiers, all are criminals or politicians, and informs Gordon that Whale's missing. Gordon spots the connection between everything: "the Dumpler case." 
Uh-oh. Whenever a cop says "the _____ case," expect a cliche storm.

"Dammit, I'm a good cop!"
"You're a loose cannon!"
"What about justice?"
"I'm taking away your badge!"
"What about the rights of that little girl?"
"The mayor's on my ass about this case!"
"You're out of order! The whole system's out of order!"
"You killed innocent people!"
"The means to an end!"
"You started a massacre!"
"I caused a revolution!"
"You betrayed the LAW!"

...sorry, where were we? Oh, yes, Gordon exposits on "the Dumpler case." In flashback, we see Gordon encouraging a rather obese man named Mr. Dumpler to exit the police van and testify against Tobias Whale.

Batman, are you sure that the Walrus isn't loose in Gotham?  Because the Eggman's here. 
Suddenly, a missile comes out the sky and blows up the van, knocking everyone away.

Back in the present, Batman exposits that Humphry Dumpler worked for the mob a a brilliant accountant, but he "went crazy" after the explosion, and later escaped protective custody. Batman deduces that Gordon's likely next, and offers to protect him. (He also refers to Dumpler as "Humpty Dumpty," which is actually kind of mean, seeing as how Humphry hasn't actually adopted the sobriquet. It just seems mean-spirited this way, like Batman's making fun of him for being fat.) Gordon declines and walks out of his office.

Then, the excitement I had for the main plot gets derailed as we cut back to STATELY WAYNE MANOR, where Tatsu decides to bite the bullet and let Alfred know about the sword, and that it's missing. Alfred, meanwhile, is in the kitchen making himself a sammich (He cuts the crust off. Huh, he didn't seem like the type.), when he suddenly whips out a gun and aims it right at Tatsu. He quickly apologizes and advises her not to sneak up on ex-MI6 agents making sammiches. Tatsu admits she's not looking for her keys. Alfred says he knows, and walks out of the room.

Two things.
1. Alfred's not limping, and he has neither a cane nor a cast, so did his leg finally heal? When?
2. The sandwich has disappeared, so I'm going to assume it shape-shifted into the gun. Hey, Q-Branch has come up with weirder. I've heard that they developed trousers that turn into jam with the push of a button!

Alfred leads her to another room, where the Soultaker Sword lies on a table. Alfred knows the sword's name, and asks Tatsu how the heck she got it.

We cut back to Batman, perched on a rooftop across from Gordon's house, creepily watching Barbara return home to her dad. He listens in on their conversation with a device, and Barbara finds and remarks on a toy soldier she finds. Batman realizes Dumpler's in the house, and he springs into action, only to be stopped by three life-size toy soldiers appearing before him and firing. Taking one out, he notes that they're empty inside.

Dumpler better hope that the Toyman doesn't get upset about his schtick getting stolen.
Gordon, meanwhile, tells Barbara to get out the back exit, and she runs off, only to run into....

Well, there's my nightmares for tonight. He grabs Barbara, and Gordon rushes in to save her. Batman, meanwhile, takes out the soldiers and runs inside. He comforts Barbara, who had been left behind after Dumpler ran off with Gordon. After the commercial break, Batman's driving off as we get the best exchange in the episode.

Batman: "Computer. Last known address of Humpty Dumpty."
Computer: "A wall."

See, Batman? That's why you don't call people by cruel nicknames. He clarifies that he means Humphry Dumpler, and the computer eventually states that Humphry's grandmother died under "suspicious" circumstances, and her home is within Gotham limits. (Remember the thing about his grandma: it'll be important later.) Batman checks it out. (And for some reason, I swear that part of the Judge Dredd theme plays.)

Batman arrives at the house and investigates. Man, if only Gotham had some sort of group, or "force," if you will to do all this police work. A "police force," if you will. Batman B&Es his way in, and discovers the table from the beginning of the episode, seeing two armies and a castle laid out. He finds a casing for one of the life size soldiers, and he gets his mini-computer to find a "resonance" to negate the explosive charges, blahblahblah, he technobabbles a way to deactivate the explosives in the shells.

Back with Alfred, he takes Tatsu down to the secret library, and exposits that MI-6 had been hunting for the sword since forever. He lays down a book on the subject, showing an old Roman picture showing the sword being used. (I wondered why the sword wasn't actually a Katana; it's Roman.) Tatsu explains that she was hired by the CIA to hunt down the master of the League of Shadows (Ra's al Ghul), but after she saw Silver Monkey drain a man's soul, leaving him "empty as dust" (um, dust isn't empty), she stole the sword and ran away, because the sword was even too dangerous for the CIA. Alfred wonders why, if the bad guys know where the sword is, why they haven't just killed them and taken it by now.

And with that, we won't see those two for the rest of the episode, hope you enjoyed their brief scenes. We cut back to Batman, and he's finishing up modifying his batarangs to negate Dumpler's explosives, and he figures out where Gordon and Whale are by looking at the model castle. We then cut to the same castle, life size, with two life size toy armies in front of it.

Okay, wait. Is there just a castle in Gotham? If Dumpler put it there, then why did no one see him do it? How did Batman know where it was? These questions and more were filed by the writers under "I" for "IDK," which stands for "Make something up, nerds."

Batman drives up, and Humphry greets him from the castle wall. Oh, hi, Voice of Gunther from Kick Buttowski. How disturbing that you're emanating from Dumpler's face. Dumpler fires upon Batman with a rifle as the soldiers start attacking each other. Batman whips batarangs left and right, and quickly finds Whale, gets him out, and rescues him. Whale runs off. Running back into the fray, Batman discovers Gordon in another one, and drags him behind the Batmobile. Humphry doesn't take this well.

Batman: "Humpty! Time to stop!"

Bats, you're just being a jerk by calling him that. He runs up and grapples up the wall, and follows Dumpler inside. Dumpler, meanwhile, is panting and crying. He cries that he never wanted to hurt anyone, he's only doing this because Gordon and Whale dragged him into a war. The only way out that he saw was to win of the war. All he wanted was to go back to playing with his numbers and his toys. And with that, the character finally resembles his comic book incarnation.

See, in the comics, Humphry Dumpler has some vaguely defined, but realistic mental condition. He has the mind of a child, not helped that he was raised by a grandmother who perpetually treated him that way. He liked to "fix" things, often by taking them apart and failing to put them back together.

Eventually, after doing this to city landmarks, he was tracked down by Batgirl. He took her back to his home and showed her his grandma; because her health had been failing, he had sliced her into pieces and was attempting to put her back together. (This was referenced in the show. Remember his grandma's "suspicious" death? Yeah.)

Humphry doesn't want to hurt anyone. Of Batman's enemies, he's the one who belongs in Arkham. He's the one who just genuinely needs some help. And he speaks in rhyme, when the writers decide that he does. It comes and goes.

Back in the show, Batman still follows after Humpty, who says that after all this time, Batman had given him the most fun he's had in years. And his crying turns into laughing. Batman catches up to Humphry, who's perched on the edge of the castle, reciting Humpty Dumpty, before tipping off the edge. When he hits the ground, he shatters into a million pieces, revealing that the one who fell was just a dummy.

Batman meets back up with Gordon, who gets a call that all the "bomb-suits" deactivated. Batman says that Humphry's just broken, not evil, and he's being an honorable loser, but he doubts that they've seen the last of Humphry Dumpler.

Final Thoughts
This was easily the best episode so far. The only real issue I take with it is that Tatsu's subplot kind of slows down the episode, and it doesn't conclude, so much as stop. Oh, well, if that's my biggest complaint, either the show's getting better or I'm lowering my standards. No, wait, here's another one!

So, we're five episodes in. Tatsu's been advertized from the beginning as "Katana, Batman's Partner." Well, according to Wikipedia, the next episode, "Toxic," is going to be the last episode for a while. If that's true, she's got one more episode to turn into Batman's partner. Will it actually happen? ...Doubtful, seeing as how we're going to be seeing her comic book team-partner Metamorpho's origin. (It's not a spoiler if that's all we know about the episode.) Well, see you next time for what may be the last BTB recap for a while.

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