Monday, November 11, 2013

Review: Batman: TBATB "Trials of the Demon!"

Can I just say, to start this off, that I thought the title was pretty clever? Not only does it refer to Jason Blood on trial for the crimes in the episode, but Jim Craddock has to go through “trials” to gain immortality from a different demon. Clever wordplay, episode. Shame that I’m going to rip it apart a bit, but I’ll get there.

The teaser was a good ‘un. I liked the unexpected use of the Golden Age Flash, and the Scarecrow seemed like a legit threat. My only question is this: What was the Scarecrow’s endgame? Drive a town crazy through fear… then what? To be fair, chaos for the sake of chaos fits with the Scarecrow’s MO; he’d probably keep meticulous notes on the ensuing panic. I’ve seen worse plans.

As for the episode itself, this is an excellent prequel/origin story for Gentleman Ghost. It was also good to see the next stage of history for Jason Blood since we left him in Camelot. The plot hits a snag, though, when you consider the fact that, if you look at the clues, this show is supposed to be depicting the Jack the Ripper murders.
Let’s look at the clues:
•    Murders on Dorset Street
•    Murders in Whitechapel
•    Notes to the police
•    Murders of prostitutes (the women killed in the episode, though not made explicit through dialogue, are quite clearly prostitutes)

This episode is clearly supposed to depict the Jack the Ripper murders, despite no one actually dying, and Jack the Ripper never being mentioned. It becomes readily apparent if you look at the given information.

This is… problematic. The Jack the Ripper murders were a real historical event. What if Batman went back in time and experienced a retconned version of the Titanic sinking, where all the passengers were in magic comas? Or if he went to the Holocaust, where he saved all the Jews from their magic comas? Suddenly, it seems a little tasteless, doesn’t it?

I have a problem with this, but only on an intellectual level; the Jack the Ripper murders don't have the same relevance for most people, but it still seems like this might be a bit of a bad idea.

If we leave aside issues of what’s in “good taste,” the inclusion of the Jack the Ripper references seems a little much. I mean, this episode has time travel, demons, Sherlock Holmes, and Jack the Ripper? That’s a lot of weirdness. Such things were common in the Silver Age, which this show is emulating, but keep in mind that Batman teamed up the Holmes in the comics, too.

In that story, Sherlock was still alive, due to his good health (he must have given up the drugs). There was one single bit of weirdness, and a straightforward team-up between the two greatest detectives of all time

As an episode, this show never really became a cohesive whole, though it has its moments. I’d call it average overall; but of the Halloween episodes for B:TBATB, this is the worst one, I’m sorry to say.

See you next time!

I couldn't leave without one final meme.

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