Monday, April 14, 2014

Recap: Beware the Batman "Attraction"

Today, we’re returning to Beware the Batman, which is a major relief for me. Not only have I grown to adore this show, but I need a break from the show that leads people to find my blog by typing “she hulk farting”. Let us begin this much overdue Recap.

I missed you. Did you miss me?
The theme song plays, first of all. The whole thing. As an aside, I went ahead and repeated it multiple times upon viewing this episode. It really is that nice to get some kind of theme before a show. After literally months of dealing with the no-theme crap intros that Marvel gives us these days, this was a breath of fresh air. It was tangible bliss.

Enough gushing over the theme. It’s been so long that you may be asking yourself, “What the heck was happening in this show, again?” Well, you can always check out my past Recaps, but here’s the Previously On summary:

Last time Magpie appeared, she wanted Batman’s utility belt. But may also have set her sights a bit lower…

On with the episode!
We open on Gotham City (what a shock), where a taxi cab appears to be a-rockin’. But a quick pan of the camera shows us that Lunkhead, resident dumb muscle of Gotham, is stealing a taxi by literally trying to walk away with it.

Katana: “Is this nutjob serious?”
Batman: “Sadly so.”

Batman and Katana speed over to stop him, and a scuffle ensues. They tie up Lunkhead against a pole, which nearly falls onto Katana. Batman chides her over this.

Batman: “It’s never over ‘til it’s over.”

The World’s Greatest Detective, ladies and gentlemen. Later, at what I believe is Arkham Asylum, Magpie tries to attack the orderly bringing her food. To be fair, he does insist on calling her “Tweety Bird.” As she admires the shine coming off of her drinking cup, she hears the Warden apologizing to Batman over Lunkhead’s failed rehabilitation.

Batman: “Just keep him stuffed with candy.”

I’ll just skip over how that’s probably the worst psychiatric therapy short of cash bribes and continue. Magpie excitedly waves her arm out of her cell and yells for Batman, who goes over to talk to her.
It’s a nice scene; it shows that Batman has some human decency and does honestly care about the people he puts away, and it shows that Magpie can be more than a stab-happy psycho. She seems genuinely happy to talk to someone she sees as a friend and equal.

Batman: “Sorry I haven’t been to see you recently.”
Magpie: “I was worried something had happened to you. I’ve missed our talks. Anything I should know? You can tell me anything….”
Batman: “I’m fine. Thank you.”

Katana comes over and informs Batman that they should leave, and Katana gets very defensive and demands to know who Katana is. Instead of explaining the situation, Batman seems to have decided to get the plot set in motion by saying goodbye and leaving with Katana. Magpie starts yelling at them, asking when Batman will visit again and that Katana doesn’t know Batman like she does.

Back in her cell, she goes over her astoundingly large collection of Batman pictures and begins her downward spiral into her newest bout of madness. She slams herself against the walls in a fit of frustration, and eventually concludes that Batman has been taken prisoner by Katana, and that's why he showed up, but didn’t answer questions: it was a cry for help.

Magpie bribes her new cell-neighbor, Lunkhead, with candy, and he breaks the doors off of their cells. She reciprocates with a kick to the face, and escapes the Asylum. Meanwhile, Katana and Batman zoom through the city as Katana goes over what she read of Magpie’s file for the audience, calling her a case of “split-personality.” Wrong, Katana. “Dissociative Identity Disorder.” She’s rejected her old self and substituted a new one, it’s not a Jekyll and Hyde case.

Anyway, she asks Batman why he’s been visiting her, and he responds with “Know your enemy.” Okay, forget what I said about Batman having any human decency. He’s a paranoid jerk. Suddenly, there’s an explosion. I love typing that sentence. Magpie’s robbing a jewelry store. Batman and Katana show up, and Magpie tells him “Message received.” Then she attacks Katana. They catfight for a bit, until Batman demands her to stop.

Magpie: “I just broke out of prison for you! A little appreciation would be nice!”

But would she catch a grenade for him? Throw her hand on a blade for him?
Batman tells her that he never asked for any of this, and begins to calmly explain the situation like he should have in the first place, but it’s too late. She’s decided that they’re a match made in heaven, and Katana’s getting in the way.

Katana: “I don’t know what’s going on between the two of you….”
Batman: “There is nothing going on.”

Magpie responds by kicking Batman in the face, which starts the catfight all over again until Batman separates the two. Magpie takes the opportunity to escape, complete with explosion. Later, back at STATELY WAYNE MANOR, Bruce, Alfred, and Tatsu watch as the news speculates that Magpie’s bat-shaped calling cards in Gotham mean that she’s working with Batman.

Bruce: “Batman should never have let himself get so close to her.”
Alfred: “Agreed.”

Using the third-person, Bruce? Sounds like Magpie’s not the only one with Dissociative Identity Disorder.
The plan is to leave Tatsu out of this, despite her protests, because she’s the target. Bruce goes off alone to Miskatonic Hospital, her likely hideout. Alfred gives Bruce a bit of the old “who’s really the one who needs help” bit, and Batman speeds off in the Batmobile. Later, at Miskatonic, Magpie greets the arriving Batman, and asks how he liked the bat-shaped “gifts” she left all over the city. Batman and Magpie have a nice discussion, where he reveals that he began their little talks because he thought it was unfair that she was put in Blackgate Prison and not a hospital (which I wish they would have established before I said she was locked up in Arkham earlier in the Recap…).

Batman: “It isn’t where you belong.” 
Magpie: “You mean… I belong with you?”

Some women just don’t take hints, huh? The look on her face as he tells her that she belongs in a hospital says it all, I think.

A facial transition that no man ever wants to see in a woman.
Magpie begins a surprisingly Joker-esque speech about Batman’s fears of giving in to the dark, when Katana shows up. This apparent betrayal drives Magpie over yet another deep end, and she attack Batman before we get, you guessed it, another catfight. See, super hero franchises always like introducing a heroine for the sole purpose of beating up female villains. Like White Tiger in Ultimate Spider-Man, Black Cat in regular Spider-Man, the female guests in Brave and the Bold, She-Hulk in… that other show… Wonder Woman in everything she’s in, etc. Plus, the lack of a Y chromosome means that lazy writers don’t have to introduce a separate love interest character! Hooray for the easy way to write things!

Back in the episode, Katana gets scratched with curare. Batman, meanwhile, has since returned to the Batcave to yell at Alfred. And he does. On the screen of the Bat-Computer, it seems that Magpie had left a Riddler-esque set of numbers as a clue for Batman, arranged in jewelry. Batman recognizes the 8-digit combination as an old-school number-based internet address, which I’m half-tempted to visit, yet terrified my computer might get every virus if I do. Anyway, Batman visits the site and gets to watch a live feed of an unconscious Katana with a 30-minute countdown timer. Katana wakes up, revealing that she’s in a coffin. Looks like Magpie’s been watching Kill Bill. It seems that Katana has, as well, because she begins punching her way out.

Back with Batman, he recalls something Magpie said about “burying” Margaret Sorrow, and Batman correctly guesses that the scientists who gave Margaret Sorrow the new identity of “Cassie,” aka Magpie, faked the death of Margaret Sorrow.

Batman: “Magpie’s buried Katana alive in Margaret Sorrow’s grave.”

Worst game of Clue ever. 5 minutes to go. Katana’s still stuck, but she uses broken glass from the countdown timer to finally make some progress. Meanwhile, Batman shows up at Gotham Cemetery and finds the grave he’s looking for. He grabs a shovel and digs like a madman as Katana keeps breaking her coffin… but just like the Nazis in Raiders of the Lost Ark, Batman’s digging in the wrong place. He finds only an empty coffin, and Katana breaks through her coffin, causing six feet of dirt to land on her. A disappointed Magpie appears, and refuses to tell Batman where Katana is. She begins ranting and raving over Batman, they have dueling “You’re Like Me”/”I’m Nothing Like You” speeches, and they begin fighting. Batman gets scratched by curare-tipped claws, and thrown into a coffin. But before Magpie can escape, it seems that Katana has freed herself from her coffin, despite the extensive testing the Mythbusters did saying that it’s physically impossible.

Katana: “You should have buried me deeper.”

Oh, that explains it then. We get one last girl-on-girl fight as Batman injects himself with some kind of antidote. And, I can’t believe I’m actually typing this, but their fight ends with Katana dissing Magpie’s outfit.

Katana: “I mean, really? Neck feathers with a bustier? Kind of trashy. Right, Batman?”

The fight then shifts to be between Magpie and Batman, and Batman wins because he’s the hero, crushing her with Margaret Sorrow’s tombstone, though she’s allegedly still alive. Later, at STATELY WAYNE MANOR, Bruce broods on the balcony while Alfred and Katana philosophize about Batman possibly going down the same road as Magpie. And the episode ends.

Final Thoughts
This was an excellent episode. It's a great character study of Magpie and, by extension, Harley Quinn and Catwoman. The look into the broken psyche of Magpie examines the Catwoman/Harley Quinn archetype that DC likely wouldn't let the writers get away with if they had used those actual characters.

I'll be returning to the final US-released episode eventually. What do I mean by US released? I've got an upcoming post that'll explain everything. See you then!

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