Saturday, October 18, 2014

Recap: Beware the Batman "Hunted"

The light that burns twice as bright burns only half as long. Also, sometimes shows get canceled for dubious reasons. But I've already gone over that. It's time to pay tribute to Beware the Batman the only way an internet reviewer can; I'm going to riff it in a linear fashion while making in fun of it! Because I care. Let's begin at, where else, the beginning.

Spoilers ahead. And snark. And Batman. And the word "blunderbuss."
We begin both the episode and the series with a pan over Bruce Wayne's face as the theme-singer croons "Beware the Bat." I hate to nitpick when we're at literally the first shot of the series, but I'm irked already. This intro is only five seconds. The full intro is 30 seconds long. The full intro was made available online long before the series even aired, and it was not only awesome, but the internet actually seemed to like it. Do you know how hard it is to get the internet to like something? Hmmm.... Is that why they made it available online? Because they weren't going to show it in the episode itself? But as I said, I'm nitpicking. Let's not nitpick. ...too much. The theme is great though; I'd recommend looking it up and listening to it, if you haven't heard it yet. My only criticism is that 30 seconds is not long enough.

Why aren't you looking on YouTube for it? Do that mess right now.
We start the episode proper with that good old cliche of having a robber loading a truck with stolen money. Cliche? As I said, yes. But it's not necessarily a bad thing. I'll give it a pass. It's a good "street crime" situation to use to introduce a character like Batman. Speaking of him, Batman does a good job of coming off as menacing when he shows up, taunting from the shadows. For a while, all we see of him is in flashes as the robber tries to shoot him with his...  laser?

It's always bugged me when petty thugs can easily get ahold of kryptonite or lasers in fiction, but I would be remiss if I didn't mention that the purposefully unrealistic firearm design is actually a direct result of the 2012 Aurora tragedy, so I won't criticize this decision. I can and will criticize the rest of this episode, but not that. I can and will criticize how the decision to redesign the firearms was implemented, but not the decision itself. Having said that, it is fairly obvious that this was a rather last-minute change, as Batman's dialogue makes clear through a bit of thought.

Batman: "Two shots left. Make 'em count."

So....  this is a laser that has to be loaded? With what? Light? These lasers suck. I mean, he only fired four shots so far. He has a six-shot laser? Not very useful, to say the least. Stick with bullets in the future, man.

The guy wastes his remaining shots and now he's empty. And now he can't see thanks to the gas pipes he shot open. Batman uses this opportunity to sneak up behind him and tell him he missed, causing my thumb to twitch involuntarily. Because I've played both Arkham Asylum and Arkham City and I know that Batman was in the perfect position to hit Triangle and do a Silent Takedown, which gets him more points than a standard takedown. As it is, the robber backs off quickly, firing his empty weapon at the Batman and reaching into his coat pocket.

"Forget reloading,"

Well, that confirms that this gun can be reloaded somehow. The gun gets tossed away and the robber surrenders. Batman tells him not to go for the knife that the camera's conveniently zooming in on, and recommends the backup gun he's got. The robber obliges, but Batman takes him down anyway.

Robber: "You said the backup gun was my best bet!" 

Yes, robber. Batman is going to tell you exactly how to take him down. While he's at it, he'll unmask himself and transfer all his Wayne Industries assets into your name.

Suddenly, bam. Batman is knocked into a truck, courtesy of another robber. This one has giant mechanical gauntlets that remind me either of Temblor from The Batman, or the gauntlets that Batman himself wore to take down Superman in Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns.

After the new challenger performs a title drop, Batman slams his shoulder into the getaway truck, relocating his arm. Wow, he's not going to want to overtax himself with injuries like that, huh? This is of course why Batman takes down the robber with nary a thought given to his own battered and bruised body. That's going to hurt in the morning, for Bats and the robbers.

Hammer of Justice, meet the Face of Felonies.
Batman: "That'd better be it for this evening's surprises." 

Heh, just wait until morning.

Then, we cut to elsewhere in Gotham, where some old businessman (with Jeff Bennett's voice coming out of the character's CGI body) yelling for help. He's being chased by none other than what have been touted as the show's main villains, Professor Pyg and Mr. Toad.

Now, when I posted my initial Recap of this episode about a year ago, I was informed that I didn't go into enough detail on who the heck these two were. In my defense, it was my first Recap. But, yeah, I often forget just how new of an addition these two are to the Batman mythos.

Professor Pyg is an eco-terrorist. At least, he is in this show. In the comics, he's a drug-abusing vivisection-crazed madman, but that's neither here nor there. Here, he's a sadistic animal-rights crusader who pals around Gotham with his motorcar-obsessed lackey, Mr. Toad. (Who, in a nifty bit of triva, is voiced by none other than Udo Kier, who had the title roles in Andy Warhol's Dracula and Frankenstein adaptations. That's pretty cool. And oddly appropriate for a guy who hangs out with such a bloodthirsty, axe-crazy psychopath.)

"Right, say 'ello to my li'l friend, Govnah!"
Pyg mentions being on a "stag" hunt, tipping me off (along with the character's distinctive hair) that they must be chasing a comic character known as Simon Stagg. He's an evil millionaire guy, basically. They shoot at him with a non-laser blunderbuss, and Toad mega-sonic-croaks at him to knock him over as he runs into a building.

Mr. Toad doesn't have this power in the comics, but the addition makes sense, as the sonic blast sounds like a treefrog. And come on, Mr. Toad's only power in the comics was having a car. They capture him with a tranq dart and...  stethoscope his head. And inquire about his cholesterol. And inform him that this is revenge for what he's done to animals. And then hit him with a stick to knock him out. Well, are you concerned for his health or not? You're sending mixed messages, Pyg.

Cut to STATELY WAYNE MANOR, and Bruce is sleeping. Awwww. Suddenly, a ski-masked-man steps up to the edge of the bed, with a baseball bat! A "Bat-Man," if you will. Bruce dodges the swing, and after a scuffle, the ski-masked man is revealed to be bald and non-mustachioed Alfred. Interesting. Especially after that punch to the jaw Bruce gave him. You can say "Did I hurt you" all you want, Bruce; you kicked him into the wall. Why can't you set a clock to wake up like normal people?

Alfred informs hims that his reaction times were sloppy. Hey, Alfred? Maybe he was tired. Seeing as how he was sleeping.

Bruce: "Your job is to protect Bruce Wayne. Not Batman."
Alfred: "Are they not the same?"
Bruce: "No."

Scene change, rinse and repeat the conversation, added with various sentiments of "Batman works alone" and "You're old now," and "Hey, audience! Alfred was in MI6. This will be important later."

After Bruce ignores a membership invitation from the "Argus Club," a newspaper informs him of Stagg's kidnapping, and Gotham Plot Exposition news shows them a video reminiscent of the Joker's threat from The Dark Knight where Pyg and Toad show off Stagg on display and outline their plans to hunt more millionaires. They do this in rhyme, like a boss.

Pyg: "Poor Simon Stagg. Sure likes to brag. And covet his billions all day! But he's not the last with stolen keys to the past, who'll learn in the jungle...."
Toad: "Everyone pays!"

Bruce and Alfred hurry to the Batcave, where they note that Pyg and Toad's names are pretty much all they know about those two. 

Bruce: "How Wind-in-the-Willows of them."

Um... yeah, no, Professor Pyg comes from the song "Pygmalism" referencing the both Pygmalion and My Fair Lady. Sorry, thanks for playing. You may think that this means that I'm smarter than the World's Greatest Detective, but no, I just read Grant Morrison's notes in my Batman & Robin HC collection. Maybe read your own comics, Bats?

Alfred realizes that Pyg and Toad's rhyme was based on "Little Jack Horner," and Bruce notes that that rhyme was based on a land deal that went sour. Stagg seems to have been up to similar dealings, and it looks like that's why he was targeted. They fail to get into his finanical records, and they find out the nest target the hard way. Instead of reading a half-obscured plaque in Pyg's video, they mirror and enhance its reflection in Pyg's blunderbuss. They enhance, like, 15 pixels into text to get legible text. I begrudgingly give this implausibility a pass. If anyone can make an "Enhance Button" work, it's Bruce Wayne.

Batman reads the name Michael Holt off of the plaque. Hey, cool, that's Mr. Terrific.

What a terrific guy!
But Mr. Terrific is invisible to technology, so how come they have a picture of him? This must be pre-Terrificness. And that's fair. I mean, what are the odds that B and C-list superheroes will become a major part of this show?

"He said, knowingly."
Batman runs off, and Alfred calls someone on his iPhone, telling them they need to meet. Meanwhile, Michael Holt's calling the cops on his cell phone while driving his car. Dangerous, yes, but that's a moot point when a Toad-Man and a guy in a pig mask are ramming you with their old-timey motorcar. After a nifty little chase with the nifty little Batmobile this show has, Batman actually fails, and crashes. The villains kidnap Holt and get away, remarking about "one more stop," which will no doubt be Bruce Wayne. Who's falling unconscious in an alley.

Alfred meets a young Asian woman right outside STATELY WAYNE MANOR who gives him the encryption for Stagg's finances, and they share in some vague, mysterious banter, and he asks her to stay. She doesn't. In fact, she does the opposite and drives off on her motorcycle. Alfred calls Batman on his video phone, Bats answers. (Caller ID says BRUCE WAYNE. Bad idea? No. The worst idea.) Suddenly, Alfred's knocked out by Mr. Toad, having been mistaken for Bruce Wayne. Which means that they must have arrived just now. So unknown-Asian-lady must have passed Pyg and Toad on her way out. Way to not notice that, lady.

Pyg taunts Bruce over the phone, saying they're abducting Alfred, which prompts Bruce to make his surrious face. After going back to the cave, Batman figures out the connection between Pyg's rhyme and the kidnapped targets: a land deal that ended up destroying a natural habitat; a deal which even Bruce Wayne had his name on. While I'm not exactly a fan of how cliche Pyg's motivation is here, I guess they couldn't use the legitimately insane Prof. Pyg from the comics. That guy is not kid-friendly.

I need an adult, please.
Speaking of Pyg, Pyg explains to his three hostages in his evil lair that this is a rendition of The Most Dangerous Game, and the three men (chained up to each other) get going with their 5-minute head start.

Batman makes his way to Pyg's hideout (on the ravaged land) and starts to climb the methane-filled (wha?) building. The Hostages Three get through one trap, but Stagg accidentally trips it anyway, injuring Alfred. Pyg comes along and brandishes a saw to amputate Alfred's leg (the writers realize that "Professors" and "Doctors" are actually two different things, right? I don't think Professor Pyg has a medical degree, is what I'm trying to say) and Toad sonic-burps at them, but is stopped by... Green Lantern! Nah, it's Batman. Alfred takes the men to safety outside the building, and Batman and Pyg have a quite impressive fight.

"Looks like they set Batman up the bomb! There, I said it. Now I never have to make that joke again." -Newt, 2013
Hah, how naive I was.
Bombs happen, and Batman escapes the building just in time, jumping and landing near the Hostages Three. Stagg yells at him for the building blowing up, and Batman drives away, leaving the three with no transportation away from the burning building. What a jerk. 

Stranding two chained-together men and a guy with a shattered leg is apparently not an issue, as we cut to Alfred and Bruce watching Lt. Gordon on the news. Alfred's injured leg will heal in a month or so, and Bruce realizes he needs help.

Bruce: "Batman went out there blind. If he'd just stayed and dug a little further, he would have found Bruce Wayne's name on that land deal and known Wayne was a target. Instead, you were almost killed."

Alfred brings in that Asian lady from earlier, who apparently changed her mind about declining the offer. You know, if she'd made that choice to begin with, Alfred'd be fine.

Anyway, her name is revealed as Tatsu Yamashiro.

Tatsu: "It's a pleasure to be working for you, Mr. Wayne."

And the episode ends.

When I had first posted a Recap of this episode, it had no Review. Let's fix that mistake, shall we?

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