Monday, December 1, 2014

Recap: The Batman "Traction"

Back to The Batman, this week. And we're looking at the first big misstep of the series. You might say that this show is having a bit of trouble gaining... momentum!

Shoot, wrong punchline.

Can't get them all right, I guess. I mean, who am I, the Joker?
The episode opens up deep within the bowels of Gotham City. The dark, abandoned subway, to be precise.

Mob Boss 1: “Why we meetin’ here? Everyone knows he’s attracted to shadows.”

True, but he merely adopted the darkness.

Mob Boss 2: “Relax. The Batman thinks we split Gotham months ago.”

As the two bosses lament how Batman ruined their sweet, innocent crime operations, a third arrives and informs them that he’s found a solution to their mutual problem. Said solution being some skinny guy in a long coat named “Bane.”

There ya go. Although you could be forgiven for thinking this was actually Hush.
Even though he apparently got some kind of “enhancements” in the Amazon, there’s a bit of hesitation to trust the twerp. 

Bane: “There is much more to me than meets the eye.”

What is he, a Transformer or something? That’d just be silly.

After the opening titles, the episode resumes inside the Batcave. Bruce Wayne is currently turning up the heavy metal music and working on gigantic robotic arms. Apparently, the writers have confused Bruce Wayne with Tony Stark. He accidentally hits Alfred as he arrives with Batman’s favorite food, which gets it all over him.

Alfred: “Your nachos, sir.”

Yes, this version of Batman loves nachos. Not surprisingly, and also disappointingly, Bruce Wayne’s love of nachos in this show caused some mild internet backlash which was even poked fun of in an episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold.

Batman does eat nachos.
Now, it’s important to keep in mind that this was a pre-The Dark Knight, pre-Iron Man cartoon. In the attempt to make something a bit brighter and less depressing than Batman: the Animated Series, the decision was made to make Bruce younger and hipper. This resulted in Bruce Wayne acting in a similar manner to what we now expect from Tony Stark. Hindsight, huh?

Anyway, Bruce offers to help with Alfred’s shoulder injury. Alfred, being British, chalks it up as just a flesh wound. But he does take an interest in Bruce’s robot arms.

Alfred: “And that would be for…?”

Isn't it obvious? He's going to become Iron Man.

Nah, Bruce Wayne dressing up in an armored suit would be too far over the edge of coincidence.

Later that night, an armored car containing all sorts of monies hits a roadblock before getting a hole blown in its side by Bane. Back at the Batcave, the Bat-Wave alert goes off and Batman drives off into action. Meanwhile, at Gotham Police Headquarters, Detective Ellen Yin and her partner, Ethan Bennett, get the alert and head to the scene, too. Batman arrives at the scene and finds the guards tied up, but the money all still there.

Batman: “I’ve been baited.”
Bane: “The Batman, I presume?”

Bane leaps into action, showing considerable skill. But Batman shows more skill. After Bane gets knocked down, he activates a doo-dad on his hand that sends some kind of glowy chemical surging through tubes all over his body. Slowly, horrifically, he turns into what can only be described as the Red Hulk. But less nice.

Holy crap, he is a Transformer.

I mean, he's not a robot in disguise, but still.
Bane: “Lights out, Batman.”

The fight becomes considerably more difficult for Batman, but he quickly escalates his tactics and whips out the explosives to take the monster down. For his efforts, Batman gets smacked around and tossed into a building. Assuming that Batman’s dead, Bane runs off to go make Gotham his. Unfortunately for him, though, Harvey Dent doesn’t exist in this continuity, so he’ll have to dig up dirt on someone else.

Batman slowly comes to some time later. Apparently, he’s too injured to crawl the twenty feet or so to the Batmobile because he radios Alfred to come pick him up. As you might have guessed, this is when the cops arrive. They admire the Batmobile for a second before whipping out their guns (like any Gotham cop worth their salt) and beginning a recon. They rescue the two hostages from the armored car, and the hostages describe their assailant.

Hostage 1: “Big Guy! Wears a mask.”
Ellen Yin: “The Batman?”
Hostage 1: “Bigger! Threw the Batman through that wall!”

Yin and Bennett apply logic to the situation. If there were actually a guy big enough to throw Batman around like a ragdoll, then Batman wouldn’t have been able to walk away from it. So then where is he? As the camera shows us, Batman his hiding above them, under a bridge. Because doing that was somehow easier than crawling over to a bulletproof car and setting it to autopilot. But it’s quite the struggle for Batman to stay up there. So much so that sweat starts to bead up on his face until a single drop falls, making Yin look up… and see nothing. This show may have come before Iron Man and The Dark Knight, but Spider-Man was made around 2002. So yes, this is blatantly ripping off that scene where Peter Parker drips blood while hiding on the ceiling.

Batman, why do you keep reminding me of Marvel heroes this episode?
Bennett radios the other officers to be on the lookout for some big guy going around and causing havoc, and Yin tells them to send some guys to the hospitals looking for newly-injured dudes.

Ellen Yin: “If we find the patient, we find our Batman.”

As they go to set up a crime scene area, Alfred carries Batman piggyback down from the bridge and puts him in the limo. Batman manages to poke a button on his belt with his last ounce of strength, and the Batmobile goes zooming off toward the Batcave. As Alfred drives off, he insists that they get him to a hospital.

Batman: “Merely… a flesh wound.”

A flesh wound? Your arm is gone! Wait, no it isn't; I lie.

But when they arrive and Alfred sees the cops, he changes his mind. Under the subway, the three mob bosses are wondering what’s up with these surprisingly fast rumors of cops checking the hospitals for Batman.

Bane: “Even if I did not break all the Batman’s bones, I guarantee you… I broke his spirit.”

There, a Dark Knight Rises meme. Ya happy?
Back at the Batcave, Bruce has been drugged up while Alfred grabs his surgical tools.

Alfred: “Being summoned to pick you up has never been a good omen, Master Bruce.”

Yeah, remember that one time he was all hopped up on fear gas and set on fire?

As Bruce loses consciousness, Alfred’s words send him back many years to a police station. A young Bruce Wayne holds a pearl necklace. As Lieutenant Gordon tells him someone’s here to pick him up.

Alfred: “I can never replace them, but I promise you… I will never ever leave your side.”

In the present, Bruce wakes up to Alfred’s urging of him to be strong. Yeah especially after that surgery… that left no marks on Bruce’s body.

No, seriously.
Seriously, he’s fine. No bruises, no cuts, nothing. Not even bandages from that aforementioned surgery. Yin and Bennett investigate another crime scene. It seems that Bane has been running around stealing everything he can. The annoying press crew asks what the deal is, and where Batman is.

Ellen Yin: “We’re operating on the assumption that the Batman is no more.”

The reporter goes on to elaborate that Bane’s crime spree’s been going for weeks with no end in sight. Back at Wayne Manor, the suddenly-bandaged Bruce Wayne mopes a bit.

Bruce: “Alfred… Gotham needs the Batman.”
Alfred: “Sir, I don’t want to speak out of turn, but if Gotham thinks the Batman is no more, perhaps it’s for the best. Perhaps Bruce Wayne can heal. And finally get on with his life.”

I doubt it. It’s only the second episode. When Alfred returns later with Bruce’s enchiladas, he finds him gone. Looking in the Batcave, he finds Bruce tinkering with machinery. Because broken wrists and shoulder injuries aren’t a hindrance at all when you’re building heavy machinery. Alfred says that he won’t put up with this crap and begins to go back up to the mansion before he decides that if Batman won’t be a quitter, neither will he.

Later that night, as Bane goes on another rampage, Yin heads off alone into the fray. Bane rips open a vault door, and Yin tries to arrest the ten-foot-tall hulk of a man. She gets slapped away like you’d expect. But suddenly…. Oh, you’re kidding me.

He is Iron Man.
Bruce Wayne’s wearing the Hulkbuster Armor. I swear, if Alfred turns into JARVIS....

Alfred: “Master Bruce, how are things in the Bat-bot?”
Batman: “According to Bat-Wave, all systems go.”

…I give up. What am I supposed to do at this point? I joked about Bane being a Red Hulk Transformer, and that basically came true. I joked about Bruce Wayne being Iron Man, and that came true.

"Okay, let's see what this thing can do. What's SR-71's record?"
So Red Hulk and Iron Man knock each other around the city for a time while Bennett arrives on the scene to call in an ambulance for Yin. Iron Man uses a cable from his armor that Red Hulk knocked loose to electrocute his Venom apparatus, and the day is won.

Bruce: “Alfred? Need pick up.”
Alfred: “Ahhh…. Right away, sir.”

The next day, Yin watches Bane get taken to prison on the news.

Ellen Yin: “So. The Batman returns.”

I always liked it, myself. A lot of people give Danny DeVito crap for that movie, but I thought he and Christopher Walken… oh, sorry. At the Batcave, Batman suits up, but is still in a little bit of pain. But he zooms off in the Batmobile anyway, and the episode ends.

Now let's review and see if this episode has my permission to die.

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