(This review was originally published on August 21, 2016)
Written by Mitch Watson
Directed by Rick Morales
Deathstroke takes Alfred hostage, luring Batman to a final showdown in the Batcave. Katana recruits some unexpected help for the dangerous situation. Harvey Dent embraces his true nature as Two-Face and betrays Anarky.
The grand finale is here! Batman and Deathstroke get caught in a helicopter crash! Katana gets thrown off! Harvey Dent and Commissioner Gordon are KO’d and Anarky is MIA. How will it all end?
Being away from Bruce Wayne for so long has made Batman slip a bit, as he chooses to pursue Deathstroke by himself, even though it’s an obvious trap. It feels like a small step-back from his development before, but he’s only human, and they all relapse back to their old habits. The dynamic between him, Alfred, and Deathstroke is the heart of the story and it has some emotional bits, such as when Batman rescues the burning portrait of his parents. At the very least, he comes to appreciate his allies both and new, and even makes a moral objection to Deathstroke’s final fate.
Katana is the true MVP of the episode, however. Despite Batman’s stubborn insistence on going alone into Deathstroke’s trap, she contacts Oracle for assistance, and later recruits Metamorpho and Man-Bat for help. She basically creates the show’s version of the Outsiders, who end up helping him with the bombs that Deathstroke has spread throughout the Batcave and makes Batman realize that he doesn’t have to fight crime alone. Her role is understated, but important, to the point where her bizarre and unexplained recovery from the previous’s episode cliffhanger can be forgiven.
Deathstroke’s endgame unfolds as he finally confronts Alfred and intends to make him and Bruce suffer for his perceived injustice. Deathstroke has proven to be a formidable foe, and despite his scope being smaller than Ra’s al Ghul’s, he is a more personal villain. Despite his impressive plans, however, he is truly a raging, jealous brat throwing a tantrum, which is shown when Alfred tells him off on why he chose Bruce as a surrogate son. By the end, he loses his eye in a somewhat gruesome scene, but it’s not the only loss of the night.
Harvey Dent loses something as well: his mind. After going down a more (blatantly) villainous path by teaming up with Anarky to strike back at those that have wronged him, he betrays and tries to kill him in cold blood. While Dent was a more political villain, it’s still shocking to see him sink to new lows now that he has nothing to lose. Compare his last scene, mocking James Gordon for being such a “boy scout,” to his introduction, where he insists no one should break the law, not even Batman. Gordon being the last person he confronts is quite meaningful, as it shows how the show’s version of Dent is a foil to the commissioner. They are both lawmen that once opposed Batman. However, Gordon did it out of genuine respect of the law, while Dent only did to further his political ambitions. Now one is a valuable ally of the Dark Knight, while the other is on his way of becoming a deranged villain.
Anarky, in his final appearance, is mostly victimized by Dent. However, he gets the honor of dubbing him “Two-Face” before making an escape. This is honestly the biggest impact he’s had in the show as a supposed Big Bad. Most of his individual schemes were foiled by the end of their episodes. He returned Ra’s al Ghul’s body to the League of Assassins like nothing happened. He “hired” Deathstroke even though the assassin was already in Gotham to settle a personal score. Dent was seeking revenge even before Anarky entered the equation. There’s likely a bigger purpose to his character and his seemingly lack of impact in the greater scheme of things, but due to the show’s lack of renewal, it will remain unanswered.
Besides the resolution to last episode’s cliffhanger, one other weak spot that stands out and has caused some controversy is the solution to Deathstroke’s dilemma: he knows Bruce’s secret, so Metamorpho and Man-Bat use a ZIP compound created by the latter to erase his memory. Considering Metamorpho’s power-set, there’s nothing unbelievable or ridiculous about him doing so, and it’s a clever use of the duo’s specialties. However, it does come off as too convenient and quick of a solution, so the sudden death of tension can be a bit off-putting.
The amount of positives, however, outnumber these flaws. The conclusion still resolves most of the story arcs. The teamwork between Katana, Alfred, Oracle, Metamorpho, and Man-Bat is rewarding to see, and so is Batman’s realization to work in a team. The teased storylines look promising and they leave the characters on a bittersweet note, with Batman being part of team, but with his reputation still in ruins and Bruce Wayne still believed dead.
Overall, it’s a strong finale for not just this story arc, but the series in general. Batman ending up with a strong network of allies resolves his character arc set up since the first episode. While there are still a few lingering threads (Bruce/Batman’s fate, Anarky’s endgame, Two-Face on the loose, Outsiders, etc.) it’s still satisfying.
From the moment Beware the Batman was announced, I was optimistic due to the strong previous work from the announced showrunners (Mitch Watson and Glen Murakami) and the desire to get away from the usual suspects in Batman’s Rogues Gallery. As much as I loved Batman’s usual cast of villains, I was looking forward to something new. The focus on a more vulnerable Batman was refreshing, as was the greater use of detective work. This show managed to create a new Batman world that was different enough to stand out while still being welcoming to long-time fans. Perhaps the greatest innovation this show was brought was not the use of CGI, the “gun-toting” Alfred, or the obscure villains, but the use of long-term story arcs and strong continuity in a Batman animated show.
Despite the reception this show has received, I hope that later years bring more appreciation to it. I want to thank everyone in the cast and crew for creating an innovative Batman experience. I also want to thank all of my readers. You have kept me motivated to continue this labor of love to the very end.
- According to the SDCC 2013 panel, there was something near the end of the season that pushed the boundaries of the censors. I’m wondering if Deathstroke’s eye loss is this.
- Apparently a concept design for Two-Face was made, even though the show was never renewed. At least it was nice to know the crew had some ideas already in mind for him.
- Anarky’s chess set is pretty sweet, and if this show had any merchandise, I would get it in a heartbeat. However, the fact that Barbara is among the game pieces has some unsettling implications. Does Anarky know of Barbara’s double-life as Oracle?
- Yes, everything regarding the ZIP compound and the PKM-Zeta is based on real-life science, as most scientific elements in the show are. Look it up.
- Despite Dent never getting any of his Two-Face trademarks besides his unseen, disfigured face, there are some numerical motifs present: he premieres in the second arc of the season, is disfigured in the last two episodes of the season, is burnt after interfering in an encounter involving two Batmen, is carrying two guns with him, and he would’ve become a full-blown villain in season two.
- After seeing how the plot in this three-parter has unfolded, it’s worth checking out “Nexus” again to see all of the similarities and even some foreshadowing.
- I’m curious as to how Alfred’s actions led to Slade losing his family.