Written by Jim Krieg
Directed by Curt Geda
Anarky, a criminal mastermind, enhances two common vandals to become formidable threats, forcing Batman to take action. Meanwhile, Bruce subjects Tatsu to a series of bizarre tests.
After the momentum built by the last episode, this installment unfortunately makes some missteps that slow it down. Most of the episode has Batman dealing with Anarky’s unwitting henchmen, Junkyard Dog and Daedelus. They’re not interesting foes by themselves and just appear to be pretentious thugs parading around and wreaking havoc. Some of their dialogue could also get irritating, which could be argued is the intention.
The true main villain of the episode, Anarky, only fares a little better. While he has a solid plan to test out Batman and outsmart him, it’s not as impressive as he believes. The fact that he throws childish tantrums and cares a little too much about Batman’s opinion of him weakens him as a villain as well. Wallace Langham turns in an entertaining performance as him and his leitmotif is VERY catchy. His design, while not as iconic as his Guy Hawkes-inspired look, works fine to set him up as Batman’s opposite: the white knight to his dark knight. The chess themes are a bit heavy handed, but they are fitting of the relationship between the two. All the tools to make Anarky into a memorable antagonist are there, but they haven’t gelled well so far.
More successful is Bruce and Tatsu’s subplot. While attempting to solve the Anarky case, Bruce leaves behind some hints to test out Tatsu’s intellect and curiosity. It was an impressive display of his intellect as he improvised his hints while simultaneously dealing with the case. It also allows Tatsu to display her skills and have a more active part in the plot. We already see their relationship changing as she starts to respect him a little more, and the glowing sword she hides in the closet reveals she has her own secrets to keep.
Alfred is not given as much to do this time. He mostly helps Batman from behind the scenes and argues with him regarding Tatsu’s worth. His button-mashing scene as he controls the Batmobile was a good bit of fun. This wasn’t mentioned in the last review, but it was a nice touch that he is wearing a cast after his injury from “Hunted”. It’s a small detail, but it does wonders in fleshing out the world and adding continuity in even the smallest forms.
“Tests” moves along Tatsu’s development and introduces a major villain in Anarky. However, there’s not really much else going on with the episode. Some of the steam gained so far is lost due to mostly weak villain introductions and the unsubtle use of chess motifs. Still, some important seeds are planted that could lead to greater stories down the line.
- Between Lunkhead, Junkyard Dog, and Daedalus/Doodlebug, I appreciate the use of characters in Batman Arkham Asylum: Living Hell.
- The Bat-Cycle/Glider that Batman uses reminds me of the outrageous vehicles from Batman: The Brave and the Bold in the best way possible. It’s ridiculous that Mattel couldn’t conceive a toyline when the show already throws out some ideas for it.
- Anarky in the comics is usually very different in term of characterization. Rather than being obsessed with chaos and destruction, he’s an anti-hero that wants to liberate people and his motivation is far more philosophically complex. While I would’ve liked to see the former, that doesn’t affect the merit of the actual episode and the characters in it.
- Alfred mentions his service in the Cold War, and it left me wanting for him to go against KGBeast.
- Seriously, who do I have to talk to to get a soundtrack release for this show? There’s a few themes I’d like to listen to over and over again from Frederik Weidmann’s masterful score.