Episode two of Beware the Batman begins with Batman confronting a female villain (named Magpie) who, according to Batman, has robbed six warehouses thus far. We learn that her motive is not greed, but a severe case of A.D.O.S. (Attention Deficit – Ooh Shiny!). Mysteriously, though, she does take the time to wipe the memory of a man (Joe Braxton) working at the warehouse. This villainess does, however, posses tremendous acrobatic skills and retractable claws. Again, we are confronted with the creative team’s decision to go with the lesser known villains. This villainess is strikingly similar to Catwoman (acrobatic skills, excellent prowling and thievery skills, not motivated by greed, black outfit, etc.). I understand the decision to go with lesser known villains, but for a new show, the more well known villains could have brought in viewers. There could have definitely been opportunities later in the series to sprinkle in some of these other villains. Well, hindsight is twenty-twenty, I guess.
Next, we are introduced to Barbara Gordon, and we get a better look at Lieutenant James Gordon. We only had a brief glimpse of him in “Hunted.” Barbara is still quite young in this series, and we also see that she has an eager interest in Batman. Unfortunately, she is being set up much in the same way as the annoying-teenybopper-girl version of her we saw in The Batman. She is brushed aside and rebuffed by her father when she shows an interest in his work and in the Batman. This expository scene gives us a good taste of what life is like at the Gordon house and how each member feels about Batman. And how different their attitudes are.
Then, we get a better look at Tatsu. She is reading in the paper about Batman. She refers to him as “a nut” and also speaks politely, but critically about life at Wayne Manor. Alfred (or “Major”, as she calls him) responds cryptically about both subjects, which, as we know, are one and the same. Bruce Wayne walks and, in short order, displays the mental capacity that gives him the ability to spend his nights as “The World’s Greatest Detective.” Bruce deduces the connection between Alfred and Tatsu as being one of godfather-goddaughter and is not pleased by this. Alfred, in response, defends his decision to bring her to work for Bruce Wayne. They then descend into the Batcave and we get into the heart of the episode.
Batman investigates the history behind a psychological experiment conducted at Blackgate Prison by Dr. Bethanie Ravencroft and Braxton, trying to determine how it is connected to Magpie’s actions at the warehouse. Meanwhile, Lieutenant Gordon begins investigating the same study to see how it is connected to Batman and his actions in regards to the warehouse incident. The episode’s climax takes place at an old psychiatric hospital with a dramatic three-way confrontation between Batman, Gordon, and Magpie.
At the end of the episode, Tatsu is trying to let Bruce Wayne know his car is ready, he evades her, and then we see him in the Batcave watching her.
Overall, this episode, like the first episode, brings mixed emotions. There are a few strong points in this episode. The plot is engaging and definitely feels like a detective story with many twists and turns. Again, the animation looks great. There was an especially visually stunning scene in this episode where Bruce Wayne has a flashback to the night his parents were killed. Furthermore, Magpie is presented with an interesting backstory and is a surprisingly capable fighter.
However, episode two does have some glaring disappointments. Some of the characters introduced are flat-out annoying. There is no better way to describe how Barbara Gordon is portrayed than “annoying, immature teeny-bopper.” Why can we not see an older, more mature version of her? Lughead is another character that annoys the crap out of the viewer in this episode. While investigating the psychological experiment, Gordon interrogates Lughead, a large man with limited mental capabilities and a strong love of candy. Listening to this oaf talk is like listening to nails on a chalkboard. Magpie, while having some strong points, does have some very annoying aspects (i.e. her obsession with “shiny”). Lastly, Dr. Ravencroft’s assistant, Cassie, is presented as a Bruce Wayne fangirl. *GAG*
Other disappointing elements include the previously mentioned strange villain choice and the failure to successfullty walk the line between children’s show and a show for adults. Batman: The Animated Series expertly walked that line. Everyone could enjoy that show. There is reason to believe Beware the Batman is attempting to do this, but they fail do so in a satisfactory way. The aforementioned annoying characters are depicted that way to entertain children, but it pushes away the older crowd. The elements that would attract the non-children audience are too far out there. The dark tone is something Batman: The Animated Series did extremely well and they were able to do so without raising concerns of parents. Beware the Batman does not do this. I am not a parent, but if I were, I would not be entirely comfortable with how dark, especially in this episode, the show is.
I would, furthermore, not be comfortable with how Magpie is depicted. She is too “sexualized” for a children’s show. The costume and the angles in which she is shown are a bit too far. Also, there is a scene where she lands on a car in a pose that swimsuit models assume for photo shoots. People do not fall on cars and land like that. This was a blatant attempt at being sexual, and in a kids show that is just not necessary and will cause many parents to not let their kids watch this show. I feel like the inability of this show to successfully be a show for both kids and adults is a reason why it struggles to bring in viewers.
Beware the Batman: Secrets:
Reviewed by Alex Hey