Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Batman: The Animated Series Re-Watch: Episode Twenty Four: Fear of Victory


Plot: The Scarecrow is poisoning athletes with fear, and accidentally gets Robin as well. Now Robin must overcome his fear before the Scarecrow causes a mass panic at a Gotham Knights game.

Design-wise, the return of the Scarecrow is great. The score brings back the high string theme from Nothing to Fear throughout, and the use of shadows and light create a real horror movie atmosphere. Also like Nothing to Fear, the animators have fun with the fear induced hallucinations, the athletes turning into the monsters and the street spiraling away from Robin as he dangles on a rope. And they've greatly improved the Scarecrow design, giving him a crooked smile and crazy eyes, so his head looks like a Jack-O-Lantern rather than sock.

The highlight is our first real visit inside Arkham Asylum. We've seen it briefly, usually at the ends of episodes to let us know where Mr. Freeze ended up. But here we actually see inside, with its long corridors of deep shadows and its policy of allowing patients to wear their costumes in their cells. It's no wonder no one seems to recover here. The scene of Batman walking along the row of cells, each one filled with a villain we've previously seen, The Joker playing solitaire with a deck of Jokers, Two-Face flipping a coin, Poison Ivy, reasonably moved from Stonegate Prison, protecting her plant, builds tension and dread before the reveal that the Scarecrow has, in fact, escaped.

Otherwise, this episode is kinda lousy. It's just so low stakes. Fixing sporting events feels beneath the Scarecrow, a step down from his terrorist campaign against the University in his first episode. C'mon, master of fear, you can do better than this.

And his plan is full of holes. Why didn't any of the Scarecrow's doctors notice he was missing before? Why is Batman the only one who suspects the athletes are being drugged? Wouldn't doctors test for that? Why didn't the Scarecrow use a lower dose, or less often, or bet at different bookies, to not draw attention? Why does he have to be at the game to drug the player or make the bet, and why does he have to be there in costume? Why does he need money in the first place? Can't he just steal chemicals like a respectable Man-Bat does?

Also, Batman acts like a dick in the entire episode. He's entirely unsympathetic to Robin's suffering, despite going through his own fear drug induced trauma a few episodes back. And instead of giving Robin the "I am so proud of you" speech Alfred gave, he's constantly telling Robin to "get it together" and "shake it off," or he's teasing him by promising to "drive real slow." He's also a dick to Commissioner Gordon, condescendingly telling him to "put two and two together." The only person he shows even the slightest kindness towards is the lady in the bathrobe who gives him an admiring, breathy "oh my." Batman stops long enough to give her a half smile, before running out again to, oh yeah, rescue Robin from falling to his death.

In contrast, Robin is SO WHINY. Yeah, he's recovering from a fear gas attack, but he's being pretty wimpy about it. Batman had nightsweats, and dreams of his dead father as a giant skeleton, and he still managed to leap onto an attack zeppelin. Robin has trouble walking across a bridge without complaining about it. This could have been for Robin what Nothing to Fear was for Batman, a chance to show what drive Robin, what makes him tick. But the only thing we see him afraid of is heights, which we know is the opposite of how he usually behaves. So all we learn is that Robin does not take being poisoned as well as Batman does.

1 comment:

iklan gratis said...

I like this episode.