April 14, 2024

Article at Batman News

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Batman Beyond Retro Review – Episode 3×01 – Family Drama

When there’s trouble at home, it’s rarely just one person causing or receiving all of it. Earlier Royal Flush Gang episodes focused on Melanie Walker, also known as Ten; this episode shows how much deeper the mistrust goes.

Batman Beyond: King’s Ransom

This is an interesting story sewn into an unfortunately boring episode of Batman Beyond. Especially in animated shows like this, family bonds are treated as impossible to sever, even when the relationship in question is undeniably toxic. Batman Beyond tries to think beyond that.

It’s time for Terry to face off against the Royal Flush gang, minus Ten. Which makes them more of a “I almost have a Royal Flush if I can just get this one stupid card” Gang. Terry attempts to stop the crew from making off with a Latin American statue of a cat. There are a bunch of twists here. The gang is working for Paxton Powers, which Queen doesn’t like. Paxton comes up with a plan for them to off Bruce Wayne so that he can take control of Wayne-Powers for himself. King was working with Paxton’s assistant-girlfriend-masseuse the whole time, cheating on Queen in both business and romance.

While it’s not as simple as saying that King is the sole source of toxicity within the gang, he’s a reminder that corruption starts at the top. Each time we’ve met them, he’s been the primary source of pain for the other members of the gang. He was abusive toward Ten, and then ditched both Jack and Queen for this latest plot.

The King proves himself selfish and immature, too, by the end. Early on, Queen mentions that her father, the previous wearer of the King mantle, would’ve never worked for someone like Paxton. When King and Batman are fighting in their abandoned casino hideout–which is absolutely huge, how is no one noticing?–King asks BATMAN Jr. if he knows “what it’s like living in someone else’s shadow.”

This is where the show ultimately becomes a little disappointing. There’s a fascinating analog there–how this adult, in at least his 30s or 40s, deals with inhabiting a storied identity, as compared to a literal high schooler doing the same thing. There was room for development of both King and Terry here, but instead, they leave it with a quippy line from Terry intended for the viewer, rather than King, and nothing more.

One upside is a moment in the middle when Terry, as Batman, visits Melanie. She’s working at a restaurant called Deckard’s Kitchen; the name is a Blade Runner reference, of course, but the visual looks like a reference to Edward Hopper’s famous diner painting, Nighthawks. Even if it isn’t explicitly, it feels like a perfect summation of Batman Beyond–a cyberpunk story that is still deeply informed by the look and feel of the 1940s thanks to its predecessor, Batman: The Animated Series.

Setting the imagery aside, though, this also gives us closure on Melanie herself. She’s moved on from her time with the gang completely, and even has a legit job lined up for her brother, even going so far as to post bail for him. Terry, meanwhile, smartly closes the door on potential for a relationship with Melanie, showing growth on his part after previous will-they-won’t-they moments with her.

This episode wants to take all of these complex ideas about family further, but is ultimately caught up too much in the twists and turns it wants to fit in. Instead of drilling down into more interesting–but possibly less immediately exciting–ideas.