May 04, 2024

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Batman Beyond Retro Review – Episode 3×03 – Big Trouble

How does Batman Beyond score such awesome voice casts? This episode features William H. Macy (Fargo) and Robert Patrick (Terminator 2, Peacemaker) as the villains, and Stephen Baldwin as Terry’s troubled friend.

Batman Beyond: Big Time

This is another one of those episodes that makes me think that a lot of Batman Beyond‘s episodes didn’t get quite enough time in the cooker. This episode is close to being great, but it doesn’t quite get there.

One of Terry’s old friends, Charlie, has just been released from prison. Terry catches him being aggressively creepy with Dana, so of course he greets his old friend and walks off with him. That’s sure to win points with Dana. Charlie is why Terry did time in juvenile hall, and approaches him immediately with the framework for a job that promises a bigger and better payout than ever.

Charlie is the main character of this episode, but he’s not the antagonist. Despite being 21, he’s still the same teenager who ended up behind bars. He calls himself Big Time, but while he thinks big, he doesn’t think deeply. Terry, meanwhile, has turned his life around. Charlie is a mirror for where Terry could’ve ended up–this is what I was looking for from the Untouchable episode a few weeks back.

Throughout the episode, Dana worries that Terry is going to get pulled back into Charlie’s schemes, but it’s never a risk. Not just because he’s the main character of the Batman show, but also because he’s a different person even from the series’ first episode. He’s done a lot of growing up, and when he looks at Charlie, he sees someone that needs a second chance like Bruce gave him, but who might not be quite so ready to take it.

This is a huge episode for Terry in terms of backstory and character development. We finally learn who, why, and how he ended up with a criminal record–he was a troublemaker but not an outright criminal until Charlie tricked him into becoming his accomplice.

But just the same way that Charlie manipulated Terry, Charlie himself is being manipulated so that much more dangerous people can make a lot of money at his expense. By the end of the episode, Charlie has been doused with a super-powered growth hormone, and looks like like Solomon Grundy than his former self. That’s a problem–this transformed version isn’t identifiable as Charlie, we just know it from context. It feels weird for the show to transform a character so unidentifiable.

Unfortunately, the whole last act of the episode is incredibly rushed. We don’t get any time with Charlie’s transformation or his reaction to it. We get the foreshadowing that it’s going to happen, and then it happens, and Charlie is a fully-formed rage monster. There’s no emotional arc for Charlie–he’s mostly just a way to make Terry feel bad. It’s especially frustrating with how close this episode comes to being excellent.

Even so, this episode is still an important one if you’re a Batman Beyond fan, and still a pretty good one all the same.