After a promising start (you can read our reviews of the first two episodes here and here), Beware the Batman faltered with this week’s episode, “Tests.” Only Katana’s evolution in the background saved this one. Still, the tantalizing possibility that this is only the beginning of Batman’s career leaves hope that the best is yet to come for this show.
The warning signs were there almost from the first minute, really. Batman opens up the episode by beating up on two “artists,” vandalizing a store, because, well…what better way for Batman to spend his time than on two schleps like “Daedalus” and “Junkyard Dog.” Of course, only the episode’s real villain, Anarky, sees the genius of these two dopes, and he outfits them with high-tech weaponry so they can take out their artistic frustrations on all of Gotham. These guys make Bebop and Rocksteady look nuanced.
As for Anarky, despite a promising introduction (his cadence is faintly reminiscenet of Hugo Weaving in V for Vendetta), he slips right into dull supervillain mode, complete with ponderous speeches about how Batman is his most worthy opponent. Anarky’s love for “chaos” and disdain for Batman’s world of logic and order sounds like warmed-over Joker material, which is never a good sign when you’re trying to distinguish yourself from previous Batman adaptations by utilizing new villains. To complete the hack villain trifecta, the climax of the episode involves Anarky forcing Batman to make an “impossible choice” to save one group of people or another…a choice which Batman avoids by pulling a magical piece of technology out of his utility belt. Add to this a ponderous chess metaphor, and things get pretty dire.
This doesn’t mean I’m giving up on the show, though. Katana (of course, they haven’t called her that yet, but we do get our first brief glimpse of her sword in this episode) looks to be a fun addition to the Batman/Bruce/Alfred dynamic, and to a viewer who may not know what her intentions are, her motivations might still appear sinister. Hopefully, Beware the Batman can rebound next week.