Beware the Batman Ep 3 Review: Tests
The tests begin as Batman faces Anarky while Tatsu endures whatever Bruce Wayne has cooked up for her; a chess game is at the centre of it all. We also get even more obscure villains and Batman shows off some of his toys. Written by Jim Krieg and directed by Curt Ceda, let’s look at Tests.
As Batman beats down two rather useless art vandals, Doodlebug and Junkyard Dog from Dan Slott’s Arkham Asylum Living Hell mini, the two are rescued by a new player in Gotham, Anarky. He uses the two to spread chaos in Gotham by arming them to the teeth to draw out Batman and pit him in a battle of wits. Bruce also sets about testing Tatsu as Alfred pushes Bruce to accept her as an ally. She is still rather dismissive of Bruce but now more curious about what he’s doing.
There was a chess theme going through this episode, with companies named “castle” and “queen” as well as a few more direct references to the chess match between Batman and Anarky. There’s also an actual chess match between Bruce and Alfred, which as usual ignores how chess is played for visual effect. Alfred moves his King into check and Bruce takes it, winning the game. Not a good way to start a chess themed episode. The theme does get better as Anarky uses his two pawns to draw out the Batman to test his moves, while Batman plays his own game against his new foe.
Anarky is a little hard to gauge as much like Professor Pyg and Mister Toad from the first episode we don’t find out much about him other than his methods. We get that he believes he is meant to cause chaos against the order of the system, while also looking for a worthy opponent to match wits with. The thing that’s at odds with his philosophy is his chessmaster approach to crime, which suggests there’s some order to his chaos. Hopefully that’ll come up when we learn more about him. His costume was a nice touch, an all white costume to set him against Batman’s all black, while adding to the chess theme. What worries me is how much he acted a bit like a petulant child when he lost, that doesn’t look good for his character if it keeps happening. He did have a nice musical theme too, some violin’s, which stands out as suiting the character even though he’s not a ‘classy’ type of criminal.
Doodlebug and Junkyard Dog were little more than mooks with the personality of graffiti artists. They didn’t need to be since their role was just to distract Batman, get caught, then get freed by Anarky and given more powerful weapons to distract Batman. They were unique for mooks, though Doodlebug’s art rants were getting tiresome towards the end.
The tests, however, did not. Not only was Anarky testing Batman but Bruce tested Tatsu and in both cases it showed Bruce in a Chessmaster role more so than any other series. He not only figured out Anarky was playing him but also set up multilayered testing for Tatsu to see how good she is and if she’d make a good partner. It was nice to see both characters being portrayed in a fairly intelligent manner. Though Bruce might want to actually learn chess if he’s going to be a Chessmaster character.
What we do see apart from Tatsu being smart is while she has a very low opinion of Bruce it is starting to change. We also get a look at a sword she’s kept hidden which will come into play when she turns hero, which hints that there are things we still don’t know about her. We still haven’t seen her do any bodyguarding or driving, just wandering around the manor and she’s only drove Bruce to one place in total since she took on the job. I take it there are things that we don’t see about her job since we don’t even see Bruce outside Wayne Manor much. We don’t need to see everything, especially if it doesn’t have anything to do with the plot since they only have 22 minutes to tell a story, but there needs to be a balance between telling us something and showing us something. We’re only three episodes in so I can assume we’ll get some more at a later time. The show has already demonstrated it doesn’t need to try and shove everything into a single episode when it could easily be spread over multiple ones. Though the Tatsu story is approaching the point that it needs to go somewhere soon or else it’s going to get annoying that nothing’s really happening with it.
I’d say the villains weren’t as well done as last week, but the plot was juggling three villains rather than focusing on just one. The plot was much more focused on the chess match between Anarky and Batman, which sets up Anarky as a villain that’ll be challenging our heroes throughout the season. He had a rather bog standard plot but it did establish his character and how he operates through other villains. Batman did solve things in a rather silly way, though visually dramatic, and it wasn’t a satisfying conclusion given the setup. While I am enjoying the slow burn of Tatsu’s story it needs to have some payoff soon before it drags on too long. Also if the chess theme continues they need to teach the animators how to play chess if anyone plays it again.