Beware the Batman Ep 5 Review: Broken
This time we get another Arkham Living Hell villain, more Lieutenant Gordon, and Tatsu somehow manages to lose a 4 foot long sword. I also ponder a rather weird story point to keep popping up in a Batman series in this week’s episode Broken, written by Michael Ryan and directed by Rick Morales.
People of Gotham are being kidnapped and put inside life size toy soldiers with bombs attached. The investigation leads to Humpty Dumpty, a man trying to get revenge on people he thinks wronged him when he tried to testify against a mob boss. It all ends with Batman needing to rescue Tobias Whale and Jim Gordon from Humpty, while they’re trapped in a toy army that’s blowing itself up. Humpty Dumpty created by Dan Slott for his Arkham Living Hell book, just like Doodlebug and Junkyard Dog. That book is really being mined for obscure Batman villains.
Tatsu’s subplot this week is her looking for the Soultaker sword from last time that she stashed away so no one else would find it. Which didn’t work so well as Alfred found it pretty quickly, he confronts her on it and we get some info on the sword and Tatsu’s history. She was a CIA agent sent undercover with the League of Assassins, but when she found the Soultaker she decided neither the League nor the CIA should have something that powerful, a sword that can literally rip souls from their bodies. So she faked her death and laid low. Sadly Tatsu was back to not being part of the action this episode and while she does get interesting subplots it’s starting to get tiresome. At least we are getting more information every episode and it doesn’t feel like we’re being relentlessly teased with non-info all the time. We saw the Soultaker and her connection to the League last time and now we know what the sword is and what she was doing in the League. Which is much better than stringing the audience along like other shows do. We also see Alfred has his cast off, so a few months have passed since the first episode.
What’s a little weird for me is that Batman has only caught one criminal in five episodes. That’s a strange way to start a Batman series, with most of the crooks getting away. I didn’t mind the others so much since Anarky and the League are ongoing threats and they didn’t do much with Professor Pyg so I’d hoped that him getting away meant it’d flesh him out more when he came back rather than him needing to escape jail. But Humpty didn’t need to escape; his story was told and told well. Even if they tacked on some sort of ‘honour of the game’ at the end as a reason why he won’t go after Gordon or the others again, which wasn’t established beforehand. I may like to see a Batman that isn’t perfect, but if this keeps up then he’s going to look really pathetic. So far he’s caught Magpie, Doodlebug, and Junkyard Dog, one main villain and two mooks.
Not to say the episode was bad, the main plot had shades of a classic Batman tale, and we got some movement on the Gordon/Batman dynamic. Humpty was a creepy villain doing things in a fantastical manner similar to the Riddler or the Mad Hatter, though the way the episode used him he’s more like a Batman equivalent to the Superman villain Toyman. Using toy soldiers as weapons, life sized ones too, is part of the ‘take an innocent childhood object and turn it into something terrifying’ that makes for a wonderful villain. Though I’m not sure what his main goal was as once his victims were encased in the toy soldier bombs there was no timer, just a booby trap to stop people opening it. The first guy spent a night in a bomb shelter waiting for Batman to disarm it.
Overall this was another good episode. I still have some problems with how things are moving, or barely moving, with some of the subplots. It is mainly that Tatsu and Alfred aren’t doing much in an episode, especially Tatsu since Alfred at least does help Batman. Its like if Dick Grayson was in the cast but he wasn’t Robin and didn’t do much per episode. I expected she’d become Katana by episode three, not be waiting for episode six and beyond. I’m sure the payoff will be good, and I’m glad we’re getting to know more about her, but at the moment it feels like it drags. However the individual episodes have been good and doing well at mixing both episodic and serial storytelling, even if I have a problem with part of it. What was also fun was seeing that the Bat-computer, along with its concern for Batman last episode, now has a sense of humour. When asked for the last address of Humpty Dumpty it replied flatly with “a wall.” Which got a laugh out of me.