The Batman: The Season Finale

“The Rubber Face of Comedy “ & “The Clay Face of Tragedy”

            The post meant for last week and the post meant for this week are being delivered as a pair since, as the names suggest, the story plays out in the two episodes that serve as the season finale. In the first episode we see inspector Bennett and Ellen Yin getting chewed out by their boss, Chief Rojas, who is demanding that they apprehend Batman, making him public enemy number 1. Joker catches wind of Batman’s notoriety and sets out to reclaim that title by defacing a Gotham artifact using his own special putty that allows him to reshape solid objects among other things. A tense situation follows when Yin, Bennett and Batman all converge to stop the Joker as he makes his move on Gotham’s largest statue. Though Joker gets away, Bennett puts his and Yin’s life on the life as he tries his hardest to apprehend Batman.

*Joker at the scene of the crime

 Following the confrontation with Bennett, Bruce informs Alfred that he is planning on telling Ethan his secret in order to gain a new ally and to prevent a further confrontation. Unfortunately Joker captures Bennett before Bruce can reach him and sets about torturing the helpless detective in hopes of shattering his psyche. When Yin and Batman arrive Joker initially keeps them at bay by pointing a gun loaded with his putty concoction at Bennett. However Batman launches a batarang to disarm and shatter the weapon. Batman follows and detains the Joker while Yin helps Bennett rise out of the fumes of the putty mix. When Chief Rojas attempts to take credit for apprehending Joker Bennett finally snaps, giving credit to Batman and earning a suspension in the process. The episode ends ominously as a sickly Bennett enters the Bathroom and starts to notice his face melting.

*Clayface/Bennett tries to pull together

“The Clayface of Tragedy” starts up immediately after the events of the ”Rubber Face of comedy.” Unfortunately for him, Bennett loses control of his clay body and runs into the street begging for help. His horrendous appearance and his inability to speak clearly make him a horror to the public. The police attack Bennett/Clayface and eventually subdue him by shooting water from a hose at him. A now angered Clayface heads to the police station and attempts an attack on Chief Rojas before being engaged by Batman. While trying to avoid battle at first, Clayface becomes angered and attacks him in full force, making a getaway when the battle is interrupted by Yin and backup.

 *Clayface rearing back to attack

Fresh off his encounter with Clayface, Bruce examines samples he retrieved from battle and concludes that whatever material Clay Face is made of is parasitic. Bennett himself returns home and manages to use the pictures that he sees around his house to remake his body and clarify his voice. Yin checks on him, noticing that his shoulder is pretty moist. Back at the lab Batman and Alfred search for the sample that had somehow escaped from the petri dish. When Bruce is forced to save Alfred from it’s attack he finally puts it together, Ethan is Clayface.

            The next scene shows Yin arriving at Chief Rojas’ home while stating her suspicions over Ethan. As Rojas begins to boast about how he knew Ethan couldn’t be trusted Yin morphs and reveals herself to be Ethan in disguise. Batman is making his way to Bruce in the Batmobile when he receives a call from Yin who is seeking answers about Bennett. In the midst of their conversation Yin also comes to realize Clayface’s true identity and tearfully hangs up the phone.

 Yin and Batman arrive at Rojas’ home and realize that Rojas has been kidnapped when they see Clayface trying to escape in the distance. They follow Clayface to a gym that he and Bruce used to frequent as youths. At the gym Batman tries to stop Clayface down by invoking his own moral code while directly addresses Clayface by his real name. Clayface admonishes Yin for revealing his identity and sadly states that Joker’s torture had not only tortured his mind, but also his spirit. Batman tries to fight Clayface but is immediately beaten down and knocked out cold. Just as Clayface is about to strike down Batman Yin comes to his defense. A stunned Clayface remarks at how he never saw that coming and laments “what have we become” before disappearing into the night. Yin sees an opportunity to unmask Batman but decides against it, gaining the confidence of the Dark Knight, who gives her a communicator when he comes to.  The next day Bruce and Yin converse at a coffee shop and discuss helping Ethan in the future. The episode ends with both individuals looking outside and recognizes Ethan, who had been watching them briefly before disappearing into the city.

 

*The last conversation between Yin & Bennett

I’d like to start off by saying that these two episodes were my favorite episodes of the season by far. Everyone always associates dark themes with Batman but I had never expected topics such as torture and insanity to be prevalent in a kid’s show. As a fan of Batman, I was surprised by these themes but also enjoyed their inclusion. As a fan of this show, I felt really badly for the Ethan Bennett character and can only hope that the ending hints at some type of future involvement. The introduction of Clayface and specifically the origin story given to him by this show are praiseworthy. As I’ve noted before this show has sought to establish it’s own take on core Batman characters and it’s interpretation of Clayface was really well done. My only complaint is that it took until the last episode of the season to create a relationship between Batman and one of his villains. While Penguin and Joker all made multiple appearances this season, neither character invoked any sort of a enmity between the characters. That is to say that the show never really gave me a feeling that Batman was anymore invested/disgusted by one villain. The introduction of Ethan as Clayface finally creates that dynamic.

            Overall I really enjoyed the first season of this show and will continue to watch beyond my serial fictions class. The fact that it had no link to any comic arcs made each episode fresh and entertaining and I look forward to seeing what direction the shows goes in in the next four seasons. 

Colonel Fitzwilliam

Colonel Fitzwilliam

            Colonel Fitzwilliam is Darcy’s cousin and co-guardian of Georgina along with Darcy.  Despite coming from a similar background as Darcy it is clear early on that Fitzwilliam lacks similar wealth to be able to support himself.

            As a character Fitzwilliam is affable, friendly and genuinely a pleasure to be around which helps to make up for his less than handsome physical appearance. He is well-regarded by Darcy as well as Elizabeth, forming a friendship with the latter while acknowledging that his need to marry into money prevents him from ever seriously courting Elizabeth.

            Like Wickham, Fitzwilliam’s known objective is to marry an heiress in order to gain financial support. His secret objectives include the happiness of Darcy & Elizabeth as well as Georgina. His secret ability is linked with his personality, being able to persuade and woo those around him as a result of the pleasure of being in his company.

Quotes pertaining to Fitzwilliam

Ch.30 (9)Colonel Fitzwilliam, who led the way, was about thirty, not handsome, but in person and address most truly the gentleman.”


Ch.
30 (10) Colonel Fitzwilliam entered into conversation directly with the readiness and ease of a well-bred man, and talked very pleasantly.”


Ch.31 (1) Colonel Fitzwilliam’s manners were very much admired at the Parsonage, and the ladies all felt that he must add considerably to the pleasure of their engagements at Rosings.”



Ch.34 (2-3) “She could not think of Darcy’s leaving Kent without remembering that his cousin was to go with him; but Colonel Fitzwilliam had made it clear that he had no intentions at all, and agreeable as he was, she did not mean to be unhappy about him.”

George Wickham

George Wickham

            George Wickham is a childhood friend of Fitzwilliam Darcy. The son of a steward at the Pemberley Estate, Wickham is acutely aware of his inferior social standing despite being educated and having adapted many of the mannerisms of the aristocracy.

            Years later Wickham is a handsome and charismatic young man serving in the militia. He uses his exceptional people skills to create advantageous situations and exploit relationships with others for his own gain. His biggest issue is a lack of morality, wooing several women, incurring massive debts, and even defaming Darcy in failed attempts to elevate his social standing. Despite desiring to marry into wealth, Wickham’s story takes a surprising turn when he runs off with and marries Lydia Bennett, a match that did not offer much in terms of upward mobility.

Wickham’s public objective is to elevate his social standing by marrying an heiress. His secret objective is to take control of the Pemberley estate through deception and the misinformation that he has spread concerning Darcy’s character. His secret power is deception in order to stir public favor in support of him. (Maybe win the game by convincing enough people to join you/name you head of Pemberley…)

 

Quotes

"Mr. Wickham was the happy man towards whom almost every female eye was turned" (Ch. 16)

"A thorough, determined dislike of me— a dislike which I cannot but attribute in some measure to jealousy." (Ch. 16)

"Mr. Wickham is blessed with such happy manners as may ensure his making friends— whether he may be equally capable of retaining them, is less certain." (Ch. 18)

"…her vanity was satisfied with believing that she would have been his only choice, had fortune permitted it.” (Ch. 26)

"Mr. Wickham has deserved much less attention from Mr. Darcy than he has recieved…Mr. Wickham is by no means a repectable young man."(Page 84)

Batman Recap: Topsy Turvy

This episode starts out with the Joker ambushing a the judge in his office and imprisoning him in a giant card. Police and Batman arrive on the scene but fail to stop the Joker who manages to get away in a dune-buggy type vehicle. A perplexed Batman tries to regroup at the cave, all while wondering how the Joker managed to escape from Arkham. Batman decides to search for the Joker at his last known headquarters and encounters the clown himself. In the ensuing battle Batman realizes that something is off with the Joker, whose usual witty banter had been replaced by deranged laughter. Eventually Batman overcomes the clown and discovers that he was an imposter, an Arkham inmate using makeup and technology to pose as the Joker. Meanwhile detective Ellen Yin and Ethan Bennett receive an invitation from the Joker to an event at an old Gotham theatre. At this point the motive behinds Joker’s crimes starts to become clear, vengeance against all those that had worked to bring him down. 

 Batman arrives at Arkham to check on the Joker who appears to be content in his cell. Batman makes the mistake of entering the cell to confront the Joker, who reveals the disguises he had kept hidden before knocking out Batman with a gas and making his escape. Immediately after Joker’s escape an Arkham attendant walks by the door and promptly calls the cops when he realizes that the inmate is Batman. Bennett and Yin respond to the call and head towards Arkham asylum to verify the story. Fortunately for Batman, Joker left behind his costume, allowing Batman to disguise himself as the Joker and discredit the attendant.

At the Gotham Palace Theatre it is revealed that Joker invited several dozen “guests” to his show. All of the guests are trapped in their seats by some kind of putty. At this point Joker reveals his particularly sick goal of trapping each one of them into a playing card and throwing them into the bay to drown while the audience is forced to watch helplessly. As the Joker prepares to toss his first victim, the judge, Yin manages to free herself and charges at the Joker. Always prepared, Joker turns his weapon on her and traps her in a playing card before kicking the judge into the bay. Batman dives into the water and saves the judge and rises to the surface to confront the Joker while Ethan attempted to chip Yin out of her trap. Batman and Joker do battle on the rooftop and all around the theatre before Batman finally gains the upper hand and uses Joker’s weapon to encase the villain himself. The episode ends with Batman returning to the cave and commenting to Alfred that he has had enough of card games, prompting Alfred to hide his own deck of cards in an amusing scene.

            Overall I really, really lied the episode. I enjoyed the Joker in this episode particularly because his storyline was more reminiscent of traditional Joker elements than his previous showing. If you think about it, this whole episode was an attempted mass homicide using some kind of obscure Joker weaponry. I came across another blogger’s comments on this show’s depiction of Joker and realized he had a point. This particular blogger basically stated that people, while the beady red eyes and shoeless attire is off-putting, this Joker and the voice acting are unique and well done. Many of the viewers who dislike this Joker never gave it a chance since they are Mark Hamil-Batman: TAS purists. While I won’t speak for all the critics I will acknowledge that this was the exact reason why I couldn’t enjoy this Joker when he first appeared. Only after accepting that this show was reimaging/ putting it’s own stamp on the franchise was I able to really appreciate the show. On a side note, Detectives Bennett and Yin finally had a substantial presence after not really appearing in the last couple of episodes. With their main priority still being to hunt down Batman I have to think that the entire situation will reach its tipping point in the coming weeks. (only 3 episodes left in the season) 

Sounds legit
Getting the Most out of TV

        

  In addressing the show Breaking Bad I should start out by saying that I really enjoyed what I have seen from the show and can understand why it is so acclaimed. At the same time I am one of those people who enjoys likeable characters that I can root for so that the descent of Walter White into violent drug lord has put me off from watching the show. On a sidenote: I started watching Breaking Bad at the same time as I ran through the entire Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood series. Worst/greatest experience of my life as both those shows tried to break me.

            With regards to the serial nature of TV I have adopted a rule which I apply to everything I watch: most of the trashy TV or bad dramas that are aired today are always accompanied by what seems to be thousands of commercials that promote next week’s episode while seemingly giving away all the plot. I may be wrong on this but shows like Breaking Bad or Homeland or basically anything on Showtime and HBO don’t necessarily rely on inundating you with reminders to watch the show, instead it relies on the quality of programming.

            The idea of TV making the viewer smarter is entirely dependent on the viewer and what he/she wants out of the experience.  Do I think TV can make you smarter? Yes. So called “smart” series include character dynamics and important issues that make you as the viewer consider what you have seen long after the episode is over. The ability to provoke thought and intelligent dialogue is a key point in some of the best shows. On the other hand, it can be really hard for a show like this to succeed. I have a friend who I mock till this day for stating that she doesn’t watch shows to think, she watches shows to be entertained and to have things spelled out in front of her. While I find her logic funny it just so happens to be true for millions of viewers across the world. If the viewer doesn’t sit to watch a show with an expectation or a preparation for intelligent thought then there is nothing to learn from watching TV. I mean to say that learning from watching TV isn’t a relationship between programming content and viewer engagement. It’s entirely possible that somebody could watch what one considers to be a thought-provoking show like Breaking Bad and gain nothing from it simply because the viewer geared himself towards the action and drug use as opposed to the overall thematic content.

           

It’s an unfortunate but pretty prevalent situation in that people enjoy predictable/ thoughtless dramas for the simple sake of enjoyment. I don’t mean to sound elitist (I’m not, I watch Grimm, Archer, Law and Order and have been suckered into Spanish soaps by my parents on several occasions) but this kind of viewership is why we see scores of new shows rise and fall each fall and spring and grab attention away from other programs. Take for example Enlightened which was cancelled just a few days ago. Airing on HBO, the show was nominated for the Golden Globe award for best TV series along with a Golden Globe win for its lead actress, Laura Dern. Even with all of its accolades the show lasted all of two seasons before it was cancelled. On the flip side we have Family Guy, a show filled with fart and sex jokes that has somehow been revived on multiple occasions and endured over ten years despite criticisms against it’s content. Before going too far off topic I’ll round back to my central point: viewers on the whole do not seem to value the quality of the programming or acting as much as they value a cheap laugh or thrill. These same viewers are probably less inclined to actually learn anything from tv. 

Authorship in Television

noblealbatross:

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This week re-watching Breaking Bad’s first season made me really think about how far the show’s come and how much the characters have changed in its 5 seasons so far. Of course, given 5 seasons and the type of writers that Breaking Bad has, it’d be hard not to have character development of some sort but just the magnitude of difference between the characters of season one versus the characters of season five. While it was the goal for Walter White to become the character he is (Vince Gilligan has constantly said that he wanted to transform Mr. Chips to Scarface), the way the transformation occurred is just a testament to the acting abilities of Bryan Cranston and the writing of the Breaking Bad staff. But beyond Walter White, who the show revolves around and essentially had his fate determined for him long before the pilot aired, almost all of the characters are complexly illustrated and change from their original depictions. (Except for you Walter Jr. Never stop loving breakfast).

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Sorry don’t know how to reply…

I see your point on authorship and who actually owns the property/ story. The case with community is really reminiscent of what happened with Two and a Half Men. Despite it being Chuck Lorre’s show in actuality the show was truly associated with Charlie Sheen. I think people who thought the show would flounder once Sheen’s character as replaced are those who assigned ownership of the show to Charlie Sheen.

The Big Dummy Recap

This episode starts out with a couple of goons loading a truck on the orders of their boss, a mild mannered man named Arnold Wesker whose left hand is occupied by a much more ill-tempered puppet named Scarface. We soon see who is actually in charge when Scarface grabs and nearly murders one of the goons for questioning his leadership. Back at the cave Alfred has begun prying Bruce Wayne about his personal life, eventually convincing him to create an online profile to help him with the dating game. Their online search is interrupted when the Batwave notifies them of a break in at a warehouse.image

Batman arrives on the scene and faces off against Arnold, Scarface, and the goons for the first time. Arnold cowers in fear while Scarface berates him to join in the fight to eliminate Batman. Somehow this motley crew succeeds in pinning Batman under an airplane propeller and leaving him to die. Upon his escape Bruce Wayne returns to the cave to use the computer to search for the specific dummy (what can’t the computer do). Here he discovers Wesker’s identity as a former ventriloquist who returned to rob the audience that had booed him off the stage some time earlier. Batman deduced that Wesker had split personality and that he was projecting his villainous side onto Scarface though he is always in complete control of the situation. Batman confronts Wesker’s crew once again at a technology plant, engaging an obviously overmatched Wesker by trying to offer him psychological help before being ultimately forced to fight him. The Scarface puppet is thrown into the machinery in the midst of the fray and is badly damaged. The goons intervene again allowing Welker and Scarface to escape. (Seriously, worst villain so far has been the most elusive one) The next segment of the show jumps to Wesker finding a replacement body for Scarface that happens to come in the form of a giant robot in his likeness. The robot Scarface reverses roles with Wesker, instead carrying him on his shoulders like a dummy as they rob a bank. Batman arrives on the scene to battle Wesker and Scarface for the third time and proves to have a really hard time with the robot. image

Eventually Batman leads the battle onto a train track and forces the puppet to trip in front of an incoming train, ending Wesker’s crime spree once and for all. The episode ends with Batman looking on from the roof tops as Alfred arrives at a café to inform his would-be date that Bruce Wayne wasn’t coming.

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 This episode was randomly the longest to recap simply because Wesker and Scarface had the most interaction with Batman and were able to escape from him more times in one episode than any other villain to date. I won’t deny it, I was confused for a fairly large part of this episode. After Scarface’s attempted murder of his lackey at the start of the episode I fully believed that Scarface was his own badass self as a result of some kind of magic I really couldn’t see the Wesker character going so close to the brink of murder. By the end of the show when I had finally realized that Scarface wasn’t actually real the show decides to mess with me and make him into his own entity in the form of a robot. So not only is Wesker a ventriloquist with potentially murderous tendencies, he’s also a technological genius capable of building giant war machines.

            The Wesker character is interesting because, like Cluemaster and the Riddler, he is essentially a variation of another Batman character. I mean the split personality is a dead give away right off the bat but the fact that Scarface is a gangster makes the link between him and Two-Face even greater. The goons in this show probably bugged me more than any other lackey to date simply because they were always there at the right time to cause a nuisance for Batman and basically did nothing else.

            The relationship between Alfred and Bruce continues to be a strong point of the show as writers continue to stress a father-son relationship between the two. Alfred is completely invested in Bruce Wayne and Batman despite the fact that Bruce Wayne himself is only invested in Batman.

 

There were no appearances by Ethan Bennett or Ellen Yin in this episode

Hunger Games and “Rip-offs”

            The first mention I ever heard of the Hunger Games trilogy came from my sister while I was still in high-school. I basically disregarded her comments to read the series since she had previously attempted to get me to read the Harry Potter series and Twilight series, two stories that I had no interest in. I basically forgot about the franchise until last year when a couple of my friends at Duke got me to go watch the movie with them. I came away so engrossed by the story of the movie that I spent the next half day reading the entire trilogy. The books were great and pretty quick reads. I had two inclinations right off the bat, to compare the first book to the movie, and to compare the two films to Battle Royale (still haven’t read the manga).

            With regards to the book and the movie I was pretty impressed with how a lot of what transpired in the book was pretty accurately displayed in the movie with the exception that I don’t think the Capitol residents were nearly as flamboyant as they should have been and the fact that Peeta is much more of a beast in the book than in the movie. (TEAM PEETA!) A major issue that couldn’t really be addressed in the movie is the psychological aspect of the book and how the reader is literally in Katniss’s head for much of the story. As Kathy said in her post, Hunger Games was randomly deep in emotional content. The book allowed the author to simply write out Katniss’ emotional conflict whereas I am not sure the movies have a means of doing so (especially in telling the final two stories).

            Hobart and a bunch of other people already brought it up in class but it is worth mentioning the different opinions on Hunger Games and Battle Royale. The two stories share an immensely similar plot with the idea of youth death games, totalitarian government and fear tactics being the commonalities. Still, The Hunger Games trilogy and the movie strikes me as a better example of YA because, as Kathy said, it contains a greater degree of character depth and a lesser degree of gratuitous violence or bloody scenes. (The Cornucopia scene in the movie was really well done because it didn’t glorify the violence.) Hell, even Cato, the main antagonist proved to be a pretty tragic figure as he admits that his entire life geared him to be born and bred for murder.

            I had a pretty good conversation with a friend the other day concerning whether Hunger Games truly was a rip-off or not. The point that I found myself defending ended up being the fact that we have reached the point where many works are derivative of something else in history. I jokingly stated that if the Hunger Games were a rip-off of Battle Royal then Battle Royale was just a modification of the Rumble Royale at Wrestlemania. While I wasn’t actually serious about that last point it did make me think a lot about the idea. Most of Disney’s great stories are modifications of legendary myths and historical figures. As a kid I idolized the Lion King and basically still consider it the greatest movie of all time. Last semester I learned in Professor Chow’s class that Tezuka had created a pretty famous cartoon called Kimba the White Lion in Japan.  After only watching the opening my heart melted since I realized that my favorite story was a fraud. Yet the more I looked into it the more it became a situation that is eerily similar to the Hunger Games-Battle Royale debate. Disney execs said that the movie was inspired by Hamlet, and the story of Moses and Joseph, just as Suzanne Collins stated that her work was inspired by reality tv, totalitarian governments and gladiatorial games.  

*^^^ This almost broke me

While the stories are similar is it fair to call either work a rip-off of previous media? As Kathy and others mentioned, Hunger Games is different in its portrayal of violence and emotion, and Suzanne Collins’ cited inspirations are viable. Hunger Games (LIKE LION KING!!!!) isn’t a rip-off of anything because the author used available resources to inspire her work and delivered her story in a different manner than previously told stories. 

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