“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.