Bruce Wayne announces that he has hired brilliant scientist Dr. Jason Burr to work on the Ion Cortex, a device that could solve all the world’s energy problems. The announcement also draws the attention of The League of Assassins and it is up to Tatsu to protect Burr from Silver Monkey, one of The League’s top enforcers. Directed by Sam Liu. Written by Mark Banker.

This will be spoiler-free so don’t worry.

There wasn’t a single moment in which I lost interest in what was happening on screen. While I really liked “Secrets” for its detective work, “Safe” shows just how great an action-oriented episode can be. A consistent complaint with this series is its animation but I can really only furrow my brow at the environments and some character designs because while those elements may be questionable at times the characters all have very expressive faces and the fight scenes are incredibly fluid. I mean the action we get here isn’t so much about explosions, it’s all in the hand-to-hand. I watched the episode a second time and it’s amazing to see how many blink-and-you-miss-it moments there are in the battles between Batman and Silver Monkey or Tatsu and Silver Monkey. The choreography is really mesmerizing and a big reason why this episode is so captivating and holds up to multiple viewings.

At first I had my doubts about “Safe” because the opening scene took place in the lobby of a building that looked totally flat and with absolutely nothing on the walls to speak of, just blank. (The show truly relies very, very heavily on lighting for its atmosphere because the sets are boring.) And then there was a moment in which Batman leaves the scene by firing the grapple gun and flying out the top of the screen, however with the scene taking place indoors… well, Batman just blasted the ceiling and is now perched on a fan or chandelier I suppose. Plus the whole “Ion Cortex” thing sounded really hokey and reminiscent of the gizmo that was turned into a bomb in The Dark Knight Rises. But as soon as Burr was placed under the care of Tatsu all of my doubts about this episode faded away. It went from a pretty good action scenes with some really iffy background problems to putting me right on the edge of my seat for the remainder of the half-hour.

But it’s not all action that had me captivated! The banter between Bruce and Alfred was there and I’m even enjoying the exchanges between Bruce and Tatsu. Their quick wit leads to some pretty good laughs and I’m really starting to like this cast as a whole. Much of Tatsu’s time is spent with Burr (played by Matthew Lillard) who some might find kind of annoying, but that’s the point of his character. I actually kind of liked the guy and his futile advances toward Tatus and wouldn’t mind seeing him pester her some more in the future. A part of me thinks that we could definitely see more of Burr in the future because as I was watching the episode I kept turning his name over in my mind… With Matthew Lillard, an actor who has worked on some pretty big projects in his career, taking the part it had me wondering if maybe Burr became someone more in the future. I waited to Google it after the episode was over, but if you’d like to know…

Spoiler
Kobra! If they actually go through with this it should make for a pretty interesting transformation from dweeb to cult leader.

What’s really impressive about this episode and the series in general is how it manages to hold my interest with surprisingly little Batman. This is undoubtedly Tatsu’s biggest episode yet and I often found myself more interested in her scenes than The Dark Knight’s race through the streets on a bat-bike (though that was entertaining).

As for the latest obscure villain turned prime-time player Silver Monkey, I dug him. Sure, he’s a really simple villain to write because he’s just the bad-ass enforcer but near the end of the episode you see a rivalry grow between him and Tatsu and he even shows a little ambition of his own that moves him away from the super-obedient thug we see at the start of the episode and into something more complex. Silver Monkey has only ever appeared in 13 comics, the first of which was Detective Comics #685. I didn’t much care for the look of Silver Monkey when he and several other baddies that will air on this program were first revealed a few months ago (even though it is a better look than the one he had in the comics) but it works. He looked pretty good in this episode, I think. And that downward kick he does?

Spoiler
I think this might be the first time we’ve seen a villain actually kill another person on the show.

Spoiler
Something that’s gradually becoming a problem with the series is that Batman has only managed to catch one of the major villains he’s faced so far. Pyg and Toad vanished, Magpie was locked up, Anarky fell from a great height and then vanished, and now Silver Monkey falls from a great height…and then vanishes. I understand that they are trying to show a Batman who isn’t quite in his prime yet, but he should have a higher success rate than this. And if you’re going to have the bad guy get away somehow at the end of every episode, at least add a little more variety than “villain appears to fall to his doom but when Batman goes in for a closer look he finds that the villain has disappeared!”

The best action yet, some good laughs, quality voice acting, nice character moments for Tatsu, and an impressive new villain (there’s even a tease at an even bigger villain to come). All-in-all, a solid episode.

Beware the Batman airs Saturdays at 10am Eastern on Cartoon Network and repeats on Sundays at 10 am.

Overall

I think it’s the best episode so far. While Anarky was hyped up to be Batman’s arch nemesis it’s actually the League of Shadows who appear to be the greatest threat and Silver Monkey is the most ingrained in the Soultaker Sword plot that’s being weaved in and out of every episode in this series! The limitations of the CG animation are still visible and I doubt that’s ever not going to be a problem until the show gets a 2nd season and a bigger budget, but the writing, voice acting, and direction are all top notch.

SCORE: 8.5/10