Katana must do whatever it takes to prevent Silver Monkey from reclaiming the Soultaker Sword. Bruce and Bethanie Ravencroft take their relationship to the next level. Directed by Sam Liu. Written by Mark Banker.

Beware the Batman is back, but I can’t help but think that this episode would’ve made a better mid-season break than “Toxic” since it serves as such a big step forward in the Beware the Batman story. This Katana-centric episode is definitely a turning point for not only her but several other characters including our villain Silver Monkey, but above all it’s an episode that’s overloaded with action.

The episode is structured differently than what we’ve seen before. This time around we have some nonlinear storytelling that flashes forward in the beginning to a very intense sword fight between our heroes and the many ninjas of the League of Assassins. The swinging chandelier was a nice detail that the viewers could take note of when events finally came full circle later on in the episode, but in the beginning of the episode we are left wanting as the story rewinds to a romantic moment between Bruce and Bethanie. Ultimately, I think that the story would have been more rewarding if we hadn’t been teased with the battle at ARGUS Club and the creators had left that a surprise.

The Bruce and Bethanie scenes were a bit of a chore to get through since viewers don’t have much reason to care about the budding romance between the two and we already know that she’s out to betray Bruce anyway. Thankfully the phony love scene is interrupted by a cut-away to Katana, Bruce’s driver, who is attacked inside the parked limousine. This is undoubtedly my favorite moment of the entire episode.

Backseat squabbles have a long and violent history. Many skirmishes such as this have even divided families as brother and sister the world over have fought for seat space, toys, and slug bug yellows no slug backs. But few of these scuffles have quite measured up to the intensity of Katana Vs. Silver Monkey. This brilliantly choreographed fight scene that takes place in the back of the Wayne limousine is one of the most well-done brawls to be featured in Beware the Batman. While this is definitely an action heavy episode with plenty of martial arts and sword fights, this up-close-and-personal display of hand-to-hand combat within the confined space of an automobile held my attention and captured my imagination more than any other.

Following this fight, Katana is threatened to deliver the sword immediately or face the consequences. Ultimately she decides to come clean to her employer, who she still does not know is the vigilante Batman. It’s at this moment that Bruce fires Katana and Alfred (who knew about the sword conspiracy but never came forward) because he can no longer trust them. Of course, this is all for show and a test to see if Katana will indeed continue to do the right thing when the bad guys come calling and soon enough they do. (or at least that’s how I interpreted it because otherwise firing Alfred would have been terribly out of character)

I won’t spoil much from what happened from then on but I did find it odd that the location of the swinging chandelier and the climax of our episode was called the ARGUS club. I’ve suspected that the “A” on various invitations and cards hinted at throughout the first 6 episodes was related to ARGUS, but I never suspected it would be this… I guess country club-like establishment? I don’t know. I’m not sure where the creators of the show are going with that exactly. In the comics “A.R.G.U.S.” is basically the DC version of S.H.I.E.L.D. only instead of Samuel L. Jackson we have Oprah! Or… at least we should have had Oprah. At the very least that guy who plays Madea… I can’t even begin to describe how proud I am of myself that I can’t remember his name at this moment. But unfortunately the rebooted New 52 slimmed down the leader quite a bit to be more fit like Angela Bassett in the Green Lantern movie, but then they de-aged her too and last I heard a very attractive actress from the show “Spartacus” would be playing Amanda Waller, but I digress! What I’m saying is that if the Argus Club eventually leads to the real A.R.G.U.S. I want Waller to be plump and old. Something about the Justice League being bossed around by Big Momma makes me happy.

The fight scenes that make up the remainder of the episode (and the bulk of the episode is certainly the fight in a single room of the ARGUS Club) are animated well, but lose much of their impact when more and more ninjas show up every time someone snaps their fingers. That’s a great twist to make the scene feel more dire, but I felt that the bad guys called upon another dozen or so henchmen to jump out of the shadows so much that it just became ridiculous. I wish that the battle had continued into more rooms of the ARGUS Club the way we changed locations frequently in the episode “Safe” to keep things fresh and visually interesting, but in the end it really feels like most of “Family” took place in that one space with the really big windows and that’s a bit dull when the red room scene from “Toxic” proved that we can indeed have sets that feature varied lighting and obstacles. The ARGUS club could just as easily have passed for a room within Wayne Manor or Wayne Enterprises. There was nothing of interest about that setting besides the name.

The voice cast, as always, does a great job, especially James Remar, who got way more lines in this episode as Silver Monkey. Sumalee Montano, with this being a Katana episode, certainly shined as well.

Spoiler
And I rather liked the British accent of Lady Shiva provided by Finola Hughes. We had heard this voice before, but not as much as we did in this episode. I had never imagined the character’s voice to be like this while reading the comics, but it works with the depiction in the show and her character design.

What more I have to say I’ll put in spoiler tags. But this was an alright episode. It certainly didn’t have the feel of a Batman story what with there being little to no Gotham City, Gordon, street crime, or all that much Batman to speak of, but that’s quite alright since the focus was all on Katana and the Soultaker Sword plot that’s been cutting its way through this entire city. However, it wasn’t as good as “Safe” and those tuning in for their Batman fix will likely leave a little disappointed that they didn’t see Batman taking center stage.

Spoiler

  • Really, what’s so great about the Soultaker Sword? It didn’t make Katana more powerful when she was wielding it so what does the League of Assassins gain by having it? It seems like someone with a gun could still take down somebody with the Soultaker. I mean, I thought that maybe whoever possessed it would grow faster or stronger or the sword itself would grow in power with the more swords it took but it just appears to be a sword that traps souls. What’s the point? What do you do with all these souls you capture in the sword?
  • It was teased at Comic-Con (you can probably find it if you dig through my tweets @AndrewBatReview that there would be an episode that takes place INSIDE of the Soultaker sword. So when Batman and Katana were threatened with it I really, really hoped that we were about to see the two get “killed” and trapped inside the sword and have to fight their way out the rest of the episode. Instead we stayed in that same room with the big windows.
  • Batman used acid to melt through the metallic-looking ropes he was tied with and it took a few minutes, but then he was able to just cut through Katana’s rope in a second with a knife. I think it would’ve been more fun to have had Batman give Katana the same acid and she would’ve had to fight ninjas off with just her feet while she waited for the ropes to melt.
  • I found it funny how the creators of the show worked their way around the censors by having Shiva state that Ravencroft wasn’t quite dead. She’s pretty dead. Her soul is trapped int he sword and she dropped to the ground as a shriveled corpse.
  • Alfred with a bazooka was cool, but where was he with a second rocket to take out the chopper Shiva and her crew escaped in?
  • I was very surprised when Shiva showed up. I wasn’t expecting her in the series so soon. That was great.
  • I do wish there was more variety in the look of the ninjas. It gets boring seeing 20 or 30 of what looks like the exact same thug. Let’s have some ninjas of different sizes and maybe a different mask here or there. Something. Anything.
  • Shiva’s regal design was an interesting choice that I’m still on the fence about. It looked good, but didn’t feel quite true to the character. Shiva’s always been the brawler, one of the most dangerous women in the world. I simply expected her to show up in something more formidable looking and combat-ready.
  • I thought Bruce looked great in the costume without the mask.
  • I’m happy that Bruce has finally told his secret to Katana and we can see her in a more hands-on role in the war on crime in Gotham. I’m just curious about how (I’ve been calling her Katana this whole time, but she hasn’t officially taken that name yet) she’ll come about choosing the name “Katana” and start using a Katana without Batman being like “Uh… that’s a lethal weapon and I’m not cool with that.” But I guess if Alfred has guns and bazookas and can still manage not to kill people then Bruce can’t really complain about blades.
  • I’m extremely curious to see what Shiva has in store for Silver Monkey. I think he has a great deal of potential as a villain and now that his clan has turned against him he is all the more interesting.

Overall

Viewers who liked “Safe” will like this, although I don’t think it was quite as entertaining as that episode. Fans of Katana should be very happy and it was also terrific to see Silver Monkey appear again.

SCORE: 7/10