The League of Assassins is back yet again and this time they’ve sent Cypher, a cyborg, with a mission to abduct the scientist Jason Burr and use him to bring the Ion Cortex technology to Lady Shiva. Where Iron Monkey failed, Cypher aims to succeed. Also, Batman tries to teach Katana to overcome her emotions. Directed by Curt Geda. Written by Michael Stern.
“Control” is a simpler episode that doesn’t feature as much world-building as previous installments and repeats the plot of “Safe” only here the chase takes up the bulk of the episode. There isn’t quite as much comedy to lighten the mood, but there’s plenty of action and detective work to go around. I particularly liked the camera-work when Batman first began his investigation. After our villain attacked a renowned architect, the exhausted, mind-wiped victim was discovered by police and The Dark Knight. The quick zoom-in on minor details that the Batman noticed on the architect reminded me of BBC’s Sherlock, which is a good thing. Once Cypher makes his move on the creator of the Ion Cortex the episode never let up. As I said, it’s one big chase scene in which Katana is trying to save Jason and then Batman is trying to save Jason and Katana.
Running parallel to the conflict with the new villain Cypher and his hunt for the Ion Cortex, there’s also a bit of a love story. Some will find the exchanges between the nerdy Jason Burr and the stoic Katana to be annoying, but I like it. I found it quirky and cute and it played a big part in the finale– even if that finale was the weakest part of the episode.
The Tron-like design of Cypher looked quite cool I thought. This agent for the League of Shadows is a cyborg who uses glowing tendrils from his hands to latch on to the minds of his enemies and turn them into his own private marionettes. The animators did a fine job of giving his armor texture and I liked the glowing green light effects from the tendrils. But it’s the visual of this green cyborg dangling bodies like puppets that was the most impressive. The villain didn’t even have a voice actor, but instead spoke through the zombified bodies of his victims and I thought that was very creepy and well-done. (If you’ve seen the film Independence Day then it’s kind of like that scene where the alien uses Brent Spiner to communicate) Cypher, like so many other villains to appear on this show, is an esoteric foe who many won’t even know existed. This episode offers a creepy and memorable new take on the villain first introduced in Detective Comics #657 and it’s easily the most drastic change in appearance from comic to screen of all the Beware the Batman rogues (Professor Pyg is the most drastic change in personality). He was never used more than 4 times in the comics and he didn’t have a cool suit or cybernetic parts or anything. The original Cypher was a corporate spy who could hypnotize his victims with the power of his voice.
I’ll place all of my bigger criticisms along with some more aspects that I enjoyed in spoiler tags for those who haven’t watched this episode yet.
- I was happy to see the episode get a full title sequence now that Katana is officially a part of the team!
- There is a chase through the ventilation of Wayne Enterprises. The air ducts were just way too big. This is Wayne Enterprises, not The Death Star.
- Animators need to give Gotham some personality. It’s great that we finally have cars and pedestrians filling the space so that the city looks populated, but Gotham itself looks boring.
- Where were the other ninjas? After all the problems the League of Assassins has faced trying to steal the Ion Cortex and, more recently, the Soul Taker Sword it only makes sense that they would send Cypher some backup but instead he did this mission solo.
- I thought it was cheap when Katana rushed over to the collapsed Burr and we discovered he was still connected to Cypher. It wasn’t fair to the fewer since the shot beforehand clearly shows that there is no glowing tendril connected to Burr’s head.
- I loved that Cypher was bluffing about how if the connection was severed then the minds of his victims would be lost forever. As soon as he told the lie I thought, “If I was the bad guy, I would totally just lie about that because how exactly would the hero know you’re bluffing?” and to actually see that that was what had happened was very rewarding.
- Did Batman just kill that guy?! Shoving both tendrils into the brain of Cypher was quite the gambit on Batman’s part (I also wasn’t sure how the tech worked through Batman’s cowl or Cypher’s helmet but if we’re suspending disbelief this much then I guess we can assume it takes a lot more plating to block out the tendrils). How did he know that doing so wouldn’t totally kill Cypher? The guy isn’t totally a robot, he’s still part man (unless he was bluffing about that too). And in the end we see that Cypher’s conciousness has moved to Burr’s body. What happened to Burr? Are they sharing the same vessel or did Burr’s mind move to Cypher’s body? I hope a future episode clears all this up.
- I hated the kiss. Cypher is brought down when Kana smooches Burr knowing that whatever Burr feels, Cypher feels. How exactly did that zap Cypher’s circuitry? It was a very corny “power of love” moment that I could’ve done without.
It has a great villain and great action, but I hated the ending and found the overall plot to be too similar to “Safe” only this time there’s a different end result. Still, it’s a decent enough episode and Beware the Batman continues to be a show I look forward to every weekend.