Anarky returns and this time he’s playing Batman and the League of Assassins against each other. If his plan works, both the Batman and Lady Shiva will be responsible for unleashing a deadly contagion on all of Gotham City. Katana learns about sacrifice. Directed by Sam Liu. Written by Mark Banker. 

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When the opening scene revealed that Anarky was coming back I immediately let out a bit of a groan because I found the previous Anarky episode to be the weakest of the series and often look back and think I should’ve given that one a lower score. He was hyped up to be Batman’s Moriarty yet his villainous plot was flimsy and his comedic-relief henchmen were the very definition of lame. Add on that unappealing all-white costume and how his sniveling voice doesn’t match up with his muscular frame and you get my least favorite villain of the entire show. However, Anarky earned my respect in this episode and I won’t be thumbing my nose at the character again anytime soon!

Rather than depend on the two moronic henchmen for all of his wrong-doing, Anarky instead employs trickery to manipulate both Batman & Katana as well as Lady Shiva and the League of Assassins. Just by doing that he solidifies himself as a big-time player. And in that opening scene– in which we hear Anarky’s musical theme, which I really liked– we also saw that Anarky is a good enough fighter to take on more than one ninja. But his fighting prowess does raise the question of how exactly did Anarky get all of these skills? Hopefully a future episode will dive into the villain’s origin. After defeating a few ninjas and stealing their precious cargo, the real story is set into motion as Anarky now has leverage over Lady Shiva.

On the good guy side of things, there is the continued training of Katana. This week’s lesson is sacrifice, which she is educated on after a fight with a band of thugs causes a building fire. As the room blazes and the enemy flees, Katana immediately turns to chase down the remaining bad guys when Batman orders her to stop. He explains that there comes a time when you have to make a sacrifice for the greater good– in this case it’s more important to evacuate the building of innocent civilians than chase after four or five goons.

Soon enough, the lesson on sacrifice is put to the test when Anarky contacts our heroes and throws them into a situation with the League of Assassins at the Gotham equivalent to the Center for Disease Control, where Anarky has sent Shiva to personally fetch a contagion for him in exchange for the return of the League’s cargo. The scene in which the facility is explained in detail is one of the best in all of Beware the Batman. The Batcomputer explains how Wayne Technology makes up the building’s security and then elaborates on the various levels of protection. As the computer speaks about the security precautions, those very safeguards are shown to be torn down step-by-step by Lady Shiva and her assassins. It was a really creative way to handle the exposition and illustrate exactly how smart and well-prepared Shiva can be.

As soon as Batman and Katana arrive on the scene the level of tension we reach never lets up ever again and we end up with one of the most intense and darkly serious episodes to date. I mean, we’re dealing with a potential biological attack here and the GCPD and the building’s director and her high-powered political connections play a huge role in the story. Gordon and his team attempt to aid Batman by evacuating the area around the building and monitoring the situation inside using security cameras, but they’re interrupted by Director Kilroy who thinks that the situation is so severe that the building’s self destruct must be utilized immediately!

This isn’t an episode that you’ll casually watch, it grips you from start to finish with its complexity, beautifully choreographed fight scenes, and unrelenting suspense. The entire voice cast did a terrific job and besides one brief second in which the mask vanished from Katana’s face, the episode was exceedingly well animated, especially during the action scenes.

I’ll place all of my greater, more spoilerific criticisms within the spoiler tags below…

Spoiler

  • Shiva should have been a better fighter. I want to see Batman pushed to the point of exhaustion when fighting  Lady Shiva
  • The infection caused by the contagion was far too similar to the effects of the Titan formula from the Arkham Asylum video game. But it’s understandable that the characters had to become big, hulking figures because nasty, boil-covered zombies probably wouldn’t be able to smash through all those barriers.
  • Ra’s al Ghul getting shipped around like Dracula was an interesting idea.
  • With the League of Assasins back yet again, I was disappointed that there was no reference made to Cypher or Jason Burr from last week’s episode.
  • With all of the cameras around and the police having a live-feed of what’s going on inside the facility, it wasn’t very smart of Batman to be seen using a Wayne Enterprises keycard. I think I noticed some hesitation from Batman as he chose to use the card so ideally this is a plot point that will be brought up again later. Perhaps someone will take note of Batman using the card and launch an investigation into Bruce Wayne.
  • The ending to this episode is fine. Batman defeats Shiva, cuffs her to a wall, and proves that he was willing to sacrifice himself to try and save Katana, who actually just sacrificed herself to save Batman and the rest of Gotham. But in my opinion an even better ending is to show Shiva escaping and Batman then has to choose between catching Shiva or rescuing Katana. This is an act that echoes the episode’s earlier scene with the burning building and it would also reinforce the theme of sacrifice even more.
  • I’m pumped for Ra’s al Ghul to awaken. This is the first of the A-List Batman rogues to appear on the show.

Overall

This is a dark and suspenseful episode that introduces the first of the classic Batman rogues into the series while solidifying the newer bad guy, Anarky, as a formidable foe. No other episode of Beware the Batman has kept me on the edge of my seat like “Sacrifice.”

SCORE: 9/10

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