I’m hardly the World’s Greatest Detective™, but I can usually deduce why an episode of Batman: The Animated Series exists. It exists to introduce a character, profile a character, or connect some greater part of the story together. This week’s episode does none of that. It has a boring, one-off villain, it tells us nothing about Batman (let alone Bruce Wayne), and brings nothing to bear aesthetically. This week’s episode is a stinker. Batman: The Animated Series Remastered and Rewatched is delving into “The Cape and Cowl Conspiracy.”
“The Cape and Cowl Conspiracy”
I’m worried about this week’s villain. At the end of the episode, he’s in prison, and he just spent a whole episode ripping off the Riddler‘s schtick. He’s going to end up dead in jail.
Our story starts with a guy following a riddle at a miniature golf course that leads him into quicksand. He nearly drowns before giving up. We learn the man responsible is Josiah “The Interrogator” Wormwood, a man who can squeeze information out of any target with clever deathtraps. Some bearer bonds are missing as a result of his work, and the GCPD needs information.
To track Wormwood down, Batman humiliates and then interrogates a shady guy who guys by the nickname “Baron” and tells him to get out of town. The Baron, then, asks Wormwood to get Batman’s cape and cowl. Wormwood wonders why, but the Baron says he won’t tell him unless Wormwood tells him what he did with the bonds he obtained.
Interestingly, this is the first appearance of the Bat-Signal in the series–or at least the plot treats it as such. Batman comments on the Commissioner’s new toy, and the two talk for a moment about what the mayor will think of it, calling attention to Batman’s tenuous relationship with the city outside of allies like Gordon.
It’s a dumb episode
That’s a brief highlight in what is otherwise one of the worst episodes of Batman: The Animated Series. Wormwood puts Batman through a series of weak riddles and dumb death traps, including a holographic damsel tied up on train tracks and a melty wax room. Wormwood seemingly forces Batman to give up his cowl–which he does while growling, for some reason–and then delivers it to the Baron. The Baron who, it turns out, has been Batman. The Baron took Batman’s advice and got out of town.
The two have a battle over Wormwood’s locker key before Batman gets the upper hand and Wormwood ends up in jail where Batman sends him a package. This is the most out-of-character thing for Batman in this episode and in the show in quite some time. Wormwood rips into the package to find Batman’s cape and cowl. Batman isn’t typically one for petty jokes, especially not outside the occasional crack at a villain’s expense in the moment.
This whole episode is a bore. Wormwood is so much a Riddler rip-off that it would’ve been more interesting if the show had commented on that and done something with it. Even his name, The Interrogator, feels like a cheap knock-off. Why not name him Quentin Estion or Ian Neil Terrogate? The death traps aren’t terribly interesting, and neither is the reveal that It Was Batman The Whole Time. I would lump this episode in with “I’ve Got Batman In My Basement,” for sure, as one of the all-time worst episodes in the series.
If you need more BTAS commentary now, we have every episode of the series ranked from the worst to the best!
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