Recap / Batman: The Animated Series E25 "The Clock King"
Seven years ago, then-councilman Hamilton Hill shared a subway seat with the humorless and bookish efficiency expert Temple Fugate, who literally lives every second of his life to a strict personal schedule. During their brief conversation, Fugate mentioned to Hill that there had been a large financial judgement placed against his company, with an important hearing on the matter scheduled later that day. If Fugate loses the appeal, he'll literally lose his company and his entire life's work. Hill, a lawyer himself, suggests that if Fugate takes a break from his usual routine and relax, maybe then he can make a more favorable impression on the judge. Fugate is aghast at the notion of deviating from his sacred routine, but considering the stakes, he accepts Hill's advice and takes his daily 3:00 coffee break at 3:15.
This proves disastrous, as everything from innocently-playing children to stray dogs to the weather itself soon waylays him. When he finally makes it to court, the Judge chastises him for being late and rules that the judgement against Fugate's company will stand. Fugate nearly loses his mind
at the news. With his life ruined, all because of the one and only
time he was ever late for anything, Fugate plots his revenge against the man he holds responsible... Hamilton Hill.
Cut to present-day Gotham, where now-Mayor Hill is on his way to dedicate a new subway station as part of his reelection campaign. Suddenly, the downtown traffic lights go haywire; they've been sabotaged—and that's only the first part of the plan to make sure this is the worst, most humiliating day Mayor Hill has ever experienced. Whose plan? None other than Temple Fugate's. And if it all goes to schedule, by 3:15 this afternoon, Hill won't even be alive
. Can Batman match wits with the greatest Schedule Fanatic
the world has ever seen and unravel the clues before time runs out?
Tropes in this episode include:
- Abandoned Warehouse: Not abandoned since Fugate owns it, but it plays the same role.
- Advantage Ball: A middle-aged efficiency expert, fighting Batman? This should have been a Curb-Stomp Battle, but Fugate has studied footage on Batman's fighting, so he knows that it takes Batman exactly 1/20 of a second to throw a punch. As improbable as it sounds, Fugate manages to fight Batman to a standstill using Blocking Stops All Damage, Nonchalant Dodges, and Deadly Dodging.
- Advice Backfire: Fugate blames Hill for giving him advice before his hearing, which he followed, leading to a disastrous day.
- Awesomeness by Analysis:
- Even before his Start of Darkness, Fugate knew the exact place where the subway doors would open.
- Batman always appears in time to foil the Evil Plan, so Fugate simply enacts it and waits for Batman to appear just so he can taunt him with a Train Escape.
- Batman is a Great Detective, and he manages to easily figure out where Fugate is hiding and what he's planning next. Fugate, anticipating such, deliberately leaves clues that lead Batman to find his hideout, determine his plans, and then, either delay him or put him into one of several death traps.
- Batman has a Utility Belt that is practically a Hyperspace Arsenal and surely has a gas mask. So, Fugate gets Batman Locked in a Bank Vault and makes it a Gas Chamber with a vacuum sucking all the air out. And it's too thick for him to cut through with any of his utility belt tools before the air is all gone.
- Batman is one of the best martial artists in the world thanks to his training. But Fugate fights him to a standstill, managing to avoid his punches, simply by having extensively studied news footage of Batman fighting.
- Badass Boast:
I'm going to clean your clock, Fugate. Fugate:
I think not, Batman. When it comes to clocks, I
am king. En garde.
- Bank Robbery: Invoked when Alfred informs Batman that there is one in progress in a bank with a time lock. Batman immediately deduces the perpetrator is the Clock King. Fugate doesn't actually steal any money; he only wants to get Batman locked in the Death Trap he set up in the vault.
- Big Damn Heroes: Batman comes to save Mayor Hill from the Death Trap Just in Time.
- Bland-Name Product: The use of a company with really expensive clocks called Metronex.
- Blind Alley: Batman enters one next to the Gotham Traffic Department, so no-one will see him getting out of Bruce Wayne's limo.
- Blocking Stops All Damage: You'd think Batman's blows, even blocked, would hurt an apparent Non-Action Guy like Fugate.
- Bond Villain Stupidity: Fugate knows Batman will show up in time to stop him from getting revenge from Mayor Hill; to prevent that, he gets Batman in a Death Trap. But he can't resist pulling a Just Between You and Me with a mocking taped message left behind; Batman manages to repurpose the tape into one of the tools needed to escape. Had he left no message at all, it's likely the Death Trap would have worked, as Batman was ready to try getting out with a cutting torch until Fugate's message informed him that he'd thought of that already, and specifically made sure there wasn't enough time.
- Can't Get Away with Nuthin': When Fugate breaks his schedule so he can be more relaxed. Notice that when Fugate is at the park at 3:05, instead of in his office as he had planned, he is very nervous and waiting for certain doom. It's only when he dares to relax that the Disaster Dominoes that would ruin his life start falling.
- Clock King: The DCAU's version of the Trope Namer, Fugate knows the schedule of the entire city; everything from the location of a train that's always early to the precise time it takes Batman to throw a punch.
- Clockworks Area: Batman fights the Clock King like this, in a clock tower.
- Collapsing Lair: Fugate's clock tower begins collapsing at the end of the episode.
- Comic-Book Movies Don't Use Codenames: Fugate never identifies himself as "the Clock King." (The closest he ever comes to it is his Badass Boast, noted above.) The only one who calls him that is Commissioner Gordon as a Mythology Gag.
- Complexity Addiction: The Clock King even surpasses the Riddler as an addict to overly complicated schemes, but he exhibited this trait even before becoming a supervillain. As efficiency expert Temple Fugate, he has a chain pocketwatch and a wristwatch, and at his office he has both a grandfather clock and another clock at his desk.
- Conspicuous Consumption: Lampshaded:
Batman: What kind of saboteur uses a $6000 Metronex to trigger a time bomb?
Alfred: A saboteur with too much money?
- Continuity Nod: The paper Bruce is reading has a photograph of someone who seems like Maven, Selina Kyle's assistant, with a cat that seems like Isis, both from the episode "The Cat and the Claw". The headline says, "Kolus cat saved."
- Contrived Coincidence: The opening of Gotham Central Station is exactly seven years after the Clock King's Start of Darkness, in a desolated subway.
- Cool Car: Instead of the Batmobile, Batman travels through Gotham in Bruce Wayne's limousine.
- Cool Sword: Fugate has one, shaped like a clock's minute hand. Unfortunately for him, what causes him to lose the fight at the end is when he accidentally jams it in one of the clock tower's internal gears, causing the entire structure to collapse.
- Creature of Habit: Temple Fugate was this even before he became the Clock King. It's implied that he was a middle-aged man when he broke his routine for the first time in his life.
- Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Despite the fact that Fugate lost everything in a judgment for twenty million dollars against his company seven years before the present time, for his revenge scheme he has enough money to buy bombs and an Abandoned Warehouse Supervillain Lair, and uses at least two pocket watches valued at an estimated $6,000 apiece as weapons as if they were completely disposable. Justified because he never suffers Motive Decay in his revenge plot, but it still makes it plain that he's gone off the deep end.
- Dastardly Dapper Derby: Fugate's bowler hat.
- Death Trap: Two of them.
- The first one is for Batman, a Gas Chamber with a Time Bomb that will suck out all the air in a Race Against the Clock.
- The second one is put the victim in between the hands of a Clock Tower, when they come together at 3:15 on May 12th—the precise time and date that everything went wrong for Fugate, seven years earlier.
- Disaster Dominoes: Fugate fears he'll be ruined if he loses his legal hearing. When he breaks his schedule and dares to relax, he gets hit by a ball some children were playing with, a Dramatic Wind blows away the papers he needs for his hearing, and a playful dog accidentally gets him to fall into a park fountain. While he's physically unscathed by it all, he still ends up late to court and loses.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Killing a man because he recommended you relax, which wound up making you late? That's this trope alright.
- Dissonant Serenity: The effect when Clock King casually delivers a You Have No Chance to Survive speech without any emotional intonation.
- Dramatic Unmask: It's clear Mayor Hill has no idea who the crazy guy that just put him into a Death Trap is. Until he takes off his glasses, at which point Hill does recognize him. Even though he's dressed the exact same way he was the last time Hill ever saw him... seven years ago.
- Emotions vs. Stoicism: Fugate is The Stoic who cannot understand his fellow human beings. When Hill advises him to break his schedule, he intends to make Fugate less stoic and more emotional. This Goes Horribly Right because Hill's advice backfires and Fugate starts his Roaring Rampage of Revenge against Hill.
- Establishing Character Moment: The episode begins with people waiting for the subway. In a crowd full of individuals with spaced gazes and relaxed facial expressions, only a Sharp Dressed Man with a parasol seems alert, with a perfect erect posture. The subway stops and opens its doors exactly where this guy is standing. He consults his chain pocketwatch and exclaims:
- Evil Gloating:
- Evil Is Hammy: Fugate, who is normally The Stoic and a Softspoken Sadist, but just when he reacheds a Near Villain Victory, he commits Bond Villain Stupidity, Evil Gloating and Evil Laugh.
- Evil Laugh / Laughing Mad: Fugate does this only twice: at the end of his But for Me, It Was Tuesday speech and before the Collapsing Lair falls over on him.
- Exploited Trope: Temple Fugate is a sociopath whose only interest in the world as a Schedule Fanatic are clocks and time: he timed a Time Bomb with a very expensive watch, has an Abandoned Warehouse with a Room Full of Crazy Clocks, and tries a Bank Robbery with a time lock. All those tropes are exploited to get Batman Lured into a Trap: Fugate knows about his obsession, and instead of trying to stop it he uses it against his enemies. The real Evil Plan is to use the clock hands of a Clock Tower to crush someone to death.
- Felony Misdemeanor: Killing a man because he recommended you to relax, which wound up making you late? That's this trope alright; it's even lampshaded:
Batman: Give it up, Fugate. Hill committed no crime against you.
Clock King: He did worse. He made me late!
- Finagle's Law: The Disaster Dominoes before Fugate's hearing in the prologue.
- Floating Advice Reminder: Interestingly, when Temple Fugate remembers the advice Counselor Hill gave him at the subway hearing again Hill's voice, he remembers it wrong. Hill never said that Fugate must get out of his office, only that Fugate must get out of his routine for a few minutes. This little detail establishes the Misplaced Retribution.
- Four Eyes, Zero Soul: Before his Start of Darkness, we could see Fugate's eyes through his spectacles. After that, their faces become opaque, and seem like a watch faces that point to 3 o'clock.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: Fugate's laptop we see briefly:
Things to do today – 5/12
- Gadget Watches: Before his Start of Darkness, Temple Fugate used a very expensive wrist watch with more hands than Shiva. After that, the Clock King uses pocketwatches as bombs and as boleadoras.
- Gambit Roulette: As meticulous as Fugate is, there is a lot that could go wrong with his plans.
- Gas Chamber: The Clock King traps Batman in a bank vault with a vacuum pump that's rapidly sucking away the available air. (Fugate is smart enough to point out that he knows Batman would carry a gas mask with him, so he's opted to just remove everything). It's also wired to blow if it's picked up to try and prevent Bats from fiddling with it.
- Gone Horribly Right: Hill's advice to Fugate tried to make him less stoic and more emotional. It worked. Seven years later, the only emotional activity Fugate indulges is trying to make Hill look like a fool, and then kill him.
- Gratuitous French: The Clock King loves it: "Adieu," "En garde!" "Au contraire."
- Harmony Versus Discipline: Fugate is discipline himself, to the degree that he gains a measure of control over the world around him. However, he cannot understand his fellow human beings. When Hill advises him to break his schedule, he intends to make Fugate less stoic and more emotional. This Goes Horribly Right.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Batman uses the tape Fugate left him to escape his Death Trap.
- Idiosyncrazy: Temple Fugate is The Sociopath without any emotion, whose only interest in the world is being a Schedule Fanatic, clocks and time: he uses a Time Bomb triggered by an expensive watch, has an Abandoned Warehouse with a Room Full of Crazy Clocks, and conducts a Bank Robbery by messing with a time lock. All those tropes are exploited to lure Batman into a trap: Fugate acknowledges his obsession and uses it against his enemies. The real Evil Plan is to kill someone in a Clock Tower with the clock hands.
- Implausible Synchrony: Before his Start of Darkness, efficiency expert Temple Fugate has four watches.note Being as obsessed with time as he is, it's not that implausible that they have the same time.
- Ironic Echo:
- Just Between You and Me: Fugate leaves a The Tape Knew You Would Say That speech where he outlines his Evil Plan (the Death Trap) to Batman, including information on how to stop it exactly when Batman needs to hear it.
- Just in Time: The Clock King wants revenge against Gotham's Mayor, but he knows that Batman always appears in time to stop the villains. So he begins his plan 6 hours (and 20 minutes) earlier, so he can trap Batman and get revenge on Hill. Unfortunately, Clock King's own Bond Villain Stupidity ruins his plan, and Batman saves Mayor Hill in a Big Damn Heroes moment. Lampshaded by Fugate:
Temple Fugate: The Batman. It's about time you showed up.
- Killer Yo-Yo: Clock King uses a pocket watch as one against Batman.
- Kirk Summation: Made by Batman to the villain just before the Fight Scene at The Climax.
- Locking MacGyver in the Store Cupboard: Batman made his escape from his Death Trap using items inside the vault, among them the tape left by Fugate as mentioned above.
- Lured into a Trap: Batman tracks Fugate to a Bank Robbery only to find that he has been Locked in a Bank Vault that is really a Gas Chamber, while the villain enacts the real Evil Plan.
- Mean Boss: Threatening to fire an employee for not making the copies he wanted by an extremely snug time frame seems mean to a normal human being, but Fugate is a Schedule Fanatic who only cares for punctuality. If you're a punctual employee, Fugate would be civil to you, but never appreciative.
- Meaningful Name / Prophetic Names / Steven Ulysses Perhero: Temple Fugate sounds a lot like tempus fugit (Latin for "time flies").
- Misplaced Retribution: Rather than blaming, say, the person suing him, or the judge who upheld the ruling despite Fugate's tardiness being clearly the result of an accident, Fugate ends up blaming the whole incident on Hill, whose only crime was trying to help him.
- Motive Misidentification: Fugate's Motive Rant seems to blame Hill for ruining his company; instead, he's more upset that Hill made him late.
- Motive Rant: Fugate explains the above to Hill while he's tied up in a Death Trap.
- Mythology Gag:
- Mustache Vandalism: One of Fugate's more benign attacks on Hill is to display a giant defaced poster of Hill after drawing a crowd onto the street by sabotaging the traffic signals.
- Never Bring a Knife to a Fist Fight: Fugate fights with a Sword Cane against an unarmed Batman. Guess who wins?
- Never Found the Body: Commissioner Gordon remarks to Batman at the end that his men have been unable to find any trace of Fugate in the rubble after their fight. They're both a bit too smart to write Fugate off as dead (Batman says that if he could get out, then Fugate could), even though Gordon says he can't imagine how anyone could have survived the tower collapse. (Batman is right of course; Fugate returns in a later episode.)
- Never My Fault: The Floating Advice Reminder establishes that even when Hill gave Fugate that advice, it was Fugate's decision to follow it (and his own idea to go outside, where all the problems occurred).
- No Endor Holocaust: Fugate tampers with traffic lights, causing crashes all over downtown Gotham, gasses the employees of a bank, and causes a deliberate subway crash only to make Mayor Hill look incompetent. It's lampshaded that all those antics, implausibly, don't result in any death.
- No One Could Survive That!:
- No Social Skills: Fugate knows that he will lose the hearing, but he doesn't realize why (his Lack of Empathy). He also doesn't realize a guy sitting next to him on the subway reading the newspaper probably doesn't want to be disturbed, or that Hill patting his back is a sympathy gesture...
- No Sympathy: Temple Fugate arrives late to his hearing and the judge rules against him for being tardy, even when Fugate’s clothes are visibly soaked and torn and he is obviously distressed. You'd think he'd at least want an explanation before making any kind of ruling. Furthermore, the lawyer present just shrugs his shoulders and retires instead of making any kind of objection. Justified because Fugate himself was earlier shown being just as heartless to his employees, so this could just be karma coming home to roost.
Fugate: No! You can't! I'll be ruined!!
Judge: Then perhaps this will teach you to be on time for a change.
- Not So Stoic: Despite being The Stoic, and possibly a sociopath, it's obvious during their subway ride that Fugate is genuinely distressed at losing the hearing, it's the only emotion he really shows at all.
- Not Wearing Tights: Temple Fugate was a Sharp Dressed Man before his Start of Darkness. After he becomes the Clock King, he averts all the tropes at the Evil Makeover index and commits crimes in a nice brown business suit.
- Offscreen Villain Dark Matter: For a man supposedly ruined financially, Fugate somehow manages to have enough cash to buy (or at least think nothing of using) an ersatz-Rolex watch as a component in a Time Bomb. Especially when his "villain lair" is shown as a dilapidated storefront in what is apparently a very rundown neighborhood, but is registered legally at his name.
- O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Temple Fugate announces to his secretary, Ms. Perkins, that he will take his coffee break out of the office. Ms. Perkins' shocked reaction shows us that this is something Fugate just doesn't do.
- Race Against the Clock: The Time Bomb that will suck all the air from the vault Batman is trapped has a countdown of 15:00:00 (that's 15 minutes with Ludicrous Precision, not 15 hours). Batman escapes with 00:03:00 left.
- Red Herring: In less than five hours Batman encounters a Time Bomb, a Room Full of Crazy Clocks, a Bank Robbery, and a Gas Chamber Death Trap, all designed to keep him busy while Fugate kidnaps and murders Hill.
- Right on the Tick: Justified. Why doesn't he just shoot Mayor Hill? Because his whole motivation is to be on time. He prepares a Death Trap by tying Hill to the hands of a Clock Tower that will crush him at 3:15 (the time Hill told him to move his coffee break, which made him late). Hill's death is not enough; it has to be Right on the Tick. There is also the train Hill wants to show; it has to arrive precisely at 2:30 on the dot for him to look good for the press.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Or rather, Stoic Rampage of Revenge.
- Room Full of Crazy: Exploited. When Batman finds Fugate's Abandoned Warehouse, he enters into a Room Full of Crazy Clocks, all of them displaying a different hour, data about the Gotham Clock Tower, the subway, and a poster of Mayor Hill's Malevolent Mugshot with Mustache Vandalism with the legend "Time for a change." All of those are relevant to the plot, but it turns out Fugate isn't crazy, they're all clues to lure Batman into a Death Trap by making him think Fugate isn't as mentally sharp as he really turns out to be.
- Scary Shiny Glasses: Fugate's spectacles look normal enough in the prologue, but have a Four Eyes, Zero Soul effect after his Start of Darkness.
- Schedule Fanatic:
- Fugate is the most fanatical ever seen. His Start of Darkness implies that he had never been late in all his life, ever. The only thing a person like the Clock King cares about is being punctual.
- The judge that rules against him only for being late also applies; even if their roles were reversed, it probably would have played out the same.
- Secret Identity Change Trick: Bruce Wayne manages to put on his Batman costume while running up a flight of stairs in a public building. Only the chaos in the street from Fugate's sabotage can excuse no-one seeing him.
- Serious Business: Again, Fugate's obsession with punctuality.
- Shout-Out: The streets from this episode have the names from various comics and animation artist who worked on the show: Keith Weesner, Sheldon Moldoff, Jack Schiff, Jerry Robinson, Norm Breygfole, Alex Toth, and Kurt Busiek.
- Shut Up, Kirk!: Fugate gives one to Batman after they discover that the Clock King has a Misplaced Retribution against Mayor Hill. The answer could sound crazy to a normal person, but Clock King is The Sociopath Schedule Fanatic. Being punctual is all that he cares about.
- Sinister Subway: Gotham citizens first laugh at Mayor Hill when the ceremonial first train to Gotham Central Station doesn't arrive when he announces it. Then they hear Fugate's voice asking them to "clear the platform," and the lights of two trains at once appear. Everyone panics.
- Small Name, Big Ego: Fugate sincerely thinks that the guy who shares his seat at the subway every day for a year has to know his name, or that Counselor Hill knows his impending legal case simply because his law firm is handling it, or that he gave the Advice Backfire on purpose. That may be more his Lack of Empathy preventing him from realising that someone else's mind might work differently from his own; Fugate (evidently) does know the name of the person sitting opposite him on the subway, and it's not a stretch to imagine that someone like him would know every detail of what everyone in his company is doing, and wouldn't give advice without carefully thinking through every conceivable ramification of it.
- The Sociopath: It's implied Temple Fugate is a high-functioning one (much less high-functioning after his Start of Darkness).
- Soft-Spoken Sadist: The Clock King always talks naturally because he has no emotions to display except maybe annoyance. So, he can deliver a You Have No Chance to Survive speech without any emotional intonation.
- Strolling Through the Chaos: Fugate can easily walk into the Clockworks Area of the Clock Tower without showing vertigo, because he's memorized the motions of all of the gears and synchronizes his movements to them, while Batman slips and falls. He even can do it when the Clock Tower collapses.
- Subways Suck: Temple Fugate has his first encounter with Mayor Hill in the Gotham subway. Seven years later, he will invoke the Sinister Subway with a Trainwreck Episode.
- Suicidal "Gotcha!": Clock King apparently does one off the Weezner building's roof. Turns out it's really a dramatic Train Escape:
- Take My Hand: How Batman saves Mayor Hill.
- The Tape Knew You Would Say That: Fugate's tape perfectly predicts what Batman does when he hears Fugate's Just Between You and Me speech, down to the second:
- Tempting Fate: This is the phrase that establishes Hill as the victim:
- They Look Just Like Everyone Else!: Fugate is the only self-created supervillain in the series to avoid the tropes in the Evil Makeover index. Aside from his Gadget Watches and a Cool Sword that resembles a clock hand, he's just a Badass in a Nice Suit. And in this episode, he never calls himself the Clock King and responds to his name as if he were a normal guy.
- Train Escape: The Clock King uses this trick to make a dramatic exit after his first face-to-face encounter with Batman.
- Unwanted Assistance: Mayor Hill pleads that he was just trying to help when he is confronted by the Clock King, who had his Start of Darkness thanks to the mayor.
- Villain Ball: The Clock King uses a Time Bomb to suck all the air out of a Gas Chamber, when he could have used an instant Time Bomb to kill Batman immediately, and pulls Bond Villain Stupidity by explaining to Batman how to foil his trap.
- We Need a Distraction: Fugate's "distractions" include tampering with the city traffic system and causing a subway crash, acts that could quite reasonably be considered a main plot in and of themselves.
- You Can't Thwart Stage One: All of Fugates plans work swimmingly, except for the last (and most important): killing Mayor Hill.
- You Have No Chance to Survive: