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Recap / Batman Beyond S1 E5 "The Winning Edge"

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A disturbing new trend has taken over with Gotham's youth: the use of "slappers," a type of skin patch that instantly gives the user bouts of Super Strength and increased aggression. Although extremely powerful when used, the patches only have a temporary effect and are highly addictive.

Terry soon discovers that several athletes at his high school have been using slappers and steals some to bring to Bruce to analyze, only to be caught and grounded by his mom thinking he uses it as well. Bruce finds out that the patches Terry managed to hold on to contain trace amounts of "Venom", the same chemical that had been used decades earlier by his old nemesis Bane.

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Tropes:

  • Adult Fear: Although she's mistaken, Terry's Mom carries the fear that her son has been taking drugs behind her back.
  • Almighty Janitor: The Big Bad of the episode turns out to be Jackson Chappell, Bane's caretaker.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: When Batman accuses him of "selling poison to kids" for profit, Chappell replies "That's right," without a single trace of shame.
  • Cassandra Truth: When Terry's mom finds slappers in his backpack, he tells her that he found them in someone else's locker, which was the actual truth. But given the sheer far-fetched nature of such an excuse, she doesn't believe him and has him grounded.
  • Clear Their Name: In the end, Bruce helps out Terry by getting him drug-tested and showing the negative results to Terry's mom, proving that he was being truthful all along.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Played with. Unlike Bane, who only used Venom for himself to commit crimes, Chappell manages to convert the poison into an easily usable form that he begins marketing as a performance-enhancing drug to teenagers. However, he still does this illegally through black market means.
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  • Drugs Are Bad: The episode isn't even an allegory to the real-life abuse of anabolic steroids by athletes, merely a slightly updated version of an old crime story: Venom, according to Bruce Wayne's analysis, is a "highly addictive steroidal compound" developed for his old enemy Bane, so there's no G-Rated Drug here, just a modified formula and a slightly different form of delivery for the same old steroids.
  • Evil Teacher: The school's coach is implied to be this, as he not only fights Batman when the latter starts snooping around for clues of one athlete's venom abuse, but it's said he allowed it to go on and encouraged it.
  • Fantastic Drug: The episode did a story about steroid use in athletics without using the word "steroids". They were "slappers" and turned out to contain the Venom used by Bane. The effects of Venom are much more disturbing than those of steroids.
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  • Fate Worse than Death/And I Must Scream: Bane's fate as revealed in the episode. After years of Venom use, his body has withered away and he now lives in a nursing home under 24-hour life support, ironically staying alive only through the continuous infusion of more Venom. Later, Chappell suffers the same fate when an overdose leaves him just as catatonic.
  • Fictional Sport: It's not named, but it seems to be a cross between handball and hockey, full-contact, with teams of multiple players trying to knock a flying puck into a slot on the other team's wall. (The jersey is described as a "hockey outfit" in a later episode.)
  • Good Cannot Comprehend Evil: Terry's mother can't understand why the school's coach would allow his students to use Venom. Subverted with Bruce, who knowingly guesses he wanted to win at any cost.
  • I'll Kill You!: Chappell screams this line to Batman during his Villainous Breakdown.
  • Insult Friendly Fire: Terry's response to Bruce's radio warning to be careful in dealing with Bane:
    Terry: Come on, he must be a zillion years old! What trouble could an old geezer... (pause) Never mind.
  • Not Me This Time: When he finds out the slappers contain Venom, Bruce assumes, not unjustified, that Bane is behind it. however, Bane is now invalid, and unable to even move. The actual villain is his caretaker.
  • Out-of-Character Moment: Throughout most of this specific series, Bruce talks in his lower, more serious voice that he used as Batman in the previous series. However, when he speaks to Terry's mom at the end of this episode, he reverts back to his friendlier Bruce Wayne voice.
  • Legacy Character: Chappell, using his own Venom slappers to give himself Super Strength, is effectively a successor villain to Bane and even wears an outfit very similar to the original Bane's during his fight with Batman.
  • Phlebotinum Overdose: At first, Chappell has the upper hand in his fight with Batman, but then he accidentally gets knocked into a box full of slappers, giving him a large Venom overdose and causing him to writhe in pain. He eventually recovers and continues the fight but then accidentally triggers a chemical explosion that, combined with the effects of the Venom, turns him into a brain-dead vegetable.
  • Punch! Punch! Punch! Uh Oh...: Batman experiences this during his fight with Chappell.
  • Very Special Episode: Not so much, actually. To be sure, this episode is the only one that pertains directly to performance-enhancing drug abuse by athletes, but it's only one of several that deal with recreational enhancements, addiction in general, and (much more subtly) an adult's desire for perceived success overriding the well-being of their wards.

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