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Recap / Batman Beyond S1 E5 "The Winning Edge"

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Episode 5 of Batman Beyond. 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.


Tropes:

  • Almighty Janitor: The villain turns out to be Jackson Chappell, Bane's caretaker. After all, Bane had to tell someone the secret of Venom once he could no longer make it himself.
  • 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.
  • Ax-Crazy: Chappell doesnít give off the impression of being entirely sound of mind, especially when heís on Venom and smashing everything in sight.
  • Body Horror: Batman dropping Chappell into a crate of Slappers, causing dozens of the stuff to stick to his body, resulting in a gruesome body expansion and eventually, overdose.
  • 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 with a very strict curfew. The fact that his grades were slipping and he was falling asleep now and then didn't help either. Bruce helped him clear his name after they shut down Chappell, the slappers distributor.
  • 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, because there's no way he could actually license something like Venom.
  • Dark Lord on Life Support: While Bane is a Retired Monster at this point, his continued use of Venom has wreaked such damage to his body that he needs regular doses of the drug and 24/7 life-support.
  • Dented Iron: Bane's lifetime of using Venom catches up to him in a nasty way, with his body becoming so dependent on it that he is left a wheelchair-bound vegetable.
  • 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"; the drugs the teens use are "slappers", dermal patches that contain small amounts of Venom (which has been previously noted to be "steroidal compound" much more effective than real-life steroids), Bane's drug of choice. The slappers are much more convenient to use and less powerful than the pure Venom Bane used to use (the most obvious side-effect being a bad temper), but they're also being dealt like a drug, instead of used by one person for a power-up.
  • 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.)
  • Foreshadowing: When Chappell introduces Terry to Bane, he points out that the villain's ruined state is the result of Venom abuse; Chappell himself ends up in a similar state when he gets an overdose of Venom.
  • 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.
  • How the Mighty Have Fallen: Bruce describes Bane as having been a formidable opponent, but when Terry finds him, Bane is a shadow of his former self; years of abusing Venom has ruined his body, and he's now so dependent on it that he needs a 24/7 supply just to stay alive and needed to give Chappell the formula because he couldn't even make the Venom himself anymore.
  • 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.
  • Legacy Character: Chappell's business model is different, but he's essentially Bane II. It's most obvious in the climax when he wears something very similar to Bane's original outfit and doses himself with slappers to give himself Super-Strength. Like Bane himself in his debut episode, Chappell is defeated by a painful overdose of Venom, though unlike him, Chappell doesn't walk away from the experience with his faculties intact.
  • Mental Shutdown: Jackson Chappell, Bane's caretaker and Venom dealer, ends up in this state after a combination of Venom overdose and a chemical explosion. Batman finds him in the ruins relatively unharmed, but completely unresponsive to any stimuli, just staring straight ahead and drooling. He's never seen again after his episode, either.
  • 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 an 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.
  • 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.
  • Removed Achilles' Heel: Using slappers to dose oneself with Venom removes the need for Venom tubes like Bane's, as Chapell demonstrates during the climactic fight.
  • Sickening "Crunch!": Terry drops a stack of huge industrial rollers on Chappell's henchmen, causing this when they're crushed underneath in a surprisingly-violent death.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Chappell when he uses Venom. It gets even worse after he overdoses and starts destroying everything in sight.
  • 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.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: It's not mentioned what will become of Bane after Chappell is left a vegetable, given the strong implication that Chappell is the only one who can make the Venom Bane needs to survive.
  • Worthy Opponent: Bruce makes sure to warn Terry that Bane was a formidable opponent in his day, though it comes across as more of an awareness of Bane's now-former might than genuine respect.

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