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Recap / Batman: The Animated Series E31 "The Cape and Cowl Conspiracy"

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Josiah Wormwood a.k.a. The Interrogator, a deathtrap expert, is hired to get Batman's cape and cowl.

Tropes in this episode include:

  • Animated Adaptation: This episode is actually an adaptation of the story "The Cape & Cowl Deathtrap!" in Detective Comics #450. Elliot S! Maggin wrote the story for both the original comic and this episode.
  • Batman Gambit: While his larger plan is a "win-win" sort of Xanatos Gambit, Batman's effort to obtain an Engineered Public Confession from Wormwood relies on Wormwood's curiosity about his employer's plans for the cape and cowl getting the better of him to the point that he's willing to trade information.
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  • Bat Signal: Makes its debut here.
    Batman: [to Commissioner Gordon] I see you have a new toy.
  • Canon Foreigner: Josiah Wormwood. Although he's actually based off Jeremy Wormwood, the villain in the comic the story was based on.
  • Cast as a Mask: The Baron and Batman-as-Baron are played by the same voice actor (John Rhys-Davies) until The Reveal.
  • Chained to a Railway: Wormwood uses a woman tied to the tracks as bait for Batman. The woman turns out to be a hologram. Wormwood laughs at Batman for thinking he would have really done it.
  • Chair Reveal: A character playing the Baddie of the Week to get Batman's cape and cowl turns out to be... Batman.
  • Cheap Costume: Upon finding himself in a death trap with no means of escape handy, Batman relents and throws off his mask, revealing... that he's wearing a black hankerchief tied over the top of his head with eye-slits cut into it. Which is actually nifty foreshadowing; Batman hired the villain under a different identity as part of a Batman Gambit. He had to lose his cowl to succeed in the plan and came prepared.
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  • Death Trap: Wormwood's specialty; he lures victims into them and then extorts information in exchange for freeing them. He first steals a lot of money from a charity by trapping its courier in quicksand. Against Batman, he uses an enormous heat lamp, then some nerve gas when Batman predictably breaks the lamp.
  • Engineered Public Confession: Wormwood's employer will only fess up to why he wants Batman's cape and cowl if Wormwood reveals who he stole some money for (and where it is). The employer is Batman himself, recording the whole conversation.
  • Expy: Josiah Wormwood is essentially a prototype Riddler for the show—a deathtrap specialist who uses riddles in his crimes and has an obsession with knowing secrets and matching wits. A few episodes later, the legit Riddler makes his debut. As a matter of fact, the Venezuelan dub actually calls him "El Acertijo, el interrogador" (The riddler, the Interrogator).
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  • Multilayer Façade: When Wormwood ultimately succeeds, Batman reveals a second mask underneath the cowl to protect his identity.
  • Mythology Gag: Wormwood says that Batman "is only human after all," which is what one of the Joker's henchmen said in the Tim Burton film.
  • Only in It for the Money: This seems to be Wormwood's only real motive besides sadistically interrogating his victims.
  • Out-Gambitted: Batman pulls the rug out on Wormwood by disguising himself as his client, Wacklaw Joserk, who Wormwood was trying to steal Batman's cowl for in the first place.
  • Riddle Me This: Wormwood is essentially a Riddler-lite villain.
  • Rudely Hanging Up: The mob boss (or rather Batman) hangs up on Wormwood when he reminds him to reveal why he wants Batman's cape and cowl.
    Wormwood: Well!
  • Screams Like a Little Girl: Just listen to Wormwood when he crashes out of the penthouse window.
  • Smug Snake: Wormwood boasts a great deal about the flawlessness of his traps and getting one over Batman...only to find out the detective was one step ahead of him the entire time.
  • Soft Glass: Like most times, Batman can send a grappling hook through a glass window like it's nothing. Then it's subverted when Batman is unable to break a large light-bulb by just throwing his utility belt at it, and has to throw a pole at it like a spear. Then, two minutes later, he throws the belt at a glass wall, and it goes straight through it.
  • The Un-Reveal: An in-universe example; Wormwood uses various deathtraps to force Batman to relinquish his cape and cowl. At last, Batman does so—only to reveal that he's wearing a smaller cowl under his main cowl. Wormwood doesn't care; his client hired him to retrieve Batman's cape and cowl, not to reveal his secret identity. The client turns out to be Batman himself, who "hired" Wormwood in order to goad him into a confession for a previous crime.
  • Wham Line: "I'm going... to wear them!"
  • Xanatos Gambit: Batman, in disguise, hires Wormwood to go after himself in a can't-lose proposition. If Wormwood fails, Batman captures him; if Wormwood succeeds, Batman will get Wormwood to make an Engineered Public Confession and capture him anyway.


Example of: