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Recap / Batman: The Animated Series E41 "Joker's Wild"

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Poison Ivy watches a gardening show in an Arkham Asylum lounge, until the Joker arrives and changes the channel. A guard resolves their argument by switching the channel to a third option, which turns out to be a news report about Cameron Kaiser's new casino resort. The casino's theme is revealed to be based on the Joker (though Kaiser claims it's the generic playing-card joker, not the "criminal fruitcake"). Outraged, the Joker rants about Kaiser cashing in on his image, and then feigns illness in order to make an escape.

Meanwhile, Bruce checks into the resort, discovering that the Joker-themed wallpaper was added at the last minute to an already-papered wall. As Batman, he takes a look at the records, discovering that the casino originally had a medieval theme. One of Kaiser's guards (the same guard earlier seen at Arkham, indicating that the Joker's escape was set up) interrupts him, but he slips away.

The Joker arrives at the casino, reveling in its tribute to him and almost regretful about his plan to blow it up. Mistaken for a casino employee, he gets assigned to deal a blackjack table, where he quickly annoys the guests into leaving. Kaiser is alerted to the oddity, but seems strangely unconcerned.

Bruce drops by the Joker's table, jerking his chain and confirming that he is the real Joker and not a costumed employee. He slips away and returns as Batman, but accidentally grabs the wrong "Joker," giving the real one sufficient warning to escape.

Kaiser watches on the security monitors as the Joker plants explosives in the basement (full of casino-themed attractions for an unfinished amusement park area), then orders his helicopter to get ready to leave. Batman confronts him, revealing that he's figured out Kaiser's plan to provoke the Joker into destroying the casino so he can collect on the insurance. Kaiser then stuns Batman with an electric-shock trap and has him dropped into an elevator and sent to the basement.

In the basement, the Joker knocks out the still-woozy Batman and straps him to a giant roulette wheel. Batman tells Joker how he's been played for a patsy in Kaiser's insurance scheme. Outraged at this, the Joker disconnects the bombs and leaves to confront Kaiser himself, while still leaving a grenade to take care of his foe.

Batman escapes and finds Kaiser's helicopter pilot knocked out. He takes the Bat-glider to intercept the helicopter where the Joker is holding Kaiser prisoner, intending to kill him and run the casino himself. After a struggle, the helicopter crashes into the casino, where Batman finally captures the Joker and sends him crashing into a slot machine, which showers him with coins.

Back at Arkham, the Joker tries to turn off a news report about the fiasco. However, Poison Ivy, the Mad Hatter, and the Scarecrow demand that he turn it back on, much to his annoyance.

Tropes in this episode include:

  • Artistic License Law:
  • Artistic License Prison: The guards overseeing Arkham's REC room carry firearms. In real life, prison guards do not carry firearms, as the dangers of an inmate overpowering them and stealing their guns are all too high.
  • Batman Gambit: Kaiser, hoping Joker would blow up the casino, which would allow him to collect the insurance money and get out of paying off his debts. The Joker admits he was pretty impressed.
    Joker: It was a scheme worthy of me, Kaiser. The way you got me riled up and turned me loose on this place!
  • Beat Them at Their Own Game:
    • Kaiser tricks the Joker.
    • And then there's Bruce out-cheating the Joker at cards by distracting him with Stealth Insults.
  • Blatant Lies: Kaiser's claim that the casino is supposed to be a tribute to the Joker card in gambling. This might have held more water had he not dressed up the staff in the Joker's iconic purple suit (the Joker cards usually wear jester outfits), not to mention the Harley Quinn costumes and even Joker's original car proudly displayed as such.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: A pair of somewhat justified examples. When Kaiser gets the drop on Batman, he sends him down to the Joker. Reasonably assuming that the Joker will get rid of Batman, keeping Kaiser's hands clean, as well as giving him time to escape the casino before Joker blows it up. The Joker then puts Batman in a death trap, but when Batman reveals how Kaiser has tricked the Joker, the Joker realizes he doesn't have time to watch the trap because he has to hurry to catch Kaiser before he gets away.
  • Book Ends: The episode begins and ends with the Joker in the rec room of Arkham Asylum arguing about what to watch on TV.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: Joker loudly declares what he'll do in retaliation for the Joker's Wild casino.
    Joker: I'll protest! Yeah, I'll sue! Then, I'll rip his lungs out! (Cheerfully) And I will too!
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: As Joker escapes from his Cardboard Prison, he yells Don't Try This at Home, kids.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Kaiser finds out that provoking a murderous psychotic wasn't a good idea. Though, he would have gotten away in time if Batman hadn't told everything to the Joker.
  • Cardboard Prison: This is the umpteenth time that someone has broken out of Arkham, and Joker did it by simply pretending to be sick and then running out the door when no one was looking. However, given that at least one of the guards was implied to be working for Kaiser, it's possibly justified by him having outside help.
  • Cool Car: The Jokermobile, which seems to be first prize in a raffle at the casino; the Joker commandeers it to escape from Batman, wrecking much of the casino and the car itself in the process.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Cameron Kaiser has run out of money to fund his casino... so he decides to commit Insurance Fraud by deliberately pissing off one of the greatest maniacs on the planet and hoping he will wreck the place so he can collect, obviously not caring about the possibility of what may happen to all of the innocent people that will inevitably become collateral damage.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Cameron Kaiser trying to deliberately rile up The Joker to set the lunatic upon his new casino, which is ridiculously underwater in debt, as a form of insurance fraud. In the end, getting The Joker involved:
    • A) Got Batman involved, leading the Caped Crusader directly to the smoking gun of Kaiser's financial improprieties;
    • B)Got The Joker involved, to the point where he decided he didn't want to destroy the Joker-themed casino that was meant to be a giant middle finger to him instead, he liked the place and was willing to kill Kaiser to take it over.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: An entrepreneur opens a casino in Gotham City based on the Joker's likeness and gimmicks. Joker is so incensed that a complete stranger would try to "cash in on my image" that he plots to blow the casino up. Ironically, the entire point of the entrepreneur cashing in on Joker's image was that he wanted Joker to come and trash the place. The entire place was set up for an insurance scam. Too bad for him, the Joker eventually decided he would rather kill the guy and run the place himself...
  • Distaff Counterpart: All the male employees at Joker's Wild are dressed like the Clown Prince himself. All the female employees are dressed like Harley Quinn, who otherwise doesn't appear in this episode.
  • Don't Try This at Home: The Joker escapes from Arhkam with a rather dangerous-looking stunt: tying a rock around a rope made from bedsheets, using it as a grapple to snag a truck passing by the asylum, and using it to pull himself over the fence. He laughs, "Don't try this at home, kiddies!" before he pulls it off.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: The Jokermobile hits a wall and goes up in a huge explosion.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Alfred was quite willing to bring Bruce his Batman equipment and to make an excuse for the date Bruce brought to the opening of Joker's Wild, but having to stay in a Joker-themed hotel room is almost more than he can put up with.
  • Foreshadowing:
    Summer Gleeson: Mr. Kaiser, why build a casino seemingly in honor of one of history's most notorious outlaws?
    Cameron Kaiser: Summer, please. The joker is a classic symbol long associated with cards and games. I can't help it if there's a passing resemblance to some criminal [briefly glances at the camera] fruitcake!

    Joker: [making his escape] What a maroon.
    The guard:note  I know you are, but what am I?
  • The Ghost: The casino has female staff dressed as Harley Quinn, but the real Harley is surprisingly absent.
  • A Glass in the Hand: The Joker is dealing at one of the casino tables as if he's a costumed employee. After being trolled by Bruce (to distract him while Bruce gets a good look and confirms that he's the real Joker), he crushes the chip Bruce tossed him as a tip.
  • Insurance Fraud: Cameron Kaiser has gotten in over his head with the casino project, and came up with the idea of attracting the Joker's attention so that the place would get destroyed.
  • Ironic Echo: Poison Ivy calls Joker a "psycho," he responds, "I know you are but what am I?" Which is what the security guard said when he let him escape, in response to the Joker calling him a "maroon".
  • Is This Thing Still On?: Summer Gleeson mutters "disgusting" right after the casino's Joker theme is revealed, after which the cameraman tells her that her mic is live.
  • I've Come Too Far: Mr. Kaiser says this to Batman when he figures out Kaiser's plan.
  • Lost in a Crowd: When the Joker shows up at the casino, he soon finds that all the card dealers and much of the staff are dressed in his clothes and wearing make-up and wigs to resemble him. This not only helps him escape Batman for a while (Bats accidentally accosts an employee whose makeup is particularly convincing), but also let him march right up to a blackjack table and start dealing.
  • Mythology Gag: When Batman opens the second folder involving Joker during his investigation of Kaiser's office, Joker's alias is Jack Napier, which was Joker's identity in the 1989 film.note 
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Kaiser sending Batman down to the basement so the Joker can deal with him is a huge mistake on his part; all it does is let Batman inform the Joker of Kaiser's actual intent, causing the villain to change his plans and confront Kaiser directly.
    The Joker: [to Batman] I hate it when you make sense!
  • No Endor Holocaust: A downplayed example when Kaiser's helicopter messily crashes into his crowded casino.
  • Offscreen Villain Dark Matter: The casino being nearly bankrupt was the reason Kaiser set up the fraud in the first place. Yet, he was able to re-stylize the entire thing, papering over the "Camelot" wallpaper and coming up with all new costumes, attractions, and a giant laughing Joker head for the marquee, and do so in secret.
  • Oh, Crap!: Kaiser upon discovering that The Joker has replaced his helicopter pilot.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Kaiser and Batman (both of whom are expecting the real Joker to show up) can distinguish the genuine article from the costumed employees, but nobody else seems to have the slightest suspicion in that regard.
  • Playing Sick: The Joker does this to set up his escape from Arkham. He has a particularly easy time of it, since one of the guards is working for Kaiser, who wants him free to destroy the casino.
  • Pretty in Mink: Bruce's date wears a black fur wrap. She also looks just like the scorned socialite in Batman: Mask of the Phantasm.
  • Properly Paranoid: Joker was right about Kaiser insulting him by using his image, but it's because he was hoping for him to destroy the casino in response.
  • Riches to Rags: Implied with Kaiser having bankrupted himself in his latest casino project. One can only imagine what all the reckless endangerment lawsuits from Joker's Wild patrons are going to cost him.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Summer Gleeson approaches Bruce to inquire about the top-secret theme of Kaiser's new casino, moment before it was unveiled. Afterwards, when Summer approaches Bruce for a reaction, Bruce replies "no comment" in disgust, then walks away from the camera while dragging his date. Based on Summer's reaction immediately after the unveiling, she didn't blame him.

  • Shoot the Television: At the height of his anger during the news broadcast, the Joker throws a flower pot at the TV and smashes the screen.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Kaiser is a variant of the name Caesar; in the 60s series the Joker was played by Cesar Romero.
    • At the start of the episode, the Joker is whistling the Looney Tunes theme. Not two minutes later, he busts out a Beaky Buzzard impression. At the end of the episode, Joker wanted to watch some Bugs Bunny cartoons.
    • In the lounge at Arkham Asylum, Joker cozies up next to Poison Ivy, and teasingly says, "If you hold my hand, I'll slug you!" like Sally in It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.
    • Batman exclaims "Camelot" when he encounters the model detailing the original theme of Kaiser's casino.
    • While wiring his explosives, The Joker sings like Curly Howard.
  • Shrine to Self: Joker, once he gets over the outrage over Kaiser theming his casino after the former's likeness, consider's the casino one.
    Joker: Jumping Jiminy Christmas, it's like a homage to me! I'm almost sorry I have to blow it up.
  • Smug Snake: Cameron Kaiser's plan almost works perfectly, except that he didn't anticipate Batman's interference, or the fact that Batman would tell the Joker about Kaiser's plans when he arranged for them to meet up.
  • Spanner in the Works: Batman acts as one for Kaiser's plan when Kaiser subdues him and sends him down to the Joker, expecting the Joker to kill him. Unfortunately, he doesn't anticipate the Joker taking the time to rig up a deathtrap for Batman, giving the Dark Knight the opportunity to recover enough to spill the beans to the Joker.
  • The Starscream: After the Joker learns about Kaiser's plans, he changes his mind about blowing up the Joker's Wild casino. Instead of destroying the place, he plans to kill Kaiser and take over control of Joker's Wild for himself.
  • Stealth Insult: Bruce drops tons of these to confirm that the real Joker rather than a costumed casino employee is dealing him cards at the blackjack table—and also to distract him so Bruce can out-cheat him at cards.
    Bruce: Too bad it has to be in such gruesome surroundings.
    [the Joker fumbles with the pack of cards, then recovers]
    Joker: Don't care for the décor?
    Bruce: Not hardly. All those horrible faces grinning at me. That would do things to my mind after a while.
    Joker: [grumbling] Who says you have one?
    Bruce: [looking at his cards] Yep, I'd be ready for the laughing academy if I had to stare at that ugly clown all day.
    Joker: [infuriated] Why, I oughtta...
    Bruce: [seemingly oblivious] Hit me.
    Joker: [flipping over his cards] Twenty!
    Bruce: [flipping over his cards] Oh, lucky me! Twenty-one! How nice! A little something for the Wayne Charity Fund! [tosses the Joker a poker chip as a tip] Good night...
    [the Joker crushes the chip between his fingers in anger]
  • Those Two Guys: Minor example; Scarecrow and Mad Hatter are shown playing chess in Arkham. Makes sense that they socialize as they're both scientists and whose work involves the human mind and behavior.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Kaiser uses the Joker in his Insurance Fraud scheme.
  • Villains Out Shopping: The episode begins and ends with the Arkham crowd watching TV.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Joker gets this when he smashes the TV out of anger from the Joker's Wild casino.
    Joker: How dare that smug, preening fool try to cash in on my image!
  • Why Won't You Die?: "Why can't [Batman] ever stay dead?!"
  • Worthy Opponent: When he finally confronts Kaiser, the Joker calls the plan "brilliant" and "worthy of me." Not that he intends to let him live...