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Recap / Batman: The Animated Series E50 "Off Balance"

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A group called the Society of Shadows steals a prototype piece of Wayne Tech mining equipment, which they intend to turn into a weapon. Pursuing them, Batman is aided by a mysterious young woman calling herself Talia.

Tropes in this episode include:

  • Animated Adaptation: The episode is directly based on the comics story "Batman: Into the Den of the Death-Dealers" (Detective Comics #411, May 1971) by Dennis O'Neil, chronicling the first meeting of Talia al Ghul and Batman.
  • Composite Character: Vertigo is a composite of Ebenezer Darrk and the Green Arrow foe Count Vertigo. His name, powers, and Eastern European heritage come from Count Vertigo, while his status as a pupil of Ra's al Ghul and a turncoat member of the League of Assassins comes from Darrk.
  • Continuity Snarl: The giant penny is much larger than it was in "Almost Got 'Im," to the point that Alfred has to use a ladder to wipe it.
  • Cyanide Pill: Batman corners two of Count Vertigo's henchmen, who gas themselves to death using a hidden catch in their masks rather than allow themselves to be captured. Batman later explains to Commissioner Gordon that they had "erased their own memories" when cornered, but from the way they're drawn convulsing and ending up with vacant dead stares on their faces, it's obvious that only the Never Say "Die" clause kept their demise from being outright stated.
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  • Disc-One Final Boss: Vertigo is introduced simultaneously with the Society of Shadows, and played up as their leader, or at least a major big shot. Actually, he is a renegade and leader of a minor splinter faction of the group, and Batman, by defeating him, unwittingly helps the real leader of the Shadows (namely, Ra's al Ghul) to reconsolidate his hold on the organization.
  • Disney Villain Death: Used as Bookends, as Twitch falls to his doom in the opening sequence, and Vertigo plunges to his seeming demise in the climactic battle.
  • Enigmatic Minion: Talia's motives are not made clear until the end of the episode, although it is revealed early on that she has some kind of connection to the Society of Shadows.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: Batman deduces where Count Vertigo's hideout is when Alfred tells him that he soon won't know his right hand from his left. Yes, he was confused about which direction Vertigo escaped in because his senses were scrambled, and he had actually gone in the opposite direction Batman had originally thought.
  • Hypnotic Head: Vertigo sometimes appears this way when using his disorienting ability.
  • Ironic Echo / Sequel Hook:
    Batman: This is not over!

    Ra's al Ghul: As you said detective, this is not over.
  • Karmic Death: Vertigo, who uses an eye thing to disorient people, gets disoriented by enormously loud bells and falls to his death.
  • Long-Range Fighter: Vertigo never lets Batman or Talia get but so close to him in battle.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Not that it's any secret now, but Talia is clearly working for her dad the whole time.
  • Mysterious Watcher: The episode ended with Ra's al Ghul watching from afar via a Palantir Ploy.
  • Rogue Agent: Vertigo, though Batman does not know this until the still mysterious Talia tells him. Vertigo is no longer part of the Society, but a rogue agent using its resources for his own ends.
  • Rogues' Gallery Transplant: Another Green Arrow villain, Count Vertigo, is adapted into this Villain of the Week. However, he's also something of a Composite Character, as he incorporates elements of the villain Ebeneezer Darrk from the comics story that introduced Talia.
  • Sequel Hook: "As you said, Detective, this is not over."
  • Shout-Out:
    • Batman asks Talia whose side she is on. "That would be telling," she replies. Almost every episode of The Prisoner (1967) started with that dialogue.
    • At the beginning of the episode, Batman has an exchange with some thug called "Twitch" that is lifted from The Prisoner (1967) opening.
      Twitch: What do you want?
      Batman: Information…
    • As befitting the Villain of the Week, the finale at the clock tower host several direct homages to the Alfred Hitchcock film Vertigo.
    • Gordon's line, "One of these days I'm going to nail his feet to the ground.", is a reference to The Little Mermaid (1989), where Sebastian says the same about Ariel.
  • This Is a Drill: Vertigo stole a rifle-sized drill from Wayne Enterprises that uses sonic vibration to dig. Uses it against Batman and Talia al Ghul.
  • Trap Is the Only Option: Sneaking through the Society of Shadows' hideout, Batman and Talia find a conveniently unlocked door to Vertigo's lab.
    Talia: You do, of course, realize that this is a trap.
    Batman: Naturally, but what other choice do we have?
  • The Unreveal: Comics fans will recognize the Society of Shadows and Ra's Al Ghul as its true head, but otherwise the man goes unnamed.
  • Vertigo Effect: The effect is simulated for an Impairment Shot when, appropriately, Vertigo uses his disorientation-inducing monocle on people.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Batman sabotages the sonic drill before Talia is able to escape with it. Ra's al Ghul is impressed Batman is able to pull out a minor victory even in defeat.
  • Your Eyes Can Deceive You: Batman closes his eyes during the escape from Vertigo's lab, relying on his other senses to get himself and Talia through the various death traps.