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Recap / Batman: The Animated Series E52 "Mudslide"

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Clayface's body is deteriorating and he commits thefts for a cure.


Tropes in this episode include:

  • Alas, Poor Villain: Clayface is as tragic as ever.
  • Animation Bump: It's one of Studio Junio's best episodes, and almost manages to top TMS's work in "Feat of Clay Part 2".
  • Disney Villain Death: Clayface goes out this way, falling from the top of a cliff into the sea.
  • Driven to Villainy: Played with—Clayface is committing robberies to pay for a procedure to restore his degenerating form, but when Batman offers to help him, he rejects the offer. Later Batman pulls the plug on his lab, making it clear both men only want to see Clayface restored to Matt Hagen on their own terms.
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  • Elemental Shapeshifter: Averted. In Feat of Clay Clayface could apparently change his limbs into metallic substances. Here, it seems he's too far gone to pull that off.
  • It Only Works Once: Batman drives Clayface off during their fight on the subway with a device that freezes and hardens his body. When he tries to use it again in the final battle, Clayface knocks it out of his hands and out a window before he can.
  • Large Ham: Clayface, even more so than in earlier appearances.
  • Love Martyr: Between Stella and Teddy from Feat of Clay, Hagen sure has a way of attracting these.
  • Loving a Shadow: Stella Bates is an infatuated former colleague of Matt Hagen's, who sees something in Clayface that he lost long ago.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Clayface knows Stella is head over heels for him and deliberately recites lines from his old movies to make her think he loves her. Despite this, he does go berserk when Batman accidentally strikes her, though it was probably just to indulge in another Large Ham moment.
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  • Monster Fangirl: Stella Bates is one of these, though she hopes to restore Clayface back to his Matt Hagen identity.
  • No One Could Survive That!: Another recurring theme in Clayface episodes. He definitely died when he fell into the ocean there at the end. Didn't he? Didn't he? He didn't.
  • Out-of-Character Alert: A young security guard catches what he thinks is a thief burgling his boss's safe, until he sees his boss telling him to get back to his post. The guard is about to leave when he notices his boss's accent is gone and remembers he is on vacation in Hawaii. The "boss" knocks him out by throwing clay at him.
  • Power Perversion Potential: Batman wonders about Clayface's new female accomplice:
    Batman: What's her stake in this?
    Alfred: [completely deadpan] Perhaps she enjoys mud baths.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: Somewhat jarringly, and it's this episode's one weak point. As noted, Alfred is blithely indifferent to Clayface's plight, making dry jokes about it when even Batman pities him. But Batman only wants to save Clayface on his own terms, as he pulls the plug on a machine that would have stabilized Clayface's deteriorating form, seemingly for no other reason than because Clayface stole the isotope to make it work. Given Batman's offer to help Clayface earlier in the episode, you'd think he would have been more charitable.
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  • Save the Villain: Batman certainly tries to.
  • Shoot the Television: Stella was watching one of Matt Hagen's movies (a romance about a female doctor falling in love with her patient - Hagen's character). Clayface appears and screams at her to shut off the TV as he smashes it, saying it's not him anymore.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Clayface reveals the first name of his accomplice when he shouts, "STELLAAAAAAA!"
    • And "Dr. Bates once owned a motel..."
    • Clayface's containment suit makes him look like the Oscar statuette.
    • When Clayface tries smothering Batman, his head bursts out of Clayface's body in a way reminiscent of the chestbursters from the Alien films.
    • The climax takes place on a cliffside laboratory with pouring rain and lightning, a stock mad scientist trope since the days of silent films.
    • The old Matt Hagan film Stella is watching has the Warner Bros. Vanity Plate.
  • Super Doc: Stella Bates, a medical consultant on some of Matt Hagen's films, has the know-how to assemble a laboratory to treat his unique condition by creating some sort of shell he can place himself in.
  • Tragic Villain: Clayface, continuing the theme from his 2-part debut episode.
  • Unsportsmanlike Gloating: As a contrast to the general reaction of "Aw, poor Clayface!" Alfred is totally comfortable with Matt Hagan dying in a horrible fashion. When Alfred brings him a snack, Bruce explains that Clayface's body is loosing its ability to hold together, to which Alfred replies, "How grotesque! ...Tea?"
  • Unwanted Rescue:
    Batman: I can make you human again. The offer still stands.
    Clayface: I don't need your help, Batman!
    Batman: Have it your way.
  • Villain Decay: A rare literal example, as Clayface's body is breaking down at the molecular level. Bruce is sympathetic, Alfred... less so.
  • Visual Pun: Alfred cooks a goose dinner for Bruce, but won't be able to make it as he picked up a break-in at the bank.
    Alfred: Please don't take this the wrong way, sir, but your goose is cooked.

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