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Recap / Batman: The Animated Series E64 "Read My Lips"

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When a new gang begins making major plays in Gotham, it's up to Batman to take down the gang leader Scarface and his "dummy", the Ventriloquist.

Tropes in this episode include:

  • Batman Gambit: Batman confronts Rhino in an alley and demands answers. He knows he won't get anything out of him, but he can shake him up enough to go running to the gang's hideout.
  • Beware the Silly Ones: Batman's "yeah, right" reaction to seeing the "boss" of the gang seems rather foolish given how well Scarface plans his crimes and how successfully he manages to get Batman at his mercy.
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  • Big "NO!": The Ventriloquist when Scarface is shot.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: Scarface and his gang could have easily killed Batman when he was knocked out, but instead they tie Batman up over a pit of spikes, which he inevitably escapes from. Admittedly, Scarface suspected Batman had an inside man, so it's possible he was planning to interrogate him about it, but that's no excuse for not unmasking him.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Scarface is a split personality manifesting himself through a puppet, and yet he comes up with complex, airtight plans.
  • Call-Back: Batman recalls studying under Zatara. He says he learned a few ventriloquism techniques, which he uses to foil Scarface in the end.
  • The End... Or Is It? / Wham Shot: The episode ends with the doctors at Arkham Asylum thinking the Ventriloquist is making progress in his recovery, but the audience sees he's making a new Scarface puppet, also revealing that the Ventriloquist does not suffer a case of Gollum Made Me Do It, but a case of Literal Split Personality
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  • Freak Out!: Scarface's "death" completely shatters the Ventriloquist's mind, rendering him completely harmless, crying Broken Tears over the ruined puppet. Batman takes him into custody with no further resistance.
  • Genre Blindness: Rhino says he's safe so long as he doesn't take a swing at Batman, but Bats reminds him he's not dealing with a police officer.
  • Gollum Made Me Do It: The Ventriloquist is a sniveling coward who has no control over the personality he projects into his Scarface doll, which hurls verbal abuse at him and threatens him constantly. The Ventriloquist treats Scarface as a completely separate person who just needs his help to move around.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Scarface, though actually toned down a bit from his comics counterpart.
  • Hollywood Density: Scarface's men are stealing a load of platinum. They unload the ingots one at a time and it's shown that of the three, only Rhino, who's twice the size of Batman, can lift an ingot with no problem. Batman is captured in the ensuing fight when Rhino tips what should be several tons of the stuff over. Surprisingly, Batman is only knocked out for a few hours with no noticeable injuries, when he should by all logic have been reduced to a red smear.
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  • Insult Backfire: Scarface thinks that there is a traitor in his gang who has been selling them out to the cops. Dumb Muscle Rhino tries to prove his loyalty:
    Rhino: It ain't me, boss!
    Scarface: I know it ain't you, Rhino! You're too stupid to be a traitor!
    Rhino: [relieved] Gee, thanks boss!
  • Limited Animation: While hardly Rocky and Bullwinkle level, this episode is not up to TMS's usual high quality. There are many still shots where only a character's mouth moves, and there's very little of the "above and beyond" flair that they showed in episodes like "Feat of Clay: Part 2."
  • Made of Iron:
    • Batman has several tons of platinum dumped on him, only falling unconscious. If he could survive that, the Death Trap he was later placed into should have been no biggie.
    • Rhino is pretty clearly up there as well, considering how much it takes to put him down for good.
  • Oh, Crap!: Batman's memorable reaction to seeing Scarface for the first time.
  • Paranoia Fuel: In-Universe, Scarface plans his crimes too well to be identified. However, when his gang are caught on camera, Batman notices Rhino's sleeve was ripped, exposing his tattoo. Batman is able to identify him and confront him about the robberies. Later, Rhino runs back to report to Scarface, who believes there's a mole in his gang.
  • Paranoia Gambit: Batman claims that he found Scarface because he was tipped off by a mole—and fingers the Ventriloquist. Scarface orders his henchmen to kill the Ventriloquist. Since the henchmen aren't crazy, they realize that carrying out the order would kill Scarface as well. Unsure of what to do, they hesitate. This infuriates Scarface and convinces him that the whole gang is disloyal.
  • Punch! Punch! Punch! Uh Oh...: During their fight near the end, Batman unloads into Rhino's stomach to no effect. It takes Batman tripping Rhino and the big guy slamming his head into some shelves (which then fall on him) to take him out.
  • Sanity Has Advantages: Batman wins by taking full advantage of Wesker's multiple personality disorder, setting Scarface against the Ventriloquist.
  • Shout-Out: Rhino's "Gee, thanks Boss!" may be one to Mugsy, the large and dim-witted accomplice to gangster Rocky in the Looney Tunes franchise, who frequently ended up whimpering the same phrase while groveling before his pint-sized boss.
  • Spanner in the Works: Scarface has his men dress in masks, gloves, and other clothing to keep them from being identified. However, a guy with a video camera catches their escape from a job, in which Rhino rips his sleeve and exposes his signature tattoo. One search through the records later, Batman has a suspect to follow back to the hideout.
  • Spikes of Doom: Batman is suspended over a pit of mannequin hands with razor-sharp fingernails.
  • Spinning Paper: A montage of headlines details how effective the new gang in town is at robbery, thanks to Scarface's airtight plans.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Batman initially thinks (and probably hopes) that the Ventriloquist is the boss and just a little quirky.
  • You Have Got to Be Kidding Me!: Batmans initial reaction when discovering who Scarface really is. He soon finds out that, nope, the Ventriloquist is very serious and very dangerous.


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