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Recap / The Adventures of Batman & Robin E1 "Sideshow"

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A train roars out of Gotham City carrying a special cargo; having been declared legally sane at his recent trial, Killer Croc is now on his way to a new super-max jail outside of Gotham. Unfortunately, the people who designed his chains forgot to take into account the possibility he might have a super-strong bite like a crocodile, and so Croc promptly breaks loose. Batman, having expected something like this, sheds his reporter disguise and rushes to confront Croc.

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In the scuffle, Croc takes a tranquilizer dart to the shoulder before he and Batman fall from the train. Dazed and staggered, the two lope off into the wilderness, before Croc manages to escape Batman by seemingly sending him falling off a cliff. Soon afterwards, he succumbs to the tranquilizers and falls into a mountain river before being swept downstream.

To Croc's surprise, he regains consciousness in a farm house, and is greeted by its residents, a band of five retired circus performers, all "human oddities": Richard, the Shakespeare-quoting hunchback, the hugely built Goliath, beautiful (and conjoined at the shoulder) female twins May and June, and young Billy the Seal Boy, whose deformed, flipper-like limbs gave him the swimming skill to rescue Croc from the river shortly before. Bemused but realizing this is as good a hideout as any, Croc quietly avails himself of the quintet's hospitality, spinning a story about having recently escaped from a particularly cruel and abusive freak show himself to further win that trust. When he learns that evening that the performers still have some $50 thousand stashed away from the performing days, he immediately starts planning to steal it.

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Unfortunately for Croc, Batman manages to track him down that evening, having survived his apparent "death" earlier. Unfortunately for Batman, his attempt at waking Goliath sends the big man into a justified panic, which summons Croc to join in the fray. Once the two powerful freaks have Batman subdued, the rest of the performers join in to lock him in an old circus cage. Initially, they believe Batman is some abuser come to harass Croc, but when he warns them that Croc is an escaped criminal convicted of murder, and Croc tries to talk them into helping him kill Batman, the performers turn on Croc as being dangerous.

Croc promptly doses them all with sleeping gas pellets stolen from Batman's utility belt, chaining them up in another circus cage before returning to their house to steal their savings. As he comes back to finish Batman off, Batman escapes and the two duel for a while before the Dark Knight finally knocks Croc out cold. Returning the money to the performers, the police arrive and prepare to air-lift Croc away. When Billy asks why Croc betrayed them when they gave him a home, Croc simply states that he just had to be himself.

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Tropes in this episode include:

  • Adaptational Heroism: The episode's premise is loosely based on "A Vow from the Grave" from Detective Comics #410, wherein Batman also tracks down an escaped convict to a hidden refuge of carnival freaks. As opposed to his gentle nature here, Goliath in the comics used the killer as a scapegoat to murder a fellow freak in order to gain affections of another.
  • Animation Bump: The first two acts are pretty standard Dong Yang animation, but the last act kicks things up a notch with higher quality animation. Spectrum Animation did the layouts for the episode; it's possible that most of their contributions were for the last act.
  • The Big Guy: The aptly named Goliath, who is so huge, strong and tough that he gives Batman a serious run for his money.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Croc is foiled and recaptured, but he has ruined his perfect chance at redemption by attempting to rob and kill the people who took him in selflessly.
  • Conjoined Twins: May and June are Identical Twins who are fused together at a single shared shoulder—May on the right, June on the left.
  • Continuity Nod: "Almost Got 'Im" has a bit where (Batman impersonating) Killer Croc claims to have hurled a rock at Batman—this happens in this episode (which was made and aired after "Almost Got 'Im"). Also in "Trial," when the inmates are yelling for Batman's execution, Croc yells, "Hit him with a rock!"
  • Deus ex Machina: Batman and Croc fall off a cliff in their chase, and Batman is knocked unconscious. Croc seizes the opportunity and grabs a huge rock and prepares to smash Batman's face in, but at that exact moment becomes extremely disoriented due to his tranquilizer dart taking effect and misses Batman's head by an inch, before walking fifteen feet backwards, falling off another cliff and therefore taking away his only chance to kill Batman again.
  • Driven to Villainy: A theme of the episode, and subverted. Croc plays his (partially fabricated) rough origins for sympathy with the former carnival freaks he stays with, as well as to avoid blame for his crimes. One of the reporters riding along in the train transferring him to prison even comments on this—Croc's being moved from the asylum because the courts deemed him responsible for his actions. In the end none of the performers are willing to go the lengths that Croc would, and he admits that being a villain, even to those that helped him, is just who he is.
  • The Farmer and the Viper: Killer Croc escapes while escorted by train to a prison, Batman in hot pursuit. They fall off a cliff and are knocked out. Croc wakes up in a secluded home owned by former circus performers, who welcome him and tell him he can "be yourself" among people who don't see him as a freak. It's Croc's perfect chance to start a new life. Naturally Croc claims Batman is evil to get their help in capturing him. Then Croc captures everyone and plans to kill them and run off with their retirement money. When he's eventually foiled, he does seem a little regretful as he's taken away.
    Billy the Seal Boy: Why, Croc? Why'd you turn on us like that? We could've helped you, we could've done something.
    Killer Croc: You said you could be yourself out here, remember? I guess that's what I was doing. Being myself.
  • The Freakshow: Croc befriends a group of retired performers: Richard, a hunchback; May and June, Conjoined Twins; Goliath, a strongman; and young Billy the Seal Boy.
  • Instant Sedation: Averted. A tranquilizer dart takes a few minutes to affect Killer Croc at all, and he has plenty of time to stumble about looking for a place to hide before finally passing out.
  • Not Helping Your Case: When Batman first reveals that Croc is a crook, it's Croc's insistence on trying to kill Batman that convinces the performers that Batman might be telling the truth.
  • Not So Different: The circus freaks see Killer Croc's true nature.
  • Poor Judge of Character: Poor Billy seems to instantly become fascinated with Killer Croc, seemingly seeing him as a sort of surrogate big brother figure.
  • Secretly Wealthy: It's not all that much, but the performers have $50 grand stashed away; "not something we like to broadcast," says Richard.
  • Shipped in Shackles: Opens with Killer Croc being transported to prison with his arms and legs in shackles. He escapes by biting through the chains. After Batman recaptures him he is taken away chained, straightjacketed and muzzled.
  • Shout-Out to Shakespeare: Richard does it a lot, and his companions say he does so all the time.
  • Taking Advantage of Generosity: Killer Croc does this to a bunch of circus freaks who have hidden themselves away from the outside world so they can be themselves. They are willing to let him join them on their farm, but when Killer Croc hears they have $50,000, he can't resist. When asked why after he's captured, Killer Croc solemnly admits he had to be himself.

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