Batman Beyond Retro Review – Episode 2×07

One of the throughlines of almost all Batman stories is the shadow our parents can cast over our lives, whether it be through their reputations, expectations, or the way they raise (or don’t raise) us. It shouldn’t be a surprise that this comes up for the villains as well from time to time. The Royal Flush Gang’s daughter, Ten, is back in town, and her parents have been–in theory–kidnapped by the Jokerz.

Batman Beyond: Once Burned

If that story doesn’t quite hold water for you, there might be a reason why. The Jokerz have been shown to be incompetent over and over again, while the Royal Flush Gang is as competent as they are domineering.

Batman happens across Ten, the daughter of the Royal Flush Gang. She had a brief fling with Terry in Season 1 as Melanie Walker, and spent her time torn between chasing Terry and working with her family. Ultimately, Melanie walks away in cuffs in her first appearance. Here, she’s robbing a very high-stakes poker game to rescue her kidnapped parents. Bruce is suspicious of Ten’s motives, while Terry, like Fox Mulder, wants to believe.

For Ten, this story is about how she doesn’t actually want to be a career criminal. She’s not a Catwoman to Terry’s Batman. She just wants out. Terry, meanwhile, is watching himself make bad decisions in real time; after she appears at his home, they kiss. Later, he lies to Bruce and Dana to go after Melanie.

Terry is turning more and more into Batman. Where Ten sees obeying the Jokerz’ demand that she rob this poker game as her only choice, Terry takes her to the Jokerz’ main hideout to rescue the family. Terry finds out pretty quickly that the Jokerz don’t actually have the gang, and sees what’s going on even before Ten does. She leaves Terry to get his ass kicked and robs the game. When she brings the money, the people holding her parents turn out to be… her parents. They were testing her–does she love them enough to do a crime for them?

Terry pinches the gang between the people they stole from and the cops, giving Ten her way out. Later, on a date with Dana, he discards the note without reading it, suggesting that he’s done being led around by cute strangers.

This is an overall fun episode. Where Ten’s first episode felt like a particularly hammy episode of a teen drama, this one is a little more nuanced and subdued. Ten is quietly sad, and when her parents appear she seems emotionally wounded in a very real way that her first episode couldn’t have held onto. This episode grounds the show nicely after the previous episode, even if it’s a little more lowkey than I generally like.

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