The Matt Signal – Episode 16: The Cat and The Claw Part II

Plot summary: The Red Claw make their move, threatening to unleash a deadly plague on Gotham if they don’t get a billion dollars. Can Batman stop them or will his ongoing romance with Catwoman prove too great a distraction?

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Each Saturday and Sunday Matt Waters recaps an episode of the legendary Batman: The Animated Series, building an overall ranking along the way. Plus best performances, the ever-popular Villain Watch and more!

Notes

Episode Title: ‘The Cat and the Claw Part II’

Original Air Date: September 12th, 1992

Directed: Dick Sebast (1)

Written: Sean Catherine Derek (5) & Laren Bright (3) (story) and Jules Dennis (4) & Richard Meuller (4)

This is one of only two multi-parters where the same person didn’t direct both parts. Funnily enough, both are by Kevin Altieri and Dick Sebast, and they swap the order next time, with Sebast doing part 1 and Altieri handling part 2. Neat!

Bruce Timm had the animation of the massive explosion near the end redone multiple times and was still unsatisfied with the final product.

Recap

After our ‘Previously on…’ montage we see Batman meeting with the mob boss he threatened in part 1. The crook attempts to trade his information for leniency on his territory but Batman has no time for that and demands he spill the beans ASAP. He learns of the planned train heist from an unknown group and vanishes.

Sure enough, the Red Claw board the military freighter using some kind of wacky rocket-propelled vehicle and gas the soldiers aboard. Batman observes from up in the sky, hand-gliding down to land atop the train as well.

Red Claw (the person, not the group) slips into the carriage and grabs the canister containing the non-descript deadly plague while Batman is busy fist fighting her henchmen.

Batman AGAIN expresses his surprise at a key villain being a woman, but states he’s an equal opportunity crime fighter. Cool. A misogynist but one willing to punch women in the face. Red Claw forces him into inaction though, threatening to unleash the plague which will kill everyone in a ten mile radius, taunting him as she escapes via helicopter.

Jim Gordon gives his military contact an earful for failing to warn him about the shipment and sarcastically asks if he’s supposed to evacuate ten million people. That’s one million per mile! He hangs up on the General because another phone he keeps in his desk drawer is ringing. Minus 10 points for that phone not being red!

Batman learns that Red Claw’s ransom demands are a billion dollars (in gold). Jim also expresses his disbelief that she is a woman, and Bruce says how he’s been learning not to underestimate the opposite sex, just as he arrives to pick Selina up for their postponed lunch date. Nice touch there.

Moments after stating Bruce seems distracted the car gets rear ended by the Red Claw surveillance team that have been following her since last episode. Pots. Kettles.

Bruce does a little fancy driving and forces their pursuers to fly off the side of a toll bridge. He downplays the move, making a joke about entering the Paris Grand Prix after years of avid attendance.

Bruce escorts Selina home and it’s unclear if they failed to go to lunch again or not. He says how much he cares about her, but she tells him not to worry and heads inside to change into her Catwoman costume.

Back at the Batcave, Alfred examines Bruce’s suit jacket and remarks on an unusual hair. Bruce states it doesn’t belong to Selina, but that he does recognise it. I guess Isis (Selina’s cat) is supposed to be a distinct colour, but if that’s the case, it didn’t come across that way last episode.

Over at Selina’s apartment, a Red Claw assassin attempts to get the jump on Maven, who apparently lives there too. Waylon Smithers has nothing on Maven when it comes to dedication. She spots his reflection in a glass table and scrambles away long enough for Batman to arrive and save her.

Batman demands to know Catwoman’s location as Red Claw are after her. Maven fully rats her boss out, giving up both her location and the fact that she’s in love with him. Remember: Bruce has deduced Selina’s duel identity, but she still thinks he and Batman are separate people. How very Spider-Man and Black-Cat.

At the proposed site of the mountain lion sanctuary, Catwoman takes down a guard and slips into the Red Claw facility to gather evidence of their misdeeds. Batman arrives in time to save her from more guards but they are both captured by Red Claw.

Tied back to back, the two vigilantes learn from Red Claw that the facility is a former nuclear fallout shelter for government VIP’s. Red Claw drips acid on the plague container, providing a rather unorthodox ticking clock as she and her men evacuate the compound to go and collect their money (taking a fake vial with them). To their credit, the group do seal the facility shut so that the wildlife above ground don’t die.

Catwoman cuts their bonds with her retractable claws and they make a run for it. Batman insists Selina leave without him as he is determined to destroy the plague and they’re running out of time.

He does just that, spraying gasoline all over the damn place and then tosses a damn grenade to blow the base. Would that actually destroy the airborne virus? Because he also breaks through one of the sealed doors to escape, so he’s given it an out if not!

The GCPD arrive to arrest everyone, but Red Claw gets the drop on Catwoman and has her dead to rights before a mountain lion intervenes. Don’t worry though, it’s a pacifistic wild predator, as it simply sits on her and doesn’t rip her face off. Catwoman blows Batman a kiss goodbye and flees.

Selina returns home but Batman beats her there. He confirms he hasn’t called the police yet as he doesn’t want her treated like a common criminal… only to slap the cuffs on her himself! He says he cares about her more than she’ll ever know and we go to credits.

Best Performance

Things are much less clear cut this time around as Selina/Catwoman takes more of a backseat compared to part 1. I still enjoy Adrienne Barbeau’s work, but there’s not really enough of it to justify her taking the top spot.

Kate Mulgrew gets a few more lines as Red Claw this time and she’s solid, but given what she’s capable of as an actress, I was a little disappointed.

Kevin Conroy gave us Bruce’s voice coming out of Batman’s mouth in the pilot, and this time it’s the inverse, as Wayne phones Gordon in his civilian attire and puts on the Batman voice. Still jarring in a good way. I guess when in doubt default back to the leading man?

Ranking

I mentioned last time how baffling I found it that these two episodes didn’t air back to back given the sense of immediacy in the conclusion of the first part. It doesn’t pick up precisely where it left off, but given Red Claw’s impending plan, I’m sticking by that assertion.

I much preferred part 1 as it played with the dynamic dance between the four identities of Batman, Bruce Wayne, Catwoman and Selina Kyle far more effectively. This was a more straight forward story that focused on stopping Red Claw from unleashing her plague, and it suffered for it.

I wouldn’t call it bad by any stretch, but too many episodes have done more interesting things by this point to justify it cracking the top 10.

  1. Heart of Ice
  2. Two-Face Part I
  3. On Leather Wings
  4. Pretty Poison
  5. Two-Face Part II
  6. It’s Never Too Late
  7. The Cat and the Claw Part 1
  8. P.O.V.
  9. Christmas with the Joker
  10. Be a Clown
  11. The Cat and the Claw Part 2
  12. Nothing to Fear
  13. The Last Laugh
  14. The Under-Dwellers
  15. The Forgotten
  16. I’ve Got Batman in My Basement

Villain Watch

Catwoman (Adrienne Barbeau) (second appearance)

Another reason why these episodes should definitely have aired back to back is that Selina doesn’t do anything remotely villainous in part 2. Batman obviously wasn’t going to let her get away as this is a children’s cartoon and she is a wanted jewel thief, plus a younger audience may not care about the romance storyline anyway. Still, a bit of a bummer as an adult!

I don’t think enough happened to change her ranking from last time, so she remains ahead of Scarecrow, but below the other major players.

Red Claw (Kate Mulgrew) (second appearance)

I said last time that there wasn’t much to Red Claw beyond the cool character design. We got a little bit more here, as she outsmarted Batman and then captured him, all while calling him on his sexism. She also had Catwoman on the ropes but a giant feral cat interfered. I can’t in good conscience hold not being able to beat up a mountain lion against someone.

Red Claw is a surprisingly popular character, and she’s certainly way ahead of the other original creations for the show, but I don’t want to get too carried away. Rupert Thorne is a true scumbag in his handful of appearances, so she comes up short against him in my opinion, but I am willing to give her the edge over Arnold Stromwell now that we’ve seen a bit more from her.

  1. Mr. Freeze
  2. Joker
  3. Two-Face
  4. Poison Ivy
  5. Catwoman
  6. Scarecrow
  7. Rupert Thorne
  8. Red Claw
  9. Arnold Stromwell
  10. Man-Bat
  11. Penguin
  12. Sewer King
  13. Boss Biggis

Plugs

Eager for more long-form coverage of Batman? Why not check out my podcast with Mike Thomas, The Tape Crusaders, which reviewed every Batman movie and delved a tiny bit into the animated series.

Speaking of my podcasts, There Will Be Movies returns tomorrow with Grand Budapest Hotel.

Kevin Ford’s Flooping the Pig, our Adventure Time podcast, uploads new episodes every Thursday.

Jerome & Brian’s Pantheon Plus continues this week with a run of road trip movies, starting with Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Speaking of Jerome, he will be bringing you his 100 favourite movies of all time, posting between 3 and 4 per week.

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Matt Waters

Brit dude who likes both things AND stuff and has delusions of being some kind of writer or something. Basketball, video games, comic books, films, music, other random stuff.

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