The Matt Signal – Episode 17: See No Evil

Plot summary: An Invisible Man robs from the rich to try and get close to his estranged daughter, unaware of who Bruce Wayne runs around as at night…

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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: ‘See No Evil’

Original Air Date: February 24th, 1993

Directed: Dan Riba (1)

Written: Martin Pasko (1)

This was one of the most delayed episodes in the show due to the script being thrown out and rewritten. It was intended to be 17th (hence it being covered here) but ended up airing near the end of season 1.

Ventrix’s daughter is voiced by a young Elizabeth Moss who would go on to start in a remake of The Invisible Man. Neat!

First appearance on the show of recurring Batman ally Lucius Fox.

Rules about depicting children in danger forced some changes to the final chase scene.

Recap

We open with a window seemingly opening on its own and a disembodied voice talking to a sleeping little girl. Oh boy.

Her bedside lamp switches on and her doll floats into the air but little Kimmy is excited as she has spoken to “Mojo” before. The invisible man hands her a pendant and promises her a pearl necklace in future. I meaaaaaaan.

Kimmy says he better work fast as they’re going to be moving soon, which troubles “Mojo”. Her mother walks in and tells her to go back to sleep, laughing off stories about what she naturally assumes to be an imaginary friend.

A man carrying a briefcase walks into some fancy building or other and locks himself in the bathroom. Per the laws of Scooby-Doo, this man is revealed as our Invisible Man and he vanishes from sight and goes to work pickpocketing the wealthy elite’s jewellery. Bruce Wayne, witnessing the phantom thefts, sprints to the same bathroom to do a costume change of his own.

Batman gives chase out the open door and remarks on how he hears footsteps that seemingly belong to nobody. Some conveniently located wet cement provides a trail, and Bats gasses the assailant and then tosses paint on him. The thief adjusts his watch doo-dad and the paint melts off, allowing him to give Batman a beat down and escapes.

The Invisible Man’s apartment door opens and closes and he dumps out all of his stolen loot. He promises a framed picture of Kimmy – revealed as his daughter to the shock of hopefully nobody – that he won’t let her mother take her away from him.

The now very visible man follows Helen from her job to a cafe, begging to see Kimmy but she tells him to go to hell, wishing he would “disappear”. Eye roll.

Bruce visits with Wayne Tech’s top science boys to ask about invisibility tech. They provide a lead to an old prospective business partner that Batman follows up on, breaking into a science lab to learn more.

He grills a researcher about the material his deceased former boss invented and we learn that it’s toxic, and an ex-con assistant named Lloyd Ventrix is the only other person who knows about the material. Again, Scooby Doo logic.

Batman creeps up on Helen Ventrix while she’s taking out the trash, in a real ‘Batman is just as bad as the criminals’ moment. He explains his theory about her ex and she quickly puzzles out who “Mojo” is, but it’s too late, as Lloyd has taken Kimmy while the two were talking.

Kimberly is hesitant to get in a car with “Mojo”, so he tries to make her feel better by revealing his face. This naturally has the opposite effect than intended and she tries to get away, but Lloyd grabs her and tells her he’s her father. That doesn’t help either, as she’s been told all about him, and Batman swoops in to save her.

Lloyd makes it to his car, also coated in the invisible material and makes several attempts to run Batman over. The sound is enough of a giveaway to allow Bruce to pinpoint it and grab hold of the roof. This results in a pretty funny sequence where Ventrix’s invisible car speeds through Gotham, giving the appearance that Batman is flying low to the ground.

Batman tries to warn Lloyd about the toxicity but he refuses to listen. Both men bail from the car after it ends up in the path of an oncoming train. Ventrix continues kicking Batman’s ass, but a handful of Batarangs lead to a ruptured water tower, making him visible enough for our hero to lay him out. Batman makes one of his better jokes about Ventrix’s next disappearing act lasting 10-20.

Later, Kimmy talks to another unseen individual, telling her mother it was Batman this time. Helen say she believes her, but I don’t think she does. I kind of wish Kimmy were lying, because hero or not, I’m not into Batman appearing by little girl’s windows, but it’s been a running theme, so why stop now?

Best Performance

When this episode began I was fully prepared to give the nod to Michael Gross as he provides a suitably creepy disembodied voice. He goes from sinister when talking to his daughter to cocky when he gets one up on Batman. Both are good.

But Jean Smart is frequently the best part of whatever she’s in, and this episode is no exception. I had no clue she was even in the show, but boy was I glad to hear her voice. It’s a small role but she gives them far more than they might deserve, with a strong willed rebuff to Lloyd’s advances while also conveying believable distress when her daughter goes missing. This is a case of quality over quantity, but I admit to a little bit of bias as I’m a huge fan of Smart.

Finally another shout out to Elizabeth Moss for getting in her practice for The Invisible Man 30 years ahead of her casting. Wild.

Ranking

I liked this episode as it was pretty well trodden invisible man ground, but it ended up feeling distinctly like Batman. Lest we forget, Bruce is a detective, and his creative ways to render Ventrix temporarily visible made for a fun game of cat and mouse. It was also equally amusing seeing Batman get beaten up by thin air, and a riot to see him flying about the city atop an invisible car. It all made for some unorthodox action scenes, and that’s welcome when we generally know what we’re getting episode to episode.

Bruce exploiting his tech connections to track down clues and unravel the mystery was good attention to the overall show lore too.

The main drive of the episode being Ventrix’s attempts to kidnap his own daughter by posing as her quasi-imaginary friend put a spin on the invisible man formula, and all three members of the family were well acted.

It does lose a little steam in the middle which prevents it from climbing even higher, and I suspect many would be shocked to see it this high anyway, but again, I like how they took something you’ve seen before and put a show-specific twist on it.

  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. See No Evil
  8. The Cat and the Claw Part I
  9. P.O.V.
  10. Christmas with the Joker
  11. Be a Clown
  12. The Cat and the Claw Part II
  13. Nothing to Fear
  14. The Last Laugh
  15. The Under-Dwellers
  16. The Forgotten
  17. I’ve Got Batman in My Basement

Villain Watch

Lloyd Ventrix (Michael Gross) (first appearance)

Another original creation, Lloyd Ventrix is pretty memorable and has a lot more going on than Red Claw in her two appearances. As mentioned earlier, he shifts between unintentionally creepy as he tries to maintain a relationship with his oblivious daughter, to a fun villain who gets to lord it over Batman a few times.

They could perhaps have gone the sympathetic villain route, as a man losing his daughter and going too far in his efforts to keep her in his life is a compelling motivation, but that kind of goes out the window given his actions towards Helen, harassing her in public. He also makes a bad situation infinitely worse when he tries to take Kimberly by force at the end. That doesn’t in itself make him a worse villain, and they can’t ALL be tragically misunderstood, it was perhaps a missed opportunity to play in the morally grey zone.

I’ll keep banging the ‘Rupert Thorne is Great, Actually’ drum for as long as I need to, and he remains the gatekeeper to the upper echelon of villains, though I do keep looking at that Scarecrow ranking and scratching my head as to how I let him get so high up when I made a point of how lame his motivation was. Ya know what? Screw it, let’s fix that while we’re here. He can always reclaim the spot in his future appearances.

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

Plugs

While the movie may only be about 30% complete that didn’t stop me from posting a list of 10 Hopes and Fears for The Batman.

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 has just covered Grand Budapest Hotel.

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

Jerome & Brian’s Pantheon Plus continues its run of road trip movies with Midnight Run

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

Published by

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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