The Matt Signal – Episode 29: Eternal Youth

Plot summary: A luxury spa seems a little too good to be true… likely because it’s secretly run by Poison Ivy who wants to turn anti-environmentalists into trees!

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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: ‘Eternal Youth’

Original Air Date: September 23rd, 1992

Directed: Kevin Altieri (9)

Written: Beth Bornstein (1)

If you own the show on DVD you’d be forgiven for thinking this is the first episode of season 2.

Maggie was supposed to stick around as a recurring love interest for Alfred but this was instead her one and only appearance. Sorry, Al.

A rare example of Batman setting foot in the non-cave portions of Wayne Manor while still in costume.

Recap

A woman frantically tries to flee the grounds of a fancy spa resort (not the one from the previous episode) in the dead of night while an unknown red head in a green outfit pursues…

The chase continues until the escapee collapses in the woods, allowing Definitely Not Poison Ivy to catch up with her.

“Mrs. Thomas” begs for her life, but is sprayed with some kind of green gas that turns her into… a living tree? Or something?

Her attacker condemns what her company has done to Mother Nature and seriously, I think they’re trying to pretend this isn’t Poison Ivy!

We move to Wayne Manor where Bruce furiously tells off one of the directors of his company for trying to make a dodgy deal with an operation in the Amazon. Seriously, he’s very angry. Like top 5 angriest outings in the show. Slamming the phone down, he returns to working out in his private gym, while Alfred sorts through his mail.

After a quick joke about him winning $10,000,000 (hahaha eat the rich) they pop in a promotional video from Eternal Youth Spa. Two employees, Violet and Lily (sense a theme there?) invite him to spend a free weekend there. They’re interrupted by a knock at the door.

Maggie, a “friend” of Alfred’s, plants one on the indentured butler and invites him to join her on a morning jog. She drove there…

Bruce offers to let Alfred and Maggie go in his place as his weekends are fully booked (punching people). “Alfie” is reluctant, but Maggie browbeats him into it as he’s been promising to take her away for ages. Where did this woman come from?!

Violet and Lily ask their boss what to do about the substitute guests and they just… fully show Poison Ivy sitting by a waterfall admiring a flower. I don’t even know if they’re trying to hide it anymore. Ivy says they’ll make do, as somebody has to pay for the sins of Wayne Enterprises. Fair, tbh.

Greeting the pair as “Dr. Demeter”, Ivy continues to tout her miracle product, Demetrite, an anti-aging enzyme that they have put into the food, water and even the air of the resort. Alfred makes many sarcastic quips but after tasting a green cookie he is 100% on board.

Over at the GCPD, Jim Gordon is at a loose end over Mrs. Thomas and three more missing industrialists. Batman pledges to look over her penthouse, not sticking around to hear Jim say they already did that. He may be a facist, but I guess he’s right to not trust cops.

Sure enough, he immediately begins to unravel a part of the mystery the police missed, spotting an Eternal Youth Spa video exactly like the one he received. I should mention that each of these tapes contains a personalised greeting to the addressee. Inefficient AND creepy!

Alfred puts Bruce at ease, with the staff having told him Mrs. Thomas left two weekends ago. Bruce is suspicious of his servant sounding happy and it’s super messed up that his suspicions end up paying off!

Returning home from his luxurious weekend, Alfred smooches Maggie goodbye and sets to work sprucing up the Batcave with a plethora of plantlife. Bruce is none too pleased, but rolls with it until Alfred downs a glass of the green liquid and then passes out…

Batman gets to work analysing the Demetrite, discovering that when combined with an equal amount of human plasma, rapid plant growth ensues. Terrified for Alfred’s safety, he frantically looks for him, unaware he left at sunrise with Maggie to return to the spa, invigorated by the sunshine.

“Dr. Demeter” welcomes them back, offering an “ultimate treatment” but Violet and Lily instead gas them with the same stuff used on Mrs. Thomas. Poison Ivy then reveals herself in full costume. I for one am shocked!

Batman infiltrates the complex and confronts the trio of femme fatales, but they immediately capture him. Ivy mentions the trees she extracts the enzyme from are as rare as winter roses, in a fun nod to ‘Pretty Poison’.

She reveals a haunting gallery of corporate evildoers turned into wooden statues, including Alfred and Maggie in the place of Bruce Wayne. Luckily she over-explains that it will take months of dosing to make the transformation permanent.

Having heard enough, Batman spews metaphorical venom at Ivy, earning himself a blast of triple strength Demetrite that has no effect beyond corroding the ropes they tied him up with.

Revealing that he coated his suit in a herbicidal antidote, Batman sets to work tying up Violet and Lily before giving chase to Ivy. A quick game of hide and shoot crossbow bolts later, and Bats finds himself pinned against one of the trees.

Thinking fast, he tosses a bucket of the enzyme towards Ivy and it… causes an ENORMOUS tree to sprout from the ground, trashing the entire complex. Seriously, it’s hundreds of feet high, and it sure does look like it slams Ivy into the glass ceiling, but we don’t see a corpse, so…

The next day, Bruce visits Alfred and Maggie in the hospital, sharing the good news that everyone is going to recover. Again, I feel this mega-tree would have crushed them all to death, but whatever. Maggie comments on the insensitivity of Bruce bringing a plant as a gift, calling him stupid. Take that, World’s Greatest Detective!

Best Performance

A strong trio of performances here, firstly from Paddi Edwards as Maggie. She made for a fun foil to Alfred, embarrassing him as best she could, while also looking out for his best interests and dunking on Bruce a little. Deserved.

Diane Pershing is excellent in her second outing as Poison Ivy, to the point I had to make sure it was the same actress. Not to say she was bad last time by any means, it just had a different energy. She gets a lot more lines than in ‘Pretty Poison’, which probably helps.

But as boringly repetitive as it is, I’ve got to hand it to Kevin Conroy once again. We get plenty of Bruce and Batman, with the distinction between them as clear as it will ever be. Both get a moment of intense rage, but they’re entirely different. A lot of actors struggle with this, with their voice work bleeding together when getting shouty, but Conroy nails it.

Ranking

This episode is a lot of fun and at times seems like it’s going to become one of the greats, but it just doesn’t quite stick the landing.

The premise is sound, with Poison Ivy using a luxury spa to murder business people who cause harm to the environment. I actually think the spa itself makes for a great location, with the brighter colour palette making for a nice change, while also housing an eerie little forest biome for the final encounter.

Speaking of that final encounter, I could have gone for another minute or so of Ivy hiding in the undergrowth and firing her crossbow at Batman while he desperately tries to locate her. That was dope. Unfortunately that action was offset by some pretty weak sauce detective work.

I’m sure some people immediately roll their eyes at Alfred having a girlfriend, but those people are children… Actually, to be fair, children generally DON’T like romance plots and this is after all a show for children.

But my point is that the failings of the episode are less to do with cooties and more to do with the out of nowhere ending and half-hearted attempt at secrecy with Poison Ivy, which takes up a lot of time that might have been spent on some more satisfying investigation scenes.

  1. Heart of Ice
  2. Two-Face Part I
  3. Joker’s Favor
  4. Feat of Clay Part II
  5. Beware the Gray Ghost
  6. Mad as a Hatter
  7. Vendetta
  8. Appointment In Crime Alley
  9. Feat of Clay Part I
  10. On Leather Wings
  11. Two-Face Part II
  12. Pretty Poison
  13. It’s Never Too Late
  14. See No Evil
  15. The Clock King
  16. Eternal Youth
  17. The Cat and the Claw Part I
  18. P.O.V.
  19. Christmas with the Joker
  20. Fear of Victory
  21. Be a Clown
  22. The Cat and the Claw Part II
  23. Nothing to Fear
  24. Prophecy of Doom
  25. Dreams In Darkness
  26. The Last Laugh
  27. The Under-Dwellers
  28. The Forgotten
  29. I’ve Got Batman in My Basement

Villain Watch

Poison Ivy (Diane Pershing) (second appearance)

I’ll say it again: Poison Ivy is a criminally underrated Batman villain. After a gloriously petty multi-year revenge scheme against Harvey Dent for helping bulldoze land where a rare flower grew, she’s massively expanded her horizons by opening up a murder factory. More specifically, a beauty spa offering youth treatments that actually turn people into trees. Excellent stuff.

Better still, she has continued to act almost exclusively in the best interests of the environment, luring industrialists to the spa to get revenge. It does kind of suck that she’s willing to kill Alfred and Maggie in place of Bruce, especially as Maggie doesn’t even work for Wayne Enterprises, and Alfred’s employment status with the larger company is tenuous at best, but I suppose if she wasn’t occasionally actually evil she wouldn’t be a villain at all.

It’s also important to note that Bruce’s level of guilt is debatable. He’s just innocent enough to remain the protagonist of a children’s cartoon, but it’s still his name on the company. Some iterations of Batman see Ivy treated as a lunatic for caring about the planet, with Bruce and others dismissing her concerns, so it was nice to see him passionately arguing against the “slash and burn” deal, making it more about her not realising he’s actually a nice person.

  1. Joker
  2. Mr. Freeze
  3. Two-Face
  4. Clayface
  5. Poison Ivy
  6. Mad Hatter
  7. Catwoman
  8. Clock King
  9. Killer Croc
  10. Rupert Thorne
  11. Lloyd Ventrix
  12. Scarecrow
  13. Roland Daggett (and Germs & Bell!)
  14. Red Claw
  15. Arnold Stromwell
  16. Mad Bomber
  17. Man-Bat
  18. Nostromos (and Lucas!)
  19. Harley Quinn
  20. Penguin
  21. Sewer King
  22. 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 continues Monday with Get Out.

Kevin Ford’s Flooping the Pig, our Adventure Time podcast, has at last come to a temporary end with Episode 80. Another landmark episode count.

Jerome & Brian’s Pantheon Plus continues its Autumn Apocalypse with a double-bill of Snowpiercer and Train to Busan this Tuesday.

Speaking of Jerome, he continues to bring 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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