The Matt Signal – Episode 61: The Demon’s Quest Part II

Plot summary: Batman and Ra’s al Ghul sword fight shirtless to determine the fate of half the world’s population.

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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!

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Notes

Episode Title: ‘The Demon’s Quest Part II’

Original Air Date: May 4th, 1993

Directed: Kevin Altieri (16)

Written: Dennis O’Neil (2) (story) & Len Wein (4)

This part is a direct adaptation of ‘The Demon Lives Again’, also written by Dennis O’Neil in 1971.

Len Wein had to step in and finish the Part II script as O’Neil had scheduling conflicts.

Recap

After a recap of Part I, we return to Ra’s threatening to throw his own daughter into a Lazarus Pit, which Ubu tells us will kill her. Batman intervenes, and then Talia literally slaps the sense back into her father. Tension resolved?

Ra’s again asks Batman to marry Talia, and Bruce again refuses and is thus sentenced to death as he knows too much. Ra’s casually reveals they have a desert stronghold while locking the Dynamic Duo in the collapsing chamber. Way to monologue, Ra’s.

Escaping before a total cave-in, Batman and Robin walk down the mountain in the freezing cold as the camera pulls back to reveal a Wayne Enterprises skyscraper vaguely nearby. Thank goodness for this Nepalese branch!

One change of clothes later, they research Orpheus, a word Dick heard a few times while imprisoned. Turns out it’s a satellite that points to the Sahara desert. Oh look at that, the desert stronghold!

Jumping out of another aircraft, Batman infiltrates a platoon of armed guards on camelback, and waltzes straight into Ra’s base. Ubu quickly discovers him and a huge brawl erupts with Batman outnumbered and captured.

Everyone but Ra’s is stunned to discover Bats survived the Himalayas, ordering his men strip him of his equipment. And his shirt! Here we go!!!

Ra’s monologues his entire evil plan, to use Orpheus to make evert Lazarus Pit around the world blow up, flooding the earth and restoring world peace… by killing 2,056,986,000 people (just under half the population at the time the episode aired!!!)

Batman is chained up in a cell but escapes after Talia passes him a lock-pick during a kiss. With five minutes on the clock, he tosses a grenade into Ra’s armoury, decimating the fortress.

Making short work of Ubu, Batman… engages Ra’s in a shirtless sword duel amidst the burning citadel! Peak. Batman. Shit.

Bruce tosses his sword at Orpheus’ control console with two seconds to spare, disabling the satellite but leaving him unarmed against Ra’s as they continue to battle over the Lazarus Pit.

Ra’s ends up toppling over the edge and refuses Batman’s hand, preferring to fall to his apparent death. A man of principles until ‘the end.’

Talia laments the loss of her father but continues trying to mack on Bruce, claiming she also wants a better world, but one with less killing of billions. Bats rewards this with a kiss, but still turns her down and flies off with Robin.

Best Performance

Pretty much copy and paste what I said last time, but with Conroy’s role simplified to Batman trying to stop a lunatic from destroying the world.

David Warner is still a great Ra’s al Ghul, and changes the voice ever so slightly to reflect his Lazarus Pit restoration. Younger, but still unknowably ancient. That’s a tricky thing to pull off, but Warner manages it.

Ranking

My memory of Part II being better served me correctly. Batman and Ra’s sword-fighting shirtless over a Lazarus Pit is an iconic image that we have seen repeated over and over in various media. Heck, even Arrow aped it at one point. And why wouldn’t you? It’s two dangerously insane human beings sword fighting shirtless while the world is ending around them!

If we were ranking individual scenes, this might be enough to secure the top spot, but we’re ranking episodes, and I’m afraid while this is a good one, it’s also, in my opinion, pretty overrated. For one, it lacks the emotional punch that the majority of the top 10 pack, as it’s designed to be a ridiculous (in a good way) pomp and circumstance affair, harking back to the O’Neil era comics. That alone doesn’t knock it down, as ‘The Laughing Fish’ and ‘Almost Got ‘im’ also aren’t emotional stories. I just think this is pretty simplistic stuff that hangs its hat almost entirely on a dope showdown.

I wonder if Len Wein taking over is why this episode came out better than Part I, or if ‘The Demon Lives Again’ is just a better story than ‘Daughter of the Demon.’ Generally the action-based two-parters have had better conclusions than set-ups, so there’s that to consider as well. But for me it’s the fact that it isn’t trying to juggle as many balls; it resolves the ending from the previous episode, our heroes escape, regroup, and Batman launches his assault on the enemy stronghold and wins. It’s cleaner, and allows for more natural pacing.

  1. The Laughing Fish
  2. Almost Got ‘Im
  3. Heart of Ice
  4. Shadow of the Bat Part I
  5. I Am the Night
  6. Robin’s Reckoning Part I
  7. The Man Who Killed Batman
  8. Perchance to Dream
  9. Two-Face Part I
  10. Joker’s Favor
  11. Feat of Clay Part II
  12. The Demon’s Quest Part II
  13. Harley and Ivy
  14. Robin’s Reckoning Part II
  15. Beware the Gray Ghost
  16. Mad as a Hatter
  17. Heart of Steel Part II
  18. Appointment In Crime Alley
  19. Two-Face Part II
  20. Pretty Poison
  21. Shadow of the Bat Part II
  22. Feat of Clay Part I
  23. Off Balance
  24. Vendetta
  25. Birds of a Feather
  26. Heart of Steel Part I
  27. On Leather Wings
  28. See No Evil
  29. The Clock King
  30. It’s Never Too Late
  31. Joker’s Wild
  32. Eternal Youth
  33. The Cape and Cowl Conspiracy
  34. The Cat and the Claw Part I
  35. Zatanna
  36. Day of the Samurai
  37. The Demon’s Quest Part I
  38. The Mechanic
  39. The Strange Secret of Bruce Wayne
  40. Terror in the Sky
  41. P.O.V.
  42. Christmas with the Joker
  43. Fear of Victory
  44. Be a Clown
  45. What is Reality?
  46. Night of the Ninja
  47. Mudslide
  48. The Cat and the Claw Part II
  49. Nothing to Fear
  50. Prophecy of Doom
  51. Tyger, Tyger
  52. Blind as a Bat
  53. If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Rich?
  54. Dreams In Darkness
  55. The Last Laugh
  56. Cat Scratch Fever
  57. Moon of the Wolf
  58. Paging the Crime Doctor
  59. The Under-Dwellers
  60. The Forgotten
  61. I’ve Got Batman in My Basement

Villain Watch

Ra’s al Ghul (David Warner) (third appearance)

We see the more overtly dangerous side of Ra’s thanks to the side effects of a Lazarus Pit driving him temporarily feral, even if this subsides quickly and he returns to genocidal misogynist mode. His intense desire to heal the world by slaughtering millions (and sometimes even billions) is an intriguing hook, as it simultaneously gives him the moral high and low ground.

Thankfully Batman gets to remain irrefutably on the side of the angels, as Ra’s is also an enormously antiquated sexist who treats his daughter like garbage. Still, how about that shirtless sword fight, eh?

Talia al Ghul (Helen Slater) (third appearance)

She’s still here. She’s still in a skimpy outfit. She’s still largely ignored by her father (who tries to murder her in a fit of insanity), and disturbingly, she asks Batman if he’s going to make her his prisoner. He responds by kissing her and then leaving her in the middle of the Sahara. At night. In a skimpy outfit. Sure Ra’s survived, but Bruce didn’t know that! He basically killed a frightened woman! VERY not great, Bob!

Seriously, whatever good work ‘Off Balance’ put in has been resoundingly crushed by this two-parter, which relegates an interesting and mysterious villain to a Bond girl. And not the badass kind with agency. The delirious eye candy kind. I’m not going to knock her any lower as she at least does more this time and her debut appearance was good, but this is pretty low for a character of her stature.

Ubu (George Dicenzo) (second appearance)

After their tense standoff in Part I, things between Batman and Ubu are openly hostile from the jump here. It doesn’t lead to anything special, with Batman easily kicking his ass, but hey. Still fun for a henchman.

  1. The Joker
  2. Mr. Freeze
  3. Poison Ivy
  4. Harley Quinn
  5. Two-Face
  6. Mad Hatter
  7. Penguin
  8. Catwoman
  9. Clayface
  10. Ra’s al Ghul
  11. The Riddler
  12. Clock King
  13. Killer Croc
  14. HARDAC (and Randa Duane)
  15. Lloyd Ventrix
  16. Count Vertigo
  17. Josiah Wormwood
  18. Scarecrow
  19. Roland Daggett (and Germs & Bell!)
  20. Rupert Thorne
  21. Sid the Squid
  22. Jimmy ‘Jazzman’ Peake
  23. Tony Zucco
  24. Man-Bat
  25. Hugo Strange
  26. Red Claw
  27. Arnold Stromwell
  28. Mad Bomber
  29. Tygrus (and Dr. Dorian)
  30. Kyodai Ken
  31. Gil Mason
  32. Nostromos (and Lucas!)
  33. Cameron Kaiser
  34. Dr. Dorian (and Garth)
  35. Talia al Ghul
  36. Mad Dog
  37. Ubu
  38. Professor Milo
  39. Romulus
  40. Sewer King
  41. Boss Biggis
  42. Montague Kane

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.

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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