The Matt Signal – Episode 70: House & Garden

Plot summary: After a series of poisonings point to Poison Ivy, Batman is stunned to learn she’s living quietly in the suburbs with a husband and children.

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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: ‘House & Garden’

Original Air Date: May 2nd, 1994

Directed: Boyd Kirkland (17)

Written: Paul Dini (13)

This is Poison Ivy’s final appearance in the ‘main’ run of the series, though she has a cameo with no dialogue in ‘Harley’s Holiday’ and will of course return for The New Batman Adventures.

Speaking of which, this plot inconsistency is explained in one of the tie-in comics, which states the version we see in ‘Harley’s Holiday’ is another of her clones, created to keep Harley company. Aww.

Recap

Some sort of enormous plant monster scales a Gotham skyscraper and rips a safe off the wall, making sure to attack the owner in addition to robbing them.

Batman and Jim Gordon learn the victim was poisoned and it’s the fourth such instance this month. Naturally, Bruce accuses Poison Ivy, but Gordon claims she’s rehabilitated, married and settled down in the suburbs.

Needing to see it with his own eyes, Bats accompanies Gordon on a visit to Pammy and her husband, Dr. Steven Carlisle, an Arkham/GCPD liaison. Not a red flag at all… Stevie Boy is naturally offended at the accusations levied against his wife.

Blowing Bruce’s mind further, the couple have two young sons – adopted, naturally, as Ivy’s unique biology has made her infertile. The boys lose their shit over Batman and Pam assures their guests that Poison Ivy is dead.

Elsewhere, Dick Grayson is trying to get laid. Sensing it, Bruce phones and demands he suit up and investigate Ivy’s new husband, who teaches at Gotham University in addition to his two other jobs.

But before Robin can even make it out his front door, the hulking plant creature attacks! Abducting him, the attacker then demands Bruce bring $5million in cash to the docks or Dick dies.

Batman spends the day stalking Poison Ivy, who appears to be every bit the boring domestic goddess she claimed. He reluctantly accepts she’s changed and leaves.

At the handover, Bruce at last gets a good look at the enormous plant man, who attacks and ostensibly kills him… but naturally our hero survives and performs a quick costume change before returning to save Dick.

Robin reveals that Dr. Carlyle’s ex-wife visited Gotham University a year ago, and not only does she have full custody of their children… they’re girls!

Revisiting the house in the middle of the night, the Dynamic Duo discover an entrance in the greenhouse leading to an underground lab. Sure enough, Ivy’s husband is kept in some kind of stasis tank and once freed confirms she’s up to no good.

No time for that though, because GOOD LORD, there are a half dozen children emerging from plants calling for their mother!!! And then some vines capture the heroes.

Ivy arrives to confirm she enslaved Steve and grew them some children using a combination of his DNA and her plant work, that grow at an accelerated rate, becoming the huge plant men we’ve seen throughout the episode.

Ivy Injects the latest bunch of kids with a rapid growth hormone, unleashing a horde of plant monsters. Luckily, Batman swapped out the water tank of her greenhouse sprinkler system with weed killer on arrival, murdering them real good.

In a shocking twist, Ivy herself melts away too, revealing herself as an artificial creation of the real deal, who is already on a plane out of Gotham. The final kicker? Batman believes she truly meant it when she said she was happy for the first time in her life.

Best Performance

Easily Diane Pershing. She’s been a hoot in every one of her outings as Poison Ivy, but really flexes her acting muscles here by softening the voice a little to portray a rehabilitated Isley, and does everything in her power to sell the lie. Truly one of the best vocal performers in the whole show.

Against all odds this might also be Loren Lester’s best episode to date. Speaking of dates, Megan Mullaly makes a fun cameo as his crush, Cindy.

Finally, Jim Cummings is fun as ever playing into his Taz wheelhouse with the drooly plant creatures.

Ranking

Poison Ivy has been the focal point of a number of excellent episodes, and this one is no exception. Honestly, if they’d punched up the section where one of Ivy’s plant children was running the show as a kidnapper, this might be top ten material.

So much of the plot is driven by Batman’s hesitance to accept one of his foes can change, ironic given how determined he is that they can be rehabilitated. And the best/worst part is that he was right; Pam was lying right to his face, and pulling it off by sprinkling in some truth. She was happy, but she couldn’t be allowed to have that happiness as the price was robbing and attacking ‘innocent’ rich dudes. Oh, and the husband was being mind-controlled and harvested for DNA, which is Actually Bad.

The big reveal is incredibly creepy, with the sight and sound of the plant babies crying out for Ivy lying dormant somewhere in my brain for decades. Every time there’s been an Ivy episode I’ve been waiting for that scene without realising it, then it all came screaming back. A perfect moment.

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

Villain Watch

Poison Ivy (Diane Pershing) (sixth appearance)

I feel very okay about my recent decision to slide Poison Ivy up to second place. It was already long overdue, and she’s honestly not as far off Joker’s top spot as pop culture status quo would have you believe.

Her plan is equal parts dark and tragic, and while the idea of her being infertile is far too big of an emotional concept for the target audience to unpack, it still works as a motivation for her haunting scheme. As an adult I can better appreciate the sadness of Ivy starting out with a nefarious plot, only to discover how badly she wanted to be a mother, something she didn’t think was possible. Plus the whole thing demonstrates her underrated intelligence.

Also it’s incredibly platonic of Ivy to have a photo album full of pictures of Harley Quinn.

  1. The Joker
  2. Poison Ivy
  3. Mr. Freeze
  4. Harley Quinn
  5. Two-Face
  6. The Ventriloquist
  7. The Phantasm
  8. Mad Hatter
  9. Penguin
  10. Catwoman
  11. HARDAC (and Randa Duane)
  12. Clayface
  13. Ra’s al Ghul
  14. The Riddler
  15. Clock King
  16. Lloyd Ventrix
  17. Count Vertigo
  18. Killer Croc
  19. Nivens
  20. Josiah Wormwood
  21. Scarecrow
  22. Roland Daggett (and Germs & Bell!)
  23. Rupert Thorne
  24. Talia al Ghul
  25. Sid the Squid
  26. Thoth Khepera
  27. Maxie Zeus
  28. Jimmy ‘Jazzman’ Peake
  29. Tony Zucco
  30. Man-Bat
  31. Hugo Strange
  32. Red Claw
  33. Arnold Stromwell
  34. Mad Bomber
  35. Tygrus
  36. Rhino, Mugsy and Ratso
  37. Kyodai Ken
  38. Gil Mason
  39. Nostromos (and Lucas!)
  40. Cameron Kaiser
  41. Dr. Dorian (and Garth)
  42. Mad Dog
  43. Ubu
  44. Professor Milo
  45. Romulus
  46. Sewer King
  47. Boss Biggis
  48. 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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