Plot summary: Terry worries that his friend Max has discovered his secret identity, but she instead suspects him of being a Joker!
After completing the original run of Batman The Animated Series, Matt Waters looks to the future each Saturday and Sunday with recaps of every episode of Batman Beyond, building an overall ranking along the way. Plus best performances, the ever-popular Villain Watch and more!
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Episode Title: ‘Hidden Agenda’
Original Air Date: October 16th, 1999
Directed: Curt Geda (7)
Written: Hilary J. Bader (4) & Shaun McLaughlin (1) (story)
One more time for the people in the back, this episode aired before ‘Bloodsport’ despite her clearly having no idea about his secret or about his little brother in that one. This is why we follow production order.
This is one of five episodes not to feature Bruce Wayne.
Max claims she knows Terry is one of the Jokerz. Will Friedle did in fact voice one of the gang members.
Some poor schmoe barely catches a sky elevator, unaware it’s full of a group of Jokerz led by ‘Terminal’, who proceed to mess with him before hitting the emergency stop and leaving via zip line.
Batman still has to save the innocent civilian from not a tremendous amount of peril that’s made worse when he tumbles out the open door. Terry jumps after him and ensures he touches down safely.
At Hamilton Hill High, students collect their ‘GAT’ scores, and valedictorian hopeful Carter Wilson is furious to learn his 2391 was only second highest behind Maxine’s perfect 2400. Damn. Drama.
Max is unbothered, instead showing Terry and Dana an e-profile she has been building on Batman after hours. Naturally, this makes Terry nervous.
Carter’s mother treats him as though he got a 0 and calls him a loser for only being “almost” perfect. Bummed out, he begins putting on clown makeup and oh hey, he’s Terminal!
He and his gang trash the school after hours, wiping out the GAT scores and trying to mess with Max’s permanent record. She endeavours to re-write her Batman program to identity Jokerz members in the student body.
Terry takes the more direct approach, flying around Gotham until he spots the gang. He demands they leave Max alone, but realises she is trapped in the school with Terminal.
Bats arrives just in time to save her from an acid bath courtesy of modified cleaning machines and then immediately runs so he can return as Terry and express his concern. She instead completes her program, which suggests Terry as the top Jokerz suspect!
Threatening to expose his secret, Max demands to meet Terry in the park. The Jokerz show up as she expected, but she quickly learns Terry isn’t one of them and Terminal tries to murder her but Batman intervenes.
Max more than holds her own, helping Terry take them all down, and Terminal’s face paint washes off, exposing his identity. The next day, Max reveals she knows Terry’s real secret, which she promises to keep, and even helps cover for him with Dana.
It’s nice to be spoiled for choice again after a one horse race last episode.
Michael Rosenbaum’s voice as Terminal is vaguely reminiscent of the one he would go on to use for Deadshot in Justice League, which he claims he based on Kevin Spacey. I don’t actually think he does sound like him, but it’s still pretty great and helps elevate the character. He makes the civilian identity more upbeat to contrast better with the miserable, melancholy malcontent.
Cree Summer imbues Max with so much personality, both with her bouncy, raspy voice, and her actual delivery, and she and Will Friedle have an excellent rapport. I’m glad she’ll be sticking around.
Heck, even Omar Gooding puts in a great shift as Trey, Terminal’s right-hand man.
As mentioned at the start of season 2, the network mandated that the show feature more high school drama, hence unceremoniously dumping Derek Powers and the majority of the season’s plots involving a student. Whether it be the Jokerz and their new young recruit, or Jackie and her father the Earthmover, or Bobby Vance’s grandfather, or the ‘splicing’ phenomenon. It’s mostly been subtle, but they finally found a more elegant solution: giving Terry a sidekick who isn’t decades older than him.
Max is a huge part of the show’s legacy, far more popular than Dana, and for good reason. The smartest girl in school with pink hair and she can fight? I mean, come on! I attribute Hilary J Bader’s writing for making her seem like a more three dimensional person than many of the female characters. Terry referring to her as Alfred was a cute way to make it official, but on that front, I’ll be curious to see how they juggle Terry, Max, a villain and Bruce, who was notably absent (aside from wiping all traces of Max’s Batman program). I say that because they have often struggled to give Bruce much to do, but that’s for Future Matt to worry about.
The episode itself was fun enough, with the clever plot thread of Terry worrying about Max discovering his secret, only for her to end up suspecting him of being the villain… who he ends up saving her from… with a great deal of help from her so we know she isn’t a damsel. I’ll get into Terminal below, but he contributed nicely by connecting the two ‘hidden agendas’ as a jealous rival of Max. I say rival, she might as well have hit him with the Thanos “I don’t even know who you are!”
- Disappearing Inque
- A Touch of Curaré
- Rebirth Part I
- Hidden Agendas (NEW ENTRY)
- Lost Soul
- Earth Mover
- Black Out
- Rebirth Part II
- Dead Man’s Hand
- The Winning Edge
Terminal/The Jokerz (Michael Rosenbaum) (fifth appearance)
As established in ‘Joyride’, I’m lumping all of the individual members under the larger catch-all of the gang, even when they stand out.
Terminal’s straightjacket and skull face design, coupled with his emotionless voice and casual manner of almost killing his right hand man were effective ways to establish him, and if not for the rules of Scooby-Doo, it would be a genuine surprise to see the All-American genius jock, Carter Wilson, revealed as the man behind the paint.
His mother is the true villain, of course. Jokes aside, parental pressures are a believable trigger for disassociated youth that organically lead to joining up with a criminal gang. So props for that, and up they move.
- Mr. Freeze
- Derek Powers/Blight
- The Jokerz
- Robert Vance
- Dr. Cuvier (and pals!)
- The Terrific Trio
- The Royal Flush Gang
- Willie Watt
- Dr. Stephanie Lake
- Howard Hodges & General Norman
- Paxton Powers
- Jackson Chappell
- Mr. Fixx
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 including Return of the Joker.
My other recap column, Marvel Mondays, is on hiatus until Hawkeye.
There Will Be Movies continues Ben & Matt’s look back at the 90s each Wednesday. As luck would have it our 69th Episode is… Boogie Nights.