The Matt Signal Beyond – Episode 22: Rats

Plot summary: Dana becomes the object of a mutant’s affections, which of course take a darker turn. Plus Batman fights Henry Rollins!

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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Notes

Episode Title: ‘Rats’

Original Air Date: November 20th, 1999

Directed: Curt Geda (8)

Written: Rich Fogel (4)

Mad Stan rants about information overload, similar to his voice actor, Henry Rollins’ role in Johnny Mnemonic.

Terry’s criminal record was first referenced in ‘A Touch of Curaré’ and will be further elaborated on in ‘Big Time’. It’s brought up here by Dana’s father in his only appearance in the show.

One of Patrick’s toys he says he no longer wants is Magma of the Terrific Trio, likely due to the events of ‘Heroes’ in which they disgraced themselves.

Terry sits next to a man on a train who appears to be the same one he saved from the Jokerz in ‘Hidden Agenda’. He will appear in more episodes later.

Recap

Max, Dana and Chelsea laugh at a news piece on “Giant Man-Eating Rats”, with Dana likening Terry to one for blowing her off once again. He tries to apologise but she’ll have none of it, stating he is never there for her.

Dana finds a flower in her car with a nice note and assumes it’s from Terry, so calls him up for a date and makes sure to wear a ridiculous dress. Her father doesn’t approve, but they’re both distracted by a shadowy figure lurking outside.

Bruce calls Terry to deal with ‘Mad Stan’, an enormous anarchist intent on destroying a library due to “information overload, man”. Batman manages to stop him, but takes quite a beating in the process.

Unfortunately, that does mean Dana’s been stood up yet again. Just as she’s leaving she spots another flower but gets spooked by giant rats and trips and knocks herself out while running away.

Awakening underground, she meets her secret admirer, Patrick aka Ratboy, who hordes people’s discarded possessions and looks the giant rats like pets.

While Dana sympathises, he gets aggressive when she suggests leaving, insisting she belongs with him. Thinking fast, she asks him to fetch her food from the restaurant where she and Terry were meant to have their date.

This immediately pays off, as Batman scouts the place out and witnesses Patrick and his giant rats raiding the place and escaping back underground.

Dana managed to escape in the meantime, but the Gotham sewers prove to be a labyrinth and she’s quickly cornered by dozens of rats and recovered by Patrick.

Patrick declares she’s no different to ‘the others’, heavily implying he had kidnapped others in the past and murdered them for not behaving as he wanted.

Batman arrives and saves Dana from the rats, setting off a huge explosion in the process. After a quick costume change he arrives to comfort Dana, who forgives him and they leave together.

Best Performance

I’m severely tempted to go with Henry Rollins for fully understanding the assignment of loudly spouting generic hippy anarchist rhetoric.

But I suppose it’s about time to honour the great Lauren Tom as Dana Tan, who seldom gets more than a couple of lines per episode but still usually manages to be delightfully charming. Giving her more to say maximises that effect… or I just love Futurama.

Ranking

Woof.

Honestly, it’s nice to establish rock bottom, because I still enjoyed most of the episodes that have ranked near the end of the list, but this was a real clunker. In theory it’s well-trodden ground, with a mutant character kidnapping the pretty lady who takes pity on him, but he is made to see the error of his ways. The problem here is Patrick in no way sees that error. In fact, he basically admits to being a serial killer.

Likewise, the recurring plot beat of Terry having to constantly stand Dana up due to his double life is straight out of the Spider-Man playbook. It’s compelling sometimes… but he doesn’t actually really do anything to win her back other than show up after she’s been through a traumatic event. She effectively decides he’s just a better option than being murdered by a sewer mutant and eaten by rats.

What that leaves you with is an excessive amount of Dana in a tiny white dress, which is torn and dirtied during her ill-fated and surprisingly lengthy escape attempt, and Batman saving her out of nowhere. Ideally, this would have been her long-overdue breakout episode where she takes the spotlight and runs with it, proving she’s a character in her own right and not just Terry’s girlfriend he drops every time Melanie/Ten returns to Gotham. But alas, no, this cycle will continue, and she will not get to be a three dimensional person.

The only part I actually liked was Max and Chelsea basically breaking out popcorn to watch Dana yell at Terry.

  1. Meltdown
  2. Disappearing Inque
  3. Spellbound
  4. A Touch of Curaré
  5. Shriek
  6. Rebirth Part I
  7. Bloodsport
  8. Splicers
  9. Hidden Agendas
  10. Lost Soul
  11. Earth Mover
  12. Dead Man’s Hand
  13. Black Out
  14. Rebirth Part II
  15. Once Burned
  16. Heroes
  17. Hooked Up
  18. The Winning Edge
  19. Ascension
  20. Joyride
  21. Golem
  22. Rats (NEW ENTRY)

Villain Watch

Ratboy (Taran Noah Smith) (first appearance)

Yay, a mutant incel! It’s truly shocking to me that they didn’t do a cringe ‘beauty is only skin deep’ story with Patrick, with his heart being in the right place but realising his extreme behaviour is not okay. I suppose going so far in the other direction (outing him as a serial killer) subverts expectations, but it doesn’t make him a good character.

There’s an argument to be made he’s one of the absolute most villainous foes any incarnation of Batman has faced… but he’s also incredibly one note and uninteresting. So it’s straight to the bottom!

Mad Stan (Henry Rollins) (first appearance)

On the other end of the spectrum is this delightful dolt. Voiced by and seemingly a gentle parody of Henry Rollins, Mad Stan is simply Mad Stan. Nothing more, nothing less. His grand plan is to “blow it all up, man”.

I am giddy at the notion of him making future appearances.

  1. Inque
  2. Mr. Freeze
  3. Shriek
  4. Curaré
  5. Spellbinder
  6. The Jokerz
  7. Derek Powers/Blight
  8. Stalker
  9. The Royal Flush Gang
  10. Earthmover
  11. Dr. Cuvier (and pals!)
  12. Mad Stan (NEW ENTRY)
  13. Robert Vance
  14. The Terrific Trio
  15. Willie Watt
  16. Dr. Stephanie Lake
  17. Howard Hodges & General Norman
  18. Paxton Powers
  19. Jackson Chappell
  20. Mr. Fixx
  21. Ratboy (NEW ENTRY)

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 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. Time to enrol for military service to guarantee citizenship as we look back at the critically misunderstood Starship Troopers.

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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