Plot summary: While it seems like a ghost is terrorising Gotham, Terry suspects somebody else entirely is back on the scene…
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!
Follow The Matt Signal on Twitter!
Episode Title: ‘Revenant’
Original Air Date: December 11th, 1999
Directed: Kyung-Won Lim (1)
Written: Hilary J. Bader (5)
This episode is obviously a direct follow-up to ‘Golem’, with Willie’s grudge against Nelson, his crush on Blade and him gaining powers at the end.
Despite the mostly serious tone of most of BTAS/TNBA, which tried to explain everything away with science, Bruce did tangle with the supernatural in ‘Avatar’ and ‘The Demon Within’, and will go on to tackle even more in the two Justice League shows, made after but set before Beyond, so his scepticism is unusual.
Revenant means both a ghost and derives from the French word for return. NOW that Leo movie makes sense!
Hamilton Hill High is abuzz with rumours about a ghost, which Terry is oblivious to due to his Batman activities. Dana, Chelsea and Blade agree the dead student alleged to be the ghost was dreamy…
So naturally, they perform a séance! Nelson Nash (remember him?) mocks them and trashes the Ouija board… which then flies across the room and smacks him in the head, along with other general mayhem.
Luckily, Terry is cruising by on patrol and spots the commotion in the school and steps in to save everyone, even Nelson. Terry struggles against the various flying objects, so wraps Nelson in a gym mat and tosses him out the window.
Terry reports the events back to Bruce, stating that the ghost seems to specifically care about Nelson. While Bruce acknowledges the existence of the supernatural (invoking several old episodes), he’s dubious about this ghost.
In classic ghost movie fashion, we get some shenanigans in the women’s showers as the water fluctuates temperature and sprays wildly. When the chaos subsides, Blade spots a note in the mirror saying ‘I still love you.’
Terry connects the dots, suggesting Willie Watt is behind everything given his crush on Blade and hatred of Nelson, so visits him in juvie, where a guard states nobody visits him and everyone is afraid of him.
Willie lets slip his knowledge of incidents at the school but quickly denies any involvement. Terry throws a glass of water at him… which stops in mid-air, confirming Willie gained telekinetic abilities after the GoLeM unit short-circuited while he was hooked up to it.
Unfortunately for Watt, his confession is caught on camera, so he is forced to use his abilities to escape ahead of his impending legal release.
Bruce cobbles together a powerful tranquilizer and Terry convinces Barbara Gordon to close the school so as to lure Willie, who behaves exactly as expected, forcing Nelson back to the building to take his revenge.
Willie beats the hell out of Nelson and then tries to use his powers to force Blade to kiss him… yeesh! Batman strikes, but Willie destroys the tranq gun and unleashes the fury.
Bats is overwhelmed at first, but Willie ends up accidentally taking himself out with a stray tree. He’s promptly locked up again in a more secure facility with a power dampener where he continues to receive no visitors.
Terry has a talk with his little brother, who had been missing their father more of late due to all the talk of ghosts. They agree that their dad will live on in their memories, yadda yadda yadda.
Pfft, I don’t know. Will Friedle again? He sure did try his best to solve the ghost mystery, ran rings around Willie Watt and even did his best with the ‘hey lil bro, sorry our dad is still dead’ speech at the end. It’s far from his best work, but there’s not much competition.
Scott McAfee is the only person who would get a look in, and while he makes Willie a creepy little menace, he just isn’t as good in my opinion.
Back to back spooky telekinetic shenanigans with anime style fights; the creators are showing their true colours. It’s also another episode that focuses heavily on the school, with Willie going to slightly silly lengths to make sure his revenge happens at Hamilton High, dragging Nelson back there for no good reason. Bruce even calls the whole thing very high school. I’ve covered the network mandate to make it more teen focused, and for the most part they’ve found organic ways to satisfy that, but this felt a touch overbearing.
Still, it mostly made Terry look good, as he insisted on investigating the rumours despite Bruce dismissing it, and he was able to figure out Willie’s involvement and even forced him to out himself. It would be nice if he were able to defeat the villain on his own merit, especially as we just got an episode where he defeated a psychic with pure focus.
The ghostly shenanigans were a mixed bag, but fun overall, and Willie was a clever choice to bring back and tie it all together. If only they hadn’t leant so far into the school and the final confrontation ended in a more satisfying manner.
Oh, and the idea to use a ghost story to acknowledge Matt is still struggling with the death of their father was… decent? I think? But moving so quickly from Willie beating himself, to his sad fate in prison, to Terry giving his little brother a talk was huge tonal whiplash.
- Disappearing Inque
- A Touch of Curaré
- Rebirth Part I
- Hidden Agenda
- Lost Soul
- Earth Mover
- Black Out
- Dead Man’s Hand
- Rebirth Part II
- Once Burned
- Revenant (NEW ENTRY)
- Mind Games
- Hooked Up
- The Winning Edge
Willie Watt (Scott McAfee) (second appearance)
Anime was obviously a huge influence on Batman Beyond, and you need look no further than Willie Watt, who went from controlling a giant robot with a headband… to a hugely powerful telekinetic, able to masquerade as a ghost despite sitting inside a juvenile detention centre miles away. Both are good gimmicks, and the decision to have him get buff in juvie was a decent extra touch.
Being locked up did nothing for his incel status, as he engages in pervy ghost antics in the showers, and even tries to force a kiss from Blade with his powers after criticising her for having a fake crush on a ghost but not being interested in him.
I think this episode strengthens the character overall so I’ll move him up a few slots, but he becomes one of many villains who defeated themselves after seemingly having Batman beaten. I know they’re paranoid about portraying Terry to be as good as Bruce, but I still think he needs more decisive wins.
- Mr. Freeze
- The Jokerz
- Derek Powers/Blight
- The Royal Flush Gang
- Willie Watt
- Dr. Cuvier (and pals!)
- Mad Stan
- Robert Vance
- The Terrific Trio
- The Brain Trust
- 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, begins coverage of Hawkeye this week.
There Will Be Movies continues Ben & Matt’s look back at the 90s each Wednesday. No matter what happens this week just remember it’s not your fault. It’s not your fault. It’s not… Look, it’s Good Will Hunting, okay?