The Matt Signal Beyond – Episode 31: Armory

Plot summary: After getting laid off, a desperate weapons designer uses his military past to keep his family in finery by any means necessary.

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: ‘Armory’

Original Air Date: March 11th, 2000

Directed: Kyung-Won Lim (2)

Written: John P. McCann (2)

The Tate wedding was a key moment of the episode ‘Spellbound’.

Another Bruce-less episode. Three of them have occurred very close together, which is weird, as I would assume they were all produced long before dialogue was recorded, so it’s not like temporary unavailability for Kevin Conroy would force them to change any plans.

The music from Jared’s party is re-used in Return of the Joker.

Recap

Terry and his friends gather for Jared Tate’s extravagant birthday party, bankrolled by his rich stepfather, Jim… who is made redundant shortly afterwards thanks to Paxton Powers’ streamlining.

Jim is furious, but remains optimistic his skills designing weapons will let him land on his feet. Unfortunately, nobody is hiring, but one of his shadier contacts does offer to pay good money for a prototype weapon owned by Wayne-Powers.

Luckily for Jim, he background in Special Forces lets him easily break in and steal the design specs, fully armed and masked up, of course. The GCPD give chase, but he deploys some of his advanced weapons to give them the slip.

Batman joins the fray and does manage to disable Jim’s armoured truck, but when they battle on foot, Jim deploys a high-powered taser, flashbang grenade and adhesive gun and escapes.

Nicknamed ‘The Human Armory’ (and later just Armory) by the media, Jim isn’t too thrilled by what he’s doing, lashing out at his family.

Jared in turn begins acting moody around Terry, who immediately pieces together what’s really going on, and follows Jim to the robbery of some of the components needed for the weapon.

Armory dispatches the police and overwhelms Batman with similar ease to the last time, upping the ante on his arsenal. He starts a fire that Terry narrowly saves the wounded policemen from.

Jared snoops around his stepfather’s secret workshop just as he brings the buyer to inspect his prototype, so Jared hides… but is quickly discovered.

Luckily, Terry arrives before the buyer can insist anything be done about Jim’s family learning everything. Unluckily, the prototype works perfectly and is unleashed on Batman.

Even more luckily, Jim comes to his senses and uses his glue gun to stop the buyer, and Terry finishes the job. Jared later confirms the courts went easy on Jim, and Terry and Max offer their support.

Best Performance

Nobody really blew me away this episode, so I think I will give the nod to Dorian Harewood, who does a good job of conveying the internal conflict Jim Tate suffers from his criminal undertakings. He demonstrates range too, angry when he’s fired, snippy when he gets stressed, depressed when his buyer is a little too happy about everything, and ultimately broken and remorseful when he helps save the day.

Corey Burton was solid as the sleazy buyer, Istivan Hegedesh, which is a wiiiiild name. But it’s very one note. Omar Gooding is good as Jared, but has very little to say.

Ranking

This is a pretty action-heavy episode, but does a great job of telling a complicated villain story. That does mean I’m risking repeating myself, but I’ll take a shot.

Jim Tate’s abrupt firing and struggles to secure new work in order to keep providing for his family make for evergreen social commentary, and we see that reflected in Jared’s behaviour. His mopey demeanour after Jim snaps at them, and sensitivity when Max suggests he has no worries because he’s rich are more interesting beats to play than we usually get for Terry’s teen friends.

There’s an argument that Terry solves Armory’s identity a little too quickly, but I actually liked it as a change of pace, as it shows how much sharper his detective skills are, especially in the wake of Bruce’s absence. It also is relatively easy to figure out, so you don’t have to suffer through the experience of all of the characters being dumb while we know everything.

At the risk of sounding hypocritical, I kind of enjoyed seeing Batman get completely wrecked by Armory. I say hypocritical, because I made a comment in a previous review that it kind of sucks how easily Terry gets beaten up in comparison to Bruce, even if I do understand that is by design to convey that he’s both new at this, and that Bruce was truly special. The reason I’m okay with making this comment, is Terry has been on a strong run of episodes where he came across as both smarter and more skilled, so him catching a major beating here feels more impactful.

In summary, I think this episode has a lot of great subtle touches that elevate it, but its greater focus on action keeps it out of the top tier. Oh, and this is some of the best music in any episode.

  1. Meltdown
  2. Eyewitness
  3. Babel
  4. Final Cut
  5. Disappearing Inque
  6. Spellbound
  7. A Touch of Curaré
  8. Shriek
  9. Rebirth Part I
  10. Bloodsport
  11. Splicers
  12. Zeta
  13. Armory (NEW ENTRY)
  14. Hidden Agenda
  15. Lost Soul
  16. Earth Mover
  17. Black Out
  18. Dead Man’s Hand
  19. Rebirth Part II
  20. Once Burned
  21. Revenant
  22. Heroes
  23. Terry’s Friend Dates a Robot
  24. Mind Games
  25. Hooked Up
  26. The Winning Edge
  27. Ascension
  28. Joyride
  29. Golem
  30. The Last Resort
  31. Rats

Villain Watch

Armory (Dorian Harewood) (first appearance)

My, my, aren’t we Lock-Up with a more nuanced personality? Rather than a prison guard who snaps and decides to dispense some street justice, Jim Tate is a desperate man who makes a bad decision to try and keep his family living the good life and gets in over his head.

This is reflected in his weaponry, starting out non-lethal and then becoming explosive as he grows more desperate. Not only is this an example of story and character development informing aesthetics, but it makes him a more fun villain, as his equipment is varied (love the glue gun) and ever-changing to keep things from getting stale.

It’s the tiniest of things, but it was a nice touch to have him getting laid off by Paxton Powers, who you’d be forgiven for forgetting the existence of. Bums me out a little, as I liked Derek Powers, and while the teen-centric second season has been surprisingly solid, I do miss the sleazy corporate aspect.

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

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, concludes coverage of Hawkeye next week with the season review.

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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