The Matt Signal Beyond – Episode 32: Sneak Peek

Plot summary: A journalist with the ability to walk through walls obtains footage of Batman’s true identity and threatens to expose him to the world.

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: ‘Sneak Peek’

Original Air Date: March 25th, 2000

Directed: Dan Riba (9)

Written: Alan Burnett (7) (story) & Stan Berkowitz (11)

Terry’s confession that he’s Batman was used for a lot of trailers for the show.

The boxer is the exact same character model as Clayface’s disguise as Annie’s ‘father’ in The New Batman Adventures episode, ‘Growing Pains’.

Ian Peek’s camera appears similar if not identical to the one Terry used to interview Chelsea in ‘Hidden Agenda’

Recap

A gossip show called the Inside Peek takes Gotham by storm, exposing famous faces with hidden camera footage. The host, Ian Peek, even steals my catchphrase, asking if we remember Paxton Powers, before exposing some of his sexual exploits.

Mary McInnis expresses her disapproval that either of her boys watch the show, but Terry is a fan. Peek’s producer asks how he obtains such good footage, but he remains tight-lipped.

We immediately learn that it’s because he can walk through walls and become invisible, and he records part of a meeting between District Attorney Sam Young and a mob boss.

Security raise an alarm, attracting Batman, who pursues as best he can, but is at a serious disadvantage due to Peek’s abilities, unable to even land a punch.

Terry asks his physics teacher if it is possible for solid matter to pass through other objects. Naturally, there was one (and only one) researcher who believed it could be done, and they just so happened to work at Wayne-Powers… but he died years ago.

Stumped, Terry confronts Ian Peek, accusing him of being able to walk through walls. Before they can discuss it further the mobster that Peek exposed attacks, forcing Batman to defend him.

The distraction allows Peek to plant a hidden camera in the Batmobile, so when Terry returns to report his findings to Bruce, the whole thing is caught on film… or I guess some kind of futuristic digital storage.

Peek promotes the unmasking of Batman on that evening’s show… which ends up getting postponed due to him suffering from health issues from overuse of his abilities.

Desperate, Peek pleads with Bruce to help him, confessing that he stole the technology from the Wayne-Powers employee… and killed him to cover his tracks. Peek even offers to not run the footage, but Bruce isn’t interested, so he tries to murder him.

Terry comes to the rescue, but there’s not much need, as Peek sinks through the ground. Terry tries to save him, but runs out of floors. Bruce coldly speculates he’ll eventually reach the earth’s core. Problem solved, I guess!

Best Performance

While the two male leads put in great shifts with their different reactions to the notion of their secrets getting exposed, it’s the exposer, Michael McKean who stole the show. Giving Peek an Australian accent was a fun choice, as it adds to his obnoxiousness, just as an American accent does in a British show does, and I’m sure a British accent does in American ones. Everybody hates each other, basically.

In seriousness, McKean fully understood his assignment, and makes Peek unbelievably slimy and punchable. The gleeful way he presents his scoops (which ruin lives) is one thing, but it’s the complete mocking indifference to Terry’s pleas that really seals it for me. His exchange with Bruce is great as well, with his tone and motivations flying all over the map.

Ranking

While Batman has been at risk of having his identity revealed many times over the years, only this and ‘The Strange Secret of Bruce Wayne’ have centred their entire plots around the idea. Given the guaranteed drama and high stakes that come with that premise, I’m surprised they haven’t gone to it more often. It does mean that in this case Peek has to die to tidy up the loose thread, versus the clever deception Bruce pulled in BTAS.

It’s interesting that Terry’s secret has been in jeopardy more often than Bruce’s ever really was, perhaps an attempt to underline how much better the older vigilante was than his successor, or that technological advances put Terry at greater risk. I was pleasantly surprised by Bruce accepting his secret would eventually get exposed, and he’s more annoyed that it might have come at the hands of a paparazzo instead of at the culmination of some big sexy caper saving the city.

Likewise in yet another chapter of the ‘Terry is a Good Boy Chronicles’, our protagonist pleads with Peek not to expose Bruce but doesn’t care about himself. He even tries to tell his family on his own terms, but they laugh it off, letting the show have its cake and eat it.

The villain’s powers made for a fun set of action scenes, and Terry trying to catch up to Peek as he falls through each level of a skyscraper is fun, swooping back and forth, barely missing him each time. More on that below. Actually, the direction in general was excellent, with Dan Riba employing clever camera work and good blocking.

All in all, nothing stellar, but a fun middle of the road episode that loses some points for an abrupt ending.

  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
  14. Hidden Agenda
  15. Lost Soul
  16. Earth Mover
  17. Black Out
  18. Dead Man’s Hand
  19. Sneak Peek (NEW ENTRY)
  20. Rebirth Part II
  21. Once Burned
  22. Revenant
  23. Heroes
  24. Terry’s Friend Dates a Robot
  25. Mind Games
  26. Hooked Up
  27. The Winning Edge
  28. Ascension
  29. Joyride
  30. Golem
  31. The Last Resort
  32. Rats

Villain Watch

Ian Peek (Michael McKean) (first appearance)

What a simple, yet effective set of powers. Intangibility proves to be extremely difficult to counteract, letting an unassuming, annoying journalist completely kick Batman’s ass. My favourite flourish was him setting off an explosion that he doesn’t need to get a safe distance away from, and thus takes his foe by surprise.

He’s also a complete dick, and giving these powers to a journalist makes for a perfect unconventional foil. Pleading with and then trying to murder Bruce Wayne for refusing to help him was great, too.

I wouldn’t go as far as to call him a total package, but he’s certainly hitting a lot of villain notes.

  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
  11. Ian Peek (NEW ENTRY)
  12. Earthmover
  13. Willie Watt
  14. Dr. Cuvier (and pals!)
  15. Mad Stan
  16. Robert Vance
  17. The Terrific Trio
  18. Agent Bennet
  19. The Brain Trust
  20. Dr. Stephanie Lake
  21. Howard Hodges & General Norman
  22. Paxton Powers
  23. Jackson Chappell
  24. Cynthia
  25. Mr. Fixx
  26. Ratboy
  27. 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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