The Matt Signal Beyond – Episode 37: Sentries of the Last Cosmos

Plot summary: The owner of a popular video game recruits top players to become his own personal hit squad.

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: ‘Sentries of the Last Cosmos’

Original Air Date: May 6th, 2000

Directed: Dan Riba (10)

Written: John Shirley (1) & Rich Fogel (7)

The titular fake video game will appear again in both the episode ‘Curse of the Kobra, Part I’ and an episode of Static Shock, in which characters agree the latest version is much worse.

This episode borrows heavily from a variety of sci-fi properties, chiefly Star Wars (the opening music, wipe transitions, Eldon Michaels resembling George Lucas, “Is Jar Jar lame?” etc.).

Other references and homages include The Last Starfighter (a video game being used to test aptitude for real war), Lost in Space (the robot in Eldon Michaels’ room (which makes a Star Trek noise!)) and Philip K. Dick’s typewriter.

Recap

We open with some wacky space stuff! Lasers! Hovercraft! An alien planet! Turns out the whole thing is a VR game called Sentries of the Last Cosmos, being played by Terry, Max and their friend, Corey.

Corey is elated after setting the high score, but Nelson Nash (remember him) puts him back in his place. High above, a stranger wearing one of the outfits from the game spies on the trio, taking particular interest in Corey…

Receiving an invitation to meet the game’s illusive creator, Simon Harper, Corey nerds out with two more invitees.

Harper (wearing a costume from the game that isn’t at all Jedi robes), states he monitors high scores from his computer and asks if the trio are ready to become REAL Sentries of the Last Cosmos!

Elsewhere, Terry is sent to the Hall of Records by Bruce, where he finds three kids on hoverboards wearing the Sentry costumes trying to destroy some of the databanks with energy swords.

Batman mocks the nerds, but they’re able to achieve their goal, blowing up some of the servers and leaving Terry in a pile of rubble!

Max tips Terry off about Simon Harper and they quiz Corey on his visit, but he blows them off. Thus, Batman infiltrates Sentrycroft, where he is met by aggressive security drones, which he destroys.

Harper downplays any involvement in the Hall of Records incident, but as soon as Terry leaves, he summons his ‘Sentries’, telling them ‘The Dark Regent’ is disguised as a man called Eldon Michaels.

Having overheard everything, Batman beats the kids to Michaels, who is revealed to be the true creator of the game (and a huge sci-fi nerd).

The Sentries arrive and kidnap Michaels, besting Terry yet again, and taking him back to Harper who demands they kill him. The two adults bicker over a lawsuit, confusing the kids.

Terry tosses a copy of the paperwork down on the ground, exposing Michaels. Batman finally has enough of getting his ass kicked and takes Michaels down, with the Sentries holding him at sword point for good measure.

The three kids drop in on Eldon Michaels and pester him with questions and while he’s annoyed at first, he enjoys their adulation and invites them in.

Best Performance

There is a wild disparity between the two main guest stars here, with Tristan Rogers apparently interpreting his assignment as the villainous Simon Harper by making him sound like he’s about to fall asleep at any moment. There is the slightest whiff of scheming sci-fi villain, but it’s so incredibly sedate that you can barely hear him over the music at times.

Conversely Patton Oswalt knew what was being asked of him and delivered it in spades. Sure, it’s the kind of role he plays all the time, so you’ve probably heard/seen this kind of thing from him a dozen times, but they wanted grouchy sci-fi neckbeard and he gave it to them.

Chris Demetral was decent enough as Corey, and the regulars were fine but were given far less to do than normal. Kevin Conroy slamming young people for playing video games is fun, though.

Ranking

As middle of the road as it gets. There’s nothing terribly wrong with this episode. Some find it irksome when Batman gets his ass kicked a lot, particularly by ‘normies’, so a literal geek squad getting the best of him twice may bother you. Likewise, Terry, Bruce and Max’s roles are limited and all of the focus goes to Harper, Michaels and the Sentries, so there’s not much in the way of character development for our regulars.

But as a love letter to sci-fi, including some of the show’s influences, it’s cute, harmless fun. The video game world and the Sentries are well designed, the setting of Beyond makes it all perfectly plausible for it to be brought to life by a rich wacko, and it all boiling down to a legal dispute over profits evokes the classic characterisation of Riddler in BTAS.

It lacks enough bite/punch/nuance/emotion to rank very highly, but it’s a good breezy watch, sitting comfortably above the bad episodes.

  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
  20. Rebirth Part II
  21. Once Burned
  22. Revenant
  23. Sentries to the Last Comos (NEW ENTRY)
  24. April Moon
  25. Heroes
  26. The Eggbaby
  27. Terry’s Friend Dates a Robot
  28. Mind Games
  29. Hooked Up
  30. The Winning Edge
  31. Ascension
  32. Joyride
  33. Golem
  34. The Last Resort
  35. Plague
  36. Payback
  37. Rats

Villain Watch

Simon Harper (Tristan Rogers) (first appearance)

Dude wears Jedi robes and rises out of a throne to use Force Lightning on the hero at the end. They knew what they were doing. It’s fun to watch Terry get tired of it and disable his abilities in one move at the end, reminding us this isn’t a supervillain, but just some guy who got a little too cocky.

It’s theoretically interesting to consider if Harper donned the costume to sell the fantasy to his recruits, or if on some level he genuinely is high on his own supply, but they don’t really explore that. He certainly gets very into the power fantasy with the throne and whatnot.

Also, I’m including the Sentries in this as they’re an extension of him. As mentioned above, the costume design is great, as well as their arsenal of hoverboards and energy swords.

  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
  12. Earthmover
  13. Willie Watt
  14. Dr. Cuvier (and pals!)
  15. Mad Stan
  16. Robert Vance
  17. The Terrific Trio
  18. Bullwhip’s Gang
  19. Simon Harper (and the Sentries!) (NEW ENTRY)
  20. The Mayhem Family
  21. Payback
  22. Agent Bennet
  23. The Brain Trust
  24. Kobra
  25. Dr. Stephanie Lake
  26. Howard Hodges & General Norman
  27. Paxton Powers
  28. Jackson Chappell
  29. Cynthia
  30. Falseface
  31. Mr. Fixx
  32. Ratboy
  33. 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, is on hiatus until Moon Knight begins. I miiiight drop a column or two before then, but given I did an accidental racism last time, I probably won’t.

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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