The Matt Signal Beyond – Episode 43: Betrayal

Plot summary: Big Time returns as part of a criminal enterprise but isn’t thrilled about his standing and makes an unlikely plea to Terry.

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: ‘Betrayal’

Original Air Date: December 9th, 2000

Directed: Kyung-Won Lim (5)

Written: Stan Berkowitz (13) & Robert Goodman (8) (story)

This is of course a follow up to the episode ‘Big Time’.

Big Time’s ostensible demise bears resemblance to the end of ‘Mudslide’ wherein Batman and Clayface went over a cliff, but only the hero came back up.

Major is drawn to look like his voice actor, Jon Polito.

Recap

After Charlie ‘Big Time’ Bigelow ambushes an armoured truck, Bruce suggests Terry let the GCPD handle it as Charlie is his friend. Naturally our hero ignores that advice, which is good as the police get absolutely stomped.

Terry manages to restrain Big Time, but to his surprise a GCPD car knocks him down, frees the escaped criminal and provides an escape.

The driver definitely isn’t a cop though, but rather ambitious mobster ‘The Major’, who is clearly manipulating Big Time but doing a decent enough job of confusing the giant that he can only be muscle and should leave the planning to him.

Terry struggles with the whole situation as Bruce seemingly accuses him of allowing his friend to escape, while confiding in Max about his guilt over Charlie’s mutation.

Suddenly a pair of large men pull over and kidnap Terry, knocking off his backpack containing the Batsuit in the process. Max calls Bruce to fill him in and he warns her not to even think of suiting up.

Turns out Big Time arranged the kidnapping, wishing to bring him into the operation as he doesn’t trust The Major’s allies. When Terry accuses him of being selfish, he starts to break things.

Major is not amused by his enforcer’s antics and scolds Big Time for bringing in an outsider who now knows the location of his hideout.  During their argument, Terry escapes, but while Major’s men can’t gun him down, Big Time does successfully run him down.

Surprisingly, Charlie can’t bring himself to hand over his former friend, so Terry pleads with him to turn himself in and Bruce will reverse his condition.

The cops arrest Major and his men after a tip-off from Terry, who is disappointed when Big Time refuses to go quietly. The brute reveals he just wanted Major out of the way so he could take over his operation and has no desire to be cured.

Bruce crashes his car into Big Time and covertly returns the Batsuit to Terry while the villain is distracted. After a brief scuffle, hero and villain end up dangling over a suspension bridge, but Big Time is unable to hold on. Bruce and Terry make amends.

Best Performance

Clancy Brown replaces Stephen Baldwin as Big Time, and while the character is less interesting, I do enjoy Brown’s work conveying his immense size. He also suits the double-cross moment, even if the material sucks.

Jon Polito is fine… I guess? Cree Summer and Angie Harmon barely get a chance to contribute. Suddenly we’re only left with Bruce and Terry as options.

I don’t care enough about this episode to debate it much, so let’s pretend I flipped a coin and it landed on Will Friedle.

Ranking

When I think about how few episodes there are in this show, I’m left scratching my head over the decision to give Big Time a second feature episode. Clearly, Stan Berkowitz and Robert Goodman were enamoured with the idea of spinning a parallel to some of Bruce’s old capers, bringing back a mob element, trying to play on the Two-Face dynamic, and even writing a Harvey/Clayface style ending. However, they clearly lack the writing chops of the BTAS crew and this just ends up feeling really out of place in a series that excels when it’s tackling cyberpunk and the dangers of new technologies and societal extremes.

More on how lacklustre their central players are in the section below, but even if you swap them out for the likes of say… Killer Croc and Rupert Thorne, the story itself barely holds up. The opening trap sequence is a little wishy-washy. Terry gets grabbed a little too easily, even if he is taken by surprise, and him being separated from his Batsuit ends up feeling rather inconsequential, because even if he had it, he couldn’t change in front of the villains. And why tease us with Max suiting up to save Terry, which would have been a FAR more compelling story, only to yank it away and do something so boring?

Having the whole thing culminate in a lacklustre double-cross and a hurried ‘oh no, he couldn’t hold on to his leg so he fell to his death’ moment was pretty lame too. But the real icing on the cake was Bruce twice asking Terry to let the police handle the ten foot rampaging mutant, which could not feel more out of character. If anything, I’d have gone the other way with it, with Terry overtly hesitating while Bruce implores him to do his job. You can still do your inferior parallel to Two-Face at the end if you want, but there’s no way Bruce would tell his protégé to hang back while danger is afoot.

  1. Meltdown
  2. Eyewitness
  3. Babel
  4. Final Cut
  5. Disappearing Inque
  6. Spellbound
  7. King’s Ransom
  8. A Touch of Curaré
  9. Shriek
  10. Rebirth Part I
  11. Bloodsport
  12. Splicers
  13. Zeta
  14. Armory
  15. Hidden Agenda
  16. Lost Soul
  17. Earth Mover
  18. Black Out
  19. Dead Man’s Hand
  20. Where’s Terry?
  21. Sneak Peek
  22. Rebirth Part II
  23. Once Burned
  24. Big Time
  25. Revenant
  26. Untouchable
  27. Sentries of the Last Cosmos
  28. April Moon
  29. Heroes
  30. The Eggbaby
  31. Terry’s Friend Dates a Robot
  32. Mind Games
  33. Hooked Up
  34. The Winning Edge
  35. Ascension
  36. Joyride
  37. Golem
  38. Ace in the Hole
  39. The Last Resort
  40. Plague
  41. Payback
  42. Rats
  43. Betrayal (NEW ENTRY)

Villain Watch

Big Time (Clancy Brown) (second appearance)

It is hilarious to me that they tried so hard to make Big Time happen given how many dope one-and-done villains there are in the list below. Heck, I’d take a return of the other villain from his debut, Kerros, with more enthusiasm!

I didn’t hate the design in the darker lighting of his debut appearance, but after getting a good look here, I think it sucks. It’s the colour choices for his hair and clothes; they undercut his hulking appearance. I do like that he’s so weirdly proportioned, which reinforces his mutation, but you look at this guy with his thinning white hair and pale blue trousers and you cannot possibly take him seriously.

Obviously the story is attempting to compare Big Time with Two-Face, but my word is that overgenerous. Sure, both are former friends of a Batman who feels guilty for not saving them from their transformation, but Harvey Dent was nuanced, layered character whose pre-existing personality mapped deliciously to his supervillain makeover. Charlie Bigelow just used people and then became a giant monster man who feels insecure about being pigeonholed as just the muscle, so ‘masterminds’ a takeover. That personality wrinkle could be interesting, but it isn’t.

Down he goes.

Major (Jon Polito) (first appearance)

Ehhh. Generic gangsters have to work a lot harder to be interesting in a setting like Beyond than they did in BTAS, and this guy simply falls short. He manipulates a brute and uses him to get rich… and then gets captured incredibly easily by the police.

  1. Inque
  2. Curaré
  3. Shriek
  4. Mr. Freeze
  5. Spellbinder
  6. The Jokerz
  7. Derek Powers/Blight
  8. The Royal Flush Gang
  9. Stalker
  10. Armory
  11. Ian Peek
  12. Repeller
  13. Earthmover
  14. Willie Watt
  15. Dr. Cuvier (and pals!)
  16. Mad Stan
  17. Robert Vance
  18. The Terrific Trio
  19. Karros
  20. Bullwhip’s Gang
  21. Simon Harper (and the Sentries!)
  22. The Mayhem Family
  23. Payback
  24. Agent Bennet
  25. The Brain Trust
  26. Paxton Powers
  27. Charlie ‘Big Time’ Bigelow
  28. Kobra
  29. Dr. Stephanie Lake
  30. Howard Hodges & General Norman
  31. Jackson Chappell
  32. Cynthia
  33. Falseface
  34. Mr. Fixx
  35. The T’s
  36. Ronny Boxer
  37. Ratboy
  38. Major (NEW ENTRY)
  39. 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.

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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