The Matt Signal Beyond – Episode 46: Inqueling

Plot summary: After suffering a massive injury, Inque has no choice but to seek help from her long-lost secret daughter.

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: ‘Inqueling’

Original Air Date: September 30th, 2000

Directed: Butch Lukic (13)

Written: Hilary J. Bader (11)

Whether by design or not, Terry has never actually defeated Inque in the show, with Bruce providing assistance in her previous two episodes, and Deanna doing the same here.

It’s been a while since ‘The Big Thing’ I keep alluding to has been relevant, but this is another episode to keep a mental note of for when it is revealed in a few weeks. Coincidentally, Inque’s previous appearance (‘Disappearing Inque’) was another such episode.

The last of five episodes which do not feature Bruce Wayne.

Inque’s daughter, Deanna, reappeared in several of the Batman Beyond comics, though Inque holds no grudge against her whatsoever.

Plot elements mirror two BTAS episodes, Cameron Kaiser deliberately getting Joker to trash his hotel in ‘Joker’s Wild’, and Daniel Mockridge escaping The Riddler but living in constant fear in ‘If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Rich?

Recap

At the Shimano Space Center, Inque sabotages a satellite launch. On his way to fight her, Terry and Max discuss Bruce being in Tibet meaning he has to Batman twice as hard.

They fight and demonstrate new resistance to each other’s moves, but Inque succeeds in destroying the satellite and most of the centre.

Inque meets up with her employer… Winchell, the Shimano owner, who hired her to sabotage the launch so he could claim insurance.

Winchell isn’t keen on paying the piper though, blasting her with a particle destabiliser, which even she can barely survive, slinking off into the night.

Elsewhere, a young woman named Deanna Clay barely prevents her car from getting towed by offering a half dozen cards, the last of which actually has credits on it.

Inque spies on her, infiltrating her lavish apartment. She confronts the money-troubled Deanna, revealing herself as her mother!

Explaining that she had to give Deanna up due to being on the run from the police (pre-transformation), Inque states she is the one who had been filling her trust fund over the years.

The villain’s physical condition rapidly declines, begging Deanna to go and steal some more mutagen for her. She agrees, and they bond.

Terry infiltrates Shimano and finds samples of Inque’s DNA and learns of Winchell’s fraud. He confronts him but gets jumped by security and has to run.

Winchell unleashes the same particle gun, but Terry is able to avoid it with his stealth camo and then hangs him over the edge of the building, demanding to know where Inque went, but only gets her bank account information.

Max tracks down Deanna after looking into her account activity, and Terry is easily able to overpower her in her weakened state. Deanna returns with the mutagen, restoring and even enhancing Inque.

She and Batman brawl throughout a construction site, but just as Inque has him dead to rights, she begins to dissolve. Deanna reveals she filled the mutagen with solvent, having gained access to all of her accounts.

Later, Batman confronts Deanna at her new luxury home, warning her that the police would eventually be able to implicate her and that the remnants of Inque have mysteriously disappeared.

She claims not to be worried, but after Terry leaves, she is clearly made uneasy by every shadow…

Best Performance

When in doubt, pick Batman. Will Friedle is so much more comfortable in this role than in the early episodes. There’s his sombre attitude towards his deadliest nemesis, Inque. Confiding in Max about the crushing responsibility he feels to not let Bruce down as Batman, as well as bantering with her. His guilt towards constantly ditching Dana. His mid-fight one-liners. He makes Terry a great character.

Shannon Kenny is a so far below her previous appearances as Inque that if you told me it was a different actor, I’d believe you. She’s overly shouty in her fight scenes and doesn’t really bring it to the degree you’d like in her emotional scenes with Deanna. She appears to be far better suited as a performer when Inque is sick of everyone’s shit.

Cree Summer is as delightful as always, with her biting comment about how Inque has been in the Batcave and she hasn’t being one of the best line reads in the show. But her dialogue is limited. Likewise, Lauren Tom and Peter Mark Richman needed more time. Azura Skye either isn’t suited for voice acting, or by trying to sound like a vapid brat, ended up missing the mark and sounding like a bad actor. I’ve seen her be good in things, though!

Ranking

When in doubt, return to your best and most popular villains. After a run of episodes that mostly featured bad antagonists, an injection of Inque was sorely needed. And it wasn’t just a stunt appearance, but rather added a pretty significant piece of the mythos with the reveal of her daughter.

In a perfect world I would have liked to have seen a flashback to Inque’s pre-transformation days (you can see exactly this in one of the comics), but time constraints are a thing, and they’d have to radically adjust the aesthetic given Deanna’s age. Still, you get what you need from it, and the final betrayal is devastating. It was great attention to detail that Deanna gained access to her mother’s accounts by having to perform a transfer on her behalf, as she was too weak to even use a laptop. The final semi-cliff-hanger ending is the kind of thing BTAS did a lot of but Beyond has eschewed for the most part.

As secondary plot devices go, Shimano and Winchell were pretty excellently deployed, as the satellite launch site made for a different setting for an opening fight, and Terry taking on their beefy security was plenty of fun, all culminating in Batman dangling somebody off a building for more information. Fundamental Batman shit. They even went as far as to have Terry drop Winchell with one hand and catch him with the other to amp up his fear. If this much effort were put into the ancillary elements every time, we wouldn’t need to talk about the show’s obvious dip in quality.

The fight scenes being superlative are a given for Inque episodes, but I would be remiss to not mention them. As I said, the launch site makes for a different kind of setting for one, and the same is true of the construction site at the end.

Finally, it’s a tiny part of the episode, but Dana’s slither of subplot is among the best things they’ve ever done with her criminally under-utilised character. Max draws attention to how thin ice Terry is on with her and Terry says he has to work twice as hard while Bruce is away. Standard stuff. But then we see how heartbreakingly sheepish she is to even float the idea of spending time together, looking to the floor and closing her eyes. He claims he’ll make time, but ditches her anyway, and then she tells Max that she’s figured everything out: Terry sees Bruce as a surrogate father figure since the death of his bio-dad, so wants to spend as much time with him as possible. Terry smiles about this idea. It’s simple, emotionally consistent stuff that makes you think better of everybody involved.

  1. Meltdown
  2. Inqueling (NEW ENTRY)
  3. Out of the Past
  4. Eyewitness
  5. Babel
  6. Final Cut
  7. Disappearing Inque
  8. Spellbound
  9. King’s Ransom
  10. A Touch of Curaré
  11. Shriek
  12. Rebirth Part I
  13. Bloodsport
  14. Splicers
  15. Zeta
  16. Armory
  17. Hidden Agenda
  18. Lost Soul
  19. Earth Mover
  20. Black Out
  21. Dead Man’s Hand
  22. Where’s Terry?
  23. Sneak Peek
  24. Rebirth Part II
  25. Once Burned
  26. Big Time
  27. Revenant
  28. Untouchable
  29. Sentries of the Last Cosmos
  30. April Moon
  31. Heroes
  32. The Eggbaby
  33. Terry’s Friend Dates a Robot
  34. Mind Games
  35. Hooked Up
  36. The Winning Edge
  37. Ascension
  38. Joyride
  39. Golem
  40. Ace in the Hole
  41. The Last Resort
  42. Plague
  43. Payback
  44. Rats
  45. Speak No Evil
  46. Betrayal

Villain Watch

Inque (Shannon Kenny) (third appearance)

Inque is just untouchable for cartoon Batman fight scenes, as she’s basically invincible and Terry can unleash his entire fancy arsenal on her. Their fights are also far more violent because of her semi-liquid body.

I don’t know if the animators would find coming up with new ways to deploy her abilities a fun creative challenge or an exhausting labour, but the end results remain feeling fresh even on a third outing, and I love that she keeps adapting. There seemed to be a lot more emphasis on her expanding in this episode, versus the smothering and forming blades she did previously. I loved her getting grabbed and just snaking her way under Terry to attack him from behind, and she even ended up close to Bane-ing him!

From a character development standpoint, she finally gains the trademark Rogues Gallery sympathetic origin story, as she’s been doing everything to provide for her long-lost daughter, including her transformation in the first place. You also can’t help but feel sorry for her when her body deteriorates, which was true in ‘Disappearing Inque’ too, and is wisely re-deployed here to work in tandem with the traitorous daughter thing. She’s great. The best. Better than many of Bruce’s classic villains.

Winchell (Peter Mark Richman) (first appearance)

I can’t be too mad about this character given he’s a secondary villain (and arguably tertiary by the end), but he is another generic rich corporate douche, but with a dope laser gun. He’s acted just well enough to stand out from the generic foes.

He never gets a first name, and honestly Peter Mark Richman might have been a better name for him anyway!

Deanna Clay (Azura Skye) (first appearance)

Ice. Cold.

Blissfully unaware of her parentage and armed with a mysterious trust fund, Deanna ends up as money hungry as any villain the franchise. While we can assume most of her competition for the top of that dung pile would betray their own mothers to make a buck, she is the only one to actually do it.

I’m glad they resisted the urge to actually make her the titular Inqueling by gaining her mother’s powers, as she proves you can be a complete monster without any. By far the best ordinary human villain in the series (I’m discounting those that use special suits and crazy weapons).

  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. Talia/Ra’s al Ghul
  11. Armory
  12. Ian Peek
  13. Repeller
  14. Earthmover
  15. Willie Watt
  16. Dr. Cuvier (and pals!)
  17. Mad Stan
  18. Robert Vance
  19. The Terrific Trio
  20. Deanna Clay (NEW ENTRY)
  21. Karros
  22. Bullwhip’s Gang
  23. Simon Harper (and the Sentries!)
  24. The Mayhem Family
  25. Payback
  26. Agent Bennet
  27. The Brain Trust
  28. Paxton Powers
  29. Charlie ‘Big Time’ Bigelow
  30. Kobra
  31. Dr. Stephanie Lake
  32. Howard Hodges & General Norman
  33. Jackson Chappell
  34. Cynthia
  35. Falseface
  36. James Van Dyle
  37. Mr. Fixx
  38. Winchell (NEW ENTRY)
  39. The T’s
  40. Ronny Boxer
  41. Ratboy
  42. Major
  43. 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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