Batman: The Animated Series – “Eternal Youth”

Captura_de_pantalla_2011-09-20_a_las_02.44.27Episode Number:  29

Original Air Date:  September 13, 1992

Directed by:  Kevin Altieri

Written by:  Beth Bornstein

First Appearance(s):  Maggie Page

 

Sometimes there are episodes I really look forward to re-watching and blogging about, and sometimes there are those I dread. And on a rare occasion, there’s an episode I dread that I end up enjoying, which is the case for this week’s entry:  “Eternal Youth.” As I go through this series again, I’m finding my attitude towards each episode is still firmly grounded in the opinion I held as a kid, even though I have seen all of these episodes as both a kid and an adult. And in the case of an episode like this one, I probably had a negative perception because it’s light on action and the plot revolves around a pair of sexagenarians in Alfred Pennyworth and the debuting Maggie Page (Paddy Edwards) coupled with a villain I still wasn’t too familair with:  Poison Ivy.

The episode opens with a frightened older woman running from a shadowy subject. It’s pretty obvious the person she’s frightened of is Poison Ivy. She warns she knows things and she’s seen what Ivy has done to the others, but that seems to only provoke Ivy into passing the point of no return. Since this is a kid’s show, and Ivy isn’t so boorish as to simply shoot her victims, she instead sprays the woman with some kind of green chemical cloud that looks similar to weed killer which freezes the old gal in place. We cut quickly to Bruce Wayne angrily ordering someone on the phone to back out of some business dealing because it will endanger a rain forest. Alfred remarks it was a good thing he noticed what was transpiring, while Bruce remarks he was lucky to notice, and we have our establishing plot.

MaggiePage

Meet Maggie, but don’t get too attached as you’ll never see her again.

Poison Ivy is out to get CEO’s and business types who have made money at the expense of the environment. We don’t know just how far is too far with Ivy, but destroying a rain forest probably fits the bill. The plot needs her attention to fall on Wayne, but the show can’t make Wayne some monster who bulldozes endangered ecosystems for profit, so it establishes right away that he’s against such behaviour, but Wayne Enterprises is so big (and he’s rather consumed by his other profession) that it’s possible some things could sneak by. Or maybe Ivy just heard about this business deal while it was in the planning stages before Bruce squashed it. Either way, we’ve established that Bruce Wayne is in Poison Ivy’s crosshairs (or whatever aiming device is on that weed killer gun) while also making him innocent of being a menace to the environment.

A VHS is delivered to Bruce that Alfred runs by him. It’s apparently for a spa of some kind. At the same time, Alfred’s apparent girlfriend Maggie shows up and is eager to see the tape. It’s for a resort that claims it can slow down and even reverse the aging process, and as a demonstration of what it can do, has extended a free invite to Bruce. He’s not interested, but when he suggests Alfred and Maggie take his place Maggie is very eager, while Alfred not so much. It’s a bit hard to pin down just what this relationship is. Alfred almost seems annoyed by her presence while she seems to very much enjoy him. I don’t know if she’s just trying to get some affection thrown her way, or if they are actually dating. Maggie will make a few comments here and there that sort of support both theories, and when they part after returning from the spa a vigorous feeling Alfred merely plants a kiss on her cheek. Some parting gift.

EY_32_-_Alfred_and_Maggie

That’s about as romantic as these two are going to get.

The two do head to the spa and while Alfred is a sour puss at first, he soon comes around when he samples the refreshments and enjoys being waited on for a change. The two are sad to see their time there end. When Alfred returns home he brings along some of the spa’s goodies, namely some additive that’s mixed with water, and he decorates the Bat Cave with plenty of flora. Batman finds the behaviour a bit odd, but doesn’t seem too concerned until Alfred passes out. After some rest, Alfred wakes up and basks in the sun. Maggie soon shows up and the two decide they must return to the spa – they can’t stop thinking about it.

Meanwhile, various other notable individuals have turned up missing. The police haven’t turned up anything in their investigation, and Gordon basically gives Batman the okay to rummage through one of the missing person’s apartments. And wouldn’t you know, Batman notices the same VHS tape Bruce Wayne received for the Eternal Youth spa in the missing woman’s VCR. Really, Gotham PD? It doesn’t take long for Batman to realize something is up. He’s analyzed the junk Alfred brought home with him, finding out it creates some kind of crazy, living plant when he mixes it with human plasma (I wonder if they couldn’t say blood) prompting Batman to go pay a visit to the spa.

22-2

Admittedly, that’s kind of disturbing,

Unfortunately, Batman is too late to help Alfred and Maggie. Upon return, the two were shown what really happens at the spa. All of the guests have been turned into trees! Yes, trees. Admittedly, it’s pretty silly to read about, but the episode kind of pulls it off by showing all of the individuals with frozen expressions of horror on their faces. Alfred and Maggie fall victim to the same fate thanks to Poison Ivy and her two lovely assistants Lily (Julie Brown) and Violet (Lynne Marie Stewart). When Batman arrives, he sees the grisly sight and Ivy tries to do the same to him. Too bad for her he coated his cape in a herbicidal antidote – hah! I got a real 60s vibe out that one. With her spray stuff rendered toothless, Ivy doesn’t have much else to choose to do except run. She tries to use the cover of the nearby forest to ambush Batman, and even makes use of that nifty little wrist-mounted crossbow she has, but it’s to no avail. Batman gets his girl, and he also reverse engineers a cure for all of the folks turned to wood.

Alfred and Maggie are forced to spend some time in the hospital after their ordeal. A few plant puns are made as Maggie sits beside Alfred’s bedside. We end the episode on a bit of a joke, as Maggie remarks Bruce isn’t too bright when he attempts to cheer them up with a plant – which is met with revulsion. This episode is quite fine. There’s a bit of a horror element to Ivy’s scheme which helps inject some danger into the proceedings. A lot of the episode rests on the chemistry of Alfred and Maggie, which is surprisingly amusing. Too bad for Maggie this is her lone appearance in the show. Batman kind of takes a back seat to things, as he really often does, but he doesn’t come away looking omnipotent or anything, though he is a pretty impressive chemist. The episode has a some-what understated look, but it animates well. Ivy is especially impressive bounding through the forest during her attack on Batman.

hqdefault-34

I always liked it when Poison Ivy actually fired that weapon, so often it’s just treated like a decorative piece.

For Poison Ivy, this is her second appearance on the show as a featured villain. She had a cameo in one of the Scarecrow episodes, but this kind of establishes what to expect from future repeat villains. For The Scarecrow, we’ve been shown that he’s escaped Arkham to reek havoc on Gotham, and for The Joker we’re usually given no explanation for how he’s out and about once again. For Poison Ivy, she’s given The Joker treatment, so if we thought he was just a special case that’s shown to be not exactly true. Most villains are just going to come and go on this show with little explanation for how they got back on the streets. While it’s nice to have that information provided, I can totally understand the writers and directors not wanting to devote time for some prison breakout every time they want to re-use a villain. Perhaps it’s lazy, but for a show that only has about 22 minutes to work with it’s hard to argue that it doesn’t make sense.


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