Batman: The Animated Series – “Time Out of Joint”

Time_Out_of_Joint_Title_CardEpisode Number:  73

Original Air Date:  October 8, 1994

Directed by:  Dan Riba

Written by:  Alan Burnett, Steve Perry

First Appearance(s):  None

No one’s favorite villain, The Clock King (Alan Rachins) is back once again to resume his quest for vengeance against Mayor Hamilton Hill (Lloyd Bochner) who had the audacity to make him late long ago. The Clock King, real name Temple Fugate, hasn’t been heard from in quite some time. He was thought dead after his first appearance, but Batman had a premonition he’d return like so many others. When last we saw him, Fugate was little more than a man of extreme punctuality which was his only defense against Batman. It was quite the mismatch though Batman has a way of scaling down to his adversaries to make things seem more equitable. This time, Fugate has wisely shown up armed with a new device that can manipulate time. It’s pretty fantastic and makes for some fun visual flair though it does open up some plot holes here and there. The creative staff, perhaps wisely, chose to ignore the questions such a device raises and just try to have fun with it. In other words, shut your brain off for this one.

The episode opens with Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson attending a charity auction. Dick is acting like a child and is bored out of his skull while Bruce reminds him they’re doing this for a good cause. An antique clock goes up for sale and that attracts the attention of The Clock King. He comes strolling in but soon starts blinking in and out and moving at an impossible speed. He befuddles anyone he comes across and startles one woman (Tress MacNeille) while inquiring with her if the Louis XVI clock went on the block yet. When she tells him it did, he blinks out of sight.

happy clock king

Back in black.

In the galley, Bruce places a sizable bid on the clock while Dick remarks he wouldn’t even use it for a doorstop (he really has become spoiled). Dick then catches a glimpse of The Clock King as he vanishes and reappears all over the room. He alerts Bruce (apparently Dick read up on him in the Batcave because he’s never tangled with The Clock King) and as the auction ends the clock disappears. In an alley outside, The Clock King looks over his new prize. Remarking he has one already, he tosses it on top of a pile of trash which at least should reduce his crime from theft to something more along the lines of criminal mischief.

At Commissioner Gordon’s office, Batman and Robin replay security footage of the clock theft. They’re able to make out a hand reaching for the clock as it vanishes when slowing the tape down. Given what Dick saw just before the theft, Batman believes it’s the work of Fugate and advises Gordon to warn Fugate’s old nemesis, the mayor.

wakati and harold

Dr. Wakati and “Harold”

At a rather lavish looking mansion, an old scientist by the name of Wakati (Roscoe Lee Browne) is working on an experiment. He’s created a small, infinity shaped, device that can slow or advance time. His butler Harold strolls in with his breakfast, right on time, and we see it’s Fugate. Wakati apparently doesn’t know him by his real name and likely is ignorant of Fugate’s criminal past. Fugate marvels at the device while Wakati tells him about all of the wonderful things it could accomplish for mankind like speeding up the deterioration of radioactive material or placing terminal patients into a stasis until a cure is found for what ails them. Fugate rather aggressively snatches a device to take a closer look, but Wakati does not object to the intrusion as he turns to his breakfast. Fugate pockets the device, and leaves while making bad time puns.

Mayor Hill is shown on the phone at his residence. Whomever he’s speaking with is being told how little Hill fears Fugate thanks to his beefed up security. Batman and Robin are lurking on the roof keeping an eye out expecting Fugate’s arrival at any moment. And lo and behold he does show up, but with the time device he “freezes” everything around him and simply strolls in. We’re shown that time isn’t actually frozen when he passes by a small fan which is spinning ever so slowly. Realizing he can’t use the elevator, he’s forced to take the stairs and makes a remark as he passes by a woman who’s about to take a rather bad fall. When he arrives at Hill’s office he knocks several times, and to Robin this sounds like machine-gun fire over his ear piece.

fugate vs the cops

With the ability to freeze time the Gotham police force is somehow even less effective than before.

Fugate strolls into Hill’s office, who is quite surprised to see he slipped past security. Fugate begins taunting him, and when Hill reaches for some alarm device Fugate uses his time-slip powers to snatch it away. Hill races for the window, but Fugate intercepts him. As he bares down on Hill, Batman and Robin swing through the open window after activating a light trap which momentarily blinds Fugate. Batman tries casually walking up behind Fugate, but gets swatted away by Fugate’s clock hand cane. He uses a Tazmanian Devil-like spin move to avoid Robin, and then again when Batman lassos him. He uses the time device to tie up Batman before stumbling down the stairs. The woman he passed by earlier has now fallen, and Fugate doesn’t see her and trips over her knocking him out of his stasis field and partially breaking the device. Confronted by the woman, Fugate is forced to run as she wails on him for essentially being a jerk. The security guard offers no resistance, apparently not realizing what just happened in his boss’s office.

Outside, Fugate is surrounded by the police as his vision returns. He’s able to get the time device functioning once again and gives them the slip by swiping a police car, but not before he audibly notes the presence of the Batmobile. Upstairs, Robin frees Batman, but Fugate is long gone. Gordon assures the mayor that they’ll find him since all of their cruisers are equipped with a tracking device. Back at the mansion of Wakati, the old scientists is alarmed when he can’t find his trusty Harold, but Fugate soon returns. He’s angered to see Wakati snooping around his room, and Wakati is further startled to see his time device affixed to Fugate’s person. Fugate leans in threateningly as the scene fades out.

frozen batmobile

Robin doesn’t respond well to the possibility of being a part of an atomic explosion.

The police have found the car Fugate used to escape in a canal. Batman and Robin are there as well and Batman takes note of the nearby train tracks. He recalls Fugate’s knowledge of train schedules from their last encounter and discerns that he likely utilized a passing train to escape. The only train to come by in the last six hours would have been heading towards the mountains, and Batman knows the only thing out there is Wakati’s mansion. As the two head out, the camera pans to show us that Fugate planted a time device underneath the Batmobile. As Batman is driving, the device switches on putting the Batmobile into a stasis field. From inside, cars are flying past as streaks of light as the outside world moves in what appears like incredible time to Batman and Robin. Batman also notes that if a car should strike them it could trigger an atomic explosion. He’s soon able to locate the device, and by firing his grapple gun through the floor, it smashes and the field is ended. The Batmobile rockets out of stasis, but there’s literally no other cars in sight. Batman is able to fishtail the car into a light post to bring it to a stop.

Batman and Robin arrive at Wakati’s residence via motorcycle and find the doctor trapped in a stasis field. They deactivate it and have a little conversation about Wakati’s servant. Fugate’s little trap with the Batmobile resuled in Batman and Robin being tied up for 48 hours real-time, and Hill is set to dedicate a new courthouse momentarily. They figure out, based on another bad pun Fugate left with Wakati, that he plans to strike at Hill during the ceremony, but it starts in two minutes and Wakati has no phone to alert the police (though given what has already transpired, they should be expecting this anyway). Their only chance is to use Wakati’s device to reach the ceremony in time.

runaway bomb

A bit different from the more famous Batman bomb scene.

For Fugate, he’s had two Batman-free days to plan for this, so how did he spend those two days? He made a bomb, and apparently not much else. With time frozen around him, he’s able to walk to the podium Hill will be giving a speech from and plant the bomb on the underside of it. He then heads into the crowd to watch apparently secure in thinking that no one will notice his understated super villain attire. Meanwhile, Batman and Robin are streaking towards the city on their bikes, and Robin just has to make a crack about being faster than a speeding bullet. Thankfully for them, Fugate wants to savor the moment of Hill’s demise and is watching the events unfold in slow-motion. Hill lifts a rather large gavel to strike the podium in a ceremonial fashion, which apparently will trigger the bomb (even though it looks like a time bomb). Batman and Robin arrive just as Hill strikes it forcing Batman to attach another time device to the bomb itself and run for the bay. As Batman appears to run at a tremendous speed, the bomb is detonating at an impossibly slow rate. It looks like an expanding ball of light and Batman is able to heave it into the river.

From the podium, Hill and the crowd are startled by the explosion off in the distance as The Clock King attempts to escape. Given that Robin is there with his own time manipulating device, Fugate has no edge and is apprehended easily. Batman and Robin are then shown back at Wakati’s residence where the scientist has decided to keep his invention a secret concluding that mankind isn’t ready for it. Batman is a bit dismayed at the thought, while Robin just makes a joke about Fugate likely wishing he could speed up time where he’s going. We’re then shown Fugate being stuffed into a paddy-wagon. As it takes off, the camera pans to a clock tower which reads three o’clock, the same hand position that appears on Fugate’s Clock King glasses.

clock king undone

So long, Fugate.

“Time Out of Joint” returns a lame villain, but it at least reduces the villain’s lameness with a new toy. As I noted in the intro, you do need to shut your brain off a bit for this one. For one, how far does Fugate’s device reach? It creates a bubble, one can see from its smaller applications, but it must have an end? And the whole thing with the Batmobile, while neat, begs further questions. To the outside world, the Batmobile would have appeared frozen. And since they sat there for two days, one would think a crowd or something would have formed around it. Fugate also could have made sure, in those two days, that his trap indeed proved fatal, but apparently he opted not to. And since he failed at basically everything, The Clock King sure comes up looking rather foolish for not making better use of his technological advantage. He even stole that clock at the beginning of the episode for no reason, which ended up tipping off Batman that he was back in town. Really, he might be the dumbest villain thus far.

All that said, I do like this episode better than the prior one featuring The Clock King. It plays with a new toy, and I suppose no one is better suited for it, thematically anyway, than The Clock King. Though I do wonder what Joker would be like with this device, or maybe Riddler. No matter, this episode is fine and it’s also thankfully the last we’ll see of the old Clock King which feels like a cause for celebration.

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