Batman: The Animated Series – “Lock-Up”

Lock-Up-Title_CardEpisode Number:  82

Original Air Date:  November 19, 1994

Directed by:  Dan Riba

Written by:  Paul Dini, Marty Isenberg, Robert N. Skir

First Appearance(s):  Lock-Up

Even with four episodes left, there’s still room for new villains. And in today’s episode, that new villain is Lock-Up, a villain made for the series and not taken from the comic book world. Lock-Up is essentially an extreme take on Batman, a fellow vigilante who doesn’t just stop at taking the law into his own hands, but also the punishment. He thinks Gotham is full of enablers, be it the police, media, the doctors at Arkham Asylum, and even Batman himself. And in true nut-job fashion, only Lock-Up has the answers.

scared scarecrow

Who scared The Scarecrow?

Curiously, this episode begins in almost exactly the same situation as the previous one. Batman and Robin are, once again, returning The Scarecrow (Henry Polic II) to Arkham. He’s apparently quite good at escaping, but not at avoiding capture. The difference this time is that Scarecrow is not arrogantly defiant, but rather terrified at returning to Arkham. He’s afraid of someone, and for the self-declared Master of Fear to feel terror is pretty significant. There to greet him is apparently the one he fears:  Lyle Bolton (Bruce Weitz). He thanks Batman for his assistance, and assures him that Professor Crane won’t be an issue going forward now that he’s in charge. Batman seems to regard Bolton suspiciously, before taking his leave. As he and Robin leave, Robin acknowledges that Bolton is creepy, but he’s impressed with his dedication. Batman isn’t as complimentative and seems to think Bolton’s methods may be going too far.

enter bolton

Lyle Bolton knows how to make an entrance.

Some time later, a hearing is convened. Bruce Wayne is apparently responsible for it as he’s seated off to the side with Commissioner Gordon and Mayor Hill (Lloyd Bochner). Wayne explains that it was his company that created the position that Bolton is in and recommended him for the job and he wants to make sure everything is going smooth. Dr. Bartholomew (Richard Dysart) overhears this hearing and Harley Quinn (Arleen Sorkin) is brought in to offer testimony about Bolton’s methods. She takes one look at him and quickly says she has no problems, obviously intimidated by Bolton’s presence. Other inmates are given a chance to testify, including The Ventriloquist (George Dzundza) who has a handy new Scarface puppet, and Scarecrow. The Ventriloquist is the only one who appears ready to say something, but Scarface shuts him up. Even Scarecrow refuses to say anything bad about Bolton. Bolton, for his part, is cooperative and appears receptive to criticism, but since none is offered, Wayne has little choice but to declare he’s satisfied with the results of the hearing and proposes extending Bolton’s contract by another 18 months.

scarface lockup

Some familiar faces are asked to provide testimony for or against Bolton.

That declaration gets the inmates talking. Harley is the first to crack and others follow suit. They claim mistreatment at the hands of Bolton, who punishes them sometimes for no reason. The likely PG nature of the show prevents them from really going into graphic detail, but the accusations cause Bolton to lose his cool. He declares they’re all scum, and suggests they should be beaten to death. Dr. Bartholomew has seen and heard enough and fires Bolton on the spot. He responds by placing the blame for Gotham’s ills on all of the enablers in his presence:  the soft-hearted police, pandering doctors, and gutless bureaucrats, as he refers to them. He vows revenge on all as he’s dragged out of the room. We then cut to what appears to be Bolton’s home as he watches coverage of himself on the news which is delivered by Gotham’s favorite reporter, Summer Gleeson (Mari Devon). He then adds the liberal media to his list of enemies, completing his transformation into the drunk uncle at every family gathering.

bolton vs liberal media

Lyle Bolton owning the libs by smashing his own TV.

Six months pass and Bruce Wayne and Summer Gleeson are concluding a dinner together. Summer thanks Bruce for the meal and seems a bit flirtatious as Bruce walks her out. Before he can capitalize, a man with the restaurant steps outside to tell Bruce he has a phone call. He departs while Summer gets into her car, only she finds out it won’t start. She’s locked in, and an armored truck pulls up behind her and begins abducting her, car and all. A large man in a costume of black and blue with steel and chain accents emerges, and it’s clearly Bolton.

batman meets lockup

Batman meets his newest foe:  Lock-Up.

Bruce sees what’s going and tries to race outside to Summer’s aid. Bolton fires some locking mechanism which prevents Bruce from operating the revolving door. He then gets a bit Get Smart and opens up his briefcase and activates a smoke bomb. As the area fills with smoke, Bruce pulls out his Batman costume and changes quicker than Clark Kent. He busts through the door (seems like it would still be pretty easy to figure out what happened there, smoke or not) and confronts Bolton, who is now calling himself Lock-Up. He’s at first happy to see Batman and tells him that he can catch the bad guys, and he’ll do the rest. Batman is not amenable to this arrangement and the two are forced to fight. Lock-Up actually gets the better of Batman, and when a police squad car comes onto the scene Lock-Up tosses his baton at it causing it to crash. When Batman checks on the nameless cop and Bullock (Robert Costanzo) in the car, Lock-Up takes off with Gleeson. Bullock, to no one’s surprise, is not amused to find another “freak in a Halloween costume” has shown up in Gotham while Batman retrieves the lock Bolton had shot onto the revolving door.

At the Bat Cave, Batman is checking out the lock and identifies it as a device created by Bolton. Apparently Lock-Up isn’t just a clever name as he’s also quite good with locks. Robin makes a joke about Bruce’s company yet again creating a super villain which Batman doesn’t seem to find amusing. He turns to his computer, old reliable, to retrieve Bolton’s last known address and instructs Robin to check it out.

Robin scopes out Bolton’s apartment, while Batman heads to Arkham. There he finds the security guard bound and gagged at his desk. Rather than free him, Batman books it down the hall to Dr. Bartholomew’s office. He finds it empty, but spots the Bat-Signal in the Gotham sky. He heads over to the police HQ, but is surprised to find it was Bullock who turned on the signal. He’s also been handcuffed to the building, and informs Batman that Lock-Up kidnapped the commissioner. Batman removes the cuffs and tells Bullock he has a pretty good idea of where Lock-Up will strike next.

Bullock is then shown in the home of Mayor Hill with some other cops. Hill thinks the security measures taken by his usual guards is sufficient, but Batman and Robin sneak in to prove he’s mistaken. They warn the mayor about Lock-Up, but before the conversation can move along gas fills the room, and soon the mayor is gone too. When Batman and Robin head for the Batmobile, they find a boot has been placed on it. It’s a wonder other villains haven’t thought of the same. It’s not a total loss though, as Lock-Up left behind a cargo locker and the serial number on it contains an important clue about his hideout.

The clue leads Batman and Robin to a decommissioned naval vessel off the coast of Stonegate Penitentiary. Sometime ago, Stonegate was remodeled and the ship was used as a temporary holding place for inmates and Bolton was the chief of security during that time. Batman and Robin infiltrate the ship, and Bolton sees them on his various monitors. He sicks traps upon them, but Batman is able to reach him while Robin is able to get to Bolton’s computer and deactivate the security measures

lockup gets batman

Lock-Up proves to be more than a match for Batman.

Bolton and Batman engage in some fisticuffs, while the ship becomes unmoored and sails right into some rocks. The hull is breeched as a result and water starts pouring in, which proves to be quite a problem for the captives locked up below deck. Robin is forced to go after them and undo their restraints while the water level rises. Up on deck, Batman and Lock-Up battle as the rain begins to fall. Once again, Lock-Up is proving to be a pretty fair match-up for Batman, and as the ship teeters Batman is knocked from the deck. It’s a long way down, but Batman manages to land on a rudder. As he gathers himself, Lock-Up drops down on-top of him. As the rudder tilts towards the whirling propellers, Batman throws mud in Lock-Up’s face to gain the upper hand. They both tumble off the rudder and disappear into the rocky waters below as Robin and the others emerge just in time to see the two fall. They stare down at the dark waters until a grappling hook comes rocketing out. Batman emerges, with an unconscious Lock-Up in-hand.

Bolton is then seen being paraded through Arkham. Apparently he’s been declared insane, and the other inmates are hooting and hollering to see him. They seem delighted, especially Scarecrow, at this turn of events, but so does Bolton. As he’s placed in his cell he sports a smile. In what feels like a nod to Rorschach from Watchmen, Bolton declares he’s not locked up with them, they’re locked up with him!

lock-up defeated

The unsatisfying conclusion to the big fight.

“Lock-Up” is a bit of an easy write for such a show. It takes the Batman premise, and just ups the intensity. Batman walks a fine line between justice and outlaw vigilante, and it’s not hard to imagine someone in his position taking things further. This sort of makes Lock-Up like Casey Jones from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It’s a simple premise, but the character of Lyle Bolton is presented well-enough that the episode turns out entertaining. He’s ruthless, and it’s nice to see someone who can actually go toe-to-toe with Batman in a fight. Though, it’s disappointing to see how that final confrontation is resolved essentially offscreen with both characters underwater. It’s not a satisfying conclusion, but maybe things were pressed for time.

bolton locked up

In the end, Lock-Up ends up locked up. Oh, the irony!

This episode is another solid effort from Dong Yang. It’s animated well, and night scenes in the rain are also fun to look at. Bullock has this weird curl thing going on with his ears that I never noticed before, but otherwise things look rather tidy. The visual trick of Bruce covering up his transformation into Batman with the gas briefcase is more clever than effective. It’s the type of thing that probably looked good on a storyboard or in print, but in the episode itself it’s rather ridiculous. A puff of smoke goes up around Wayne and only Batman emerges? Come on!

Like a few other characters from this show, Lock-Up would make the jump to the comics. There he hasn’t had the same impact as Harley Quinn or Renee Montoya, but it’s still another feather in the cap of Paul Dini and the show. As a villain, he’s fine and this serves as a pretty entertaining filler episode. Perhaps it’s a bit disappointing to see him featured instead of having a proper Scarecrow or Penguin episode in season two, but at least it’s a solid episode so it isn’t as if those characters were ignored for a bad one. This is also his only appearance in this series and the sequel series, so hopefully you didn’t like Lock-Up too much.  Not surprisingly, this is also the final appearance for Harley, Scarecrow, The Ventriloquist and Scarface. All three will return in the next series, though this is the last performance for Henry Polic II as Scarecrow. He’ll receive a drastic redesign in the new series which also included a new voice. It will be interesting to revisit that episode when the time comes as I really enjoy Polic’s work, but also really like the new Scarecrow’s look. Regardless of how the new Scarecrow is received, Polic’s contribution to the series should not go unnoticed. He will be missed.

 

 

 


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