Today in our Summer TV Binge, we’re covering Batman: The Animated Series’ “Nothing To Fear,” which introduces the Scarecrow to the animated world of Gotham. Hopefully we can scare up Five Thoughts that will make you go batty.
The character of Bruce Wayne/Batman receives more characterization in this episode than some of his feature films. We learn about what he fears and thusly what motivates him. This gives way to a couple of great scenes where we get to see a Batman who is vulnerable, which helps us as an audience relate to him as a character. Batman is great, not because he can’t be defeated, but because he can be defeated yet he gets back up and keeps fighting anyways.
This is also the first episode of the episode to put the duality of Bruce Wayne and Batman to use as our episode’s villain, Scarecrow, is not the only one bringing out Bruce Wayne/Batman’s fears. Dr. Long causes Bruce to inwardly question the legacy he’s leaving in his father’s name throughout the episode. This then translates to visions that outwardly show Thomas Wayne being disappointed in his son as Batman is exposed to Scarecrow’s fear toxin.
2. The Frightful Foe
It’s nice to see a Batman who doesn’t just beat up a mentally disabled man in the name of justice. As we’ve moved towards the present day, depictions of Scarecrow have trended continually more towards the depiction of a man who is addicted to fear, which is something that should be professionally treated, yet Batman continually just beats him up and locks him away in Arkahm.
This is why a Scarecrow who is a completely sane person and a bad person is so refreshing. He has a clear motivation, that if you read into the episode a little bit can be juxtaposed with Batman’s own motivation as a way to justify why his father shouldn’t be or isn’t disappointed in him. He’s also a character who it isn’t hard to hate in this episode. At one point we’re shown his backstory and we’re shown the fact that he likes to torture people. He’s a bad dude and Batman has every reason to beat him up.
3. Resisting Arrest
One thing that’s kind of weird is the fact that Harvey Bullock is generally made out to be the bad guy even though he’s genuinely trying to follow the law. This is the second episode to feature the character serving in that role as well. Harvey’s right when he says Batman is withholding evidence, and even if he doesn’t approach the situation with the most tact, there is merit to the argument he makes. I believe the story itself would be more well rounded if they let Bullock’s point of view hold more weight.
The ending to this episode is excellent. It’s ironic and further develops the themes of the story as well as Scarecrow himself. The roles that had been established throughout the episode of Scarecrow being the tormenter and Batman being the tormented are flipped on their head and in a twist we see that the person who had been making Batman afraid this whole time was actually afraid of him. This role reversal is actually established with a famous line from the show.
When Batman says “I am Vengeance. I am the night. I am Batman.” it is a direct call back to Scarecrow’s earlier line “I am fear incarnate. I am the terror of Gotham. I am the Scarecrow.” In each instance the lines usher their speaker into the role of the tormenter. Then to finish out the episode we get to see Scarecrow’s true fear in a scene that’s recreated in Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins in which Scarecrow pictures Batman as a gargoyle style monster.
5. Richard Moll
Richard Moll plays at least four roles in this episode. Each of which sounds entirely different and you would never have known this if I wouldn’t have told you or if you wouldn’t have looked at the cast list like I did. This is really a testament to the versatility of voice actors and the depth of their craft. I just wanted to take this thought to recognize an exceptional voice actor, and voice acting in general as being exceptional.