Batman: The Animated Series – Season 1, 60, 61 – The Demon’s Quest – The Arrival of Ra’s al Ghul

Demons_Quest_Title

 

“The Demon’s Quest,” is a strange two parter to review. I say this because there are some interesting ideas it poses but also a lot of missed opportunities for both the heroes and the villains.

The premise is that Robin has been kidnapped (as well as Talia) so Ra’s goes to the Batcave to enlist Batman to rescue them. Over the course of the story we come to know this as a plot for Ra’s to make Batman his heir. The story unfolds around this and later Ra’s final plan in the second part.

Here is the assessment of the episode:

Pros: The Tests – The tests Ra’s has Batman do are actually kind of cool. From fighting a Panther in a fight, to discovering where a person is based off a single bit of data. Seeing Batman solve these while sticking to his code is actually quite awesome.

Ra’s al Ghul – This isn’t my favorite Ra’s. That Ra’s is stolen the Ra’s al Ghul of the Nolanverse since even when he loses he wins…his destruction of Gotham lead to Joker and Bane who destroyed Gotham in their own ways…and he still causes fear in Bruce Wayne. This Ra’s Al Ghul is just a giant eco-terrorist who may have grand schemes…but never wins. Poison Ivy at least wins some of her battles. The same cannot be said of Ra’. Plus he is overlooking a completely good heir in his daughter Talia, the only reason she isn’t his heir is because she isn’t a man. Basically sexism cheats him of carrying on his own legacy through another.

Batman – Batman is great in this episode. He protects those who are trying to kill him and manages to stop Ra’s by destroying the satellite when he doesn’t rise to Ra’s challenge for a one on one fight to the death. He even tries to save Ra’s after everything and clearly has feeling still for Talia.

Talia al Ghul – I wish she’d call out her father more. She is against his means but we never see that. She is just a pawn except when it comes to protecting Batman. I’m still putting her as a pro because she is a compelling character.

Okay: Ubu – Is a great dragon for Ra’s al Ghul (he nearly wins all his fights and is a challenge). I do wish Talia had played this role though, it would have added more conflict and making her turn against her Father’s plans more explicit and actually happen beyond affection for Batman.

Robin – Appears in this episode as someone to save and not much else. He isn’t really a pro or a con.

Cons: Orientalism – This term applies to this episode greatly. From most of Ra’s men looking Arabic and none of them being good (since calling Talia “good” would be a stretch), their is this fear of the east. This is represented best by Ubu who is constantly calling Batman infidel and doing stupid Machismo actions just so that Ra’s can have his ego stroked. The one counter to this is The Society of Shadows is International…it is just at the end that most of the men are Arabic.

I would recommend this episode even barring this major con. Just keep it mind while watching it. Ra’s is not as strong as he could be…he never wins the way other of Batman’s rogues do…and Talia does need to be fleshed out more. It is a fun adventure though along the lines of the good Indiana Jones movies and it is great to see Batman solve puzzles and take out a rather large elaborate plan.

Final score is 8 / 10.

 

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