Batman: The Animated Series

Episode 52- Mudslide
harkovast at 3:57PM, Jan. 27, 2010
(online)
posts: 5,198
joined: 10-12-2008
Plot Synopsis
Clayface returns, but is rapidly deteriorating. He gains help from a scientist and steals components to help restore himself.
Batman interrupts the procedure and Clayface dies while trying to destroy Batman.


Highlights


Villains
Clayface makes a welcome return to the series, and makes even more interesting (and grotesque) use of his powers then ever.
Ron Pearlman once again voices the character.
Clayface is cleverer in his application of his shape shifting, obviously having honed his skills. His condition is now deteriorating, however, and he is now far more liquid, leaving lumps of mud in his wake.
There is a nice progression of the character here. His motives are different now, but still logical and following on.
Previously he wanted revenge for his condition. Now he is deteriorating and is struggling to restore himself.
He isn’t just randomly committing crimes because now he’s evil, he still has clear and understandable motives to what he does.
Clayface also now appears sealed in a plastic suit to hold him together, giving him a great 1940’s sci fi look to him.

Clayface is assisted this time by Dr Stella Bates, who uses her medical and scientific knowledge to search for a cure for him.


Continuity Nod
Clayface progresses as a character here, but also lots of referances are left in to his past as an actor. He is not jus a random shape shifting bad guy, and the shows creators don’t lose sight of the characters motivations or back story.

Batcrap Crazy
Clayface has continued to become a monster psychologically. He gloats at normal humans as pathetic, clearly revelling in being more powerful then them. He laughs menacingly while advancing on a stricken Batman in their first encounter, and it is only a lack of time that causes him to not strike the killing blow.
During his final confrontation with Batman, he draws Batman into himself, attempting to smother his opponent to death. At this point we really see what a dreadful individual Hagen has become. Though initially attacking out of rage, he becomes quite methodical about what he is doing. He calmly states that he can feel Batman’s heart slowing and even laughs as he thinks Batman is finish. Clayface is now not only capable of killing, he obviously takes pleasure in it.

Dr Stella Bates is a really interesting character who brings a lot to the episode. She was a medical consultant on one of Hagen’s films (linking back to Clayface’s background as an actor) who is also an obsessive fan.
She is shown watching one of his old movies and tearing up as she watches it alone.
The movie features Hagen as a senator who falls in love with the woman who performs plastic surgery on him. Bates clearly sees herself in the role of this character, the woman who will heal Hagen and win his love. The fact she tears up while watching this film (which must have been out for quite some time so she will have watched it many times before) shows that she’s is taking these films rather too seriously! The excessive amount of emotional weight they carry for her points clearly to how obsessed she is.

Her relationship with Clayface is entirely unhealthy (and now just because he’s a mutant mud monster!)
When he sees her watching his old movies, Clayface becomes enraged, driving his fist through the screen. As Bates cowers in fear from his out burst, it is obvious that this is a very abusive relationship, and it is quite likely that the unstable Hagen has becomes violent towards her in the past. Certainly she must live in fear of this kinds of outbursts.
Hagen rants bitterly about his condition, showing that he is been consumed with self pity and anger.
He then realises he is upsetting her and apologises, repeating a line from the movie about “You didn’t just heal my body, you healed my heart.”
Is Clayface really sorry? Possibly, but his main motivation here is obviously to keep her friendly, as he desperately needs her help.
There is a parasitic quality to all Clayface’s relationships throughout the series.
His relationship with Eddie was much the same, where he used Eddie when he needed help and then turned on his aggressively.
We can surmise that Hagen was always a some what selfish individual, but has becomes more and more self obsessed as he becomes consumed with self pity.
Hagen is eternally the victim, and can now only see others as means to alleviate his problems.
The repeating of the line from the movie is, in its way, more sinister then punching the television. It shows that he is capable of being very manipulative when he has to be.
With Eddie he was confident that his old friend would stand by his regardless, but here he knows he has to play things more carefully (and far more is at stake in this relationship).
Bella, for her part, is basically living in a fantasy world, transposing characteristics and emotions onto Clayface that just aren’t there. She clearly thinks she can ‘reach him’ emotionally and recreate the scenes from the movies she loves. She is, however, in love with the dream of Hagen, and more specifically the characters he played. She is over looking and excusing Clayface’s behaviour in the hope that her help will win his love. Considering Hagen’s past history of womanising and the fact he didn’t get together with her until after he was mutated, one can’t help but suspect that if he was cured, he would be quick to discard her.
Stella is deluded but initially not actually evil. She crosses a moral event horizon, however, during the sequence where Clayface is smothering Batman.
She initially protests, but when Clayface tells her that killing Batman is the only way to get back Hagen, she lowers her head and accepts his decision. By doing this she has become accessory to murder. She may not have had any power to stop Clayface, but she no longer objects, agreeing to his point of view that killing is the only way forward now.
The sad fact for Stella is that she really did have the power to heal Clayface’s body, but she lacked the ability to heal his heart.
During the final confrontation with Batman, Clayface is so maddened and hateful that he pursues Batman out into the rain. His deteriorating body absorbs the rain and begins to come apart, eventually falling into the sea and dissolving to nothing. Hagen has become so twisted that he is willing to die to kill those he sees as his enemies. At this point, Clayface is beyond help.

This episode is considered controversial by some with regard to Batman’s conduct in the final encounter. Clayface is attempting to restore himself when Batman enters and interrupts the procedure, causing Clayface to become enraged and attack him. The two then fight outside where Clayface perishes.
Some have interpreted this as Batman deliberately deciding that Clayface no longer deserves to be returned to normal, or that Batman is responsible for Clayface’s death.
Earlier in the episode, Batman stated that he wanted to help Hagen, and there is nothing in the episode to suggest he has changed this view. Knowing Batman’s black and white moral views, he would not promise something like this unless he meant it.
To understand Batman’s actions and his moral responsibilities we need to remember the world of absolutes Batman inhabits.
Batman does not accept anyone breaking the law (ironically, he exempts himself from this rule.) To Batman, stealing is wrong, even if it is done for sympathetic reasons (such as Clayface trying to restore himself and save his life.)
Batman would gladly use his resources to help Hagen, but he cant let Hagen use stolen materials to do it.
Batman is not a monster, however, and if there was no other choice, then he might have reconsidered interrupting Hagen. He has, however, offered Hagen an obvious solution. If Clayface would simply accept Batman’s offer then he could he helped legally, so the thefts he is undertaking are unnecessary.
Of course, if he was to turn himself in to Batman, the caped crusader would undoubtedly also hold him responsible for his crimes, and this fear of being captured, combined with an arrogant and paranoid attitude has kept Hagen from accepting his offers. Also, Hagen considers Batman an enemy, so may well wrongly believe the offers of help are false.
After the procedure has been stopped, Clayface responds with psychotic rage, attempting to smother Batman and then chasing him outside into the rain.
So we see, it was not Batman’s intention to deny Hagen treatment, only to make him do it legally.
Also we can observe that Batman was not responsible for Hagen’s death. Clayface brought this on himself with his own murderous rage.
Even in the end though, Batman stays true to his principles, attempting to save Hagen, but there is nothing even he can do, as Hagen’s body breaks apart and falls into the sea.

BAT BLOOD!
No blood, but death features in this episode, as Clayface perishes during the final battle with Batman. This scene is really powerful, with the outline of Clayface coming to the surface briefly and then fading away.


Holy Shitty moments Batman!
The only thing I will say about this episode itself is a mention that Bates owned a motel.
This is a pretty cheesy reference!
The biggest problem with this episode is I know that they bring Clayface back and thus completely undermine the best bit of the episode! ARGH!

Summary
A great episode, with some clever detective work from Batman, as well as some dark elements and the death of a cool character.
As much as I like Clayface, it was great to see the character resolved so effectively. The character was always somewhat “over powered” compared to other villains, so I can see why they had him come to an end rather then repeatedly return.
This is another episode that ends on a sad note, reminding us that even Batman is not infallible.

Final Bat Score
5 out of 5

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last edited on July 18, 2011 10:17AM
EssayBee at 6:32PM, Feb. 9, 2010
(online)
posts: 154
joined: 11-10-2009
I agree–a great episode. I especially like your analysis of Batman's actions at the end. I remember being shocked at Clayface's “death” at the end of this episode. I assume the loss of the emotional impact of this “closure” is an issue you'll take up with “Growing Pains”?
last edited on July 18, 2011 10:17AM
harkovast at 6:36PM, Feb. 9, 2010
(online)
posts: 5,198
joined: 10-12-2008
*trembles with rage beore going in Shatner style over acting*

GROWING PAAAAAAAAAINNNNS!!

For more Harkovast related goings on, go to the Harkovast Forum
last edited on July 18, 2011 10:17AM
EssayBee at 8:54PM, Feb. 10, 2010
(online)
posts: 154
joined: 11-10-2009
harkovast
*trembles with rage beore going in Shatner style over acting*

GROWING PAAAAAAAAAINNNNS!!
Great. Now I have, “KHAAAN!” stuck in my head.
last edited on July 18, 2011 10:17AM

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