Batman: The Animated Series

Episode Five- Pretty Poison
harkovast at 1:06PM, Aug. 19, 2009
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Plot Synopsis
Harvey Dent is poisoned by his fiance, who turns out to be an insane super villian calling herself Poison Ivy.
Batman has to race to solve the mystery and defeat Poison Ivy and her killer plants before its too late.

Highlights

Villians

Poison Ivy is the main villain here, making her first appearance in the series.
She is also the first female villain to show up. The fact she is a woman is actually pretty important to the plot, as her plan is to seduce District Attorney Harvey Dent and then poison him using a special lethal lipstick made from the Wild Thorn Rose.
At the start of the episode we see Harvey, the mayor and Bruce Wayne breaking ground on a new prison that is about to be constructed in Gotham, 5 years ago.
It turns out that in the process of digging up the ground for the prison, they destroyed one of the last batches of the incredibly rare and endangered Wild Thorn Rose. The flower is also incredibly toxic, so Poison Ivy attempts to kill Harvey with a rather ironic fate. This is actually a pretty clever plan, since she has the last of the flowers in existence so there is no hope of anyone being able to create an anti-venom except her.

In keeping with the 1920's-30's look of the show, Poison Ivy is a classic femme fatale who uses her beauty and charm as well as her monster plants, cunning and fighting skills to achieve her aims. Her look is sexy, but it is an old fashioned sort of sexy. She has the look of a pin up you might see painted on the side of an American flying fortress in WW2. I really like this about her, it is a cool interpretation of the character that reinforces the setting.
Her seductive charms and skills at deception are certainly one of the most dangerous weapons in her arsenal!

Early in the episode, we see a prison break from Harvey's prison, 5 years later.
Harvey promised the prison would lead to a better, safer Gotham. These words are repeated across the bottom of the screen rather mockingly before a helicopter descends rescuing a criminal with a rather dodgey bowl hair cut and a crazed look.
We dont learn this criminals name or what he is locked up for, but I think we can assume he is a fairly powerful member of the criminal fraternity to be able to mount an escape using a freaking helicopter!
We then have a great juxtaposition between Batman attempting to bring the escapee and the helicopter pilot to justice, and Harvey and Pamella enjoying a meal in a restaurant.
This is a really great sequence, showing the public face of Bruce Wayne contrasted directly to his true identity as Batman and the fact that even his Bruce's closest friends have no idea about who and what he really is.


Batcrap Crazy!
Poison Ivy's real name is Pamella Isley. She works as a research chemist for a cosmetic company called Shay-Gerar, creating their latest hit fragrance, “Night Shade” (Everything in Gotham City has meaningful names!) She also has a PHD in Botany from from Gotham University and lectures on endangered plants.
Unfortunately, she may be brilliant, but she is insanely obsessed with plants, seemingly treating them as her children (this is addressed more directly in a later episode, House and Garden). Her rage is really that of a mother avenging her children, but weirdly misplaced onto inanimate plants. At one point she screams the rather telling line-
“The blood of those flowers in on his hands!”
Clearly, this is not a well mind!

While she will literally cry for the fate of plants, Poison Ivy is utterly callous about human life, actively laughing at Harvey Dent's fate. Certainly we don't get the impression it is a big step for this woman to resort to murder when she feels provoked.

Not only is she callous about killing people, she is callous about their emotions as well. She is very effective at seducing Harvey, crying very convincingly when she comes to visit him in Hospital (to make herself not appear a suspect and presumably to admire her own handy work, which as I've already mentioned, she considers very amusing.)
Especially nasty is that her chosen method to kill Batman when she him captured is to apply her deadly lipstick again and force him to kiss her. This is basically a sexual assault, making herself feel empowered over the helpless Batman! (Was this seriously always a children's cartoon?)
The feelings of other humans obviously serve no purpose for Pamela then to provide her amusement in their suffering as she doles out cruel and self righteous “justice” on those she thinks have transgressed.

We also see some trade mark Batman code against killing as he dives to push Poison Ivy out of the way of the flaming wreckage of the burning green house.
Now normally, Batman pays the price for his code in later episodes, but here it bites him in the arse almost IMMEDIATELY!
After he pushes her, he ends up hanging over a pit while she stands over him, and prepares to shoot him in the head with her crossbow! When I said Poison Ivy is callous, I wasn't kidding! This lady would shoot someone in the face after they saved her life only moments before!
Fortunately, Batman may be crazy, but one thing he isn't is dumb! He grabbed the Last Wild Thorn rose from her and holds is hostage in exchange for the poison antidote.
Poison Ivy, like all the best villains on Batman:TAS is undone by the very insanity that empowered her to be a villain, as she throws away the perfect chance to finish Batman in exchange for the safety of her flower!

Interestingly at the end of the episode she is locked in the very prison that destroyed her flowers. In future we see her lock in Arkham, so presumably she must have succeeded in an appeal later to convince the courts that she is insane (She must have had a crappy lawyer at the first trial to not get this! The last thing we see her do is talking to her rose, promising that she will grow again to take revenge! This woman has problems! Perhaps Dent took a personal involvement to make sure they went after her with everything they had when she got to court?)

Death Trap
Batman ends up bound by the tentacles of a giant mutant fly-trap, and given a lethal kiss which in a short time will put him in a coma and later kill him.
Yikes!
Fortunately he manages to get a knife free from his belt and slice his way out of the tentacles.
Ivy then attacks him with her crossbow, accidentally killing her own plant monster when Batman evades.
Batman ends up bringing down the flood lighting setting the whole green house a blaze.
Also the previously described sequence of Batman hanging over a pit with Poison Ivy standing over him was a pretty nasty death trap, but once again, Batman manages to out wit her.

Alfred is Awesome!

I just have to throw in a mention that Alfred is really cool! In this episode he offers help with the investigation and excellent restaurant reviews.

Bullock Bonus!
Bullock makes a couple of appearances, along with Montoya, being called to run out of the office when various crisis occur.
He also aggressively interrogates the restaurant staff as the police attempt to solve the case. Bullock is really cool getting in the suspects faces.
The Gotham PD lack the advanced bat-computer so don't realise the nature of the plant based poison and that it points to Poison Ivy.
It is probably lucky that they didn't though, since a load of police officers running into Ivy's trap filled layer would probably have been a blood bath!

Continuity Nod
I've been deliberately over looking the obvious elephant in the room here-
Harvey Dent.
Now all Batman fans will already know this, but Harvey Dent is destined to later become super villain Two-Face.
This is his second appearance in the series and this time not only is he the good guy, the entire plot revolves around Batman trying to SAVE him!
This is masterfully done. Harvey Dent does not just pop up suddenly as some guy we've never heard of in the episode in which he becomes Two-Face. He is established long in a advance as Bruce Waynes closest friend (though he is perhaps not as close to the real Bruce as he thinks, showing the lengths Batman will go to conceal his true nature.)
This is probably one of the best continuity nods of the series!

Holy Shitty Moments Batman!

Poison Ivy shows Batman the antidote when she has him captured which might be a bit cheesy, but I forgive this one since she would obviously want to own an antidote if she is going to work with such a deadly poison.
When the plant is traded for the antidote, Isley could probably have still got in an attack on Batman. But again, this is a minor point. I'll write it off that she was so emotional over her plant being returned to her that she let the chance slip. She is, after all, BONKERS!
These are both minor and explainable, but I thought it only fair to mention them, since they did occur to me as I was watching.

Summary
A good episode, with a cool villain, lots of tension and some really clever sequences. Also the appearance of Harvey Dent as a good guy and the victim is especially awesome and raises the final score.

Final Score
4 out of 5
(if it had been just a new character made up for the plot in danger, the episode would have earned a solid 3, but Harvey Dent appearing is just too cool to go unrewarded!)

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last edited on July 18, 2011 10:17AM
Wordweaver_three at 7:55AM, Aug. 20, 2009
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Actually, regarding the antidote. It makes absolutely zero sense for her to posses it. If you recall in a much later episode, the one where Harley and Ivy team up (what was that? Girls Night Out or something like that? It eludes me at the moment) the Joker attempts to poison Ivy with his boutonniere, after which Ivy explains that she is immune to poison. She's not specific, so apparently she is immune to all poison. So why would she go through the effort of making an antidote if it can't hurt her anyway? It's sorta like the villains lair with a big red button on a council that says “self-destruct”. Why are the bad-guys always helping the heros?
last edited on July 18, 2011 10:17AM
harkovast at 8:57AM, Aug. 20, 2009
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Wordweaver but wild thorn rose venom is “the most vilrilent strain of poison I've ever seen” according to one doctor in the episode.
So perhaps Poison Ivy doesn't want to take any chances?
Also, perhaps since this is the first episode she feautres in (and thus just starting out as an isane super villain) she may not but at the full level of freakish super immune system wierdness she reaches later.
That actually raises an interesting point.
Poison Ivy cant have had the super immune system at birth (it would surely have attacked her mother while she was still in the womb) and in differently ddrawn later episodes she has turned kind of a green colour.
It is possible that she is deliberately making herself more toxic and plant like over time through deliberate experiments.
The show never really specifies how she first became such a freak and a lunatic, so this is all speculation. However, Ivy is the sort of person who always has to have everything on her own terms so the idea that she would mess with her own body to try and improve it towards plant like perfection would make sense. She certainly would have the know how to pull something like that off.

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last edited on July 18, 2011 10:17AM
Wordweaver_three at 9:36AM, Aug. 20, 2009
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Yeah, she was more freakish later on, but if she had done experiments to make herself immune from this episode to the later ones, they sorta glossed that over. I can't recall them saying anything about it.

Actually, in the comic arena its more likely there was some sort of accident that made her like that. Of course making her insane in the process.

Wiki gives two different origins for her powers, both strikingly similar, but neither were touched on in BTAS.
last edited on July 18, 2011 10:17AM
harkovast at 11:26AM, Aug. 20, 2009
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Yes, I am purely speculating based on what I know.
And the comics do suggest she was transformed accidentally, but to me that doesn;t fit well with the version of her in the Animated Series. She doesn't seem like anything about her is accidental, she is very deliberate and very in control (until Batman shows up and wrecks things, obvious!)

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last edited on July 18, 2011 10:17AM
Phillby at 5:19PM, Sept. 30, 2009
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This was an okay episode. The most striking thing about it is that they let her keep her one-of-a-kind poison plant once she's commited. I hope they at least made up a big batch of the antidote!

If you're wondering I finaly got around to reading Harkovast earlier and when you mentioned a Batman TAS specific forum I just had to check it out. These write ups have been a wonderful read and I hope you get around to writing more.
last edited on July 18, 2011 10:17AM
harkovast at 5:51PM, Sept. 30, 2009
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My guess would be she had someone bring the plant in to her, claiming it was just a flower to go in her cell, or she could have even bribed or seduced one of the guards.
This second option seems pretty likely as I tend to assume all guards in Prisons and Asylums in Gotham are both incompetent and entirely corrupt (expect Lockup, obviously, he was great at his job…a bit too great!)

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last edited on July 18, 2011 10:17AM

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