Episode title: The Winning Edge
Original air date: April 10, 1999
Kind of a mixed bag this week as we get to find out the fate of another classic Batman villain as this episode sees the return of Bane while on the downside side it’s also another Hamilton Hill High School set episode. This week seeing Terry investigating the use of “Slappers” a skin patch containing the drug Venom which the school sports team are using to give them the titular winning edge.
Any Batman fan who knows of Bane (the traditional version not the Nolan version) will already be familiar with the Drug Venom which amplifies the user’s strength while having the downside of being highly addictive. Bane choose to inject the drug directly into his brain via his personalised delivery system which suited the original timeline so have the drug now being used via patches makes for a neat update while sidestepping the whole issue of needle use on kids TV.
The effect of venom on its user ensures that Terry has plenty of powerful foes to battle this week even in the absence of a super villain to foil. This being said the finale does see the effects of Venom being taken to a new extreme with Terry battling a grotesquely muscular opponent. At the same time the episode walks a pretty firm anti-drugs line showing how drug addiction can lead to a life of crime as the members of the school team resorting to burglary to fund their habit, while the episode also features scenes of withdrawal to really ram home the message if it wasn’t laid on thick enough as it was. On the plus side its fun to spot the fun nods to Bane’s Mexican wrestler costume that are dotted throughout the episode.
Needless to say Bane is a big draw for this episode, though some might find themselves more than a little disappointed to find that his appearance here is little more than a cameo. Still there is something kind of cool about seeing Bane as a wizened old man on a ventilator as the result of his long term addiction to Venom. At the same time this appearance does play an important part in explaining how Venom has been converted into its new form while the show gets to throw in another nod to the overall anti-drugs message of the episode.
While the anti-drugs theme of the episode overwhelms pretty much everything else, we do get to see more of how being Batman is affecting Terry. So far we have already seen it cost him his relationship with Dana in the previous episode, in this episode Terry now has to deal with not being able to stay awake due to his nocturnal activities with this lack of sleep also causing him to get sloppy as seen during his attempts to break up an illegal arms deal at the start of the episode. Its these touches which really help develop the show, while further establishing a gap between how Terry and Bruce handle the responsibility of being the Batman and only helps to distance Terry from being seen as essentially the high school version of Bruce, a version essentially get with “The Batman”.
Being a kid of the 80’s I grew up with cartoons like “GI. Joe” and “Captain Planet” which liked to preach moral messages at the end of each episode, so perhaps I was able to take the heavy handed theme of the episode a little better, while the link to Bane unquestionably helped even if it was a little frustrating that Bruce doesn’t even make more a reference to his history with Bane, especially when he single handily managed to retire Bruce in “Knightfall”. I guess I should be glad that the episode didn’t end with some preachy moral message, still until next time just remember kids winners don’t use drugs!
Next Episode: Spellbound