Episode title: Ascension
Original air date: May 28, 1999
So after a great first season it comes as something of a let-down that this first season finale ultimately falls so flat. More so when it sets with so many grand ideas to not only wrap up several major plot lines, but also setup the second season all with mixed results to say the least.
Throughout the first season Derek Powers has effectively played the puppet master behind several criminal schemes, while being responsible for the introduction of both “Inque” and “Shriek” all while trying to disguise the fact that he is the luminous radioactive supervillain “Blight”. Now faced with his powers only growing stronger at the cost of his fake skin barely lasting and an increased temper, Powers looks to his son Paxton to take over his position on the Wayne-Powers board by becoming acting chairman.
Throughout the first season Powers / Blight has frequently run things from behind the scenes with “Meltdown” being his only real moment of action, so Terry finding out that Powers was also Blight has really been a long time coming. However seeing how this episode also marks his final appearance it would also appear that the show runners never really knew how to use his character and instead opted to write him out instead. This more so seems to be highlighted with the introduction of Paxton, who is essentially the same character as his father only with a more ruthless edge as it is slowly revealed over the course of the episode.
With Powers secret now being fully revealed, Terry has to deal with the knowledge that he created Blight in much the same way that Bruce did with “The Joker”. A situation which Terry shows little remorse for, much to the dismay of Bruce in a scene which sadly is under played and comes off as an afterthought when the subject is never brought up again. It’s a great scene and one which could have further highlighted the differences between Terry and Bruce, let alone how he has become more hardened to the world around him, the more time he spends as the Batman. To a lesser extent the relationship between Powers and his assistant Miss Winston is underplayed more so when Powers death leads her to become “Vendetta” who would sadly only appear in the comics.
My main issue with the episode though is with the pacing which after a spirited opening warehouse fight it soon loses any kind of momentum and instead plods along with Paxton using the Bat signal (which also makes its final appearance) to ask for Terry’s help in finding his father who after publicly revealing himself as Blight after suffering a meltdown during a board meeting goes into hiding. I have to question though how hard it is to find a luminous skeleton?
Blight had the potential of being a great main villain especially now he was free of the burden of having to pull a double act, but sadly it was not to be. Though compared to his previous appearances Blight largely comes off clumsy and hot headed here and much more of a lesser villain than the big evil he’d originally been introduced as.This being said we do get to see a strange moment of vulnerability when Terry finds him hiding out in a submarine which you can see in the video below. Never has someone eating a sandwich seemed so depressing.
Considering that this was the season finale it seems kind of a let down, especially when this first season has featured so many great moments throughout, while any development with the characters really was squandered here and while the episode could have been used for a big reveal, it seems that instead to have been used almost as a reboot for the series and a way for the show runners to cut out all the niggling bits which they felt weren’t working in one go.