Episode title: Splicers
Original air date: September 18, 1999
After the surprise success of the first season, it was unsurprising that the showrunners would be given twice the episode allotment for the second season which runs for a whopping 27 episodes compared to the paltry 13 of the first season.
This debut episode starts by introducing a new element to the “Batman Beyond” world as here we get our first introduction to splicers, who are average citizens who choose to splice their DNA with animal DNA in the name of fashion and to give them certain characteristics such as leopard spots or cat eyes. Of course like any fashion style there are those who choose to take it further than most with the results seeing them turning themselves into humanoid versions of their chosen animals. Bruce meanwhile is suspicious of this new trend and more so of the shady Dr. Abel Cuvier who runs the Chimera Institute which is spearheading this latest trend.
For those up to speed on their Batman history will understand Bruce’s reason to be suspicious at the mention of gene splicing having had his own brush with these kinds of experiments with the “Man-Bat” in the episode “On Leather Wings” back in the original animated series. Of course like all of Bruce’s suspicions it soon turns out that things aren’t quite what they seem at the Chimera Institute with Curvier looking to take out D.A Sam Young who is trying to outlaw the practice of splicing believing that causes an increase in aggressive behaviour. True it would have been great to have Bruce we wrong with his hunches, but when you look at how obvious a villain Curvier is, especially with his Vincent Price styling even someone who isn’t a master detective would assume something was up with him.
The splicers make for a great foe to open the season with, especially when they come with so much unlimited potential, with this episode seeing Terry battling foes that have combined themselves with the DNA of a ram, cobra and tiger respectively, with the ram splicer “Ramrod” being voiced by Ice T in what I would like to say is one of his more random roles but it really isn’t. Even Terry isn’t free of being spliced himself as he finds himself being turned literally into a Batman. The centrepiece of these splicing antics however comes at the finale with Curvier turning himself into an actual chimera before soon warping into something a lot more twisted and which left me wondering where he line is actually drawn when it comes to censoring children’s cartoons as the final form Curvier takes was a lot more shocking than I would have expected to have seen on a mainstream show and more the sort of thing you’d expect from 90’s anime.
It would seem in the time which has passed between seasons that Bruce has come to trust in Terry’s abilities as the Batman a lot more, even going as far as stating that the splicer situation is one that they would need to clean up, seemingly indicating that Bruce has now settled in his position as advisor. Equally the episode see’s the first appearance of “Max” a fellow student at Terry’s school who is worth keeping an eye on, especially as she soon becomes another important character in the Batman universe as will become clearer later in the season. Sadly this episode marks the last appearance of the splicers, even though their presence is still felt throughout the show as they turn up in supporting roles, it would sadly not be in a central role but they make for a great season opener.
Next Episode: Earth Mover