Episode Title: “Trials of the Demon!”
Original Air Date: March 20, 2009
So I guess they’ve explored most every other type of story already in the first season of the show, so naturally the next step is a Sherlock Holmes story. I’ve got to admit that I didn’t see that coming, but I am a fan of Holmes, so maybe I’ll like this story. Then again, maybe I won’t.
The teaser takes place on Halloween night, with Scarecrow and Scream queen planning to unleash fear toxin laden pumpkins on Gotham that will throw the city into chaos when candles heat up Jack’o’lanterns and cause the pumpkins to release the toxin. Sounds legitimate to me. Jay Garrick, the Golden Age Flash, is tasked with zipping around town and swiping all the pumpkins from the kids before they can light them up. Catastrophe is averted, but Garrick ends up looking like a louse to the city’s children.
In the story proper we begin in Victorian England where a mysterious man in a coach is sucking the life out of random Londoners with a supernatural relic. The people of London assume that the culprit is Jason Blood, because he’s weird and part demon (Etrigan). Sherlock Holmes believes Blood to be innocent, and uses a book of magic that he found in Blood’s possession to summon help in clearing Blood of the accusations. In present Day Batman is stopping Crazy Quilt from committing some sort of crime when he disappears and it quickly becomes clear that Bats is who was summoned by Sherlock’s dabbling into the dark arts. Batman and Sherlock have a brief exchange where each demonstrates his detective skills, then Batman goes to rescue Blood from a public execution by an angry mob. In the resulting melee the Dark Knight’s costume is badly damaged, and Etrigan uses his demon magic to give Batman a sweet new Victorian era costume. The group quickly deduce that James Craddock (the would be Gentleman Ghost) is stealing souls to trade to the demon Astaroth in exchange for immortality. A confrontation with Craddock leads to Etrigan, Batman and Craddock traveling to the underworld where they all encounter Astaroth. Etrigan and Batman battle the demon ruler, but not before Craddock completes his transaction. When the trio of Earth dwellers return to the realm of man, Craddock stands trial for his crimes and is executed off screen. As Batman returns to present day, he compliments Sherlock Holmes by saying that Holmes is the greatest detective in the world, while a scene at the cemetery reveals Craddocks spirit ascending from his grave as the Gentleman Ghost.
I like Sherlock Holmes a lot, and there is an ample amount of work to draw on in order to write the character well, but the primary writer for this episode (Todd Casey) didn’t seem to put much effort into getting it right. Holmes does not come off as the world’s greatest detective in this entry, in fact he barely comes off as a detective at all. Sherlock has a very distinct, and easy to reproduce, style of deductive reasoning that was nearly completely ignored. Additionally, Holmes did not seem to have the role of Batman collaborator that he deserved, that distinction went to Jason Blood. I did feel that Etrigan was better written in this episode than in his prior appearance, using his rhyme speak to greater effect than previously, but I still feel disappointed in the portrayal of a great Kirby creation as I did before. And then there’s Crazy Quilt. How do introduce a completely insane character like that, with whom so much fun could be had, and relegate him to little more than a cameo appearance. This episode just missed the target so many times that it had me shaking my head. Overall, I would consider this adventure little more than a full house of missed opportunities.
Featured Characters: Jay Garrick (Fox & Lamppert, 1940), Scarecrow (Kane & Finger, 1941), Scream Queen (John Byrne, 1987), Crazy Quilt (Jack Kirby, 1946), Etrigan (Jack Kirby, 1972), Jim Craddock (Kanigher & Kubert, 1947)