Episode title: Once Burned
Original air date: November 6, 1999
Until this point in the series it has been very much following a bad guy of the week format with the exception of the Jokerz who have had something of a promotion to main villain status, something they only continue to add to this week, while we get the first appearance this season of one of the mainstay villains “The Royal Flush Gang”. This of course is bad news for Terry in more than one way especially when he’s in similar situation with gang member Ten / Melanie as Bruce was with Selina Kyle / Catwoman.
This time the gang are largely absent bar Ten, a situation she explains as being down the Jokerz holding her family hostage and forcing her to steal the money from a high stakes poker game called “The Derby” held by several high level crime bosses. It’s during her first attempt to pull of this heist that the episode opens as it’s not long before she runs into Terry again, who is far from happy with this surprise reunion, especially after how thing ended between them at the end of “Dead Man’s Hand”.
While possibly the most gimmicky of the Batman Beyond villains, which is really saying something when you look at who makes up the rogue’s gallery. The Royal Flush gang are one of the stronger villains which might go some way to explaining why like “Inque” they returned so frequently. Still here we finally get to focus on the complex relationship between Melanie and Terry without the distraction of her family. True this ongoing plotline is essentially a reworking (like so many elements of the series) of the Batman / Catwoman situation, but despite this somehow it still manages to work.
Throughout the episode the trust issues between Terry and Melanie are frequently tested especially with Terry unable to tell if she is selling him another ruse or if her family are truly in trouble or not. Despite these issues of trust, Terry clearly is unable to leave someone who needs his help regardless of what side of the law they stand it would seem. As a result of this the episode truly has one of the great standout moments of the series as the duo attempt to sneak into the Jokerz hideout were her family are supposed to be held. Until this point it’s always been assumed that the Jokerz were a small gang but here they seem to be more of a small army, with many of the familiar faces showing up during the ensuing fight which breaks out.
The real twist of course being that Melanie is the one who’s been conned by her family, which was certainly an unexpected twist. We also get an infuriating open plot point as Melanie gives Terry a letter, only we don’t get to find out what it says while the final shot of the episode sees him throwing it in the trash.
More of a general plot development episode this week, it builds on what the show has established already while re-sparking the interest in the love triangle between Terry, Dana and Melanie. It just makes it the more amusing that this one of the few things that Bruce doesn’t seem to be able to help Terry with.
Next Episode: Hooked Up