Everyone knows that Batman: The Animated Series is the greatest superhero show of all time, just like how everyone knows that the Earth is not flat. The problem is that fans often turn a blind eye to the show’s flaws. People like to forget that some episodes of Batman are simply bad. Possibly the worst offender is the 8th episode, titled “The Forgotten”. The name seems ironic now, but this writer will not let people forget and will mention both what the episode does right and what the episode does wrong. As Stannis Baratheon once said, “A good act does not wash out the bad, nor a bad act the good. Each should have its own reward.”
In the episode, Batman starts an investigation after he learns that some homeless men have gone missing and the police have done nothing about it. Not long into his investigation Bruce is knocked unconscious and abducted to a slave camp. If that seems too ridiculous for a Batman cartoon it’s because it is. But it gets worse. When Bruce first awakens, surrounded by his fellow slaves, he realizes that he has lost his memory. He no longer remembers who he is. So he spends most of the episode doing slave labor or resisting his one shot villain (a morbidly obese man who never learned any table manners).
The main problem with the episode is that events or scenes that are supposed to seem dark often come off as funny. The symbolism of the black cat when Bruce is knocked out is too on the nose, the fact that Batman is sent into slavery somewhere in Gotham (but looks like the Old West) is laughable, and the most hilarious scene is when he starts crying while daydreaming about handing out money to the homeless. Batman is supposed to be a creature of the night, a dark detective that preys on the scum of Gotham in order to make his city a better place. He is not a cowboy. The entire episode just doesn’t feel like an episode of Batman.
All of those points aside there is still plenty to like in the episode. Kevin Conroy’s voice is, as always, spot on. If anything his voice acting in this episode is among his best in the series, since it contrasts so well with the voice he uses for Bruce’s alter ego, Matches Malone. The acting for the supporting character, Dan Riley, is well done by Dorian Harewood. The viewer can really feel Riley’s pain when he talks about how he will never see his family again. Fans of the comic see Bruce become his alter ego, Matches Malone, as he does actual detective work in the episode. The music, though extremely out of place for a Batman episode, is very good, and the animation is well done.
“The Forgotten” may be a bad episode, and it is, but even so it stands out while binge watching the series. It’s understandable how this episode came to be. Bruce Timm had just started the series and had not known just how big the show would become. The idea of having Batman escape from a slave camp probably seemed like an interesting idea at the time. Despite the episodes flaws I still enjoyed it on some level. Though, maybe that is simply because I love the show so much. “The Forgotten” will remain one of the worst episodes in an otherwise astounding series.
Still better than The Red Claw’s episodes though.
Which episode do you think is the worst of the series? Sound off in the comments or send us your thoughts on Twitter!