CREDITS: Written by Stan Berkowitz; directed by Kenji Hachizaki.
REVIEW: The Scarecrow suffers such an extreme redesign, he might as well be a new character. He even has a new voice. If Batman didn't say something about knowing him, I'd even say this wasn't Jonathan Crane. Thing is, he has such a terrifying aspect - at odds with the simplification and cartoonyness of the rest of the revamp - he really needed a new introduction. And a plot about REMOVING fear instead of doling it out, no matter what dangers it creates, is not that introduction. Not that I want to see a retread of the old plots, but it does seem like this story goes out of its way to avoid using the Scarecrow's terrifying new visage.
As a late-game Scarecrow plot, I'll give it its due. We quickly realize that fear is useful, even vital, and that people who are not only fearless but have the impulse to face their fears, are a danger to themselves and others. One goes swinging around the city, falling from great heights. Another tells his boss (Bruce Wayne) to shove it, and then sexually harasses Wayne's personal assistant (there's an unfortunate sexist vibe to these cartoons that I'm rediscovering, I must admit). And finally, there's Batman himself, who goes from courageous to reckless after getting hit by reverse-fear gas. The episode doesn't articulate it verbally, but it's interesting that a fearless Batman is one that's willing to kill. In other words. HIS greatest fear is that he might become as bad as the people he's sworn to stop.
This all provides a good role for the new Robin, who sees what's happening and intervenes. He's in way over his head, of course, but perseveres, and in the end, is the agent through which Bruce is cured. That's a well played moment too, with the Scarecrow gasping for air and the camera going to an inhaler. You think asthma, but the gasp is fight-induced, and the inhaler the villain's delivery method to keep himself safe.
IN THE COMICS: The Scarecrow hasn't just been redesigned, he's way off-model compared to any comics version.
SOUNDS LIKE: The new voice of the Scarecrow is Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator, The Frighteners) who played various recurring Star Trek aliens, among then Weyoun, Brunt and Shran. Ken Berry (F Troup, Herbie Rides Again) is Seymour Grey the disgruntled employee. Scarecrow's motivational speaker is recognizable Charles Rocket, perhaps best known now as the villain in Dumb and Dumber.
REWATCHABILITY: Medium - Not a bad story, and one that subtly reveals something about the Bat, but the Scarecrow's redesign isn't well-used, and at this point in history, I'm well tired of "darker" takes on Batman.