DCAU #315: Hooked Up

IN THIS ONE... Spellbinder addicts kids to virtual realities, including Max.

CREDITS: Written by Robert Goodman; directed by Dan Riba.

REVIEW: You think this is gonna be about a rock star who fills giant arenas and gets all the groupies, but is essentially a jerk... and then he wakes up. Forget unsightly slappers, the new addict's choice is virtual reality! It's Spellbinder tech, and he's playing the Fagin role, forcing kids to steal for him in exchange for more time in the green bubble. When they eventually overdose, they are found comatose on the other end of town. And it looks like it takes no time at all to turn someone into a thieving junky, and one so desperate he'll jump off buildings and onto exterior elevators in crazy, crazy action sequences too!

Case in point, Max Gibson, who after what seems like a short session imagining her broken home as a happy family, is ready to betray Batman and her ideals. Huh. While this mundane fantasy tells us something about Max and what she wishes her life could be, it still feels like a missed opportunity after she expresses a desire to be Batman's new Robin after all. As co-investigator, she gets into trouble and somewhat learns her lesson, but it would have been a nice fake-out if there'd actually been a sequence where she was, straight up, a costumed hero.

I'm more enthused by Bruce thinking of this episode as a rite of passage for the new Batman, as he himself found out the hard way that you can't stop the people around you from getting into trouble (the Robins, Batgirl, and now Terry all fit that mold). The implication is that you can only make sure those zealous allies are trained to face the challenge. Part of that is imparting wisdom, and there's definitely a hothead vs. experience vibe to the relationship in this episode - a welcome one. Terry "cools his jets" and is the more successful for it. I don't much care for the climax however. With seconds left to the episode, Batman gets zapped, Max finally turns, and then it's over and we're told there's an easy treatment, game over. We sort of ran out of time, there.

SOUNDS LIKE: Jason Marsden (Young Clark Kent on the other show) plays Donnie the addict. One of the other addicted kids, Wendell, is Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville's Luthor). And ubiquitous voice artist Jennifer Hale (everything from Black Cat to Zatanna) is both the addict Jessie and Donny's mother.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - Another future drug story that works on most levels, but feels rushed.

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