CREDITS: Written by Paul Dini; directed by James Tucker.
REVIEW: There's a lot going on in this one, maybe too much, but the opener makes me wish the makers had had the balls to do a whole Batman musical. What we see of it is a lot of fun, which is why I've chosen to use it for the featured image even though the episode is really about the al Ghul family. Not to say the musical doesn't have ANYTHING to do with the story, since it's one of several elements that makes Bruce Wayne feel like an old has-been, his legend co-opted for musical theater - and maybe going to the theater is part of an old trauma he hasn't yet licked. He certainly doesn't get the joke.
Then he's in the Batcave looking at pictures of old girlfriends, including Zatanna, Selina and Lois (remember that affair?), as well as a somewhat mysterious redhead, confirmed to be Barbara - first brick in the wall, animated Killing Joke haters! - but no Talia. Funny she should sidle up at that exact moment, still young thanks to the Lazarus Pit. And she's come with an offer. Bruce could regain his youth too. Though he finds it unnatural, circumstances keep reminding him that he's aged, that he isn't in his prime, that he isn't as relevant as he once was. And Talia is the love he could still have. And they do de-age him (to his 50s, I would say) and for a minute there, you think it might be a permanent change, that he just wouldn't take Terry's place. But apparently, it takes a number of dips in the Pit to make it "stick", so you know it's going to be undone by the end. Still, it's fun to have the two Batmen fighting side by side for half an episode.
And fight they must because that's not Talia, that's Ra's in Talia's body, a grotesque turn of events I don't especially agree with, but that nevertheless makes a good third act shocker. It's just hard to believe the man who wanted to marry his daughter to Batman so she could run his empire within the bounds of tradition would sacrifice her to keep on living instead. I know he can afford to play a long game, but turning his organization to philanthropy until Bruce is old enough to be lure to the Pit where HIS body might be stolen... why don't you just steal one of your cronies' bodies, Ra's? Like that hulking Cockney guy, for example? Never mind the male voice coming out of Talia, or the fact Ra's was smooching Bruce earlier as part of his scheme. It strains credulity.
IN THE COMICS: The musical has a number called "Superstitious Cowardly Lot", a phrase associated with Batman since way back in Detective Comics #33. Terry pronounces Ra's al Ghul "Raz" like many comics fans (and say, Batman Begins) does, but gets corrected. It's "Raysh" according to his creator Denny O'Neil.
SOUNDS LIKE: Carter, the big frou-frou Cockney goon is played by Mark "The Joker" Hammil, but he didn't sing the Joker's part in the Batman musical. Only Adrienne Barbeau reprises her contemporary-era role in that, as Catwoman. B.J. Ward (Wonder Twin Jayna) sings one of the parts though. That's Michael Rosenbaum (Justice League's Flash and Smallville's Lex Luthor) as the ruthless bespectacled gator guy Carl.
REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High - Worth it for the musical, the themes and Bruce thinking about lost loves. Not sure about Talia's ultimate fate.