This is 500 words about a Batman episode. This is the BATMAN 500.
We know that Bruce Wayne as Batman is a pretty swell guy. Stops crime, fights evil. Sure, he sits in a cave underneath his parents’ house all day, but my point is is that his list of pros is way longer than his cons. But how about Bruce Wayne as Bruce Wayne? How would he do if he couldn’t put on a Bat outfit? How would he do if he was just Bruce Wayne? Would he still have the same core drives, or would he resign himself to a life of billionaire-ing around, only feeling the urge to help every once in a while but never doing anything about it, because what can he do? Gotham faces what seem to be the biggest, most ridiculous crimes on earth. It would take a big, ridiculous hero to handle them, right?
That would be a really cool question to tackle in a Batman cartoon. And, for a while, it looks like “The Forgotten” is going to dive into it. The episode revolves around Bruce Wayne going undercover as a homeless person to investigate a wave of disappearances among Gotham’s homeless community. He gets knocked out, and wakes up in a slave labor camp, with no memory of his name or crime-fighting tendencies. Showing us that, costumed or not, being a hero is this man’s main priority would be a pretty satisfying theme for this show. But aside from clenching his fists often and scowling, we never really get to see any hint that non-Bat Bruce is a capable Bruce. Even when he’s doing some sleuthing in the beginning of the episode, he’s dressed as another person. So, the moral of “The Forgotten” apparently is “Unless you have a mask on, you’re pretty useless, Bruce Wayne.”
Following the lunacy of “The Underwellers,” and the greatness of “P.O.V.,” “The Forgotten” is the third straight Batman episode with no recognizable Batman villain serving as the antagonist. And while it’s not a great episode, it’s good that they went with the one-and-done “Boss Biggis” instead of someone like The Penguin. It would be hard to reconcile “The Forgotten” with any of the Penguin’s other crimes, Every time he’d try to steal some priceless egg or bird trinket, you’d be thinking “Yeah, this crime blows, but remember when you locked a human slave in a hot box in the desert? I’m not going to say that you have better priorities now, but I just can’t get over the fact that you’ve gone from trafficking people to umbrella felonies.”
Trying to craft a Batman episode around actual, awful crimes that happen in real life is always a gamble, and while I admire the team behind Batman: The Animated Series for trying to tackle them (They’d have more success with it in the future,) I can’t help but admit that I’m looking forward to seeing some big name Batman rogues soon. With the next episode, I get my wish, but if I remember correctly, it’s a double-edged sword.