Written by Mark Banker
Directed by Sam Liu
Silver Monkey makes a bold move to take the Soultaker Sword from Tatsu, something that threatens Wayne Manor’s very own status quo. Secrets are revealed, alliances are made, and nothing will remain the same.
Seven episodes in and the show is already into its first, as J. Michael Straczynski would call it, “Wham Episode”. It’s packed with plenty of important revelations and events that change the nature of the show, from finally following on the general premise of Batman working side-by-side with Tatsu, to the appearance of Lady Shiva herself. All while accompanied with some neat action and a well-paced plot that answers a few questions and raises a few more.
First things first, Lady Shiva is formally introduced after her off-screen cameo in “Safe”. She is able to command respect from the League, even Silver Monkey’s ninjas, and her cold demeanor makes an impression as she takes back her army and has Silver Monkey subdued and Bethany Ravencroft robbed of her soul. She manages to outfight both Batman and Tatsu simultaneously, even in an outfit with with high heels and excessive amount of jewelry that would make it impractical.
The most satisfying aspect of this episode is the fruit from all the seeds planted in the series so far. Besides Shiva’s introduction, the viewers learn that Tatsu was moving around from place to place because she was hiding the sword, and it’s implied she was reluctant to accept Alfred’s offer in “Hunted” because she likely didn’t want him to get in harm’s way. Silver Monkey also betrays Shiva, as it was hinted in “Safe”, though he ultimately fails. Batman is also able to deduce Bethanie was working with the League and trying to seduce and betray him for the Soultaker. This was hinted by finding her Argus key in “Secrets”. Finally, Batman, revealing himself as Bruce to Tatsu, tells her that she passed “the final test”, a callback to “Tests”. It’s not exactly said what he was looking for in this one, but it’s most likely her instinct to do the right thing and try to save Bruce instead of just running away with the sword when she gets the chance.
The ending of the show reveals Bruce’s whole plan to weaken the League. Beyond his discovery of the key and his “dismissal” of Tatsu and Alfred, there aren’t a lot of hints to his overall plot. It gave enough to make it seem sense, but it didn’t reveal enough to give away the surprise. It could be argued that his testing of Tatsu was just as much of a test of loyalty than character and skill. After all, a possible League of Assassins agent would be a huge liability. Now that she has proven herself on all aspects, she is worthy enough to be in on Batman’s secret and maybe even fight alongside him.
The episode’s direction and structure are also to be praised. While it still has some quiet moments like Bruce and Bethanie’s date, they’re spliced evenly with some of the more action heavy scenes. Every minute is economically used and nothing drags, making it an exciting episode from beginning to end.
One weak point in the episode is how media-res is used at the beginning. These openings usually work when something shocking happens out-of-nowhere that would encourage the viewer to keep watching for context. The opening only features Batman and Tatsu fighting ninjas before Silver Monkey appears. This scenario has been done before in the show, so it isn’t as exciting to see. It would’ve had more impact if the episode started with Silver Monkey shooting Bruce with the crossbow, since that would have been surprising enough to seek out an answer behind such scene.
“Family” is a terrific episode that changes the status quo. Even though Tatsu lost the Soultaker to Lady Shiva and the League, she is officially part of Batman’s crime fighting life. With some focused structure, entertaining action, and rewarding pay off, it truly feels like the beginning of a larger story.
- Bethanie becomes the show’s first present-time victim of the Soultaker Sword. Yes, Shiva says she’s not dead yet, but considering how gruesome the empty corpse is, and how Batman and Tatsu are forced to leave the body in the League’s custody, it’s safe to say she won’t be coming back.
- Pay attention to the way Bruce gets shot. You will be quizzed on it later.
- Bruce, those were some great questions. Was Argus just a cover for the League? Or are they both different organizations? Just how does Ra's al Ghul's organization operate?
- Now that I think about it, Argus sent Bruce that invitation in “Hunted” before Tatsu even brought the Soultaker. Was Argus trying to genuinely recruit Bruce before it tried to use him as leverage?
- Despite popular belief, Alfred doesn’t actually fire guns or weapons in this show often. So the rare time he does, it leaves quite an impression. “THAT rocket.”