Written by Mark Banker
Directed by Sam Liu
Batman and Katana receive a tip about the League of Assassins breaking in to the Center for Disease Control. However, their mission becomes increasingly complicated when Anarky gets involved.
The heroes continue to seek the League when Anarky throws a wrench at their chase. What follows is an intense adventure that touches on Katana's past with the League, Batman's value of sacrifice for the greater good, and a not-too surprising reveal that nevertheless proves to be a game changer for the series.
Anarky has a better role here than he did last time as the tries to be a catalyst to a Batman/League conflict. He actually manages to get the upper hand on Lady Shiva and tricks her into stealing Calibosix, a dangerous chemical, and later tells Batman and Katana about it. This is actually a much better plan than his previous one. If Shiva obtains the chemical, he gets to unleash it on Gotham and create a lot of chaos. If the self-destruct protocol sets in and the facility is destroyed, he gets to see his biggest enemies die and wreak some havoc. If Batman and Katana stop Shiva and the chemical, he gets to sit back and enjoy the show anyway. This version of Anarky works best when he's behind the scenes and is more of a spectator to the mayhem around him.
Lady Shiva has a more hands-on role this time as she takes it upon herself and a couple of ninjas to break into the CDC to retrieve the Calibosix. She is a lot more fun as she gets to fight more and interact with Batman and Katana. She continually prods Katana about her past as a killer and an assassin. Unfortunately, she doesn't seem to be as legendary of a fighter as her comic book version is, so she goes down rather quick after too many attempts to antagonize the vigilantes.
This episode's lesson is about sacrifice, but it's not necessarily only Katana that learns it. When they confront some of Tobias Whale's thugs for information, Batman tells her to sacrifice the info to save the civilians in a fire that's about to consume a building. He calls it "sacrifice" but it feels more like teaching her how to prioritize. Katana does try to sacrifice herself when she holds up the two infected monster ninjas so Batman and Shiva escape. However, Batman helps her take down the monsters and realizes that not all sacrifices are worth it.
In a small, but terrific moment, it looks like the CDC facility will self-destruct with them, and Batman does nothing but cover Katana with his cape. Yes, the attempt to shield her is useless, but it not only encompasses the theme of sacrifice, but it also shows an endearing amount of irrationality in a version of Batman that, so far, has prided himself on being logical. To go back to the ideas explored in "Control", Batman actually chose his heart over his head.
There's not much in terms of action sequences, but the episode felt stuffed in the best way, with the main plot being as active as the subplot regarding Gordon trying to save Batman and company's lives outside the CDC. The information regarding the building's security levels is delivered in a strong manner, as it's accompanied by both exposition and action via Lady Shiva and her escorts going through them.
The end reveal represents a change to the premise of the show. The package Anarky has been using as leverage against Shiva to steal the Calibosix contained the frozen corpse of Ra's al Ghul. His appearance shouldn't be considered a complete surprise since he was mentioned a few episodes back and his voice actor, Lance Reddick, spoiled the surprise ahead of time. But it does show that the series will break some of its own rules now and then.
"Sacrifice" is yet another great episode of the series that, while not advancing much of the League of Assassins arc, has a great character focus that, along with an increasing stakes, an entertaining Anarky, and a big reveal, turn what could've been a by-the-numbers plot into a very entertaining half-hour.
- Anarky was fun, but if you really think about it in terms of plot, he really didn't do much at all. He returns the Ra's corpse back to Shiva even after not getting the Calibosix. Makes me wonder if he really did this for fun or did he have another motive.
- Calibosix seems to be taken from the Clash of the Titans character Calibos, who was turned into a hideous monster like our ninjas. Though admittedly, my first thought was about Caliban from The Tempest.
- Batman has fought big, brutish monsters before. They might seem familiar as the Titans from the Batman: Arkham video games series, but they goes back as far as Batman #1, where Hugo Strange experiments on the homeless to create the Monster Men.
- Speaking of Strange, there's another villain who would've been fun to see in this series.
- The biggest tragedy of this show's untimely end is that we'll never know if Folds finally overcomes his folding habit. I was so invested in his character arc too.