Action, Ajax Metal Works, Columbia, Douglas Croft, Drama, J. Carrol Naish, Lambert Hillyer, Lewis Wilson, Medusa cigarettes, Review, Serial, Shirley Patterson, Thriller
D: Lambert Hillyer / 14m
Cast: Lewis Wilson, Douglas Croft, J. Carrol Naish, Shirley Patterson, William Austin, Charles C. Wilson, Warren Jackson, Gus Glassmire
Having avoided certain death from the explosion at one of Daka’s hideouts thanks to a conveniently placed trap door that leads to the outside, Batman and Robin meet up with Alfred and head back home. Daka receives the news with his customary annoyance, and learns from one of his henchmen, Bernie (Jackson), that Marshall (presumed dead in the Colton mine collapse) is in jail and was talking to Chuck White. Daka sends Bernie to the jail to give Marshall a “special brand” of cigarettes called Medusa. The next morning, Bruce and Dick go to see Captain Arnold (Wilson); he wants them to identify Marshall as one of the men who attacked them, but when they get to his cell, Marshall is dead. Bruce picks up a cigarette and analyses it with the aid of his Young Scientist chemical set and learns it’s poisonous. Following this, Daka decides to target Linda in an effort to draw out Batman and ambush him at the Ajax Metal Works. When she goes missing, Batman and Robin track her whereabouts to the metal works, but their attempt to rescue her leads to a fire breaking out and Batman trapped in the basement as part of the ceiling collapses on him, sending him to certain death…
The shortest chapter so far fairly whizzes by as it crams in as much as it can while still failing to advance the main plot in any way, shape or form (whatever the main plot is; by now it’s hard to remember if there is one). The whole set up surrounding the “rubbing out” of Marshall serves no dramatic purpose at all, and while it’s always good to see Captain Arnold providing some much needed, and at least scripted, humour, there’s no reason to devote any time to Marshall’s demise at all. More padding then, and in an episode that runs two minutes shorter than the previous record holders. The phrase “running out of steam” seems entirely appropriate, and this with only three chapters left to go. The trailer gives a better idea of where everything is headed at this stage, as the repetitive nature of the script takes a further toll on the narrative. It’s as if – the Colton episodes aside – the writers’ brief was to repeat each episode’s basic structure as often as possible.
Inevitably, this leaves the cast stranded as if on a loop they can’t escape from. The formulaic nature of the serial means Wilson and Croft now only don their Batman and Robin outfits in order to have a punch up with Daka’s goons at the end of each chapter, while Naish leers and sneers as Daka to banal, off-putting effect, and Patterson – when allowed – is given the littlest possible to do (some of the actors playing henchmen have more screen time than she does). The credibility of the crime fighters themselves is brought into question this time as they put themselves in jeopardy by alerting Daka’s men to their presence at the metal works by using a smoke bomb in a basement filled with crates and highly flammable packing materials. (So much for lying low and not drawing attention to yourself). All it needs is for one of Daka’s men to be smoking a cigarette… oh, wait a minute, one of them is. With so many issues and so little time now to improve on them, it’s getting harder to believe that the writers will be able to turn things around and bring the serial to a satisfactory end – let alone working out how Batman is going to survive this time…
Rating: 5/10 – it’s over almost before you know it, but Chapter 12 is also another dispiriting entry in a serial that is proving to be more filler than fulfillment; at this stage, Batman is losing traction with every chapter, and any energy it has is like the oxygen in the basement room at the end of this episode: fast running out.