|Batman: The Animated Series episode|
The title card from "Robin's Reckoning" Part 1
|Episode no.||Season 1
Episode 32 and 33
|Directed by||Dick Sebast|
|Written by||Randy Rogel|
|Original air date||February 7 and 14, 1993|
|List of Batman: The Animated Series episodes|
"Robin's Reckoning" is a two-part episode of the critically acclaimed Batman: The Animated Series. The episodes originally aired on February 7 and 14, 1993, and were written by Randy Rogel and directed by Dick Sebast. It earned the series an Emmy for Most Outstanding Half Hour or Less Program and is considered one of the best episodes of the series. The second part aired a week later.
The story is based on the origin of Robin (Dick Grayson) from Detective Comics #38 (April 1940), which it shows through flashbacks, intercutting an unfolding mystery in the present with the more significant moments of Robin's life. It touches on Robin uncovering who killed his family and how he first met and joined forces with Batman. Meanwhile, it also shows how Batman and Robin are slowly growing apart.
During a stake-out at a construction site, Batman and Robin catch a gang of mobsters trying to extort money from a wealthy architect. While all but one of the mobsters escapes, Batman catches the straggler and demands the name of his boss. The criminal refuses to speak to him or the police, but when Batman shows he's not joking, the criminal blurts out the name "Billy Marrin, were art though billy marrin.", a name that seems to disturb the Caped Crusader. When they return home, Robin is left wondering who Marrin really is, but Batman insists that Robin stay out of this one: he works alone for the time being. Following Batman's departure, Robin and Alfred Pennyworth use the Batcave's criminal database to determine the real identity of the crime boss. Robin discovers that Marrin is really an alias for Tony Zucco, someone he crossed paths with nine years ago in an event which changed his life.
As a young child, Dick Grayson was in a popular circus acrobat trio with his parents, "The Flying Graysons". While performing at a Wayne Charity convention in Gotham City, Dick overhears Zucco threaten the ringmaster, Mr. Haley, telling him that if he doesn't pay money for "protection", people will die. Haley refuses, and in response, Zucco partially saws through a trapeze rope to be used in the Graysons' act. During a portion of the trapeze act involving Dick's parents on the same trapeze, the rope snaps and his parents plummet to their deaths in front of his eyes. Bruce Wayne, who is in the audience, takes pity on the boy, as they are both the orphaned sons of parents murdered in their presence. Upon hearing of Dick's telling of what he saw, Jim Gordon fears that he will have no place to go, as he is a material witness, but Bruce steps in and adopts Dick. As Batman, he becomes obsessed with finding Zucco, to the point that he is rarely home, leaving Dick mostly alone.
Batman tracks down Zucco at his uncle Arnold Stromwell's mansion, where he overhears Stromwell disowning Zucco for bringing Batman down on their heads. Suddenly, Stromwell's guards are alerted to Batman on the property. After fleeing from Batman, Zucco slips out of Gotham, leaving Batman haunted for not catching the Graysons' killer. As he returns to the Batcave, Alfred reminds him that Dick is feeling unloved and scared, which prompts Bruce to realize he must spend more time with him. He tries to comfort the boy, but Dick breaks down in tears and says that he feels responsible for his parents' death. Bruce says that he felt the same way when his own parents were murdered, but assures Dick that the pain will ease in time.
After discovering the crook's identity and reliving the tragedy, Robin realizes that Batman left him out of this to keep him out of the way. Vowing revenge, Robin deliberately disobeys Batman's orders, saying "Not this time, Alfred. Maybe not ever again", and sets out on his motorbike to find Zucco.
Batman tracks Tony Zucco while, secretly, Robin seeks to find Zucco to avenge his parents' death. As the investigation narrows to an abandoned amusement park, a series of flashbacks finish Robin's origin story.
After Zucco's escape, Bruce and Dick grow closer, engaging in a playful fencing match. Alfred then tells Bruce that Jim Gordon is convinced that Zucco might strike there to get the boy, prompting Dick to take matters into his own hands. After running away from Wayne Manor, he unsuccessfully tries to track his parents' killer. While searching a run-down section of Gotham and avoiding Batman, who, unbeknownst to Dick, is also searching for Zucco, Dick rescues a woman threatened by a large man (implied to be a prostitute and her pimp). Using his gymnastic skills he defeats the full-grown attacker, knocking him unconscious. The woman treats Dick to dinner in a local diner. A waitress identifies Tony Zucco from a photo and informs Dick that Zucco is squatting in the condemned building across the street. Dick and Batman find Zucco at roughly the same time, but Dick lashes out at Zucco and Zucco throws him over a spillway. Batman rescues Dick before he can go over a waterfall, but Zucco uses the distraction to escape. Batman brings Dick back to the Batcave, revealing his secret identity. He then suggests that Dick's "temporary" stay become indefinite and offers him a place as his crime fighting partner, to which Dick eagerly accepts.
As the flashback ends, Robin takes off on his motorcycle to continue the search. He uses a phone tracer to obtain Zucco's address; in a fit of paranoia, Zucco fires a sub-machine gun repeatedly into the ceiling, worried about the noise. An injured Batman falls through the weakened ceiling. Using a smoke bomb as a diversion, he limps from the room. Hiding in the amusement park, he hardly has time to treat his wounds before being attacked by Zucco's henchmen. Though limping, he picks off the thugs one-by-one through stealth, fighting several on the carousel. After the brawl, however, Zucco gets the drop on him, and prepares to kill him. At the last moment, Robin, still riding a motorcycle, crashes through the fence, rides straight at Zucco and, grabbing him by the collar, drags him behind the cycle to the end of a pier where he holds Zucco over the edge, determined to kill him. Batman arrives and desperately implores Robin not to let his emotions control him, but Robin lashes out at his mentor, exclaiming that he can't know how he, Robin, feels. When Batman remains silent, Robin suddenly remembers who he is talking to; abashed, he apologizes and relents, handing Zucco to the police.
As Zucco is hauled away, Robin tells Batman he was right to leave him out of the investigation, as his emotions made him unstable. In a rare moment of vulnerability, Batman explains that he distanced Robin from the investigation because he was afraid his partner would be hurt. The two crimefighters reconcile, and return to Wayne Manor.
|Kevin Conroy||Bruce Wayne/Batman|
|Bob Hastings||Commissioner James Gordon|
|Efrem Zimbalist Jr.||Alfred Pennyworth|
|Loren Lester||Richard "Dick" Grayson/Robin|
|Eugene Roche||Arnold Stromwell|
|Joey Simmrin||Richard "Dick" Grayson-Age 10|
|Thomas F. Wilson||Tony Zucco|
"Robin's Reckoning" received a great deal of praise from critics. The A.V. Club state that the episode's direction "handles energetic action sequences and heavy emotional moments with equal aplomb", and that the script has "philosophical and psychological depth". Batman On Film states that "there’s little debate about “Robin’s Reckoning” being two of the best episodes in the entire run of (the series), praising the emotional depth and power of the events depicted.
- Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale have stated that this episode served as a major inspiration for their graphic novel, Batman: Dark Victory.
- The Grayson parents' deaths, according to producers, was originally far more graphic than what was shown in the episode. They were to be shown swinging on the ropes, which would break, and they would fall to the ground as Dick watched from above. The scene was changed to show them leaping out of the frame, Dick staring in shock, the frayed rope swinging back, and the audience gasping as the music came to a climax. In the DVD commentary, Bruce Timm thanked the network censors for giving them a list of what, at the time, he felt were ridiculously restrictive rules for that scene; in retrospect, he felt that it forced them to create a far more effective scene.
- Strangely, after the episode aired, a minor controversy emerged about the scene where Batman (undercover) gambles with a bunch of criminals for information on Tony Zucco. Timm states that he and Paul Dini are still confused as to why censors were upset at the scene.
- Timm often said that the scene where Dick says goodbye to his circus friends before leaving for Wayne Manor has made him cry several times.
- Originally, the second part of the story arc would include a flashback towards the end, involving Bruce making young Dick swear a candlelit oath to uphold the law if he would join him. There would also be a scene in which he appears in full Robin costume for the first time, but Timm and Paul Dini cut this for time constraints. Dini has often admitted that he wished they would have used more of "Young Robin" flashbacks to show his beginnings and growth into the teenage Robin of today. The idea of a final scene depicting a flashback of a Robin's first day would later be used in Batman: Under the Red Hood, only with Jason Todd instead of Dick Grayson.
- According to the book Batman Animated, Batman's costume in the flashback sequence was based on the design featured in Batman: Year One with elements from the original Bob Kane Batsuit that Batman wore in his early appearances.
- http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0519616/ Robin's Reckoning at the IMDB, accessed January 21, 2012
- http://www.avclub.com/articles/robins-reckoning-parts-1-and-2,55731/ The AV Club, accessed January 21, 2012
- http://www.batman-on-film.com/BTAS_episode-reviews_Robins-Reckoning_SGerber_4-11-11.html Batman On Film, accessed January 21, 2012