Perchance to Dream (Batman: The Animated Series)
|"Perchance to Dream"|
|Batman: The Animated Series episode|
Title card from "Perchance to Dream"
|Episode no.||Season 1|
|Directed by||Boyd Kirkland|
|Written by||Laren Bright and Michael Reaves (story), Joe R. Lansdale (teleplay)|
|Original air date||October 19, 1992|
"Perchance to Dream" is the 26th episode of Batman: The Animated Series. It was written by noted horror author Joe R. Lansdale and originally aired on October 19, 1992. In this episode, Bruce Wayne awakes in a seemingly idyllic dream world in which his parents are still alive and he never became Batman. The title is taken from the famous soliloquy from Shakespeare's Hamlet.
The episode opens with Batman pursuing a group of criminals on a road. After overcoming several of them, barrels of oil hit and spill on the Batmobile's windshield. After the oil is removed, the group of criminals reach a warehouse and enter. Batman stops his car and throws a rope onto a lamp post, using it to climb into the warehouse’s window. He walks slowly but suddenly he is blinded by a flash of light and a dark shape descends upon him, knocking him unconscious. He then awakens in bed as Bruce Wayne, with no memory of the outcome of the battle or how he came to be home.
It quickly becomes clear that something is very wrong: there is no Batcave beneath Wayne Manor, and Alfred professes to have no knowledge of Bruce's alter ego or of Robin. Furthermore, Bruce's parents are still alive and he is engaged to Selina Kyle. Though Bruce remembers his adventures as Batman, he can find no evidence that they were anything more than a dream, and he soon begins to doubt his own sanity.
Bruce initially attempts to relax into his new life; at least on the surface, it appears to be everything he has ever wanted. He is disquieted by the discovery that Batman does still exist, however, and appears to be even more powerful and impressive than he ever was. Further evidence that something is very wrong comes when Bruce attempts to read first a newspaper and then a book from his personal library, discovering that the text is a garbled and unreadable mess.
Determined to discover an explanation for what is going on, Bruce purchases a torch and grappling hook. He is confronted by some police who attempt to take him into custody, citing his "strange behavior", but Bruce flees them and escapes to Gotham Cemetery. Once there, he climbs a belltower and finds himself face to face with Batman in the middle of a raging storm. Bruce demands to know what is happening and states that he wants his old life back. The two struggle and, as they fight, Bruce explains that he has realized that this is nothing more than a dream world; he is unable to read because reading is a function of the right side of the brain, and dreams are entirely left-sided. Eventually, Bruce is successful in unmasking the imposter Batman, who is revealed to be the Mad Hatter. After receiving confirmation from the Mad Hatter that his secret identity has not been compromised, as it is only a dream version of the villain that he is speaking to and the real one cannot see into the dream world, he leaps from the belltower to his apparent death.
Batman then awakens in the warehouse from the beginning of the episode, with the Mad Hatter's dream machine still attached to his head. He escapes and overpowers the villain, demanding an explanation. The Hatter breaks down, saying that Batman has ruined his life (in the episode "Mad as a Hatter") and that he would give him everything that he wanted, just to have him out of his life. Disgusted, Batman turns the Hatter over to the police and leaves, facing reality once again.
"Perchance to Dream" is a very highly regarded episode of Batman: The Animated Series. It received a positive review and an "A-" mark from The A.V. Club. The Animated Batman refers to it as "an astonishing tour de force... the best episode of the series", and Retrojunk calls the battle between Bruce Wayne and Batman "one of the saddest and most humanistic conclusions in the history of animated television".
Kevin Conroy, the voice of Batman, considers this his favorite episode of the series. Troy Baker, who voices the character in the Lego video games and their related cartoon specials, has also claimed this.
The basis for this episode can be found in the plotline of Detective Comics Volume 1, Number 633. The elements of Bruce Wayne awakening are altered from the original comic book plot, but many elements including Bruce Wayne's prowess, his purchase and use of a rope and grappling hook, remain preserved in the animated episode.
- http://www.avclub.com/articles/eternal-youthperchance-to-dream,55014/ The A.V. Club, accessed January 18, 2012
- http://anbat.toonzone.net/btas/ptd.html The Animated Batman: An Unofficial Guide, accessed January 18, 2012
- http://www.retrojunk.com/details_articles/6163/ Retrojunk, accessed January 18, 2012.