Dana is kidnapped by a sewer urchin and his giant pet rats.
  Original Airdate: November 20, 1999
  Episode # 22
  Rating: * *

Credits Cast

Written by Rich Fogel
Directed by Curt Geda
Music by Shirley Walker
Animation by Koko/Dong Yang

Will Friedle as Terry McGinnis
Kevin Conroy as Bruce Wayne
Cree Summer as Max Gibson
Ryan O'Donohue as Matt McGinnis
Lauren Tom as Dana Tan

Henry Rollins as Mad Stan
Taran Noah Smith as Patrick
Sean Donellan as Virtual Anchor
Clyde Kusatsu as Mr. Tan
Yvette Lowenthal as Chelsea

When giving your superhero a day job, it's usually a good idea to put him in a line of work that (however tenuously) is connected to the heroics. Stocktrading, for instance, would be a poor choice. I mean, aside from the fact that it's not a very telegenic job (those lovely shots of trading pits on CNBC notwithstanding), what's the hero to do when the bad guy starts threatening to blow up the power plant? Sell Consolidated Edison short?

School—that's another arena that isn't the most obvious choice for a superhero's second life. But that's the choice made in Batman Beyond (for demographic reasons too obvious to mention). So to connect one life to the other evil must occasionally either invade Hamilton High (as in "Earth Mover" and "Terry's Friend Dates a Robot") or erupt from within (as in "Revenant"and "The Winning Edge"). Of course, you can easily catch yourself wondering: Isn't the average high school already sufficiently stuffed with hysteria, melodrama, and (to its denizens, at any rate) the biggest, most horrific set of crises in the history of civilization? I'd think most professional troublemakers would stay away because the competition inside is already pretty fierce.

"Rats!" is actually quite deft at sketching school life—more so than most of the other episodes. This is probably because here what school life there is functions as background to character, not story, and so it can relax and have a little fun without worrying too much about who is doing what awful thing to what classmate. Actually, something awful is going on: Terry has been ignoring Dana, missing dates and stuff like that, and boy is she steamed. The script casts a rather jaundiced eye on her complaints and quickly sets about showing her that the easiest way to forget about a small problem (like McGinnis) is to acquire a large one.

Unfortunately, when it introduces Patrick the Rat Boy the story acquires a fairly large problem of its own: What is it going to do with him once he's got Dana to himself? This is supposed to be an action show, remember, but all Patrick can really do is chat her up. So they keep cutting away to Batman fighting . . . now who exactly is Mad Stan and how did he wander into this episode? The fight is interminable and has nothing whatever to do with the main story, but there's no point going back to the main story since nothing interesting seems to be happening over there anyway.

Eventually it dawns on you that the juicy, sensationalistic TV stories at the top of the episode (about "Giant! Man Eating! Rats!") are a thematic cover, hiding the fact that the ratmaster is in fact a kind, sensitive, misunderstood soul. The implicit comparison is to Batman, another mysterious and nocturnal creature who is himself kind and sensitive and misunderstood. Thus, it appears that Dana is being set up for a little lesson in the virtues of patience and of seeing through appearances, with Patrick as her teacher. But then he just turns into a psychotic nutcase and has his rats attack her and Batman saves her and things blow up real good.

Related Episodes
   * The Underdwellers
   * Earth Mover
   * Eyewitness
   * Countdown
   * A Touch of Curare

What Others Are Saying ...
"This ep was not worth getting out of bed for."J. Chen, Wordl's Finest

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