Eternal Youth

  At her spa, Poison Ivy turns industrialists into trees.
  Original Airdate: September 23, 1992
  Episode # 29
  Rating: * 1/2

Credits Cast

Written by Beth Bornstein
Directed by Kevin Altieri
Music by Lolita Ritmanis
Animation by Sunrise

Kevin Conroy as Bruce Wayne
Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. as Alfred
Bob Hastings as Commissioner Gordon
Diane Pershing as Poison Ivy

Julie Brown as Lily
Paddy Edwards as Maggie Page
Lynne Marie Stewart as Violet

Poison Ivy has a mania, a philosophy, and a schtick: she loves plants, will uproot anyone who harms them, and has an arsenal of plant toxins, growth formulae, and killer weeds to enforce her wishes. That gives her everything that any self-respecting supervillain is supposed to have. (She even subscribes to the Dr. Evil Theory of Good Guy Elimination: you do not try to kill the hero without first gloating over him.) She is, in fact, so relentlessly old-school that she can't help but come off as slightly wooden.

Perhaps it's just me, but I think it's her idealism that makes her such an unsatisfying adversary. Environmental policy is an important subject; the science is not well understood; and its real-world applications are vexedly difficult to figure out. Something so serious is cheapened when treated melodramatically, whether by flesh-and-blood activists or by the tiresome fairy tales of Fern Gully: The Last Rainforest. Ra's al-Ghul's obsession with making the world pristine is at least colored by his undisguised egomania, which gives him a compelling luster. But Poison Ivy just comes across as a tree-hugging philistine, which subtracts from the credibility of both her character and her cause. And when Bruce Wayne is forced to trot out his environmental bona fides by condemning a "slash-and-burn outfit," it is apt to leave those who care about the environment feeling condescended to. The wisdom of this or that environmental policy is not a function of this or that environmentalist's intentions or good will.

Subtract the crude philosophizing and what's left? A floozy with a fetish. Not that there is anything wrong with that. In fact, by dumping the public policy angle, "House and Garden" and "Chemistry" gave us some good, gum-cracking adventures wrapped around a genuinely emotional story. At her best, Ivy is like Mother Earth suffering from PMS.

"Eternal Youth," however, is something else—a weird mix of comic-book melodrama and sidekick development. Ivy's plot to turn industrialists into topiary is one of those high-concept pitches that is good for about five seconds of grin-inducing shock but devoid of any possibility of development. So instead we get the queer introduction of Alfred and newcomer Maggie as a quasi-romantic pair who can be victimized and then rescued by the hero. There is no natural connection between the Alfred and Ivy ends of the plot except for this manipulative angle, so the result is just a mishmash of cliches rather than a coherent story. As for Maggie and Alfred themselves: if you didn't suspect it already, this episode proves that Alfred's interest as a character is mostly a function of his relationship with Bruce. In other words, Maggie comes off as the proverbial third who makes a crowd.

Related Episodes
   * Pretty Poison
   * The Demon's Quest
   * Cat Scratch Fever
   * The Lion and the Unicorn
   * Prophecy of Doom

What Others Are Saying ...
"[A] prime example of talking down to an audience."Alex Weitzman, The Big Cartoon Database

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