“The Cat and the Claw Part 2”
Story by Sean Catherine Derek and Laren Bright
Teleplay by Jules Dennis and Richard Mueller
Directed by Dick Sebast
“The Cat and the Claw Part 2”, much like the two-part episode for “Two Face” (you could find our review here and here) focuses more so on the Batman and his rogues gallery than on the people who encounter him and make up his world. Batman: The Animated Series first season has primarily revolved around fleshing out a world, Gotham City, and allowing us entry into a much known and loved place within DC Comics. Some of the best episodes of Batman Animated have been those that have focused on the people and villains that demand the need for a Dark Knight, yet some of the most fun have been the episodes that have represented classic villains such as the Joker and Scarecrow. During the early days of this animated series, Batman Returns had just come out that summer. It was only expected that fans and audiences would want a version of these characters to closely resemble what they had seen on screen. What the crew behind Batman: The Animated Series gave us was something far better!
I’ve always liked Catwoman and while she wasn’t my favorite Batman villain/love interest, I was always intrigued by their relationship. The performance Michelle Pfeiffer gave as Selina Kyle was a significant departure from the comic books and understandable as Returns was more gothic and a truer Tim Burton experience. In many ways Pfeiffer’s Catwoman had to be different, especially based on the live-action versions we had before with the television series. But with Bruce Timm’s character design and Derek and Bright’s characterization of Ms. Kyle, we were given a version that, while inspired by the look of Pfeiffer’s film depiction, was more in line with what fans were familiar with through the comics.
“The Cat and the Claw Part 2” is more action based whereas its first part provided the necessary setup for Bruce, Selina, and the Red Claw. While we do get to see more of Batman and his interaction with the mob, what really stands out is the partnership he forms with Catwoman to stop Red Claw. Despite her being a thief, there’s a mutual attraction shared between the two that you don’t see again until Talia Al Ghul is introduced in season three. We also see just how much Batman cares for Selina Kyle when he saves her friend Maven from the Red Claw’s thugs. The scene plays out like one of the main fights from the pilot episode of Netflix’s Daredevil. Impressively, the Batman fight came 23 years before Marvel’s first Netflix series.
The episode concludes with Batman and Catwoman stopping the Red Claw after they infiltrate her operation. While Batman manages to destroy the Multigon facility so he could stop a plague that Red Claw was planning on unleashing, Catwoman fights Red Claw and the it ends with mountain lion pouncing her. It appears at first that Batman has allowed Catwoman to escape, but he returns later to meet her back at her apartment. While there, Batman catches Catwoman off guard by handcuffing her. She asks if he cares for her and he responds “More than you’ll ever know.”
It’s a fascinating way to end the two-part episode “The Cat and the Claw” and the only other time we were given a Batman/Catwoman relationship like this was 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises. While there are certain fans that disliked that installment, Rises happens to be my favorite and I greatly enjoyed the Catwoman presentation. Batman: The Animated Series has many strengths that so many other super hero cartoons have failed to live up to. It’s no secret that Bruce Timm wanted to honor the tradition of the Max Fleischer Superman shorts and he definitely does that here. Batman is arguably better as we get a more fleshed out and intricate story with each episode; “The Cat and the Claw” is no different from some of the best animated episodes in Warner Bros. history of animation.
Here are a few aspects I’d like to point out:
- Adrienne Barbeau’s voice work as Selina/Catwoman is perfect. Her performance is just as iconic as Bruce Timm’s design.
- “The Cat and the Claw” should be viewed as one long episode instead of a two-parter. While “Two-Face” worked with its story split, “The Cat and the Claw” is far more entertaining if watched in one viewing.
- Red Claw was a great villain introduced in the series and should have been used again. While she isn’t as iconic as the main rogues gallery members, she provides a great presence as both brains and brawn. Her imposing figure allows her to be a worthy physical antagonist for both Batman and Catwoman, but she also understands exactly how to one-up Batman. It’s rare that we see a villain do this and successfully.
- “The Cat and the Claw” has mighty strong animation work. Every aspect of the voice work and score come together to form a truly cohesive Batman experience.
- Batman’s emotional vulnerability
Stay tuned for more Batman: The Animated Series.