Batman: 04 The Last Laugh

Batman is a DC Comics character, and Batman: The Animated Series is owned by Warner Home Video. If you'd like to purchase this episode, you may do so here; if you'd like to buy the DVD box set, you may do so here. This episode was written by Carl Swenson and directed by Kevin Altieri.

Nosferatu by way of Bozo gives the viewer a buck toothed and off center grin, the eyes reminiscent of those found in Goya's Saturn Devouring His Son; the tune is an upbeat violin number with street swagger to spare.

A truck labeled the Gotham Globe drops off the Gotham News, bringing the total number of papers to four and confusing supply lines. A shot that lingers too long on a utility knife wants us to know April Fool's day has come to Gotham. 

Pennywise's muscle-bound older brother has also come to Gotham, driving a trash laden barge. A sickly vapor wafts off it, causing passing motorists to go barmy with laughter. Subsequent to exposure, they make questionable driving decisions.

Is green gas a humdrum occurrence in Gotham by now? One day it causes your worst fears, the next, giggling? Do you think auto insurance has a “green gas” rider?

At Wayne Manor, Bruce is shaving with more gravitas than the President's funeral procession. As he starts his shower, the radio reports that shenanigans are afoot. Our hero instantly clues in to the Joker's involvement. 

And rightly so, for underneath the stink boat is a smiling submarine. From it emerge SCUBA divers in Joker colored gear, who pry open the armored car that pitched into the river after the driving had a laughing fit. There's gold in that thar car!

Inside the submarine, the Joker's is primping in his purple suit; his personal hygiene routine would put a French noblewoman's to shame.

The submarine docks, and the Joker emerges with a shopping cart and a fishbowl helmet. The green gas floods down the streets of Gotham, bringing with it a plague of hilarity. The Joker's theme plays as he and his mooks take everything not nailed down.

The Batcomputer interrupts our hero's welding to inform him prolonged exposure to the gas will cause insanity. Thanks computer! I'm sure that's not ominous foreshadowing at all.

Alfred doesn't sound like himself over the intercom, and Batman runs upstairs. Gas has flooded the Manor, and Batman barely gets his mask on in time. Alfred giggles while smashing everything in his opulent employer’s home with a broom, living out every housekeeper's secret fantasy. 

Batman catches him as he collapses, the computer's words haunting him. 

Commercial break!

The Batboat speeds towards a Gotham that's laughed itself into anarchy. The Joker cracks wise at a gas masked Summer Gleeson's news report, at least until the stink boat shudders to a halt. He stumbles to his feet and reaches for the periscope.

Through the viewfinder he spies Batman, who then punches the entire assembly so hard the Joker is knocked backwards several feet. That's right, Batman punched a submarine. 

The stink boat is rapidly towed away from Gotham by the Batboat. The Joker and his mooks confront the Dark Knight, but he makes short work of them. It looks like this will be an easy one, but then Pennwise's brother uses his hands to rip the tow cable in half.

Batman tries a punch to the gut, but it bounces off with a clang. The newly revealed Clownbot grabs him, hoists him above its head, and goes into a spin cycle like the washer from hell.

The Joker wheels a trash can over, and the Clownbot stuffs a disoriented and nauseated Batman inside. Not wanting Batman to suffocate, the Joker gleefully uses a stiletto dagger to stab airholes in the can.

This scene – his mad justification and delirious laughter as a trapped Batman tries to avoid random knife blows in the dark – is the Joker. It's the heart of the character in fifteen seconds.

Clownbot tosses the trashcan into the river, where water pours in. Bubbles fight for the surface as our hero sinks down, down, down.

Commercial break!

He takes one last breath of air and presses a button on his utility belt. The Batboat speeds towards him, silently slipping under the waves. It settles next to him on the river's bottom.

Batman flips his belt open and presses the “fire lasers randomly” button.

Our hero dodges the laser beam like he did the knife blows, and swims mightily for the surface.

The Joker is at the Ace Waste Disposal Plant, increasing the strength of the stink boat with twin hoses of green liquid. Batman appears and slices through them with a single thrown batarang.

Batman!” the Joker exclaims.

The mooks attack, but they're awful and Batman is angry. No Tommy gun and no moves means that he has their masks off without ever taking – or even throwing – a punch. They succumb to the green gas.

Batman is ready for Clownbot this time. He grabs a metal rod and beats the robot down. It's not enough, however, and it chases him through the junkyard while making the creepiest sound possible.

Batman lures Clownbot to a trash compactor, where he scores a devastating blow both to its face and my dream life.

He trips the robot into the compactor, and gives a little “whew” of relief. Too soon, though, as it surges out at him in true horror movie fashion. He barely throws the lever in time, and it's turned into a cube.

The Joker is incensed, giving Mark Hamill a chance to chew the scenery before dumping a pile of rusted metal on Batman. He then rides off on the conveyor belt, sitting on top of the Weighted Clownbot Cube.

Batman runs after him into the disassembly plant, while the Joker sits, as Zen as a homicidal lunatic can be. Finally, our hero catches up. However, the clown calmly grabs a rope, leaving Batman hurtling towards a river of molten metal!

Our hero catches himself on a giant metal bucket. He's treated to a quick breather before a hook slams into him, courtesy of the Joker. He catches a ride on the next one, only for the Joker to let the slack out.

A series of flips worthy of a 10.0, even from the Russian judge, lands Batman on a giant gear. He crawls onto the catwalk, and the Joker scurries down a pipe slide in the middle of the floor. OSHA would have a field day with this place. Batman follows.

The villain grabs yet another rope, while Batman is left to dangle from the chute over a pit of fire. The Joker presses a button, and a mound of trash falls down the tube toward him.

The deluge of detritus catches Batman in the chest, and he remembers he has things like batarangs with rope attached. He swings across the fire, although I'm guessing he suffers at least second degree burns on his bat-bottom.

On another in an endless series of catwalks, Batman stalks towards the Joker. The two are having a grade A quip off. Not content to joust only with words, the clown throws a razor tipped playing card with enough force to embed in concrete.

Batman catches the next card with a self-satisfied smirk. Stunned, the Joker runs away, but gets caught on one of his ropes. He hangs above the flames, begging Batman for help. Our hero looks down at him, enjoying the spectacle.

Alfred is cleaning the manor, his manner saturnine. Bruce emerges from his eighth consecutive shower, still reeking of trash. (Also, probably, burnt bat-bottom.) He asks what's wrong, and Alfred tells him he destroyed a Ming vase during his earlier revel.

Bruce assures him it's no trouble, he'll just take it from his butler's salary for the next few years. Given that a Ming vase can auction for anywhere between $750,000 and $84M, Alfred's impersonation of “new prisoner in the showers” is warranted.

April Fool's,” Bruce says, and chuckles. The last laugh really does belong to Batman.

End credits. Batman is awesome.