"Ascension" is the thirteenth episode and first season finale of Batman Beyond. It depicts Derek Powers' final moments as head of Wayne-Powers and the rise of his son Paxton Powers. Tired of having to hide behind the skin and running from his clients every time the skin starts to crack, Derek Powers decides to make his son, Paxton, acting chairman of the board. However, during the introductory meeting, Derek is angered to the point of shedding his skin, therefore revealing his condition to the world. Paxton calls in Batman to help him find his father, but Batman eventually learns that Derek's exposure was not an accident.
It's night at the Gotham docks and Blight personally hosts a robbery of several canisters of polymer. After easily dealing with the dockworkers, he soon discovers more trouble when he's confronted by Batman. Batman manages to stop the robbery and Blight ends up destroying all the canisters of polymer in a failed attempt to stop his enemy. However, the workers are trapped in a fire. Forced to save them, Batman allows Blight to escape. However, he discovers one of Blight's thugs and searches him, finding an ID card from Wayne-Powers, causing Batman to realize that Derek Powers is somehow involved in Blight's crimes.
Back at his lab, Blight fumes over his failure and asks how long the skin will last if they procure the materials through proper channels. His doctors say only about two weeks at most since the radiation and his temper is getting out of control. Deciding that he can no longer keep up the charade, Powers decides to call in some help.
Out in the Verdezan branch of Wayne-Powers, people angrily crowd around the building chanting, "Paxton Powers polluter!". Paxton is unconcerned, and refuses to listen to their demands. Miss Winston, Derek's secretary, arrives and tells Paxton that his father wants to see him. Flying to Gotham City, Paxton speaks privately with his father, who says he's appointing him temporary chairman of the board. Derek says Paxton will be a puppet, taking orders from him, but if he does well, then he will acquire real power later. Paxton asks what's going on and Derek reveals his condition.
Derek convenes a meeting of the Board, and several prominent stockholders, to announce his decision. Bruce is also in attendance. Several people protest, citing Paxton's poor track record in South America. Derek waves down their objections, but then several villagers from Verdeza barge in, shouting about what Paxton has done to their rivers. Derek tries to keep his temper, but his skin starts to flake. Then their leader, Mr. Mendez, dumps a pail full of tainted water and dying fish onto the boardroom table, splattering Powers. At that, Derek goes berserk and transforms into Blight, before the eyes of Bruce, the board, the stockholders, and everyone watching the news. Terry, who had been watching the press release from Bruce's car, realizes that Derek Powers is Blight. Bruce tries to intervene and is attacked, but Batman arrives, stopping Blight before he can kill him. After a brief fight, Blight leaves the room and escapes.
Later that night, Bruce analyzes the data and deduces that Blight's condition was caused by his exposure to the nerve gas—meaning Terry inadvertently caused it to happen. This pleases Terry, bothering Bruce, now worried that things have gotten too personal, but Terry is unrepentant. Powers has hidden behind his legal power and his money committing his evil deeds, but he's finally as ugly on the outside as he was on the inside, and now, Terry says, everyone can see him for the monster that he really is.
In Derek's absence, Paxton assumes leadership of Wayne-Powers. Derek calls him on the phone, telling his son to arrange a hideout for him. Paxton refuses, instead he calls for an ambulance so he can get medical treatment. Derek calls his son a fool and destroys the phone.
Batman goes out on patrol and soon sees the Bat-signal in the skies of Gotham. He follows it to Paxton's office at Wayne-Powers. Paxton says he's worried for his father and believes Batman is the only one who can help him. He shows Batman a device that Wayne-Powers scientists have developed that can absorb his father's radiation and subdue him. Batman agrees and heads out. However, just after he leaves, the villager, Mr. Mendez, arrives, revealing that he is actually Paxton's henchman. Paxton doesn't believe Batman's been entirely fooled by his "good son" act, and tells Mendez to be ready to kill him as well.
Seemingly the only person still loyal to Derek is Miss Winston. Batman follows her to an abandoned nuclear submarine moored at the docks, where she delivers a sandwich to her employer. Batman figures out that the submarine's background radioactivity hides Blight's from radiation searches. Batman passes on the location to Paxton.
The next night, Blight hears Batman's voice taunting him over the intercom. Blight angrily prowls the submarine, searching for him. Batman tells him his vendetta is partially personal, but refuses to divulge anything other than that Blight murdered his father. As Powers has murdered many people, this gives him very little information to figure out just who Batman might be, but Batman doesn't care. However, he finds he has walked into a trap and is captured in a net connected to the radiation-sucking machine, operated by Paxton. To Batman's horror, Paxton turns the machine to full power, intending to drain his father to death. In spite of Terry's hatred for Derek for his father's murder, deep down his sense of morality refuses to let Derek die. Paxton signals Mendez, who enters and opens fire on Batman, but misses and destroys the controls for the machine. Blight revives and Paxton flees the sub in panic. In rage, Blight releases so much radiation that it causes the submarine to sink. Saving Mendez and another henchman, Batman manages to escape the sub, but Blight is last seen inside the sub as it goes down.
Paxton returns to his office, where he is confirmed as acting Chairman of the Board. Batman arrives and tells him that he made a bad enemy. Paxton is unconcerned as he sees on the news that Blight's body was never found, and believes that he melted with the submarine. Batman, unconvinced, ominously warns him that he shouldn't be so sure.
- Terry refers to his father's murder in "Rebirth, Part I", and Bruce mentions Derek Powers being exposed to the nerve gas in the end of "Rebirth, Part II".
- Paxton finally gets his comeuppance in "King's Ransom".
Home video releases
- Terry watches Derek Powers' board announcement from his car, but there does not appear to be any form of camera or broadcast equipment in the room for this to be possible.
- Despite Batman's warning, this episode marks Derek Powers/Blight's final appearance on the show. It is unknown if he was killed when the submarine sank or not.
- This episode features the final use of a Bat-signal.
- The episode also hints that Miss Winston harbors romantic feelings for Derek Powers. It is later elaborated on in Batman Beyond #8, where she survives an assassination attempt and becomes Vendetta, seeking revenge on Batman and Paxton for Derek's demise.
|Will Friedle||Terry McGinnis / Batman|
|Kevin Conroy||Bruce Wayne|
|Cary Elwes||Paxton Powers|
|Sherman Howard||Derek Powers / Blight|
|Tress MacNeille||Miss Winston|
|John Rubinow||VidNews Anchor|
Paxton: "No more pollution". How do they expect us to make a profit?
Terry: You okay?
(Terry destroys the Bat-signal after Paxton used it to call him out.)
Terry: Do you think he was born this way?
Bruce: Careful, Terry, you're sounding a little too vindictive.
Terry: Ahoy Captain!
Blight: Who are you?!
Paxton: Did you really expect me to believe you'd ever give me power? That I'd ever have an ounce of control as long as you were alive? You taught me by example, Dad. The only way to get power is to seize it!
Blight: (Last words) PAXTON!!
Batman: You made a bad enemy tonight.