"Countdown" is the twelfth episode of the third season of Batman Beyond. It depicts the return of Zeta to Gotham. Hoping to find Eli Selig at a science convention, Zeta and Ro make their way to that city. Zeta is nearly captured by Agent Bennett, only to be rescued by Mad Stan. However, when Mad Stan discovers that Zeta is really an assassin droid, he straps a bomb onto Zeta's back and sends him on a suicide course. Now Batman and Ro have to find Zeta and disarm the bomb and they only have until midnight to do it.
At Gotham University, an announcer inaugurates the World Science Symposium, a gathering of the world's greatest scientific minds to share ideas for new technologies. However, before the announcer can continue, Mad Stan hacks into his video feed and starts another one of his rants, claiming that technology is making people soft, and the only sane solution, as usual, is to "blow it all up!". Batman arrives and confronts him. A quick fight ensues and though it seems to be a stalemate at first, Stan manages to escape.
Out at the train station, Ro and Zeta arrive in Gotham, believing that Dr. Selig is supposed to attend the Symposium. Ro is surprised that Zeta knows his way around, and he explains that he's been to Gotham before—he even knows Batman personally. Ro is skeptical, but Zeta`s earnest expression convinces her. However, Agent Bennett and the NSA are waiting at the station for him. They attack Zeta, causing the duo to run through the streets. As the agents pursue the duo across an intersection, Bennett tells an oncoming truck to halt, declaring themselves to be federal agents. The truck driver, Mad Stan, sees what he believes is another example of the government trampling someone's "basic human rights". The agents corner Zeta in an alleyway and hit him with an electromagnetic device that shuts him down. However, before they can take Zeta in, Stan rams his truck into the alleyway, grabs Zeta, and speeds away.
Stan takes Zeta to his hideout, a houseboat in the harbor, and greets his pet Chihuahua, Boom-Boom. The dog is wary of Zeta and touches him, disrupting his holographic disguise and alerting Stan that he is really a robot. Believing that Zeta was sent by the government to kill him, Stan grabs a bomb and decides to turn the tables.
Meanwhile, Ro calls 9-1-1 and says she needs Batman, thinking that the GPD keep him "in a closet somewhere". The operator dismisses her as a crank, but, luckily for her, Bruce is monitoring the emergency band and sends Terry to meet her.
As soon as the operator hangs up on Ro, a gang of Jokerz approaches, planning to mug her. Ro tries to run, but they tackle her and prepare to assault her with electric knuckles. Fortunately, Batman arrives and takes out the gang. Ro explains Zeta's plight and joins up with Batman.
Elsewhere, Mad Stan drives dangerously through the city and reactivates Zeta. He tells him that Ro is hiding from the feds and gives him an address to find her. Zeta heads off to the address.
Batman and Ro go to investigate a boat that is registered under one of Stan's aliases. Once inside, Batman is almost immediately attacked by Stan's security system. He manages to disable that easily enough but Stan doesn't attack. Ro follows him in, and they both burst into Stan's cabin, and find him in a drugged slumber. Boom-Boom runs in and starts barking at the intruders and they notice a disk attached to his collar. On it is a message from Stan, explaining that he's sent Zeta out with a "special delivery" that's set to go off at midnight, and put himself out for at least 24 hours so they can't get the destination out of him. They have less than half an hour to find him and with Zeta's ability at disguise, it won't be easy. Batman decides that he'll have to find help and leaves Ro with a radio.
Batman finds Agent Bennett and asks him for help but he is very uncooperative, unconcerned about the lives that might be lost. However, Agent West manages to plant a tracer on the Batmobile and they prepare to follow him. Batman contacts Bruce, who informs him that Stan's rants are usually triggered by something on the news. He proceeds to check the latest sound bites for anything that might have gotten Stan angry.
Meanwhile, Zeta is assaulted by the same group of Jokerz that attacked Ro. However, they are unprepared for Zeta's superhuman strength and are quickly dealt with. One of the Jokerz goes over the side of the highway and lands on the Batmobile. Batman interrogates him and gets a lead on Zeta's whereabouts. Batman calls up Bruce to let him know and Bruce explains Mad Stan's plan: the Department of Health is looking to raise the price of pet licenses, which angered Stan because of Boom-Boom.
Batman arrives at the department with only three minutes till midnight. With only one minute left, he finally finds Zeta and tackles him. Grabbing the bomb, he hurls it out the window just before it goes off.
With the immediate danger averted, Batman and Zeta head out of the building but the NSA arrives and tells them that the building is surrounded. Zeta decides that Batman should leave and he will face Bennett alone. The NSA agents storm the place and watch as Batman leaves the building. They decide to let him go as they only want Zeta. A search of the building ensues and they discover a lone teenager inside but after scanning him they leave him alone since he's truly human. As they leave Terry smiles at the deception. In the Batmobile, "Batman" removes his disguise revealing himself to be Zeta.
Later, Zeta destroys the tracking device and tells Batman that Dr. Selig has already moved on and they have to go. Ro kisses Batman as thanks, saying that he`s a real friend. They say good-bye to Batman and continue on their quest.
- From Batman's point of view, this is a sequel to "Zeta" and the third time he's met Bennett (after "Plague").
- This episode was aired on the same day as the episode, "Shadows" from The Zeta Project. It aired half an hour after "Shadows" but takes place before the events of that episode, since in "Shadows", Ro and Batman have already met.
Home video releases
- Batman Beyond - Season Three (DVD)
- Batman Beyond - The Complete Series (DVD)
- The Zeta Project: Season One (DVD)
- Spike's hair is brown, whereas, in his other appearances, it is green.
- In "Final Cut", Max could barely fit into the Batmobile, but Ro has plenty of room.
- When Zeta is on the Batmobile, when he shifts back to his robotic body, his hands, still in a grasping motion, aren't touching the controls.
- Bennett refuses to cooperate with Batman in finding Zeta, then has Batman tracked to lead him to the synthoid - even though Batman's just said he's having no luck finding him.
- Bennett claims he's not bothered if the synthoid is destroyed (even if it kills people) as it will make his job easier. While that fits with "Zeta", in "The Accomplice" and subsequent The Zeta Project episodes his mission is to take Zeta intact (and episodes like "Absolute Zero" make it clear he's worried about lost lives).
- When Mad Stan yells "Road hog!" while driving, the sleeves on his black shirt disappear.
- When Batman plays Mad Stan's message, the digital clock beside the player reads 11:28. On the message, Batman is told that he has until midnight to find Zeta, and he looks at the clock to see that it's 11:33, as though five minutes have gone by. The message, however, has only been playing for a few moments.
- This was the last Batman Beyond episode to be produced.
- Last appearance of Mad Stan.
- Bennett and the NSA are dramatically less violent than in "Zeta", where they were firing lasers in a crowded area. They're still harsher than in The Zeta Project: West is ordered to fire when Ro is in the way and Bennett shrugs off the threat of the bomb. Meanwhile, Zeta — who normally wants to avoid violence and is against killing — (accidentally) throws one of the Jokerz off a bridge (who gets saved by Batman).
- Ro's 9-1-1 call echoes a theory voiced by Two-Face in the Batman: The Animated Series episode "Almost Got 'Im" that Batman is actually a secret "special" officer of the GPD.
- The Top Hat Joker uses same kind of electrified knuckles used by Mr. Fixx in Rebirth.
- Zeta and Bennett's appearances matches their revamped appearances on The Zeta Project, rather than their original appearance in "Zeta".
- When Ro is crying wolf to the operator, she mentions the Royal Flush Gang, Inque, and Blight.
- When Zeta drops his Batman disguise inside the Batmobile, the theme music from The Zeta Project plays.
- The man that swerves into a fire hydrant seems to be the same one Batman saved in the train in "Hidden Agenda". He also makes a cameo in "Rats" and "Speak No Evil".
- Agent West actually does something right by placing the tracer on the Batmobile.
- The "look" Zeta uses after leaving Mad Stan and keeps up until Batman finds him is the same one he used at the end of the episode "Zeta" after pretending to be destroyed.
- When Ro is confronted by the Jokerz and addresses them as "clowns", the Top Hat Joker says "Not clowns. Jokerz". This is very similar to what was said by the original Joker in the Superman: The Animated Series episode "World's Finest, Part I".
|Will Friedle||Terry McGinnis / Batman|
|Kevin Conroy||Bruce Wayne|
|Bruce Timm||Top Hat Joker|
|Michael Rosenbaum|| Agent West|
|Henry Rollins||Mad Stan|
|Kurtwood Smith||Agent Bennett|
|Lauren Tom||Agent Lee|
|Keone Young||Dr. Ho|
|T'Keyah Keymáh||Dispatch Operator|
Mad Stan: You think these ideas are new? Forget it, man! It's the same old story. We're a push-button society. Technology makes our heads soft, our bodies weak, but I've got a new idea. Blow it up! Blow it all up!
Mad Stan: We're slaves to the machine, Batman! Someone's got to stop the madness!
Ro: I saw the Royal Flush Gang. Yeah. And they were trashing City Hall along with Inque and Blight and a gazillion Jokerz.
Ro: Zeta was picked up by some muscle-bound gorilla with a thing for explosives.
Batman: I'll go. You're staying here.
Ro: I can't believe you actually trusted Mad Stan! I mean, wasn't the name kind of a giveaway?