"Earth Mover" is the fifteenth episode of Batman Beyond. It depicts the emergence of a villain known only as the Earthmover. One of Terry's friends, Jackie Wallace, continuously feels like she's being watched and Terry soon comes across a man made entirely out of dirt. Things start getting worse as more and more of these dirt men start showing up. Soon, Terry learns that the real culprit is Jackie's father, who is out to get his daughter back and revenge on Bill Wallace, who he blames for his condition. To save them both, Batman must face one of the most powerful beings he's ever encountered.
It's a quiet night out and Terry is finally getting some studying done with his friends Dana and Jackie. Dana is skeptical of Terry's ability to multiply without a calculator, but when she asks her friend Jackie to punch it into a calculator, Jackie wasn't listening. When asked if there is anything wrong, Jackie explains that she feels like she's being stalked but she never sees anyone.
Outside, an unidentified man approaches the house. However, no one notices at the moment, as they are more concerned with the fact that Jackie calls her guardian "Bill" instead of "dad". When Bill leaves, Terry notices the stalker outside and goes after him. The stalker quickly runs and somehow manages to slip under a fence. Still, Terry is able to reach him, but is surprised to find that whatever it is he caught isn't human. After tackling the creature, it breaks up on the road. Terry takes a sample of the creature to Bruce who says that the sample is nothing more than "soil, plain old dirt". All the same, he tells Terry to keep an eye on Jackie.
Back at school, Terry talks to Jackie about the incident and says that one of her father's enemies could be responsible. Jackie tells him that Bill's not her father and refuses to say any more. Bill shows up shortly afterward and agrees to give Dana and Terry a ride, but insists on showing them something. He takes the trio to a vacant lot, which he plans to buy and build a new factory upon. As he tells them about his plans, an earthquake starts up, causing the ground to crack and belch out several canisters of an unidentified chemical. More dirt men start appearing and attack the group. Batman fights but soon discovers that the ground itself is against him and is pummeled. However, when Jackie and Bill escape in the car, the dirt men stop attacking and return to the ground.
Bill desperately tries to leave while Jackie asks a bunch of questions that he refuses to answer. Just then, a figure appears in the shadows and Bill cries out apologies to "Tony", which was the name of Jackie's father. The figure turns out to be Batman, and Jackie demands to learn what's going on. Bill explains about an incident that occurred ten years ago:
Bill was just starting his company and had to get rid of toxic waste. However, he couldn't afford to do it the way he was supposed to. He discovered a sealed mine shaft and buried the waste there. However, a friend of his named Tony was reluctant. Bill offered him a partnership to convince him to cooperate and it worked. Tony went into the mine to oversee the lowering of the canisters, but one of the canisters got snagged and caused a cave in. Tony was buried in the cave in and the canisters ruptured. He was covered in the toxic waste. Bill figured he was dead and took Jackie in to make up for his mistake.
After Bill finishes his story, Batman explains that the waste scrambled Tony's DNA with the earth itself and thereby made him part of the planet. The ground begins to shake again and the trio instantly knows it's Tony. Figuring that Tony is after him alone, Bill tries to drive off, but a hole opens in the ground and he falls in. Batman goes after him but fails to save him. As Batman ponders his next move, the entire house, with Jackie still inside, sinks into the ground.
Jackie wanders out of the house and finds that she's been taken to a large underground cave. While exploring, she discovers a corpse half-buried in the ground surrounded by metal canisters. She instantly recognizes this creature as her father and greets him. He talks with her for a short while, but becomes enraged when he hears she thinks that what happened to him was an accident. After Jackie mentions Bill, Tony gets even angrier and releases him. Bill apologizes but to no avail: Tony believes that he didn't want a partner, arranged the "accident", and stole his daughter. He then proceeds to cause Bill to sink into the ground and has one of his dirt men grab Jackie when she tries to save him. Fortunately, Batman arrives shortly thereafter.
Enraged at the intrusion, Earthmover summons a small army of dirt men, but Batman is equipped to deal with them. He fights the dirt men with a spinning blade and rescues Bill by tossing him into the underground river next to the sub he came in. Earthmover isn't about to give up however, and summons a giant dirt man which grabs Jackie before she can escape. The dirt giant also grabs Batman, but he breaks the canisters around Earthmover, causing the chemicals to soak the creature and cause it enough pain to make it lose its concentration. The dirt giant's hands break apart and Batman takes Jackie to his sub.
The three try to escape, but a huge boulder falls in the way of their escape route. Batman tries to use his last torpedoes on the boulder but it's too strong. Fortunately, Earthmover still loves his daughter and uses the last of his strength to send out tentacles of earth to crush the boulder. Batman then pilots the sub out of the cave. Meanwhile, Earthmover sees that his dirt giant is about to fall on him and decides to submit. The giant falls, tearing him from his prison at last, causing him to die. In the sub, Jackie feels bad about her father, but after Batman tells her that Earthmover is nothing more than a ghost, she finally accepts Bill as her new dad.
Home video releases
- It seems odd that Bruce would have such a hard time taking Terry seriously about the dirt monsters, considering all of the unusual and supernatural beings he has encountered when he was Batman.
- After the second attack, Bill escaped with Jackie in his car, and Terry flew off as Batman. How Dana got away is unclear, unless she ran off after she hid behind that rock.
- This episode reveals that Terry's age is seventeen. Later, in the Justice League Unlimited episode "Epilogue", Terry imagines quitting as Batman, and mentions how he was sixteen when Bruce started training him.
- On the commentary to "The Eggbaby", Bruce Timm reveals that "Earth Mover" is one of his favorite episodes. One reason for this, he says, is that it is more ambiguous in its morality — its "villain", Bill, is not a thoroughly evil man, and has tried to make up for his past misdeeds, while the main antagonist, Tony, has understandable motives for his acts, but is irredeemably destructive.
|Will Friedle||Batman/Terry McGinnis|
|Kevin Conroy||Bruce Wayne|
|Dan Lauria||Bill Wallace|
|Stephen Collins||Earthmover/Tony Maychek|
|Mark Jonathan Davis||VidNews Anchor|
|Lauren Tom||Dana Tan|
Bruce: What did you find out from your friend Jackie?
Jackie: My father...