"Hooked Up" is the 21st episode of Batman Beyond. It originally aired on November 13, 1999. Batman discovers several teenagers addicted to a new form of virtual reality, which causes harmful side-effects and pushes many of its users to crime to pay for their habit. Things worsen when Max, who has been pressing Terry to let her take a more active role in his crime-fighting, investigates the technology and becomes hooked on it herself.
A young teenager named Donny gives a knockout performance at a rock concert. As he leaves the arena, he pushes past his adoring fans and enters a limousine with three waiting girlfriends... then the scene changes to a virtual reality parlor, where Donny's booth has just been shut off. He begs to be put back in, but the proprietor says he needs to pay.
At Hamilton Hill High School, Terry is still trying to wake up after another rough night. Max suggests that he would do better if she came with him sometimes, but he refuses point-blank.
On patrol that night, Terry sees Donny, who ran away from home and school the week before. Donny is trying to panhandle from passersby, but when they refuse, he becomes violent and starts mugging them, snatching wallets and purses. Batman confronts him, and is astonished when Donny leaps off the building roof in desperation to get away from him. The chase leads down to the highway, where Terry is forced to break off the pursuit to prevent a highway crash.
Donny returns to the parlor and offers the stolen money, begging to be hooked up again, and is given another chance by the proprietor... Spellbinder.
Another one of Spellbinder's clients, Jessie, suddenly loses consciousness and becomes comatose. Spellbinder shuts off the others' booths, and tells them to dump Jessie somewhere, and then go out to find some "new recruits".
Jessie is later found and hospitalized. Bruce notes that she is the latest in a long list of runaways who have been later found comatose and are currently hospitalized. Whatever is happening to them is likely connected to Donny.
Terry reluctantly brings Max along on an investigation, to visit Donny's parents, whom she has met before. They are disturbed to see that the parents live in a seedy apartment, and that Donny's father is abusive towards his wife and no longer wants to see his son. While there, Max finds a cash card belonging to Donny, and sees a large number of charges from a video arcade, which includes a virtual reality booth.
They visit the arcade, which is legitimate. While there, Donny and two other of Spellbinder's clients catch sight of Max and Terry, and offer to show them a "real" virtual reality experience. Terry is reluctant, but Max is eager to investigate further. After hearing that the experience is offered by Spellbinder there is a fight in which Terry is distracted by Donny, but Max is dragged away.
In the illicit virtual reality device, Max experiences an intoxicating fantasy where she returns home to a loving and supportive family.
The next night, on patrol as Batman, Terry is shocked to see Max breaking into a car's glove compartment to steal from it. He confronts her, and she says she is desperate to get back to the V.R. room. Terry convinces her to return home, and he catches a glimpse of her reality: her parents are divorced, and her mother is hardly ever home because of her work schedule. Most of the time it's just Max and her sister.
As she lays down to rest, Terry calls Bruce on the phone — then Max sneaks up on him and knocks him out before leaving the apartment.
After regaining consciousness, Terry tracks down Donny and follows him to the parlor's location. He finds Max there, hooked in again. He shuts down her booth, and she rages at him, telling him that it is what she wants and he has no right to interfere. He tries to reason with her, but then Spellbinder ambushes him and knocks him out. Max is eager to get hooked back in, and doesn't seem to notice that Spellbinder is about to kill Terry.
Spellbinder overloads Terry's mind with his illusion device, then Max breaks out of the booth and subdues him. Spellbinder is arrested, and an examination of his machines allows the authorities to treat his victims.
Max apologizes, saying that she almost got both of them killed. Terry tells her not to worry, it worked out all right in the end. Moreover, she's now proven her worth to him as a partner, and they can take this all one step at a time.
- Max is pressing Terry to become more involved in his secret life as Batman, after discovering it in "Hidden Agenda".
- Spellbinder's virtual reality booth would later be used to temporarily imprison Mad Stan in "Eyewitness".
- Max does not know that Bruce Wayne was the original Batman at this point. By the episode "Final Cut", she has figured it out.
- Spellbinder's virtual reality booth is similar to the Black Mercy, which was used by Mongul in the Justice League Unlimited episode "For the Man Who Has Everything". Both make someone feel that they are in a world made up of their own personal desires, and once they come back to reality, the feeling is too much to bear.
Home video releases
- Batman Beyond: Spellbound (VHS)
- Batman Beyond – School Dayz and Spellbound (DVD)
- Batman Beyond - Season Two (DVD)
- Batman Beyond - The Complete Series (DVD)
- Batman Beyond - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
- Like the episode "The Winning Edge", the episode is a commentary on addiction.
- Bruce reports that Jessie, and Spellbinder's other victims, have turned up comatose, with excess levels of serotonin (a neurotransmitter) in their brains. Serotonin is often released from the brain's neurons by the action of certain psychedelic drugs, including Ecstasy. Also, serotonin syndrome, frequently caused by an overdose on recreational drugs, has a range of symptoms which can include coma.
- When Spellbinder attempts to overload Terry's mind, several frames from this and previous episodes flash in the screen:
- A shot of Terry laughing and holding a book and Warren with his arm around Terry (x2);
- A shot of Bruce, as he overhears Terry getting knocked out earlier in this episode;
- A shot of Max eating a meal from earlier in this episode;
- A shot of Warren smiling (x2);
- A shot of Blight screaming (x2);
- A shot of Max smiling after Kip told her Spellbinder's RV Room could simulate love from earlier in the episode (x7);
- A shot of Bruce in the Batcave and Ace yawning ― "Earth Mover";
- Batman steering the Bat-submarine (x2) ― "Earth Mover";
- A close-up of Bruce talking to Terry (x2) ― "Earth Mover";
- A shot of the reactor from Dr. Price's ship (x3) ― "Joyride";
- A shot of Scab ― "Joyride";
- A shot of Lee riding a motorcycle ― "Joyride";
- A shot of Donny hung over from earlier in the episode;
- A shot of Abel Cuvier mutated into a monster ― "Splicers";
- A shot of Dana's splicing simulation with leopard spots ― "Splicers"
- A shot of the Batmobile under a limelight in the Batcave ― "Joyride";
- A shot of Spellbinder from earlier in this episode;
- A shot of a dirt monster ― "Earth Mover";
- A shot of the moonlight― "Earth Mover";
- A shot of Earthmover ― "Earth Mover";
Max: Rough night?
Max: (to Bruce after knocking out Terry) Whoever you are, when he wakes up, tell him I'm sorry.
Terry: I can't believe I got her involved in this!
Terry: You can't live in a fantasy world!