"Meltdown" is the fifth episode of Batman Beyond. It depicts the return of Mr. Freeze. Tired of having to use a suit of plastic skin that can crack at any time, Derek Powers decides to try having a healthy body cloned from his original damaged one. However, the procedure is first tested on Mr. Freeze. At first, it seems that the procedure has worked and he tries to lead a normal, peaceful life. Unfortunately, he soon discovers that the procedure is a failure and the people he once trusted have betrayed him. Seeking revenge, the evil personality of Mr. Freeze is born again.
Out at the Gotham Docks, Batman tests the water and discovers that it's ripe with radiation. The reason soon arrives and a bunch of men in lead suits arrive to unload canisters of radioactive waste into a barge. Batman takes on his stealth mode and starts attacking the crew. Being able to move virtually undetected, he easily defeats the crew and stops the evidence from being removed. Batman then goes after the group's leader, and using the man's cell phone, he discovers Derek Powers' involvement.
Derek, at this time, is trying to buy out a company and using the underhanded tactic of using a late hour negotiation. Unfortunately for him, when he hears from Batman informing him that his men are going to be caught by the coast guard, much to his anger, his skin starts to crack and he has to give up the negotiation for the time being.
Back in his laboratory, Powers complains about the fact that the skin hardly lasts any more but there is nothing his doctors can do. However, a new doctor, Dr. Stephanie Lake, approaches Powers and tells him that she can clone him a new body and transfer his mind into it. This body would be healthy, since she would screen out the mutation. Powers is intrigued, but Dr. Lake says that she wants to test the procedure on someone else: Mr. Freeze's disembodied but immortal head which has been kept in a Wayne-Powers vault for nearly fifty years.
The procedure is performed and Victor Fries soon finds himself in a new, healthy body—one that, miraculously, is able to feel heat and cold like a normal person. Things seem okay, but Bruce is suspicious of both Fries and Powers and tells Terry to tail Fries. Terry does as told, but sees that Fries is a decent enough man and is unneeded until a sniper tries to kill him. Batman stops the attack, but the sniper cries that "the monster's gotta die". Mr. Freeze had previously killed this sniper's family and he now seeks revenge. Fries decides that he's done enough damage to the sniper's life, and sets him free, vowing to make amends.
Later, Fries announces that he's starting an organization so that he can help the people he once hurt. He promises to fund this with his legitimate holdings, which now comes to significant sum in this time. Watching this, Bruce cynically comments that this is blood money. Terry, on the other hand, agrees with his mother's sentiment that Fries is trying to change. After the announcement, Fries starts to notice that he's feeling hot. He leaves the studio and feels even more uncomfortable from the heat. However, it soon starts snowing, and he immediately feels better, proving that he's starting to revert to his previous condition.Fries returns to Dr. Lake and she informs Powers of the incident. She guesses that there is a mnemonic agent within his DNA that caused him to revert. Powers wishes to biopsy Fries' organs, and without warning, Dr. Lake seals Victor inside a cell and turns up the heat to try to knock him out, but he escapes the cell, now convinced that Dr. Lake and Powers have betrayed and tried to murder him. He escapes the facility, hell bent on revenge once more.
When he learns about his escape, Bruce tells Terry to keep an eye on Wayne-Powers because he believes that Mr. Freeze will be back. Terry, after having met Fries in the park, is skeptical at first, but Bruce does not yield, claiming that Freeze lives for revenge, even against those who have never done him harm. His prediction proves to be true, and the building is soon covered in ice. Freeze arrives in a suit more powerful than any he had built before, with improved protection against bullets and freeze guns built into the gauntlets. Freeze corners Powers and Dr. Lake, and freezes them both in icy coffins, then goes out and fights off some guards, making his way towards the main power generators.
Unknown to him, back in the hallway, Powers unleashes the full heat of his body's radioactivity, shedding both his icy prison and his artificial skin.
In the generator's control room, Freeze sets the systems on overload. Batman appears, pleading with Freeze to stop, as he will only cause more suffering. Freeze refuses, saying that he plans to end his own life by going up with the building—no matter how many others are killed in the explosion. Batman tries to stop him, but Freeze attacks and encases him in ice. Then Powers appears in his full radioactive glory, and bombards Freeze with radiation, hot enough to be felt through the suit. Because Powers does not have his artificial skin, Batman doesn't recognize him.
Batman frees himself from his icy prison and attacks Powers, who now identifies himself as "Blight". As the two fight, Bruce warns Terry that the Batsuit won't be able to protect him indefinitely from such high levels of radiation.
As the fight continues, Blight manages to get Batman down and is about to kill him when Mr. Freeze intervenes and hits Blight with a supercharged freeze gun blast, sending him rocketing out of the building and into a nearby frozen pond. Batman manages to stop the system overload, but the room starts to collapse from the weight of all the ice generated. Freeze has been horribly wounded by Blight's radiation burns, but tells Batman to stay back. Batman wants to save him, but Freeze blocks his way with a wall of ice, forcing him to exit the complex before it explodes, taking Freeze with it.
Powers' doctors retrieve him from the pond where he landed. To his annoyance, they also brought him some blankets in case he was cold.
Later, Terry mourns the apparent death of Freeze and decides that Bruce was right about Freeze being evil. However, Bruce admits that Terry was also right about Fries being a good man.
- This is the first appearance of Derek Powers as Blight (not including the first look at his glowing skeletal form in "Rebirth, Part II"). Terry McGinnis does not connect Powers and Blight as one person until "Ascension".
- Mr. Freeze's head somehow ended up in possession of Wayne-Powers years after it separated from his robotic body in the The New Batman Adventures episode "Cold Comfort".
Home video releases
- Batman Beyond - Season One (DVD)
- Batman Beyond - The Complete Series (DVD)
- Batman Beyond The Movie (DVD)
- Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero (Blu-ray)
- When the laboratory starts the explode, the resulting explosion is reused footage from the scene of the Superman: The Animated Series episode "World's Finest, Part III" in which two Wayne/Lex T-7 droids blow up after Batman electrocutes them. Later on, when the entire facility explodes, it features footage from that same episode when one Wayne/Lex T-7 blows up another droid.
- It's strange that Dr. Lake would try to kill Victor Fries in order to perform a biopsy, as a biopsy requires living organs. As it is not mentioned that she actually meant to kill him, it can be assumed that she merely intended the heat to knock him unconscious, and did not know about Fries's special condition.
- After Fries escapes, Dr. Lake says confidently that he won't last long, since Gotham is experiencing a heat wave. This statement contrasts with several visual cues showing winter weather: the snow that saves Freeze when he leaves the studio, and escapes from Lake's trap; and the frozen pond that Powers crashes through after being blasted out of the building.
- Although Powers wears the same clothes when he is Blight, Batman somehow does not make the connection between the two.
- Mr. Freeze last appeared in the The New Batman Adventures episode "Cold Comfort". It was never explained how his head came to be in the possession of Wayne-Powers. However, Freeze re-appeared in the DCAU-based comic books Batman: Gotham Adventures #5 and Batman Adventures #15. In the latter issue, Freeze's head is retrieved by Warren Powers (Derek Powers's father), head of Powers Technology, keeping it in the belief that it will lead him to the secret of immortality.
- Tress MacNeille replaces Mari Devon as the voice actor of Miss Winston.
- Before going through the transfer procedure, Mr. Freeze's damaged head's art style and shadows make him look an awful lot like Herman Von Klempt, a character from the Hellboy comics who Mr. Freeze's design was greatly based on. Mike Mignola designed Mr. Freeze's original design for Batman: The Animated Series and was the creator of the Hellboy comics and characters.
- This episode marks both Mr. Freeze's final chronological and production-wise appearances in the DC Animated Universe. Despite his implied immortality, it appears that he has perished.
- First appearance of one of Batman's original enemies. Subsequent ones included Bane, Ra's al Ghul and the Joker.
- This episode also marks the first big clash between Batman and Powers's alterego, Blight.
|Will Friedle||Terry McGinnis / Batman|
|Kevin Conroy||Bruce Wayne|
|Lauren Tom||Dana Tan|
|Sherman Howard||Derek Powers / Blight|
|Tress MacNeille||Miss Winston|
|Corey Burton||Barge Captain|
|Michael Ansara||Victor Fries / Mr. Freeze|
|Linda Hamilton||Dr. Stephanie Lake|
|Stuart Pankin||Key Negotiator|
|John Rubinow||Doctor #1|
Batman: (calling Derek Powers; smiling) Amazing the numbers people put on their speed dial. Just wanted you to know tonight's boat ride has been cancelled though your goons are still going up the river. Wish you could join them. (hangs up)
Stephanie: (before transferring Freeze's mind) Remember, there may be some momentary discomfort.
Batman: Just because he ran off doesn't mean he'll come back.
Stephanie: We were only trying to help you!
Blight: And behold, I shall be a blight upon the land, and everything I touch shall wither and die!
Bruce: Terry, there's something hot in that room!
Blight: You only got a tan that time, Batman. Here comes the real burn.
Batman: You've got to get out of here, Freeze! The whole place is gonna go!