"Robin's Reckoning" is the two-part fifty-first and fifty-third episodes of Batman: The Animated Series. They first aired on February 7 and 14, 1993. The episodes depict the origin of Robin (Dick Grayson). A mobster named Tony Zucco, who killed Robin's parents, returns. Batman refuses to allow Dick Grayson to use the persona of Robin to apprehend him. Batman launches an investigation, searching for Zucco, which is paralleled by Robin's own investigation, unbeknownst to the Dark Knight. As the search narrows to an abandoned theme park, a series of flashbacks tell Robin's origin story and how he came to live with Bruce Wayne.
During a stakeout at a construction site, Batman and Robin catch a trio of mobsters trying to sabotage an incomplete building in order to extort money from the architect. They manage to beat the gang but two of them escape. Fortunately, Batman catches one of them, who is hanging helplessly for his life. Batman, demands an explanation and the name of his boss. The criminal, Dolan, refuses to give in, but when Batman shows he's not going to save him unless he gets the information he wants, Dolan blurts out the name "Billy Marin". Robin grills him for more information but Batman tells him to let it go and sends him to get the Batmobile. Robin does as told leaving Batman to get the information himself.
When they return home, Robin is left wondering who Marin really is, but Batman insists that Robin stay out of this one: he works alone for the time being. Following Batman's departure, Robin feels rather resentful towards the way his partner has been treating him. He uses the Batcave's criminal database to determine the real identity of the crime mob boss. To his shock, Robin discovers that Marin is really an alias for Tony Zucco, a man he crossed paths with nearly nine years ago in an event that changed his life forever...
- As a young child, Dick Grayson was in a popular circus acrobat trio with his parents, "The Flying Graysons". After finishing practice, Dick overhears the ringmaster, Mr. Haley, refusing to pay a young Tony Zucco for "protection". Zucco leaves, telling him that he'll regret his decision.
- With a Wayne Charity convention going on at the circus, Zucco, disguised as a worker, partially cuts through a trapeze rope to be used in the Graysons' act. When the show starts, Dick notices Zucco leaving the tent, but his parents don't give him a chance to warn them. During a portion of the trapeze act, a trick involving both his parents on the same trapeze is performed and Dick watches from a platform as the rope snaps and his parents, known for performing without a net, plummet to their deaths in front of his eyes.
- Upon hearing of Dick's telling of what he saw, Jim Gordon fears that he will have no place to go, as he is a material witness. Bruce Wayne, who is in the audience, takes pity on the boy, as they are both the orphaned sons of parents murdered in their presence and takes young Dick into his custody. Bruce gives Dick his old room and tells him that he'll always have a home there.
Robin seethes over Batman taking Zucco away from him and thereby robbing him of his revenge. Meanwhile, Batman searches for Zucco, remembering what he did to his young partner and reminisces his first search...
- Although he is safe with Bruce Wayne, Dick is lonely, and the general awkwardness of the situation, being left in a large mansion with Alfred as a primary caretaker, makes him uncomfortable. Meanwhile, after going undercover an illegal gambling game, Batman tracks down Zucco at his uncle Arnold Stromwell's mansion. Stromwell claims ignorance, despite Batman's hostility. After Batman leaves, however, Stromwell berates his nephew for his foolishness and rashness in murdering the Graysons, thereby causing Batman to turn his attention to them. Their argument is short-lived as the guards detect Batman on the property.
- Zucco tries to run over Batman with his car, but fails. He then escapes and Batman feels haunted for not catching the Graysons' killer. As he returns to the Batcave, Alfred reminds him that Dick is feeling unloved and scared, similar to how Bruce felt that his age, which prompts Bruce to realize he must spend more time with him. He later comforts the boy and tries to make him feel better. Dick breaks down in tears and explains that he saw Zucco before the murder and knew something was wrong but said nothing, thus making him responsible. Bruce points out he felt the same way when his own parents died, and there was nothing either of them could have done. Explaining to Dick that the hurt of losing a loved one never goes away, but that he will eventually learn to cope, Bruce hugs him for the first time.
After discovering the crook's identity and reliving the tragedy, Robin demands that Batman allow him to apprehend the man who murdered his parents. Batman refuses, but Robin sets out on his motorbike to find Zucco himself, while Alfred looks on in sorrow.
Batman tracks Tony Zucco while, secretly, Robin seeks to find Zucco to avenge his parents' death. However, Batman discovers that Robin is tracking him and shuts off his tracer. Robin decides that he'll just have to find Zucco himself.
- Having been living together for several days, Bruce and Dick have bonded very well. While they engage in a playful fencing match Alfred then tells Bruce that Jim Gordon is asking to talk to him. Gordon tells Bruce that he's very convinced that Zucco might try to flee Gotham, and if he escapes, they'll likely never catch him, although it will also ensure Dick's safety. Dick overhears this and decides to take matters into his own hands.
- After running away from Wayne Manor, he tries to track his parents' killer showing people his picture but not gaining very much success at first. However, while searching a run-down section of Gotham and avoiding Batman, who, unbeknownst to Dick, is also searching for Zucco, Dick rescues a prostitute being mugged by her pimp. Using his gymnastic skills, he defeats the full-grown attacker, finishing by jumping to grab hold of a fire escape, avoiding the mugger's charge and allowing him to rush head-on into a wall. The mugger gives chase, but Dick kicks him off the catwalk, sending him falling into a rubbish bin which closes, trapping him inside. The prostitute treats Dick to dinner at a diner. There, a waitress recognizes Tony Zucco and reveals that she's seen him coming from an abandoned building.
- Dick goes to the building and discovers that Zucco is desperately packing up to leave. Determined not to let him get away, Dick prepares to call the police but accidentally steps on a can and alerts Zucco to his presence. Zucco catches him before he can make the call, but Batman arrives. In the ensuing scuffle, Dick falls into an aqueduct, forcing Batman to jump in after him, while Zucco escapes.
- Batman rescues Dick before he can go over a waterfall and takes him to shore. Much to Dick's dismay, however, Zucco is gone. He screams at Batman, demanding to know why he let Zucco go. Batman brings Dick back to the Batcave, and reveals himself to be Bruce Wayne. Seeing this, Alfred notes that Dick's "temporary" stay has become indefinite.
Going to the home of the captured extortionist, Ferris Dolan, Robin uses a phone tracer to obtain Zucco's address. However, the call worries an already stressed out Zucco. Upon hearing some small sounds coming from the ceiling, he has a fit of paranoia, and fires a sub-machine gun repeatedly into it. Unfortunately, the noise was Batman, who falls through the weakened ceiling. Caught by surprise, he lands wrong and twists his knee. Zucco believes he has Batman but his weapon is now unloaded. Batman hurls a smoke bomb at Zucco and his thugs and manages to limp from the room. Hiding in the abandoned amusement park serving as Zucco's hideout, he barely has time to treat his wounds before being attacked by Zucco's pursuing henchmen. Though limping, he is able to pick off the thugs one-by-one through the heavy use of stealth. He eventually ends up fighting several thugs on the merry-go-round and ties them to the horses.
Unfortunately, Zucco is still after Batman and insane from having to spend nine years of looking over his shoulder, he prepares to fire at the merry-go-round, regardless of the fact that he might hit his men. However, before he can fire, Robin, still riding his motorcycle, crashes through the fence, rides straight at Zucco and, grabbing him by the collar, drags him behind the cycle to the end of a pier where the two foes fight. Robin gains the upper hand and throws Zucco towards the edge of the pier. He remains at a loss at whether to kill Zucco or hand him to the police, his eyes almost bulging out in fury, but Batman arrives and tells him to stop. Robin snaps at him, insisting that Batman can't know know how he feels, but immediately realizes who he has just said this to, and apologizes. Despite his long desire for revenge, Robin shows mercy and hands Zucco to the police.
As the police take Zucco into custody, Batman explains that he distanced Robin from the investigation, not because he felt Robin might kill Zucco, but because he didn't want Zucco to take anything more from Robin, especially not his own life. The two make amends, and go home.
- Arnold Stromwell originally appeared as a falling crime boss in the episode "It's Never Too Late".
Home video releases
- The Adventures of Batman & Robin: Robin (VHS)
- Batman: The Animated Series, Volume Two (DVD)
- Batman: The Complete Animated Series (DVD)
- Batman: Under the Red Hood (2DVD, Blu-ray only)
- Batman: The Complete Animated Series (Blu-ray)
- Joey Simmrin is credited as "Dick Grayson (Aged 10)" in part I, but as "Dick Grayson (Aged 9)" in Part II.
- After flipping one of the gamblers over his shoulder, Batman's emblem can be seen with the yellow circle, which it did not have in the flashbacks.
- When Batman first ties the wooden beam to his leg, it extends up past his knee. Later, on the merry-go-round, it stops below his knee, which would make it useless as a brace.
- This episode is based on the comics story from Detective Comics #38 (April 1940). The opening scene on the construction building may be a reference to Robin's face-off with Zucco at the end of that original story.
- Part I earned the series an Emmy award for Outstanding Animated Program (For Programming Less Than One Hour).
- This episode puts Robin's age to be roughly 18 or 19 years old. While the end credits for the two parts contradict each other in stating young Dick Grayson's age, Zucco states that nine years have passed since he was confronted by Batman.
- Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale have stated that this episode inspired a great part of their later successful comic Batman: Dark Victory.
- The Grayson parents' deaths, according to producers, was originally far more graphic than what was shown in the episode. They would be shown swinging on the ropes, which would break, and they would fall to the ground as Dick watched from above, traumatized by what he had witnessed. Due to thoughts of scaring children, the scene was changed to show them leaping out of the frame, Dick staring in shock with horrified eyes, the frayed rope swinging back, and the audience gasping as the music came to a climax. In the DVD commentary, Bruce Timm thanked the network censors for giving them a list of what, at the time, he felt were ridiculously restrictive rules for that scene; in retrospect, he felt that it forced them to create a far more effective scene.
- In a flashback, Jim Gordon appears as a detective with red hair, a reference to Gordon's appearance in Batman: Year One. Harvey Bullock also makes a minor cameo as a police officer.
- At the beginning of Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, there's a scene similar to when Tony Zucco drives his car at Batman, saying "Now I got you, you lousy stinkin'..." and Batman leaps onto the car. Also, Bullock makes another cameo as a police officer in the flashback of Bruce's first attempt at crime-fighting.
- Strangely, after the episode aired, a minor controversy about the scene where Batman (undercover) gambles with a bunch of hoods for information on Tony Zucco came up. Timm states that he and Paul Dini are still confused as to why censors were upset at the scene.
- When the series was renamed The Adventures of Batman and Robin, the opening title sequence used a majority of clips from these episodes.
- Bruce Timm often said that the scene where Dick says goodbye to his circus friends before leaving for Wayne Manor has made him cry several times.
- Dick's design while in his circus costume is similar to that of the Golden-Age circus performer Dick Grayson and Astro Boy, particularly his white-pupiled eyes.
- Originally, the second part of the story arc would include a flashback towards the end, involving Bruce make young Dick swear a candlelit oath to uphold the law if he would join him. There would also be a scene in which he appears in full Robin costume for the first time, but Timm and Paul Dini cut this for time constraints. Dini has often admitted that he wished they would have used more of "Young Robin" flashbacks to show his beginnings and growth into the teenage Robin of today.
- Tony Zucco's voice is reminiscent of John Travolta's, quite possibly as a reference to the similarity in names between Zucco and Travolta's character in Grease, Danny Zuko.
- According to the book Batman Animated, Batman's costume in the flashback sequence was a cross between the original Bob Kane design and the Batman: Year One design.
- Near the end of Part II when Robin skids on his bike, the combination of the pose and the electricity coming off the motorcycle is a recreation of a scene from Akira.
- One of Zucco's thugs seen when they hear Batman on the roof resembles Carlos from "Two-Face, Part I".
- The carousel music is the same tune used at the carnival in " Baby-Doll" and played by the Joker's balloon in the Superman: The Animated Series episode "World's Finest". Also, the music played in the diner where Dick and Chi-Chi eat is the same from the Stacked Deck Club in "Almost Got 'Im".
|Bob Hastings||Commissioner Gordon|
|Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.||Alfred|
|Joey Simmrin||Dick Grayson (Age 9)|
|Thomas F. Wilson||Tony Zucco|
John Grayson (uncredited)
|Eugene Roche||Arnold Stromwell|
|Paul Eiding||Ferris Dolan|
|Lionel Mark Smith||Bus Driver|
|Ed Gilbert||Mr. Haley (uncredited)|
|Diane Pershing||Mary Grayson (uncredited)|
|Brion James||Additional voices|
|Roger Rose||Additional voices|
Batman: This is something I have to do alone.
Robin: I'll never be like him, Alfred, never. He's a stone-cold, self-righteous..
Zucco: Hey, hey, fine! I've tried to be reasonable. You don't want my services? OK. But you're gonna wish you'd listened, old man. Oh, yeah, keep my number handy. You're gonna be calling Tony Zucco, and soon.
Circus Woman: That Grayson kid's a real boy wonder.
Robin: It's not right, Alfred. He can't take Zucco away from me. I won't let him!
Dick: He has a meeting every night. Who does he see?
Batman: I was so close, Alfred, I could smell his sweat. From now on, Tony Zucco gets my undivided attention.
Bruce: You keep thinking "if only I'd done something differently. If only I could've... Warned them". But there isn't anything you could have done. There isn't anything either of us could have done.
Alfred: Please, Master Dick. You must do as he says.
Batman: (Realizing that the Batmobile is being traced.) I told you to sit this one out, Robin.
Zucco: So much for the Bat and the brat.
Dick: Why'd you bring me here?
Robin: You're out there somewhere, Zucco. But you can't hide from me. I've been taught by the best!
Zucco: I'm not back in town five minutes, five minutes, and he's on my tail. You don't know the Bat. He don't let up. He's a dark angel of death, man, and he wants me.
Batman: Robin! Enough. You can't let your emotions get the best of you!
Robin: You were right, you know, not bringing me along. You knew I'd take it too personally.