"Showdown" is the eighty-second episode of Batman: The Animated Series. It originally aired on September 12th, 1995.
Returning to the Batmobile to give chase, they find a cassette left on the seat. They play the tape, and hear Ra's al Ghul telling them a story:
- In the year 1883, when the Transcontinental Railroad is about to be completed in the Utah territory. Elderly bounty hunter Jonah Hex visits the nearest town. Making the acquaintance of a local barmaid, he tells her he is hunting for a fugitive outlaw, Arkady Duvall. She recognizes him immediately, and says he has been driven out of town after beating up some of the local women. She has no idea where he is now, but when Hex asks if there's been any strange activity in the area, she mentions strange sounds and lights coming from a local mountain, and rumors of a dragon.
- She leads him to the mountain, and then he sends her back. Sneaking inside the mountain, he finds an impromptu factory, and an enormous airship held up by zeppelins. He sees Duvall, acting as an overseer of the workmen. Duvall whips one of the men, and is immediately reprimanded by Ra's, who is in command. Ra's gives a speech, saying that he will use the airship, christened "The Phoenix," to destroy the railroad, then move east to Washington and take over the United States government, halting its destruction of the Western environment.
- Hex is discovered and captured, and brought before Duvall. Hex says that he's there to collect the bounty, and also to pay back an "insult to a lady" friend of Hex's back east. Duvall snorts and orders Hex executed, but Ra's appears and counteracts him again, ordering Hex locked up.
- As the airship departs, Hex escapes his cell and runs after it, managing to catch a trailing line and climb aboard. At the inauguration ceremony for the railroad, the governor is about to drive the final spike, but a volley of cannonballs from the Phoenix destroys the waiting locomotive and much of the town. As the people scatter, Ra's orders another volley.
- Hex reveals himself, and pursues Duvall. As he climbs into the ship's rigging, the captain frantically tells his men to stop firing, as the zeppelins holding up the ship are full of hydrogen gas. Hex faces off with Duvall, Duvall wielding a saber, and Hex a bowie knife. In the midst of their furious duel, Hex points a howitzer up toward the zeppelins, and fires, igniting the hydrogen. The ship loses altitude and begins to burn. Ra's escapes the ship in a personal glider, telling the rest of the men to save themselves, but to abandon Duvall.
- The ship crashes, throwing both Hex and Duvall free. Duvall begs for his life, but Hex tells him he has no interest in killing him – instead, he'll deliver him alive to the law. He finds his hat and remarks ruefully, "I'm gettin' too old for this."
Batman and Robin catch up with Ra's at the airport. The story build-up has led the audience to believe that his captive is Hex, and Ra's is taking revenge for his foiled plot. But Ra's reveals the man's identity: Duvall, impossibly old and senile.
Ra's explains that Duvall is his son, though Ra's realized early on that he was too cruel and unstable to be his heir. Exposure to the Lazarus Pit as a young man is what explains his longevity – he is now more than 100 years old – but his mind has been shattered by his long prison sentence, and he is now far too feeble for even the Pit to restore him. Ra's had lost track of him until recently.
Ra's asks the Dynamic Duo to let him go, so he can do what he can for his son in the little time he has left. Batman agrees, knowing that they will meet again one day.
- In "The Demon's Quest," Ra's says he has no sons, which is why he wants Batman to be his heir. As of this time, it is likely that Ra's had lost track of Arkady, and in any case had already disowned him.
- This was Jonah Hex's first appearance in the DC Animated Universe. He appears again, as a much younger man, in the episode "The Once and Future Thing Part One: Weird Western Tales" of Justice League Unlimited. Strangely, that episode takes place in 1879, only four years prior to this one, yet Hex seems to have aged several decades in between.
Home Video Releases
- First appearance of Malcolm McDowell in the DCAU. He would go on to voice Metallo on Superman: The Animated Series.
- This was Elizabeth Montgomery's last acting appearance before her death. Montgomery was famous for her role of Samantha Stevens in the TV show, Bewitched.
- The territorial governor is voiced by Patrick Leahy, the Democratic Senator from Vermont and (as of 2007) the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. Leahy is a huge fan of the Batman comics, and also has small cameo appearances in the live-action films Batman and Robin and The Dark Knight.
- David Warner and Malcolm McDowell appeared together in another time-travel adventure, the film Time After Time, in which H.G. Wells (McDowell) travels from Victorian England to modern-day San Francisco, in pursuit of Jack the Ripper (Warner).
- There are at least two references to Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade:
- Hex makes reference to himself being like a "bad penny."
- Although Hex loses his hat, it somehow returns to him at the end of the episode.
- The Phoenix is floated with hydrogen gas, which was the only gas used in airships until the early 1900's, and suffered from the disadvantage of being highly flammable. Helium, the non-flammable alternative, was first discovered in 1868 (15 years before the episode takes place), but the process of producing it was not discovered until the 1890's. Because the United States had a monopoly on helium production during the early years, hydrogen continued to be used in German airships until the 1950's, including the infamous Hindenburg, which caught fire and exploded in 1937.
- Hydrogen burns with an almost invisible flame and, because it's lighter than air, rapidly rises. If a cannon ball did burst a cell and ignite the gas the cell in the blimp would quickly collapse and the flames would head up.
- The first Transcontinental Railroad was actually completed in 1869, with the "golden spike" being ceremonially driven at Promontory, Utah. That railroad connected Sacramento, California, with Omaha, Nebraska.
- A second line was completed in 1882, connecting Atchison, Kansas, with Santa Fe, New Mexico, with a further line running to Los Angeles, California.
- Two railroads were completed in 1883, the year this episode takes place: the Southern Pacific Railroad, linking New Orleans, Louisiana, with Los Angeles, and the Northern Pacific Railway, linking Chicago, Illinois, with Seattle, Washington.
- Duvall mentions being a Heidelberg fencing champion. Academic fencing was a craze in the late 1900's, especially at German universities like Heidelberg. Any scars, or "smites", resulting from the fight, would be seen as a badge of honor, and it appears Duvall suffered one too, on his right cheek. This is somewhat strange, as the smites were usually on the left side of the face, the result of a right-handed swordsman.
|Kevin Conroy||Bruce Wayne/Batman|
|Loren Lester||Dick Grayson/Robin|
|Michael Bell||Airship Captain|
|Senator Patrick Leahy||Governor|
|Malcolm McDowell||Arkady Duvall|
|William McKinney||Jonah Hex|
|David Warner||Ra's al Ghul|
Barmaid: You a bounty hunter?
Sheriff: Well, well. Jonah Hex, his own bad self. Been here five minutes and you ain't killed nobody nor set nothin' on fire. Slippin', ain't you?
Barmaid: Good luck, Jonah Hex.
Arkady Duvall: You're either a liar or a fool.
Arkady: You! I don't believe it!
Jonah Hex: Now, let's you and me dance.
Ra's al Ghul: Even before the Phoenix debacle, I had come to realize that Arkady was too unbalanced and cruel to wisely rule my empire.