"The Winning Edge" is the ninth episode of Batman Beyond. It depicts the effects of mass distribution of the drug Venom, now available through an instantly-acting skin patch known as a "slapper". They greatly amplify a person's strength, but are illegal and also highly addictive. Terry discovers that three students in his own school are using these, turning to crime to pay for their habit, and experiencing the negative effects of addiction. Now Batman must stop the manufacture and sale of these drugs before things get too far out of hand.
Out on the streets of Gotham City, a group of Jokerz crowd around an illegal arms dealer who shows them some of his impressive merchandise. However, Batman shows up and breaks up the sale. In an unfortunate accident, one of the Jokerz shoots the delivery van and blows it up. Batman has foiled the arms deal but the late nights are getting to him.
The next day, Terry sleeps in class again and the teacher gets angry, giving him a note to take home. Dana tries to comfort Terry by asking him to the game that night, though Terry refuses the offer at first, but Dana further persuades him, saying "you need some excitement in your life". During the game, the opposite team easily scores a goal and the Coach berates his players for under-performing. As the time out ends, one of the players, Mason, rolls up his sleeve and slaps a patch onto his arm, which instantly bulges with muscle. With his newfound strength, Mason checks one of his opponents so hard he pushes him through the wall of the court, almost hitting Terry and Dana in the process. The referee objects, but the Coach commends Mason.
That night, Batman intervenes in a robbery at an electronics store. The thieves are three teenagers, Mason among them, and as they run, one of them yells out Mason's name. Batman corners Mason, who slaps on three patches and doubles in size. He's now much stronger than Batman and easily throws him around the room, allowing he and his two friends to escape.Morning comes and Chelsea runs after Mason. Mason blows her off but she notices that he doesn't look so good and realizes he's on slappers. Angered at this, Mason yells at Chelsea and she breaks up with him. Soon after, Mason's partners in crime arrive and give him the money they made from fencing the stolen goods. However, even his partners notice that he doesn't look so good. Later, Mason buys slappers from a supplier concealed in a black car. He uses one of the slappers and instantly feels better.
Night comes over Gotham and Batman is on the move again. Searching Mason's locker, he discovers the packet of slappers and takes them. However, Coach Creagar finds and attacks him. After a brief fight, however, Batman manages to beat the coach and escapes.
Later, Terry finally makes it home and Matt mockingly proclaims him to be in trouble. Mary walks in and confronts Terry about his tardiness. Terry claims that he was running errands for Mr. Wayne, but she doesn't buy it. She already knows that he's been caught sleeping in class, and wants to see the note from his teacher. Before Terry can reach for it, Matt runs to get it, and as Terry tries to stop him, he drops his backpack and the packet of slappers falls out. Mary believes that he's been using them, and grounds him until further notice after Terry tries to explain what happened, much to Terry's dismay.
Restricted to work, Terry goes to Bruce and gives him a slapper that he managed to keep. Bruce analyzes it and finds that it contains Venom. The only person who has the formula is Bruce's old enemy Bane, who now lives on a remote island estate.Batman sneaks onto Bane's estate and ties up his attendant, Jackson Chappell. He finds Bane, whose physique has wasted away to nothing, and is now so weak that he can barely move and needs a respirator to breathe. Chappell says it is the result of too many years on Venom. Batman leaves, baffled as to who is supplying the Venom.
Back at the school, Mason and his partners continue to do poorly in their games and complain that they can't even get through practice without slappers, since Batman took their stash. Fortunately for them, one of them has stolen a cash card, which Mason takes to the next drop off. However, Batman is watching and interrupts the delivery. The car speeds away but Batman puts a tracer on it. Mason is so pathetically needy that he tries to run after the car, and is easily apprehended.
Batman follows the car to the supplier's hide out, and finds a secret slapper factory. The car opens and the "boss" of the operation steps out: Chappell. It turns out that Bane entrusted the formula to Chappell after he became too weak to make it himself; his years of Venom use left Bane dependent on it just to keep himself alive.Chappell bares his torso and applies four slappers, becoming hugely strong. Batman fights back, but Chappell's raw strength proves too great even for Batman's enhanced capabilities. However, during the fight, Batman manages to throw him onto the slapper machine, covering his whole body with them. He screams as the drug takes effect, but is now freakishly large and strong, and nearly insane with rage. But Batman triggers a small explosion that sprays chemicals in his enemy's eyes, blinding him. As Chappell swings wildly around, he causes a large explosion that incapacitates him. As the smoke clears, Batman looks closer and sees that, due to the overdose, Chappell's mind has left him.
Terry returns home late, but with Bruce accompanying him. Bruce shows Mary test results from a clinic, proving that Terry hasn't been doing slappers and that he was actually telling the truth, much to her relief. Having invited the billionaire in for a drink, a newscast then shows that Mason and his friends have been arrested and Coach Creagar has been put on suspension from teaching. Bruce explains to Mary that Creagar was blinded by his desire to win, and so looked the other way. They find that Terry has fallen asleep while sitting on the couch in front of their guest, but Bruce assures her that it's well-earned and takes his leave.
- Bane's lifelong use of Venom has rendered him completely incapacitated, leaving him a complete contrasting shell of his former self.
Home video releases
- Batman Beyond: School Dayz (VHS)
- Batman Beyond The Movie (DVD)
- Batman Beyond – School Dayz and Spellbound (DVD)
- Batman Beyond - Season One (DVD)
- Batman Beyond - The Complete Series (DVD)
- When Batman ties up Jackson Chappell in Bane's mansion, the rope is coiled five times around his body. In the next shot, there are six coils.
- Terry said to his Mom he's late when he arrived at 9, which was when he was supposed to be home.
- This episode is meant to be a commentary on drug use, steroids in particular.
- During Terry's face-off with the three robbers, Mason is wearing a balaclava with superficial similarity to Bane's old wrestling mask.
- Last chronological appearance of Bane. Though made before Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman, this episode effectively contains the spoiler that Bane would survive the events of that movie.
- One of the main reasons Chappell was defeated was because of a large overdose of Venom; similarly, Bane was defeated this way during his first encounter with Batman in the original series.
- When Jackson Chappell fights Batman, his black outfit, complete with a tank-top, is very similar to Bane's old costume, sans mask.
Mary: Why would he allow that to go on?
Bruce: He wanted to win at any cost. So he looked the other way. Terry: How'd you con the formula out of Bane?
Jackson Chappell: In the end, he needed Venom just to keep going. It got so bad he couldn't even make it himself. He had to trust someone.
Terry: And now you're cashing in by selling poison to kids?
Jackson Chappell: That's right.