"Unmasked" is the fifty-second episode and series finale of Batman Beyond. It initially aired on December 18, 2001. Terry tells Max the story of how his secret identity was exposed, putting not just him, but the witness, in danger.
At Hamilton Hill High School, the students are busy cleaning after working on a fundraiser. Terry arrives late and quickly apologizes, Max is curious as to what villain kept him busy this time. However, Terry reveals he simply had to drive Bruce to an appointment and notices Dana's absence. Max reveals she left as she got tired waiting for Terry as usual and soon Nelson and his friends appear and ridicule Terry for being late and "assure" him that Batman appeared in his place, surprising Terry. Max confesses that she made a joke about how the school sees more of Batman than it does of Terry.
He is furious, but Max doesn't see what the big deal is. In fact, she warns Terry that his relationship with Dana is on thin ice, and encourages him that it might be better if he let Dana and a few others know his secret, pointing out things might be a lot more easier for both their relationship and himself. Terry refuses point-blank, and reminds her of an earlier incident with the "Diaz Kid". However this only confuses Max as she has never heard of this event. Terry proceeds to tell her the story to prove his point, from a time just after he became Batman:
- During a community picnic, a young boy, Miguel Diaz, is playing with his “Soldier Sam” action figures. His mother, thinking it would be healthier for him to learn to play with other children, tells him to put his toys away. Miguel obeys, but as soon as he is out of her sight, he breaks away and decides to climb a nearby art sculpture—“Soldier Sam to the tower!”.
- In another part of town, agents of Kobra are breaking into a bank. Batman is lying in wait for them, and breaks up the robbery. As the Kobras flee, Batman pursues in the Batmobile. The Kobras' vehicle fires a missile that misses Batman but hits the art sculpture, which begins to burn and topple. Seeing Miguel on the roof, trapped by the flames, Batman abandons the chase and flies down to land in front of him.
- Miguel recoils in fright—in costume, Batman bears an unfortunate resemblance to Soldier Sam's nemesis. Batman tries to reach for him, but he runs away, falling and hanging onto the ledge of the roof. The building is about to collapse, and Terry, desperate, pulls up his mask to reveal his face, and show Miguel that he's just a normal guy. Miguel takes his hand, and the two fly to safety just before the building collapses.
However, Max believes that she has proven her point, seeing that Miguel was saved and there weren't any problems by revealing his face. She attempts to drag Terry away to find Dana and finally reveal the truth to her, but Terry stops her and resumes telling the story as there was a lot more than what he just told her.
- At Kobra headquarters, the cell leader wants to know how Batman knew about the robbery. He interrogates one of his men with a mind scanner that can produce visual images of a person's memories. The Kobra is revealed to have spoken with a depositor at the bank, his brother, over a cell phone. The leader orders him executed by dropping him into a snake pit. Then they all see the evening news, the lead item of which is Miguel being interviewed after the fire, and saying that Batman's just a regular guy—without his mask.
Max and Terry move their conversation to a bench, where she is surprised that Miguel actually revealed that he saw Terry's face on live television. She then asks if Bruce saw the news and Terry confirms it and resumes telling the story.
- Before long, the news is all over town, and Bruce is furious. Terry tries to soothe him, insisting that his identity is safe, since Miguel doesn't know who he is. Bruce says he's missed the point: by announcing that he's seen his true face, Miguel has made himself a target for Batman's enemies.
- At Bruce's insistence, Terry keeps a constant watch on Miguel, but pleads that he can't be stuck to that duty forever. Bruce relents and promises to call Barbara to arrange police protection. As soon as Terry hangs up, he sees a gang of Kobras try to abduct Miguel outside his mother's apartment. Terry intervenes and saves him.
- A police car arrives, and Terry gratefully hands Miguel over to them. They say he's being taken into protective custody. Terry tells Bruce that Miguel has been picked up, but Bruce tells him that Barbara was in a meeting and he couldn't get a hold of her. Terry curses, realizing his mistake.
- Searching the city desperately for Miguel, Terry realizes that the car was probably real, meaning that it was stolen. Bruce does a search for the car's tracer, and locates Kobra's hideout. At the hideout, the leader places the mind-reader on Miguel's head, telling him to concentrate on the day of the fire, and especially on Batman's face after he pulled up his mask. Miguel is scared, so the leader calms him by placing his Soldier Sam figure in his hand. The image resolves itself, and the leader smiles. He orders his soldiers to drop Miguel in the snake pit, but just then Batman arrives and attacks.
- He subdues the soldiers and the leader, who laughs and tells him it's too late: he's already uploaded the image to every Kobra computer in the world, and it will only be a matter of time before they identify him. He hears the police pull up outside, and decides to take his own way out. Declaring his mission accomplished, he jumps into the snake pit. Terry shields Miguel from the gruesome sight, and looks at the screen and smiles: the face of Soldier Sam has been superimposed on his own.
Finishing his story, Terry concludes that Miguel must not have gotten a good look at him to begin with, and instead just gave Batman his “hero's” face. Max asks how he can be sure, as Terry catches a stray soccer ball and tosses it back to the kid who's come to get it. Terry says it's because the kid is Miguel, who's now learned to play with other children. Terry is confident that Miguel doesn't remember what Batman really looks like.
However, as Terry and Max walk away, Miguel glances over his shoulder with a knowing smile on his face.
Home video releases
- Batman didn't really have to use a grappling hook and try to reach for Miguel's hand. He could have simply flown towards Miguel as he was hanging from the ledge, grab a hold of him, and then glide safely back towards the ground.
- This episode was originally scheduled to air on Kids' WB but was pulled because of "production problems", according to Bruce Timm. It ended up premiering on Cartoon Network.
- The idea of Batman's appearance being frightening to a child he was trying to save was previously used in the Batman: The Animated Series episode "Be A Clown".
- This episode marks a rare instance in the DCAU to feature an act of suicide. However, Kobra One apparently survived, as the events of "Plague" occur after this episode chronologically.
- The previous episode (and second-to-last in the series), "Countdown", premiered on April 7, 2001. The gap between the final two episodes of Batman Beyond stretched over eight months. The long premiere delay for "Unmasked", coupled with the fact that it was not an official "series finale"-type episode, is cited by Bruce Timm as a reason for why later DCAU series had big season finales. It was also why they later produced the Justice League Unlimited episode "Epilogue", which featured a major revelation about the entire dynamic of the Batman Beyond world. Though it was technically an episode of Justice League Unlimited, "Epilogue" is widely considered by fans and creators alike to be the "true" finale of Batman Beyond.
- This episode was scheduled to air on September 14, 2001, but, due to its terrorism-related content, and the September 11 attacks, it was replaced by a re-airing of "Hooked Up".
- Stan Berkowitz had stated that if he would have given the opportunity of write this episode, he would have killed off Bruce Wayne and portray the ascension of Terry McGinnis.
|Will Friedle|| Terry McGinnis / Batman|
Kobra soldier (uncredited)
|Kevin Conroy||Bruce Wayne|
|Corey Burton||Kobra Op 1|
|Kerrigan Mahan||Main Kobra Op|
|Sean Marquette||Miguel Diaz|
|Pat Musick|| Busybody|
|Victor Rivers|| Guard|
Cop Kobra (uncredited)
|Theresa Saldana||Mrs. Diaz|
|Cree Summer|| Max Gibson|
|Keith Szarabajka||Bracelet Kobra|
|Seth Green||Nelson Nash|