The Arkham Sessions Podcast, Episode #113: “Animal Act”

A bit of stealthy rooftop patrolling leads Batman, Nightwing, and Robin to notice strange activity atop a radio tower. Nightwing (Dick Grayson) recognizes the disguised burglar as “Peaches,” a gorilla he knew back when he performed with the Flying Graysons, a trapeze trio and featured stars of the Haley Circus. The discovery of Peaches launches an investigative visit to the circus, where Nightwing encounters the performers, artists and animals he knew throughout his childhood. This setting is also the exact place his parents were murdered by a saboteur many years ago; during a performance, the weakened trapeze rope snapped and they fell to their deaths as young Dick watched in horror. This trip to Haley Circus is undoubtedly bombarding Dick’s senses with contextual cues of his past trauma. Odors, for instance, are especially known to lead to flashbacks.

The villain is eventually revealed to be the Mad Hatter, an obsessive genius who has discovered how to control animals through remote control. However, the episode stands out as memorable, not because of the Mad Hatter’s plan, but due to Dick Grayson’s remarkable resilience as he encounters the place of his parents’ death. His ability to manage traumatic memories, to face intense sorrow, and most of all, to identify a sense of purpose as a helper to the community within the very context of his personal loss are all aspects of his recovery that allow us incredible insight. Of course, Dick’s functioning is juxtaposed with Batman’s psychological health and we find them in very different places. Overall, topics discussed include triggers, resilience factors and trauma recovery.

The Arkham Sessions is a podcast dedicated to the psychology of the show, Batman: The Animated Series. Have psychology related questions about Batman? Write to us via twitter @ArkhamSessions or on Facebook.

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