EPISODE REVIEW: Ben 10: Alien Force “Fool‘s Gold” (Season 3, Episode 4)

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A meteor shower strikes a corn field, but the meteors all turn out to be alien ships with bugs-bunny-styled screw tops. Aliens come out of them, and stalk silently through the corn, and are met by an excited bunch of villagers who welcome them in the night and give them food.

Grandpa Max (Paul Eiding) gives team Ben an assignment: Every 17 years, aliens come to a jerkwater town and get drunk on popcorn for a week, then head home. Alien spring break. Someone has reported one of the aliens missing, so Ben et all are to look for him. They go. Gwen and Kevin are giving each other pregnant stares, but kind of avoiding each other. Kevin keeps looking at a locket.

The town is full of short, cute, squirrel-like aliens who are tipping cars, carousing, being a general rowdy nuisance, and quite clearly getting drunk or stoned or something on popcorn. It’s kind of funny. The mayor of the town - also voiced by the Paul Eiding, only with a fake southern accent - tries to deny there are any aliens until the kids identify themselves as plumbers, and then he comes clean about what’s going on: The alien Spring Breakers come, eat themselves stupid for days, and defecate indiscriminately. Their poop is gold. After they leave, the locals scoop up the poop and live kings. “Hell damn ass kings,” to borrow a line from Bart Simpson. I’m sorry, I don’t know why I did that.

Kevin ditches Gwen - repeatedly - to hang out with Ben, and even Ben notices, and tries to talk about it, but Kevin blows him off. Meanwhile, Gwen makes contact with the alien who phoned in the missing person report, and Kevin and Ben get in a more-or-less pointless fight with a bunch of aliens who are “House tipping.” The Mayor lets the aliens go after Ben and Kevin have apprehended them. They ask him about “Decca,” the missing alien, but the Mayor thinks he probably just went home.

Of course he didn’t. The Mayor kidnapped him, and is keeping him in a cage in the barn like the goose that laid the golden turns, hoping to get enough to pay off his unexplained-but-presumably-large debts. The Mayor thinks a different diet might make him poop more, and gives him a steak.

Meanwhile, the kids and one alien are tracking Decca, and find that the aliens are actually gremlins from the movies of the same name. When they eat meat, they get huge and dangerous and mean and stomp around like were bugs bunny, eating everything in sight. The kids try several failed methods to bring him down, and the other alien - Orb - informs them that if this isn’t stopped soon, Decca will start to reproduce logarithmically and eat everything in sight. He explains that Mars used to be called “The Popcorn Planet” before this happened there.

After several more failed attempts, Ben learns that Silicon is poisonous to the aliens, so he turns in to Echo Echo and shouts “Bite me Bite me” repeatedly at the beastie, who of course eats ’em. Then gets sick, pukes a lot, and reverts to normal. The aliens leave disgruntled, and say no one will ever come here for spring break again. The kids promise the Mayor will be punished.

Kevin gives Gwen a locket with a picture of them together before he got all ugly. Gwen says she doesn’t care what Kevin looks like, but he says that even if she doesn’t, he does.

THE END

OBSERVATIONS

The “There are no aliens, it’s just swamp gas” scene was pretty funny, but didn’t make much sense. I mean, Kevin’s in plain sight, and he’s clearly Metamorpho the Element Man. What, the Mayor just didn’t notice the big obviously-not-human kid there?
Needless to say, the alien’s biology makes no freakin’ sense whatsoever, but it is pretty funny, particularly when Kevin keeps getting blown up by exploding radioactive monster poop landmines. Ben’s solution is cleverer than most, and he’s surprisingly upbeat after having been upchucked by an alien monster.

So what do you do with hayseed mayors who kidnap aliens? Obviously that’s not a circuit court kind of thing. Is there a special prison for these guys? And there must be some kind of trial, right?

Geography in Ben 10 is always a little vague, but the town looked like Kansas and sounded like Georgia, particularly with the mayor’s hokey accent and white suit. Based on this tenuous data, I’m going to say they were in Missouri. Not that it matters. Aside from the opening scene, the town seems to consist of just the mayor, and we see no other locals for the next 21 minutes.

I have to say the decision to de-mature the characters a bit really worked in this episode. It felt almost as fun as an episode from the original series, where it’s goofy, energetic, fun, not terribly serious, and has a couple moments of surprising pathos. Kevin’s revulsion at what he has become is interesting, particularly given his past.

Gwen was a bit cooler this time out than she usually is, but Kevin’s tough guy lines were a little forced tonight. He did get one really good one, though. “If we were [fighting], do you think I’d talk about it with you?”

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