EPISODE REVIEW: Ben 10 Ultimate Alien: “The Big Story” (Season 2, Episode 4)

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This is the first episode to air since Dwayne McDuffie’s tragic death http://www.republibot.com/content/obituary-dwayne-mcduffie
There wasn’t any mention of it insofar as I could tell. I didn’t see the standard “In loving memory of…” tag on the closing credits, though the credits are barely shown anymore, so it’s hard to tell. Still it made me sad.

PLAY BY PLAY

Jimmy, Ben’s obsessive fan and occasional tech support/therapist, is out in the wilderness when he finds a meteor strike, which turns out to be an alien plant. Somewhat disoriented, and having lost his camcorder somehow, Jimmy attempts to warn Team Ben. They mostly blow him off - Jimmy’s quite the conspiracy buff, and he sounds like Arthur from The Tick on Helium*, so it’s easy to lose patience with him quickly - but Ben checks it out.

…and is immediately possessed by an alien. Pretty much from ten seconds in we’re in Invasion of the Body Snatchers Land. So you’ve got the usual Protagonist Trying To Warn Everyone, But No One Will Listen, with Jimmy in the Kevin McCarthy role. Ultimately he goes on the Will Harangue show, and attempts to explain that Ben’s been possessed by a space alien, but Will manages to twist that into something bad. Always a party with that guy. This culminates with Ben attempting to kill Jimmy in a grocery store while tearing the place apart and saying stuff like “I’m sorry I scared you. Let’s get a pizza and talk about our feelings. I need a hug.” The flat affect makes it that much better. Meanwhile, Gwen and Kevin decide to check out Jimmy’s paranoid blather.

…and are immediately possessed by an alien. They catch Jimmy and take him to the master plant which has done pretty much the same thing every evil plant has done since 1956: Make carbon copies of them, and attempt to turn the world into a socialist utopia. (Seriously, why do plants hate America and Capitalism so much? They’re green, money’s green, what’s the freakin’ problem here?)

Presently Jimmy discovers that the plants have a peanut allergy (Which is actually REALLY funny gag that they don’t play up quite enough), he frees Team Ben, who dust it up with Team Veggie Ben, the good guys win in a surprisingly poorly choreographed final battle, and then say that they’ll always pay attention to Jimmy’s insane ravings n the future.

The End.

OBSERVATIONS

As blatant, shameless, uninspired ripoffs of one of the most classic films of all time** go, this isn’t too bad, you know? They don’t really bring anything new to the party, they’re not trying very hard, and the ending is pretty weak. That said, however, there’s a lot to be liked here.

We get the best Rath scene in forever (“Oooh! Karate! Tell you what, Karate man, you go meditate or whatever, and I’ll stand here real still and pretend to be a stack of boards until you’re ready to hit me, ok?”), the editing in the middle part of the ep really punched home the jokes. The whole “Lets talk about our feelings” murder thing was hilarious. The running gag with Gwen trying to be funny and repeatedly failing gave her some much needed character development, and her increasing frustration over failing was funnier still. (“Stop. I can’t let the last thing I ever hear be a battle pun” and “Why is it funny when he does it and not when I do?” “I think it’s the delivery.”)

CAUTION: The scene where Ben et all kill their vegetable doppelgangers is more intense than they generally do in this series. It's not gory, but it could conceivably freak out younger children.

The real treat, though, is that this is one of the rare format-breaking episodes that *DOESN’T* have Ben front and center in every scene. This is very much Jimmy’s story, with Ben as more-or-less a plot device. As irritating as Jimmy is, this was a very welcome change from form, and I hope they’ll to more of this sort of thing in the future.

WILL CONSERVATIVES LIKE THIS EPISODE?

Sure! It's a ripoff of the best anticommunist allegory of all time. We love that kind of stuff.

* - NOT - and I can not state this enough -NOT the original voice of Arthur, which was Mickey Dolenz in season 1.

**- And its surprisingly good, though woefully 1970s sequel

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