Man, I’m sick as a dog tonight, but I’m still gonna’ try my normal Friday night triple-play of reviews. We’ll see if I make it through, or even survive.
PLAY BY PLAY
Rhodie takes the suit out for a spin at Tony’s insistence. He’s not exactly graceful. Gene, Pepper, Happy Hogan, and Whitney Staind are going to the mall to hang out when Rhodie and the suit crash into a construction site. Flustered, Rhodie climbs out of the armor, and refuses to ever get in it again, demanding that Tony come pick him up. Gene and the others turn up at the crash site, and before anyone can really figure out what’s going on, Happy climbs in to the armor and falls off. It turns out he’s really good at flying it. Arguably better than Tony, though no one says it.
Tony - speaking through the armor’s communication system - tries to convince the none-too-bright Happy that he’s the suit’s robot brain, and tries to wrest control away from him. Nothing much comes of it, however, and Happy manages to crash in to a bank building run by the Tong, the gang that Khan/The Mandarin runs. Coincidentally, The Unicorn and Killer Shrike are attempting to rob the bank, and a whole bunch of fighting ensues. Happy does surprisingly well, and then the bad guys offer to split the take with him, since they’re stealing from the mob and all. Happy - speaking as Ironman - agrees.
Tony, meanwhile, realizes that the bombs the idiots are using to blow the safe are too big, and will destroy the entire city. Realizing the error of their ways, the bad guys run off. Mandarin Gene Khan, however, decides to let Ironman/Happy win so he can follow the doofus back to the *real* Ironman. Pepper and Whitney, meanwhile, are running separate schemes to save Ironman. None of the three of them know what the other one knows, and so their multiple parallel schemes, though brief, are pretty funny and engaging. Several of the Tong members see the Mandarin not doing anything to help, and realize “The rumors must be true, he’s not the real Mandarin”
Ultimately Happy manages to save the city by being an idiot, and abandons the armor when he thinks it’s going to explode. Tony recovers it through remote control.
Despite my physical and emotional woes (There’s always a crazy contingent that goes along with being sick for me), I do honestly believe that this is the best episode of the series to date. It continues the tradition of having Iron Man/Tony as a peripheral character in the best installments, and it completely blows the normal format of the show wide open.
It’s fast, it’s reasonably funny, it’s actually interesting, since there’s six people in the episode who all have an interest in Ironman for their own reasons, and they’re working at crossed purposes through the entire second half of the story. There’s a lot of intercuttig between locations and scenarios, and it actually serves to make the action seem much more exciting than it actually is. For once, the direction on this show actually pumps up the action as opposed to flattening it out. The stress of Tony being stuck on the sidelines, unable to do much is pretty funny, and the notion that Happy saves the day goes a long way towards supporting a nothing I’ve been wondering about for quite a while, but never voiced until now: Tony isn’t very good at his job.
There’s some good character-based humor between Gene, Pepper, Happy, and Whitney as well, and though he’s mostly absent in this episode, Rhodie’s wet-blanket tendencies are put to good comedic use. I also like how Pretty Princess Unicorn and Killer Shrike, a couple completely forgettable villains from the early part of the series, are played off here as…well…a couple completely forgettable villains that no one takes seriously, and who’s boss is evidently trying to kill them.
On the downside, the animation seemed a bit weaker than usual tonight, particularly in the rendering of the minor characters. Happy’s always looked a bit weak, and tonight was no exception, and the corrupt police chief working for Staind looked rather weak, too.
Really the story didn’t add much to the overall arc - we know Whitney has a thing for Tony, we know the Tong is loosing faith in the Mandarin, we know Pepper and Khan kinda’ like each other, we know Happy’s an idiot and Rhodie’s a fussbudget, and that Mr. Fix can’t be trusted - but this episode had a ‘get out there and swash yer’ buckle’ feel to it that his woefully absent from most of the series up until now. I mean, it was actually *fun* for a change.
Best episode of the series so far, or so my kids volunteered when it was done. (Neither of them is sick or crazy, so I trust their judgment). Ultimately, this episode is an example of the show they should be making, the show they obviously want to make, the one they promised, but have been unable to pull off until now.
So from this point on, the question is: was it a fluke, or can they do it again?