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The Mandarin’s major domo or first prime or lieutenant or whatever comes warn him that the Tong’s ongoing war with the Magia is going badly, and is unwinable, and there is talk amongst the gang members to maybe revolt or something. The Mandarin reluctantly instructs his domo to contact the leader of the Magia for peace talks.
The next day at school, Happy is hitting incompetently on that Staind girl, who’s ignoring him, and flirting with Rhodie. Meanwhile, Tony and Gene are talking about finding the next ring. Pepper seethes and seethes until she busts a gasket, and starts lobbing books at Tony. Then she yells at Rhodie, then she freaks and tries to tackle Tony, but Rodie stops it, and Happy wants to see them all fight. A book whacks the Staind girl, and she’s attacking. Then a teacher comes in and sends them all to detention, and they’ve all got to write a special social studies paper before the next day.
Rhodie, Happy, Tony, and The Staind Girl meet at the abandoned factory, and Rhodie ends up getting to do all the work for their papers. Meanwhile, Gene refuses to participate, so a depressed Pepper simultaneously phones, texts, talks to, and rings the doorbell of the Khan house until he relents. He agrees to help out, but he can’t stay long because he’s got that big mob boss thing tonight and all. Meanwhile, Gene’s had no luck getting info out of his step dad.
During their more-or-less date, Gene excuses himself and says he’ll be back. He heads to the secret mafia don tet-a-tet. Pepper tries to follow, and is immediately captured by the Magia. Gene is torn. He wants to save her, but can’t without revealing himself, so excuses himself and creates a disturbance that will surely draw Ironman’s attention.
Tony’s “Bad Things Are Happening” trouble alert goes off, and he and Rhodie shoo away the others, then Tony suits up and flies down town.
Pepper botches her escape attempt, and Iron Man blunders in, immediately starting a gangland battle between the Tong’s…uhm…ninjas or whatever, and the Magia’s Question-wannabees. Yet another super-suited weirdo shows up - the dark knight or whatever - and him and Tony duke it out, while Gene grumbles about how Ironman is a useless fool. He was supposed to rescue Pepper, not get in a fight.
Gene powers down, and goes to rescue Pepper himself. Meanwhile the evil goatee dude running the Magia recognizes that Pepper is important to either Iron Man or Mandarin, but either way she’s worth having. We cut between a super suited dustup in the clouds, and a warehouse fight, culminating with Gene getting the drop on Baron whoosis just as the cops show up.
Whoosis of the Magia and Dark Knight Guy are arrested, Gene and Pepper hug, and a confused Tony heads home.
Meanwhile, the major domo recognizes from all this bad leadership that whoever’s in the Mandarin Armor is *not* the Mandarin.
Above average episode. Better than average art direction tonight, too.
Voice acting wise, they’ve given up all pretence that these people are American, but as Canadian dubbing goes, at least they’re going with a Western provinces accent, which is a bit more compelling to the American ear than the more common Ontario “Ooot and aboot” accent. Adrian Petriew (Who’s actually *from* Ontario) appears to me to be deliberately channeling Tahmoh Penikett when Tony’s in the Iron Man Suit. Petriew, by the way, does his best performance tonight during the fight with the goofy knight guy. Stark is caught flatfooted by the attack, and Petriew very nicely captures his comedic confusion and spiraling incredulous frustration. By the time we get to him screaming “Oh, come on!” it’s apparent that Tony has no clue what’s going on, and - humorously enough - he never gets one during the course of the episode.
Gene’s weaknesses as a leader are an interesting and unexpected plot development. Also unexpected is his genuine - if awkward - concern for Pepper, and his increasing annoyance at Iron Man’s blundering around. That his hold on power is tenuous, that his followers are talking insurrection, and that his step father is obviously playing him all make clear that Gene is not the massive threat we were led to believe he was in the earlier episodes. The fact that he needed Tony’s (Unwitting) help in this episode is almost undoubtedly a harbinger of things to come.
This is the first episode to use Iron Man as a tool to an end that’s easily manipulated by others, and it’s actually one of the most effective uses of the character they’ve done, even if it is a format breaker.
Does Pepper have a crush on Gene now? Does Rhodie have a crush on that Staind girl who’s name I can never remember?
I have to admit, I honestly didn’t know the Tong and the Magia were at war, I have no memory of this Barron Goatee dude, and I don’t recall the Magia targeting Gene at any point in the past. I know I haven’t missed any episodes, but whenever all that happened, it clearly didn’t make much of an impression on me. There’s a slight chance they’re throwing these episodes out of order, but I doubt it. It’s more likely my wonky memory.