EPISODE REVIEW: Iron Man: Armored Adventures: “Ready, A.I.M., Fire” (Episode 10)

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It’s day five of Science Fiction Hell Week, and after a hiatus of seven weeks, Iron Man returns with relatively little fanfare, making me wonder how it’s doing in the ratings. Sure they signed on for two seasons up front, but is it pulling in the viewers they want? Is it a successful show? Do they still believe in it? Are they willing to support it, or are they just burning off the episodes prior to ditching it.

Who knows. I strongly suspect the latter, but I honestly have no information about it.

PLAY BY PLAY

We start out with Tony in flight, chasing some “Evil Beekeeper Guys” in fancy aircraft vaguely reminiscent of Stargate Puddlejumpers. They use some super-high-tech weaponry on Tony which causes him to loose control and fly in to orbit, then to crash in Central Park. There’s one genuinely really funny scene when he’s falling out of control and the suit is playing elevator music while informing him it’s rebooting.

After the opening titles, we find that it’s Job Fair Day at the school, and also Staind’s daughter from a couple episodes back is a new student at the school. Interestingly, S.H.I.E.L.D. has a booth at the job fair, and Pepper wants to join them because “They’ll give me a jetpack!” Tony offers to give them all jobs when he inherits the company in another two years, which prompts some deserved derision from his friends. “What’s it like to be the center of your own uinverse?” and “But S.H.I.E.L.D. will give me a Jetpack!”

I have to admit, that’s a strong argument for Shield.

Anyway, a guy from a group called A.I.M. (Sadly, it’s not the American Indian Movement. That would have made this episode much more interesting) approaches Tony to see about getting him to work on their neural interface for various bits of technology. They let Tony play with their prototype controller disks to get him interested, and Tony falls for it hook, line, and sinker, thinking that if he can apply this to Ironman, he’ll be invulnerable. He utterly fails to notice that the logo on the A.I.M. equipment is the same as on the Evil Beekeeper Planes from the night before.

Meanwhile, Rhodie and Pepper are annoyed by Ms. Staind, who’s obviously got the hots for Tony. Pepper is openly jealous, and Rhodie simply doesn’t like her around. We get a bit of comedy from the two of them. Meanwhile, the A.I.M. guy (I kept thinking “How cool would it be if this guy was Russell Means?” Alas…) is working for the Chief Scientist or King Scientist or Scientist-Poobah of A.I.M, and said potentate is profoundly pissed at the guy for giving their technology to a child, even if it is a brilliant kid. A.I.M. guy blatantly defies the Pasha’s pleas for pulling the plug on the project, and goes ahead with it anyway. (I’m a bit bored. I tend to alliterate when I’m bored. Sorry. I also tend to become English when I’m drunk. I don’t really understand either of those things, but there it is.)

Back at school, Tony gets Happy, Pepper, Rhody, and Khan to help with his neural interface experiments (What, doesn’t anyone in New York have a normal name like “Steve” or “Ben” or even “Kip?”), so they’ve all got silly looking hoobajoobs on their head. Stark gets the interface working, which signals A.I.M. guy while he’s getting yelled at by His Highness of High Tech, and basically says “Use your mind control helmet, or I’ll kill you.” A.I.M. Guy does this, and suddenly the four volunteers are possessed/zombies chasing after Tony and Ms. Stained, who’s shown up for no reason other than to get catty with Pepper. They run away, but end up tearing headlong in to A.I.M. guy - who wants to be known as “The Controller” now, which I can understand since that was a pretty good Oingo Boingo song - and more running and chasing happens.

Tony locks Ms. Staind in a closet to protect her, then changes in to Ironman, and immediately gets in to a Mexican Standoff with The Controller. Fortunately, Ms. Stained gets out and whacks the guy with a broom, damaging his mind control helmet, and freeing the others. She then takes out the A.I.M. guards - who, despite their name can’t hit the broad side of a barn - and Tony chases after yet another A.I.M. plane, which he uncharacteristically blows out of the air with three people in it.

In the thrilling denouement, Ms. Stained admits she came to the school to spy on Tony for her dad, but isn’t actually spying on him, she just kinda’ is hot for him. Also, The Controller gets called on the carpet by his liege, and says “Everything will be fixed, sorry ’bout all that, but you can trust me now.” He walks off doing something that implies he can’t actually be trusted.

OBSERVATIONS

I should point out that when I say “In the thrilling denouement,” I’m actually being sarcastic. There’s nothing thrilling about it, and denouement is, by definition, not thrilling. I’m pointing this out for Trekies in the audience who may not understand sarcasm if I do it without Emoticons.

This Iron Man universe appears to differ quite a bit from the normal Marvel universe, and there don’t appear to be any actual superhumans in it. It’s interesting that they have a S.H.I.E.L.D. in it, though. The name check was a bit frustrating - I would have much rather seen an episode about them, but I assume they’re probably setting that up for the future.

Though he’s not used much in this episode, I do like Khan, and I like that he’s part of Tony’s circle of friends that he just sort of automatically goes to for help.

Man, the facial animation in this episode was really bugging me, particularly the Controller guy early on, where his character design just didn’t fit the show.

Really not too much else to talk about, aside from the fact that Tony’s crashing in to the Beekeeper plane before blowing it up didn’t really make much sense, and was pointlessly dangerous, and I suspect that the A.I.M. guys are the true recurring villains for this show. This shows’ Klingons, if you will.

Given that there’s only 3 episodes left in this “Season,” I’m anticipating that the energy level will ramp up quite a bit next week.

So what do you guys out there think? Should I continue covering this show after the first season is up, or should I let it go? Sound off!

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