EPISODE REVIEW: Iron Man: Armored Adventures: “World on Fire” (Episode 20)

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A Very Long Time Ago:

The Original Mandarin” has the Macluan rings, and wants to give them to his heir, but none of his own children are worthy, so he hides them all around the world along with several tests to determine if someone can be trusted with them.

About 10 Years Ago:

Tamugin “Gene” Khan is told by his mother that he’s special, and that her Macluan ring will help him achieve his nebulously-defined destiny when he’s older. Shortly thereafter, his mom agrees to marry a grey-haired dude, which seems to kind of hack Gene off, but she makes it very clear to Gene and her fiancé that this is a business deal, intended to help gene achieve his still-nebulously-define destiny. Some time after that his mom disappears, apparently dies. His stepfather tells him that nothing can bring her back.

Now:

Pepper thinks they should tell Gene that Tony is Ironman. The boys table that for a later date because Tony’s computer has found the fourth ring in a temple in the base of Mount St. Helens. Gene is confabing with his stepfather, who’s still in a cell, and Team Tony can’t reach him, so they decide to go to Washington State without him.

Finding the temple without incident, they’re told the theme is ‘Temperance’ and Pepper inadvertently starts the test by knocking in a shard of ice from a bowl by the testing dealie. Rhodie is suddenly turned in to a lava man who proceeds to beat hell out of Tony/Ironman. Pepper calls Gene for help, but cant’ get him, and the signal cuts out before she can tell him where they are. He Mandarins about trying to find clues. Meanwhile, Pepper decides to put some coal in the testing dealie, which makes Rhodie all better, but turns her into a lava woman.

She proceeds to beat hell out of Tony, as is traditional in these matters.

Rhodie calls Gene to try and solve the test, and Gene figures out that they have to dump all the ice and all the coal in to the testing dealie at once. This they then do, and they pass. Pepper is back to normal, and they’re given the fourth ring.

Back at the warehouse or whatever it is they hang out in, Pepper tells Rhodie she doesn’t want Gene to know about Ironman, since it’s too dangerous and she doesn’t want him hurt. Meanwhile, Tony concludes that the ring is turned on somehow, but he can’t get it to do anything. Gene contemplates his next move.

The End.

OBSERVATIONS

A much better-than-average episode, and one that deviates wildly from the ‘three fights, evenly-spaced’ format of the show. There’s really no action until Rhodie’s transformed, and that’s not really the focus of the action, so it works. Not that I’m opposed to action, mind you, but with a show as format-driven as this, it begins to feel repetitive quickly, so any deviation from the plan is welcome.

Gene actually solved the challenge for once! Also, interestingly Gene actually seemed genuinely concerned for Team Tony. Well, scratch that: He seemed concerned for Pepper, and Team Tony by association. Still, more feeling than you’d expect from him.

What is Gene’s nebulously-defined destiny?

Why did Gene’s mom agree to marry the old dude?

Why did Gene’s mom die?

Why does Gene want the rings? I mean, ultimate power is fine, but clearly he wants them for something.

What is the old dude’s plan? Clearly he’s still playing Gene in some fashion.

Here’s how I’ll tie it together, based on our scant clues:

Gene’s a descendant of the original Mandarin, probably the last one. His mom knew this, and wanted to protect him, but she was dying. Therefore, she agreed to marry the old dude and give him use of her Macluan ring, provided that he protects and raises Gene. She kacks, and he more-or-less keeps his end of the bargain, but with the added permutation of using the ring to become a mafia don calling himself “The Mandarin.” Gene, meanwhile, blames the old dude for his mom’s death, and he wants the rings so he can resurrect her. This turns him from a self-serving criminal figure in to a tragic character study, and is actually damn interesting, and clearly paves the way for his ultimate redemption.

I’m not fluent in Marvel, so I don’t know if these “Macluan” rings are part of the normal sequence of events, or if they’re something dreamed up for just this show. I have found myself wondering, however, if they’re named afer Marshall McLuhan http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marshall_Mcluhan probably not, but this is a Canadian show, you know. Well, Canadian/French. (Not to be confused with French-Canadian).

It’s interesting to me that Gene was prevented from using his powers, but still managed to solve the problem and save the day. Ultimately, this ties in with the thought of redemption as a character development, since Tony’s been in that same situation several times, the recurring theme being that the heroism doesn’t come from the suit, but from something within him. This is true of Rhodie and Pepper as well. So Gene has something good in him, burried under the hurt and all.

Man, Pepper’s crushing on Gene big time, isn’t she?

So…let’s see, one ring in the deserts of New Jersey, one ring in Greenland, and one in Washington State. Those ancient Chinese were obviously more well-traveled than I’d assumed.

And that’s it for this week. I find I’m looking forward to next!

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