Once again, we have an above-average episode that hits on some moral and character development in the show that, somehow, manages to fall a bit short of its potential. But as they’re consistently beating their own average, I have little to complain about.
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The always-annoying Living Laser is dying in S.H.I.E.L.D. custody, as we were told a few episodes back. Tony has volunteered to help him out, and the two bond because Tony’s the only person who’s ever shown kindness to LL. LL makes it very clear that he blames his plight on Iron Man, of course, thus proving that the enemy of my enemy is my friend, or maybe the alter ego of my friend is my enemy. Something like that.
They don’t really have time to parse it all out, though, because Ghost shows up, and quickly disables the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier and captures LL. Tony beats him a merry chase through the crashing ‘carrier, but the always-cool Ghost gets away. Tony’s able to save the ship, however. Turns out that Ghost is in the employ of AIM, who want LL to be the battery to power “Modoc.” Tony is able to trace LL by his energy emissions pretty easily, and busts in to save LL, but Modoc comes to life, having badly drained LL. Modoc immediately whups up on a leftover villain who’s name escapes me - the guy working on the control disks a while back - and on Scientist Supreme, then declares himself boss of this particular herd.
He whups up on Tony, and since he can read Tony’s mind, he blabs Tony’s name and identity as Iron Man in clear earshot of LL, who’s stunned and distraught by the news that his only friend is also his only nemesis. Man, how do you find the right Christmas card for that one? Jeez! Anyway, LL shows a heretofore unsuspected capacity to learn from the error of his ways, and saves Iron Man.
Tony runs away to get reinforcements from S.H.I.E.L.D., then comes back to help LL. Working together, they take down Modoc in what really has to be the silliest superhero fight ever recorded in the history of the visual arts. Tony and LL bond, Tony thanks him for saving him, and LL thanks him for saving him as well - his humanity anyway, kinda’ sorta’ - and then LL dies. Apparently. Again. Apparently.
Meanwhile, running through all this we have the subplot of Tony not trusting his dad’s memory, realizing that his dad used to be a weapons manufacturer.
It really bugs me the way the Helicarrier’s engines are pointing on this show - they’re supposed to be oriented up/down, to hold the thing up, but they always show them pointing forward, as though the ‘carrier is booking along at mach. Annoying.
Man, are they getting a lot of use out of S.H.I.E.L.D. this season, or what? Last year we get a name-check, and this year, they’re in every other episode. The interiors of the carrier are kinda’ neat, and the Tony/Ghost chase through the crashing carrier was actually pretty damn sweet. I’d love to see something like that in a live-action movie, it was a really neat set piece, with Ghost running on the floor (Using his ghost powers) with Tony running on the walls, and then the ceiling as the carrier continued to careen out of control.
Man, is Modoc the goofiest looking super villain ever? I’ve heard of him, and seen pictures of him before, and no matter what audience he’s playing to, believe you me son, you’re gonna’ laugh. He’s just the stupidest looking thing in the history of stupid things - and as you know, that’s a pretty long history. Most recently, I’ve seen him on that damn Jim Henson’s Marvel Babies show ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Super_Hero_Squad_Show ) I have no idea if the way they showed him in this episode is his normal origin or not, not being a Marvel guy, I find I don’t care too much. While I’m not bothering to look stuff up, I’ll mention that Modoc has a goofiness of character design that seems appropriate to the planet Apokalyps in the DC universe, so I’m assuming he’s one of that Jack Kirby guy’s creations. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again now (Perhaps in vain since I dunno if he created the guy or not), but I really don’t like that Kirby guy.
I really like Ghost. He’s what this show needs, a good amoral criminal who’s simply in it for the money. I love his voice and his delivery. I don’t know the actor’s name, but he’s the same guy that used to be the voice of the Toonami narrator/host years back. He’s great at what he does, even if he doesn’t have the widest of all possible ranges.
Rhodie’s mom gets her biggest part in the run of the series tonight. I really like her speaking voice as well, and her character design is not unattractive, either.
The normal Team Stark is mostly absent tonight. Was Pepper even in it? And Rhodie only gets 4 or 5 lines.
This episode functioned as kind of a clearinghouse. The “Control Disk” dude is gone, Scientist Supreme is down and out, AIM is all but destroyed, and LL is dead. Again. Apparently. That should really free up a lot of time in the future…
The moral dimension of tonight’s episode was one of change - LL’s change and redemption was echoed by Tony’s own dad, who changed when he had a son. It’s a nice lesson, if a bit obvious, but it bears repeating. I also like Tony’s obvious feelings of guilt about the whole situation, and his sense of responsibility for a situation that really wasn’t his fault in the first place. And of course his compassion was a nice touch. Again, a bit obvious, but as someone once said, “Christian charity is no less remarkable for being so rare.” Kudos.
AIM headquarters looks like the old Hive academy from Teen Titans. I’ve said that before, but in the end, we see hive-shaped sections of the AIM hive breaking off and flying away. So let me get this straight: AIM is illegal, and have a secret lair IN New York City that’s shaped, more or less, like a hive, and no one noticed it? Not even S.H.I.E.L.D., who’s continually flying OVER the city?
Once again, the best episodes are one where Iron Man himself is largely useless as a superhero. Has anyone else noticed that?