EPISODE REVIEW: Sym-Bionic Titan: “Disenfranchised” (Episode 15)

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I am amazed at how densely-written the story was tonight. I mean, a *LOT* of stuff happens, both plot and character development-driven, stuff was continually happening, there were a lot of quiet scenes, and an entire song. I figured the episode was almost done, then looked at the clock and we were barely halfway in. And yet none of it felt rushed. It felt like they dehydrated an hour-long story and packed it into this morsel of emotional ADD deliciousness, and it never felt forced.

This is particularly impressive in the wake of the “Everyone in the world is paralyzed and Octus just walks around looking at stuff for ten minutes” episode a couple weeks back.

PLAY BY PLAY

General Steel sends a spy into the high school, seeing it as the hub of all alien activity in the city. The spy - named Steve Stevens - quickly makes Octus for an alien, but eventually loses the lead. Prior to going into the army, Steve Stevens was the lead guitarist for Billy Idol, so maybe that tipped him off. By questioning other kids (Allegedly for the yearbook) he figures out that Lance and Illana are aliens as well. Octus eventually makes the spy, and scares him off. The spy, by this point, has figured out where the kids will be, and tips off the General. Everyone rendezvous at a concert for the band “Disenfranchised.”

MEANWHILE: An alien monster - a Miyazaki-styled dragon - attacks. The Titan kills it and cuts its head in half lengthwise.

MEANWHILE: Octus realizes that he’s being spied on, and tells Illana. Illana deliberately hides the information from lance, and after they ditch the spy they hatch a plan to project their cover. At the “Disenfranchised” concert, they use Octus’ holograms to make it look like they’re still in the audience when the second battle ensues, thus fooling General Steel into thinking they can’t be the aliens he’s been looking for. Illana and Octus defeat the dragon without Lance’s help, and without forming Titan.

MEANWHILE: the dragon attacks again. Well, it’s head does anyway. Despite being cut in half lengthwise, the head is whole again. No one comments on this.

MEANWHILE: Lance is inspired by a garage band called “Disenfranchised,” and learns to play guitar in about thirty seconds. After a run in with the singer (Who sucks as a singer) he’s asked to sit in. The band is horribly unpopular, but once the girlies find out Lance will be on stage at the gig, they all have to go. The show ends up being huge, with hundreds of people in the audience, while Octus and Illana fight the dragon in power armor. Everyone takes this to be part of the show. The next day, Lance is kicked out of the band, effectively because they were jealous of the attention he was getting, but also because their own pretension meant they couldn’t accept the fact that the people they looked down on might appreciate their music.

The End.

OBSERVATIONS

Maybe it’s just the fact that I’ve had a rough couple weeks, didn’t sleep well, am horribly depressed, and have been listening to nothing but albums by “The Church” for two days, but I really liked the song. The first one, anyway. It was called “The End of the World,” and the music and lyrics were really good, though the vocals sucked. (I can work around that, obviously, since Steve Kilby isn’t the world’s best stingier). Just had a nice “I’m just depressed enough to be a Byronic romantic, but not depressed enough to seek treatment” feel. Suits my mood.

It’s a short little scene, and comes out of nowhere, but the scene of Illana playing soccer just cracked me up, with her relentlessly obnoxious cheerfulness, and her phenomenal speed and reflexes.

Loved the way Octus fooled the spy into the girls’ bathroom.

The dragon was a straw man as far as monsters go, essentially there to grease the plot along, and provide a convenient foil for its resolution, and not really a threat, nor even an inconvenience this time out. In fact, none of the kids seem to take it terribly seriously either. Illana correctly discerns (When Lance doesn’t notice it, and Octus doesn’t grasp its significance) that the spy is a bigger threat to them than the monster, and she uses it to their advantage. Might this mark the start of some long-overdue character development for her? One can only hope.

Nice scene of Lance playing guitar overlooking the severed giant robot legs of a foe from a previous episode in a park.

This episode makes a point of introducing a new weapon that we first saw used two or three weeks ago, so evidently they’re running at least a few of these things out of order.

Octus’ stupid friend “Meat” shows up again in this episode, voiced as ever by Bill Fagerbakke. I’m pretty sure the spy was also Bill Fagerbakke. Steel and the lunch lady were both done by John DiMaggio. Kimmy has only a nonspeaking cameo.

I have to admit, the final shot of the band on stage, lit from behind by an exploding monster was pretty cool.

WILL CONSERVATIVES LIKE THIS EPISODE?

Hm. It’s a bit goth-heavy for most of us (And just for the record, The Church is not now, nor has it ever been a goth band. I don’t want guilt by association), and the army is used as both a threat and a comedic foil, so there’s some stuff that some of us might take umbrage at; but that’s pretty much only if someone is *LOOKING* for something to get upset about. If you’re not, then, sure, you’ll like this episode fine!

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