EPISODE REVIEW: Sym-Bionic Titan: “I Am Octus” (Episode 14)

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The team is looking at a Jackson Pollack painting, which Illana sees as a warm happy sunrise, and which Lance sees as battle-related carnage. Octus sees it as a painting. When they press him on symbolism, he asks why the red can’t just represent red. They tell him to look deeper, and he discovers that there was an earlier painting the artist covered over. Annoyed, they conclude that he can’t see the emotion in the piece because he’s a robot. This annoys Octus.

Meanwhile, in France, something has paralyzed an entire village. Lance and Illana send Octus to investigate. “Oh, sure, send the robot,” and he responds with great sarcasm when he reports in. By the time he’s gotten there, the sphere of influence has expanded to include the army, sent in to cordon off the area, and the Men In Red. In fact, it’s gotten Paris too. Communications are suddenly interrupted, and Octus flies home to find the whole world has been paralyzed.

He eventually reasons that this happened because of a signal coming through the rift gate, and he tries to stop it, but his methods fail. A dragon comes through and attacks, and ultimately Octus reasons that if he can kill the thing, everyone will go back to normal. He uses the paralyzed Illana as a distraction, and cripples it enough that everyone starts moving again. They form the Titan, and you know how that goes.

Afterwards, Lance and Illana are painting abstracts (“Wow,” says Illana to Lance, “You’re so angry.” “Yeah,” he smiles.) Octus has painted an almost-photorealistic still life.

“I may not see the picture the way they do, but I see it in my own way. I am not a human, but I am not just a robot either. I am Octus.”

OBSERVATIONS

So where do they live, anyway? Most episodes make the city seem like LA, but tonight it looked a lot like Chicago, and when we saw it from above, it was on an island like Manhattan. The answer? It’s jedderville.

Octus can fly. That’s new. Titan can shoot arrows, also new.

Many, many cool scenes of Octus walking through a frozen world, trying to figure things out. Maybe a few too many, though it gave the episode a really nice tone and a really weird feel compared to the rest of the series, I do think they over-did it a bit. The slice-of-life establishing sequence in France went on WAY the heck too long. The scenes of wrecked helicopters and cars and whatnot seemed very derivative of “FlashForward.” I find myself wondering how many people died this time. Clearly, a lot.

Why was Octus in his Newton guise through the whole thing? There as no need for him to maintain a disguise, and why Newton and not “The Dad?” I suspect Octus simply feels more comfortable as Newton. This might explain, also, why we rarely see the dad.

“Barb” has a frozen cameo on a treadmill.

I realize this is your basic “Battle of the Planets” thing here, but why do the bad guys only try something *one time* and then give up? They nearly won this time. Why not do the same thing again, and use *TWO* big paralyzing dragon thingies? Or simply attack the earth en masse?

Octus continues to be the most interesting character in the show, and the only one with a real character arc, though I assume Lance’s will develop as things go along. Many clues have been dropped about him. Octus’ realization that Lance and Illana would ask him what to do, and hence he didn’t really need their advice was actually pretty clever. His ruminations about whether or not he had feelings were also pretty interesting: “Do I really have feelings, or am I simply projecting them?” That said, I feel his “What am I?” introspection has been touched on enough in the series thus far that they were kind of milking it a bit. Especially since he basically came to a softer version of this same conclusion in the "Scary Mary" episode two weeks back.

In look, feel, and restraint with the giant alien/robot fighting, I think this is my favorite episode. I also appreciate the lack of grossout stuff.

WILL CONSERVAVTIVES LIKE THIS EPISODE?

Certainly more than some. There’s really no reason not to. And the French look bad. Most of us like that, right?

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