Seriously, though, I will always remember this as one of the best episodes of Season 1. I will also remember that it aired during Season 2.
Yeah, the scheduling of this episode is really weird. It seems like the only thing they got right was airing it during December. This episode clearly was supposed to air last year as one of the first episodes of the MAU to promote the then-upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy. Not only that, but this Season 1 episode aired months after a Season 2 episode where the Guardians outright mention the events of this episode.
On a lesser note, this episode aired smack dab in the middle of the Hulks being lost in space and trying to get back to Earth. To be fair, though, there was a Halloween episode during Season 2 that took place on Earth and also aired between "lost in space" episodes. The only difference is that according to the official episode order, that episode apparently belongs there. Why is this show so eager to break continuity for the sake of its holiday episodes?
|Moffat, after the ending to Last Christmas, I'm really not in the mood.|
Yeah, I'd say so.
The story itself drew from the main themes of the show, the Hulks' quest to be accepted. But not only that, it subtly draws from numerous Christmasy sources. (Never thought I'd use the word "subtle" for this show.) Like in It's a Wonderful Life, we see an alternate reality. Like A Christmas Carol, we teach an old miser about friendship and goodness and generosity and junk.
This episode takes all those themes, and creates its own story. And because of that alone, I've got to put this episode above Ultimate Spider-Man's "Nightmare on Christmas." (Again, I didn't expect myself to say that.)
The Guardians of the Galaxy were utilized well. Kind of. None of them really get a chance to shine except for Rocket. This can be forgiven to a degree, though, because their inclusion means that we have ten heroes. That's a lot of characters. Groot's schtick doesn't require much screen time, but there's still four new characters to add to the usual crew. No wonder Rocket's introduction of them is the fastest character rundown I've seen for them in any MAU show. But having said all that, the Guardians and the Hulks were portrayed as equally competent, and the teams complemented each other well. In team ups, it can be difficult to make both teams look good, but this episode succeeded at that.
But this episode wasn't perfect. The story was familiar but unique and executed well, but it was nothing too deep. The guest characters were a bit flat due to the focus being put on Rocket, and we don't really know that our heroes are actually out of the holographic reality. To be fair, this is an inherent problem with these kinds of stories that can be seen in things ranging from Doctor Who, to Deep Space Nine, to even the Matrix films. It's difficult to pull off a 100% reassurance that the heroes are back in reality.
But overall, thanks in part to the low bar set for this show, I'd say that this was one of the best episodes of the first season. In fact, it's better than more than a few episodes of the second season. Though it has a few flaws, this episode is definitely one of the best in the series. But the best part? I can finally do a Review of the entirety of Season 1! Hooray! Christmas came.... well, it's the 30th of December. It's either late or really early.
I'll see you next time, when I'll be taking that look at all of the first season. See you then!