Avengers Assemble: Friendship is Magic.
But on the other hand, if the villain wins a small victory every episode, then it's quite possible for the audience to get a bit tired of the villain never getting smacked down all the way. I love Young Justice to death, but it had a bit of this going on.
In this episode, Red Skull looked around. And in a moment of insight, he realized something.
|Never a pleasant realization.|
This episode's writing seemed sharper than usual. In most episodes up until this point, the villains would occasionally use misdirection, but it would often be telegraphed earlier in the episode. That, or the twist would come about halfway through the episode. But Red Skull's plan this time had a twist within a twist. (Twist-ception!) Attacking D.C. with the goal of getting captured to steal the Tri-carrier isn't a terrible plot in and of itself, but the added final reveal of the true goal elevated this episode beyond the others. The misdirection successfully fooled the heroes, but the double misdirection fooled the audience. In the long run, the latter's more important.
The return of Hyperion was a great moment in and of itself. "Hyperion" was one of the better early episodes, due in no small part to the titular villain. By all rights, Hyperion could have defeated the Avengers all by himself. And as part of a well-oiled team that could use Hyperion to the fullest? The stakes just got raised. No wonder they took that and ran with it for part of the second season, but I'm getting ahead of myself.
If I had to criticize this episode (and I will, in the interests of fairness) I'd say that there was a bit of a wasted opportunity here. After all, Sandman, Green Goblin, Mesmero, and others are imprisoned on the Tricarrier, too. It would have been nice to see them released, even if it's only to slow down the Avengers. Still, you could assume that Red Skull's monocle didn't take them into account, or however you want to handwave it.
All things considered, the road to the big showdown starts here, and it's a darn good start. It's a darn good episode, and can't-miss-fully-important one at that. I'd say this episode was automatically the best in the season, if it weren't for last week's "Planet Doom" making it a close race.
Next time, we get an episode about how Tony Stark learns to not rely on technology. Because Galactus knows we haven't had enough of those by now. See you then.