Monday, April 6, 2015

Recap: Avengers: EMH "Living Legend"

When we last left our Avengers, they were one man short. Not only that, but Tony Stark wasn't shaping up to be the most inspirational leader. Hmm, if only there were a way to kill two bird with one stone....

Not that I'm hinting, or anything.
The episode opens with the remaining Avengers up North, asking some....

....
Okay, guys, let me level with you. I don't know everything. I like to think that I know a little bit about a lot of topics, but there are still some things that I simply don't know. And I'll freely admit that.

First of all, I have no idea where we are in this opening. I mean, my gut feeling says "Alaska," but that can't be, because the heroes are going to discover something that has been dropped off in the Atlantic Ocean, not the Pacific. Of course, this could easily be the Eastern coast of Canada. But being an average American who just knows that Canada's that Northern place where they made The Red Green Show, I know nothing about the indigenous tribes of the area. Second of all, I have no idea what to call these guys.

When I was but a lad, my various schoolteachers referred to them as... well, let's just call it "the E-Word." But apparently, that term is considered racist in several areas, as it's a misheard corruption of "Inuit." However, "Inuit" refers to a specific group of Northern native people, and these particular fishermen might not belong to that particular group. It'd be like referring to a Scottish guy as "an Englishman." Calling them part of the "First Nation" is out for various reasons, as well. And don't get me started on the fact that they're depicted here as primitive hunter-gatherers when modern conveniences like rifles and insulated jackets are freely available to (and happily used by) the various indigenous Canadian peoples in real life.

Long story short, it took me longer to research what the heck I should call these guys than it took me to actually watch the episode and write this Recap. So I'm going to start over with my newfound knowledge on what to call these people.

The episode begins with the remaining Avengers up North, getting directions from some local fishermen. While Iron Man's chosen adjectives of "cranky, giant, and green" may be vague terms, what they refer to is unmistakable.

Well, maybe a little mistakable.
After getting pointed in the right direction, the team continues their flight north. Iron Man and Thor fly under their own power while the Wasp excitedly sits at the controls of the Avengers' Quinjet.

Wasp: "This is the coolest thing I've ever done. I'm driving a jet!"
Iron Man: "It's actually on autopilot, Wasp. Sorry."

They head towards the gigantic crater that the fishermen pointed them to. After they land, Thor asks how Iron Man plans on convincing the Hulk to rejoin the team.

Iron Man: "I have no idea."

He starts scanning the area with his armor to Thor's disdain. He argues that Tony needs to rely more on his own natural senses, but JARVIS picks up a faint life sign before this discussion manages to turn into every other episode of Avengers Assemble. Wasp flies out to find the big guy, but she ends up flying smack dab into the faint life sign. It's not the Hulk, it's the frozen body of Captain America himself.

You know, logically, Thor has no idea who this frozen guy is.
After a quick replay of Cap's untimely demise, Cap wake up in the Quinjet to find a bunch of strangely-dressed people standing over him. After yelling "Bucky!", the first thing he does after waking up is hit Ant-Man with his shield.

I do love me some Ant-Man, but dang if this bit's not hilarious.
Thor gets a boot to the face and Iron Man gets a table to the chest as Captain America demands to know where he is and who these people are. Thor walks up to the good captain and tries to reason with him, but Cap responds to this by tossing Thor into Ant-Man, because Ant-Man is this show’s punching bag. And because I've got my new jar set up, I won't bring up the fact that he's also Wasp's punching bag. ...Shoot, that counts, doesn't it?

Fine, there's a quarter.
Anyway, Ant-Man and Thor hit the controls and the Quinjet starts falling as Captain America leaps into the sea just outside Ellis Island. Back at the mansion, the Black Panther breaks in and disables the alert functions before heading for the Avengers' meeting room, where he starts accessing the personnel files. Captain America manages to swim ashore to the base of the Statue of Liberty, where Iron Man again tries to talk to Cap, but gets a faceful of shield for his trouble. Wasp flies up to try and talk sense into him, but he angrily accuses her of being some kind of horrible Nazi experiment.

Wasp: “No, I’m… Well, it’s complicated.”

Not really; you're just using Pym particles. ...Or you're a mutant. Actually, is it ever explained whether or not her powers are natural? I mean, I assume she's using Hank Pym's sciencey inventions, but she doesn't seem to need the glowy-blue bit on her suit to make it work like he does. I guess we can chalk this one up to nitpicking, though.

Anyway, she starts trying to set him straight, but Thor seems to have decided that it's hammer time. Cap uses his martial arts to take down the God of Thunder, so Ant-Man becomes Giant-Man and calmly tells Cap that he needs to get to a hospital as onlookers start gathering on a nearby ferry. He begins to piece together that something isn't quite right, but more fighting breaks out. Also, try not to read too much into the fact that Cap’s shield misses Iron Man and nearly hits an onlooker of Asian descent. I’m sure it was an accident and not evidence of a bit of propaganda-enforced racism. I mean, Captain America’s as decent and forward thinking as they come.

Parodies don't count.
He wipes the floor with all the male Avengers before getting a warning zap from Wasp. Because Cap's a gentlemen, he doesn't fight back. But he doesn't listen to her, either. With no other choice, she leads him up some stairs to his own memorial statue. Finally convinced that there is no one to fight, he stands down.

Iron Man: “You’ve been gone a long time, captain. Welcome back.”

Speaking of World War II's leftovers, we cut to a tropical HYDRA base, where Baron Von Strucker's inner sanctum is soon invaded by Baron Heinrich Zemo, who was last seen escaping in the premiere episode. Zemo's a bit miffed at Von Strucker, who had left him in prison to rot while he took over command of HYDRA. Von Strucker's lackey, Grim Reaper, tries to take down Zemo, but to no avail, losing his scythe-arm in the process.

Before Zemo and Von Strucker can come to blows themselves, a messenger informs them both that Captain America has somehow returned. Zemo, leaving HYDRA to Von Strucker for now, heads off to take care of the good captain once and for all, after meeting with an old acquaintance.

Baron Zemo: "All I want is Arnim Zola."

We then flash back to Italy in 1943, where Captain America and Bucky are busy infiltrating a HYDRA castle and utterly wrecking the HYDRA goons. Baron Zemo rushes out to engage Cap in combat. He brags about his plan to use his secret weapon of "Virus X" to win the war, before continuing to brag about his mad science-given superhuman abilities. In the continuing scuffle, Zemo ends up having the entire vat of Virus X poured on his body, causing his mask to bond to his face with a rather horrifying scream.

Sleep well tonight.
In the present, Zemo pays a visit to the laboratory of the recently-released HYDRA mad scientist Arnim Zola. As he walks through the dimly-lit room, a horrifying, amorphous monstrosity known simply as "Doughboy" follows him.

Wrong.
There ya go.
He slices an errant tentacle off the blob, but that only makes it mad. Luckily, Zola calls it off. Zola begins administering another treatment for Baron Zemo's Virus X infection, but there's still no cure. But that doesn't mean they can't create one. Zemo tells Zola that Captain America has returned, bringing a smile to Zola's CRT face. Not only could they cure Baron Zemo's condition, but they could create an army of Super Soldiers if they had a sample of Captain America's star-spangled blood. But there's a problem; Cap's got him some powerful new friends.

Arnim Zola: "I am the finest bioengineer on the planet, and over the decades, I have learned one thing: Every problem has a solution."

"We'll send goo-monsters to distract the team and obtain a sample of the captain's blood!"
"You're sure this will work?"
"It'll work well enough to become a standard episode formula for Ultimate Spider-Man."
Back at the mansion, Black Panther quickly hides as the team returns. They've been trying to fill Cap in on what's been going on since the war. But JARVIS’s greeting is really the only thing that gives him pause.

Thor: "The building has its own voice. 'Tis very disconcerting."

Iron Man shows the captain the exaggerated reports of his death, and Cap is quick to hope that maybe Bucky survived as well. But Cap fell off the missile, whereas Bucky done got asploded. With the realization that everything and everyone he ever knew and loved is gone, he sets his shield on the table and walks away. Suddenly, JARVIS reports that Ellis Island is getting overrun by goo.

Iron Man: "Avengers! Assemble!"
Ant-Man: "We're all right here."

As they rush off to save the day, Wasp stays behind as Black Panther does his best Batman impression in the pipes lining the ceiling.

"...I am the night."
The Avengers arrive on the scene. Thor has a hard time unsticking himself from the goo monsters, but Hank is fascinated by the thing, being a biologist/chemist/physicist/engineer/entomologist/geologist. As the Avengers end up overwhelmed by the Doughboy legion, a lone one approaches the mansion. Inside, Captain America sits on his bed as Wasp explains that Tony tried to make his room as much like the 1940's as possible. Old-timey bed, simple painted walls, JARVIS coming out of the radio....

JARVIS: "Excuse me, Miss Wasp. There appears to be a guest at the main gate."

But Cap is stuck in the throes of survivor's guilt, lamenting the fact that he ever woke up.

Captain America: "I can't imagine a world that's changed so much still needs… Captain America."

Suddenly, the mansion shakes as, Ellis Island is completely enveloped in Doughboy, along with the Avengers. Captain America and Wasp rush down the hallway to retrieve his shield, but they run into the Doughboy infiltrator. Wasp reacts by making one of those faces that she usually reserves for Ha... Nope, not finishing that statement.

See? I'm learning to catch myself.
Doughboy manages to withstand the mansion's missile defenses, and dispels the smoke with a sizable burp, leading Wasp to make yet another face.

Seriously, though. Take a shot every time she makes a weird face.
She begins attacking the amorphous monster before being joined by Captain America. He gets slammed into a wall as the Doughboy creates a bunch of massive, pulsating tentacles to try and grab Wasp with, which has no doubt inspired swaths of NSFW fan art. But before anything inappropriate can happen, Doughboy releases Cap and rushes off to reenact one of the most infamous parts of Ultimatum by eating Wasp. But luckily, she uses her energy stings to blast Doughboy apart from the inside. She emerges unscathed, though she's entirely covered in off-white goo, which has probably also inspired swaths of NSFW fan art.

I feel like I should be censoring this....
Anyway, it’s…. Ugh, fine. I’ll make the joke.

Are you not entertained?
To get everybody's minds out of the gutter, Wasp suddenly gets shot by a laser.

Baron Zemo: "Captain America…. It's been a long time."

Their long-awaited rematch begins. And it’s awesome. The evenly-matched supermen go at it 100%, sword vs. fist.

Captain America: "How are you still alive, Zemo?!"

On that note, the kettle has a call on line 1 from the pot.

Zemo quickly knocks down the captain. But before he can deal the critical blow, the Black Panther appears and tosses him his shield before disappearing. Shield beats sword during Round 2, and Captain America issues a verbal smackdown by bringing up the sore spot with any Nazi, the fact that they lost Word War II.

Captain America: “I may not know a lot about the future, bit I know one thing about the past: You lost the war. You’ll always lose, whether I’m here or not.”

Zemo throws a bomb at the unconscious Wasp to distract him and makes his escape. Wasp soon wakes up, and the two head off to rescue the others at Ellis Island.

Thor learns that lightning only makes the massive Doughboy stronger the hard way as Giant-Man explains to him that not all science is evil, just misused science. Before the debate can continue, Captain America and Wasp show up, and Wasp cuts loose with her energy stings, saving the others. Cap informs them that the monster is one of Arnim Zola's creations, which triggers a though in Giant-Man's brain. Wasp's stings are bio-energy, which has always been the main weakness of Arnim Zola's creations. With a little tweaking of his Ant-Man helmet, he manages to create a frequency to accelerate the Doughboy's destruction. With help from Iron Man's repulsors, the day is saved. The crowd cheers the Avengers on, and Tony and Cap talk later at the mansion.

Tony Stark: “Bio-engineered monsters. Freaky ooze creatures. Is that what it was like fighting evil in the 40’s?”
Captain America: “No. Sometimes, it got strange.”
Tony Stark: “Did you just make a joke? Captain America has a sense of humor.”
Captain America: “Don’t get used to it. And please, call me Steve.”

Tony hands him an old picture of his dad, Howard Stark, standing side-by-side with Cap and Bucky. He tells Steve that people have always looked up to him. And they still do. Tony offers Steve a place in the Avengers, and he accepts.

Captain America: "Now. When can I meet the Avenger who saved me from Zemo? The one in the black catsuit?"
Tony Stark: "Wait, who?"

Back in Zola's lair, an angry Baron Zemo returns to berate him. But Arnim Zola has been... incapacitated.

Enchantress: "Baron Zemo. I have... an offer for you."

And so, the episode ends.

Was this episode a legend? Or would I rather have drowned in goo? Let's review.

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