Monday, August 24, 2015

Recap: Avengers Assemble "Crime and Circuses"

What a fitting title.

Not only does this episode feature both crime and circuses (rather, a circus), but the title is supposed to reference "bread and circuses," the ancient Roman tradition of cheap food and cheap entertainment to keep the masses from revolting.

And just like a certain Russell Crowe character from a certain movie that took place in that time period, you're here to ask me one question.

"Are you not entertained!?"

Well, read on, and I'll give you an answer.

I am required to recap, so I recap. That is enough.
The episode begins with a robbery at Stark Industries. All the scientists GTFO for their lives while Falcon and Hawkeye rush to investigate. You might wonder why Iron Man isn’t on the case in his own facility. There’s a good answer, all in good time.

Despite not having Iron Man’s usual assistance with scanning the perimeter thingums and checking the security whatsises, Hawkeye is 100% on the ball with knowing exactly which labs are where and what the probable goal of the thieves is. But Hawkeye brushes it off, saying he’s “been here before.”

Falcon: “Previous Avengers mission?”
Hawkeye: “Let’s just… not say.”

When they find the lab, they come face to face with the clowns responsible for the break-in.

Huh. An actual clown. Didn't see that coming. Except for the title and all.
And yes, that’s the ever-lovin’ Hulk in that makeup, which has been rarely seen since The Avengers #1, where he hid out at a circus as a robotic strongman/clown.

Stan Lee, never change.
And the rest of the Avengers (except for Hawkeye and Falcon) are all dressed up in weird Cirque-du-Soleil-on-a-budget-makeup, as well. Something is definitely up. And judging by his reactions, Hawkeye definitely knows what’s up. But he remains cryptic, even as Iron Man flies in, sans helmet, sans eyebrows, ready to repulse them into oblivion.

The man who said "If I only had a heart," and then made one. In a cave. With a box of scraps.
After the titles, the battle ensues as Hawkeye finally starts giving some answers. Namely, he tells Falcon that the rest of the Avengers are all under mind control. But it’s not Mesmero behind it this time, it’s someone else. Someone who wants some experimental Stark upgrades. Falcon, who had been in space for the past couple days, asks Hawkeye exactly how he avoided the same fate as the other Avengers, so Hawkeye promptly changes the subject by pointing out that those metal headbands are controlling their minds. Falcon shoots out a feather-blade to knock the thing off of Iron Man’s head, but Hawkeye shoots it out of the air.

Hawkeye: “Take ‘em off without knowing the code and you’ll fry their brains.”
Falcon: “How do you know that, exactly?”
Hawkeye: “Just a… hunch.”

But Hawkeye’s exploding arrow got their pals’ attention, and the fight resumes. In the midst of the scuffle, Falcon demands some real answers, so Hawkeye starts explaining exactly what in the name of P.T. Barnum is going on.

Hawkeye: “It’s the Circus of Crime.”

After dodging Thor’s hammer, Hawkeye demands that the “Ringmaster” show himself. So Iron Man grabs the two heroes, and the Ringmaster graces them with his appearance.

Falcon: “Hawkeye, you know this clown?”
Ringmaster: “’Hawkeye hasn’t told you about us yet? Where are your manners, archer?”

So in the interest of filling time, the Ringmaster goes into detail about all the non-Avenger members of his new Circus of Crime, as well as their new Stark upgrades.

Ringmaster: “High-tech acts for a modern age!”

What are you going to do, juggle iPhones?
The Human Cannonball got outfitted with a bell-shaped rocket harness, the acrobatic Gambonno Twins got pneumatic pistons for their hands and/or feet, Bruto the Strongman got arm exoskeletons, and the newest person to take up the mantle of Trickshot… got a bow and arrow. Presumably trick arrows, but still, he’s getting the short end of the stick.

He prepares to shoot Falcon, but Falcon merely gloats and says that S.H.I.E.L.D. is on their way. So instead of quickly killing Hawkeye and Falcon while he has a chance, Ringmaster gives the order for Iron Man to make the heroes “know what it feels like to be betrayed by a friend.” It apparently feels a lot like Falcon being thrown into Hawkeye.

Ringmaster: “The next time you see us….”

Let me stop you right there, Ringmaster. There doesn’t have to be a “next time.” You had the chance to kill them both, you didn’t take it. You’re going to lose, and it’s entirely your own fault. You fail at villain. Period.

I award you no points, Ringleader.
Anyway, with a promise to return with the Avengers as their headline act of evil, the Circus disappears in a puff of pink smoke. As Hawkeye and Falcon get up, Falcon notes that the Ringmaster called Hawkeye by his real name. Understandably, Falcon has a lot of questions, none of which Hawkeye feels like answering right now. Unwilling to wait for S.H.I.E.L.D., Hawkeye gets going after the Circus of Crime, only to be picked up by Falcon and carried off into the skies above New York.

Falcon: “Hawkeye, some days I think you’re the coolest guy on the team.”

You’re damning him with faint praise, Falcon.

Falcon: “And other days, I can’t stand you.”
Hawkeye: “So I’m an enigma. Let it go.”

Falcon takes this a bit literally and drops Hawkeye to scare him a bit before catching him, depositing him on a rooftop, and asks just why the heck Hawkeye’s trying to go at it alone.

Hawkeye: “Because it’s my fault. All of this. That’s all I’m gonna say about this until I set things right. Alone.”

Falcon brings up that he’ll be fighting the majority of the Avengers and offers his help. When Hawkeye declines one last time, Falcon runs off to assist S.H.I.E.L.D. with the situation, but not before planting a tracer in Hawkeye’s quiver.

Hawkeye: “I do respect you, kid…. It’s me I’m not so sure about.”

But Ant-Man can suck eggs, right?

Soon enough, Hawkeye finds himself at the docks near a warehouse that I’m fairly certain Ultron was using as a hideout in the last series. He follows a young woman (voiced by Hynden Walch) searching for a specific shipping container. She finds it, but gets tied up by Hawkeye’s restraint arrows.

Hawkeye: “Never did learn to check your six… Princess Python.”

Princess Python, Princess Bubblegum, Princess Koriand’r of Tamaran…. Hynden Walch sure voices a lot of princesses.

She rants about his oh-so-vague “betrayal,” he responds flippantly, and then he asks if she’s still with the Circus.

Princess Python: “I’m a solo act for the moment. As if you care.”

He does, as a matter of fact. He follows up by asking if she knows where the Circus is and explains that they took his team.

Princess Python: “Oh, now you care about your team?”

In her anger, she uses her powers to summon the giant robotic snake out of its shipping container.

Hawkeye: “That looks a whole lot bigger than I remember.”

I think I’ll skip the “that’s what she said” joke. Princess Python mounts… I mean, rides… I mean, straddles… Hoo boy, this is going to be a tough character to talk about without everything turning into a double entendre. Let me try again.

So anyway, she issues a mental command to her robotic snake, and…. Oh, come on, animators, you’ve got to be doing this on purpose.

There is no way the shape of that snake's head wasn't intentional
Look, readers. I’m doing my very dang best to try and describe this scene without giving in to dirty jokes, but the fact of the matter is that Princess Python has a massive, one-eyed snake sprouting from between her legs. There is absolutely no way I can describe her or anything she does without it sounding dirty. As such, I’m instituting a jar. Every time I make a dirty joke about Princess Python, a dollar goes in. Hopefully, that’ll keep this Recap from devolving into nothing more than a string of transgender-themed double entendres.

...hopefully.
Anyway, faced with such a huge… obstacle, Hawkeye is outmatched. But he tells Princess Python that she can still earn a second chance to redeem herself.

Hawkeye: “It’s not too late to put this overgrown worm back in its cage, Princess.”

Yeah, cage that snake before you shake and bake.

All jokes aside, condoms are very useful for preventing pregnancy and transmission of STIs.
The more you know.
Anyway, Falcon shows up to offer assistance….

Princess Python: “My snake and I don’t like an ambush!”

Yeah, Falcon, knock first so she can hide her magazines.

Although, to be fair, she didn’t put a sock on the door.
Hawkeye berates Falcon for following him, saying he doesn’t need help.

Falcon: “Yeah, I can see you’ve got it handled.”

Princess Python whacks Falcon into the river, and I’m not putting a dollar in the jar for that one because not every usage of the word “whack” is inappropriate. Besides, the plot has decided to interrupt this scene, which is good, because I’ll run out of money soon.

The Hulk shows up out of nowhere to incapacitate Hawkeye and take him back to the Ringleader’s hideout, an abandoned circus. After the Ringleader makes some more cryptic references to something Hawkeye did to the Circus of Crime, laser turrets come out of pretty much everything to start firing away at our bowless archer.

And if you think that's bad, you should see what the Joker’s doing in the other end of the place.
Hawkeye nimbly dodges the onslaught before Falcon comes by and not only takes out the lasers, but returns Hawkeye’s bow.

Falcon: “This is where you thank me and admit you’ve been a jerk.”
Hawkeye: “Thank you.”
Falcon: “That was only half.”

Hawkeye agrees to start letting Falcon assist him, and the two heroes are brought to the Big Top for the final showdown. The other Avengers, peacefully hypnotized, have been placed into deathtraps. A human cannonball act for Iron Man, a mechanical clown with cymbals smashing the Hulk, Thor struggling with a heavy weight, Black Widow being hoisted to the ceiling, and Captain America… uh…

May or may not have drowned.
Falcon: “Cap first?”
Hawkeye: “Unless he suddenly learned how to breathe underwater!”

Well, he was underwater for about seventy years, so there is precedent.

Hawkeye’s attempt to pierce Cap’s tank is shot out of the air by Trickshot, so Falcon steps in to slice the tank up and release the water. A rope-arrow stops Black Widow from pulling a “Flying Graysons,” Falcon breaks the Hulk’s mechanical clown, and Iron Man survives his trip while Thor simply puts the weight down. And since they’re all still mind-controlled, the Avengers start attacking their rescuers.

It doesn’t go well, considering that two humans are going up against the Hulk and Thor, among others. And I’ll admit, I got a chuckle out of seeing Iron Man say “Pew pew pew!” as he shoots repulsor beams. Things take a turn for the worse as the Hulk rips Falcon’s wings off. Trickshot takes the shot at Hawkeye, but Hawkeye flips a coin at it, blowing it up in midair. Still, things are pretty bad. But just as all seems lost, Princess Python penetrates the tent and rams her snake deep inside.

Not putting a dollar in this time. That was an accurate description of what happened.
Ringmaster is surprised to see her, so Hawkeye, for some odd reason, gives her the kind of character introduction that I usually expect A-Bomb to give.

Hawkeye: “She’s a princess. She fights with a big snake. Uh… never mind.”

Yeah, get your mind out of the gutter or put money in the jar, Hawkeye.

Hawkeye: “Couldn’t resist me, huh?”
Princess Python: “More like, you need my help.”

And what help it is. I mean, with that robotic snake, she’s probably one of the strongest people in the Circus of Crime. In fact, when I think of the words “most powerful member”….

There goes another dollar.
In the ensuing fight, the Hulk starts wrestling with Princess Python’s one-eyed snake. And that means that I can whip this little gem out before adding another dollar.

On an unrelated note, does anybody remember when I issued a content warning in one of my Recaps because I was going to refer to A-Bomb’s non-existent junk? Boy, this site’s come a long way.
And I've lost a few bucks thanks to these jars.
As Thor assists the Hulk, things look a bit dire.

Falcon: “The snake won’t hold for more than a few seconds.”

Another dollar goes in.
Shoot, that's my last one.
With what little time remains, Hawkeye manages to hit the Avengers’ headbands in the right place with some ball bearings, deactivating them and returning the team to normal.

Hulk: “I. Hate. Clowns.”

Iron Man thanks Princess Python for her help.

Iron Man: “I take it you’ve switched sides?”

Sweet Odin, there are just too many jokes to make with this character, even without lines like that. And here I am, out of dollars.

Ringmaster teleports in, promising more fighting, so Princess Python leaps into action as her snake rises high into the air. But the Ringmaster’s tricks soon send her crashing back down. Dang it, I already used that clip from The Avengers.

Ringleader sends in the rest of his circus, and each Avengers fights their counterpart. Hulk fights the strongman, Falcon fights the Human Cannonball, Hawkeye fights Trickshot, et cetera. Black Widow and Cap struggle against the Gambonno Twins, thanks to their piston-powered feet.

Gambonno Brother: “How do you like-a the boots from Italy?”
Black Widow: “I prefer American made.”

Says the Russian.

As the fight goes on, Princess Python opts to leave, but Trickshot stops her and questions her loyalties, threatening the limp body of Hawkeye on the ground.

Phallic symbol vs. phallic symbol.
Princess Python: “I already chose my side.”

Alliance or Horde?

Princess Python: “I’m not a circus act anymore.”
Trickshot: “All I needed to hear.”

Trickshot takes out the Human Cannonball, allowing the Avengers to quickly defeat the Circus of Crime and save the day. As it turns out, “Trickshot” was Hawkeye in disguise, having knocked out Trickshot off-screen and switched outfits with him.

As the Circus is taken into custody by S.H.I.E.L.D., Hawkeye introduces Princess Python to Nick Fury.

Hawkeye: “He’s not so big on pets, but he’s really good with second chances.”

Princess Python would be locked away forever next to wherever they stuck the Molecule Kid.
Realizing he owes his team an explanation, he tells the Avengers that a long time ago, he was a member of the Circus of Crime. The first Trickshot. He never felt good about being a thief, so he triggered the alarm on purpose during a heist at Stark Industries, getting all of them arrested by S.H.I.E.L.D. Nick Fury, seeing some good in him, gave him a second chance and a job at S.H.I.E.L.D. This whole time, Hawkeye was afraid that they wouldn’t accept his past as a criminal, so he kept it a secret.

“Hawkeye, I was trained to be a living weapon through brainwashing and torture when I was a little girl.
Cry me a river over your evil, tragic past.”
Hawkeye: “Hate me much?”
Falcon: “Never. But keeping secrets… even tough ones, doesn’t do anyone any good.”

Oh, so now you’re the expert on not keeping secrets, Falcon?

After Hawkeye apologizes to his teammates, all is forgiven, and the episode ends.

So. Magnificent performance? Or a stale act? Let's review.

4 comments:

  1. You know, I'd love to see an episode of Ultimate Spider-Man where it IS revealed that SHIELD has been keeping captives all of those people they said they'd help reform and they stage a breakout, leadin to Peter questioning where his allegiances should lie, of course if that episode existed it would end with Peter learning that Fury is always right and they would always be criminals and could never reform

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    Replies
    1. I don't write fanfiction.... but if I did, I would write THAT.

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    2. I'd read that. Speaking of, It would've been nice to see them in the SHIELD academy in USM's third season for an episode.

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    3. I know, right? I was thinking the same thing. Wasted. Opportunity.

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