Do any of you remember my stance on "ninja episodes" of Batman cartoons? If you don't, then you must be new to the blog. Here you go, and here you go. But as a summary, I dislike them because they're usually the same plot, with similar characters, over and over. When it comes to Marvel, I feel the same way regarding Atlantis episodes (always either trying to sink the surface and/or take it over and/or make war) and to a much lesser degree, Asgard episodes (for having a limited character/plot pool).
This episode manages to go against the grain in several ways. Firstly, the only Asgardian elements are the obscure villain Ulik, and the Midgard Serpent. Or Jormungandr, as we nerds call it. But either way, the few Asgardian elements are bolstered up by the involvement of Doctor Doom. Now, for some odd reason, Doctor Doom will repeatedly be involved with Asgardians for various reasons. A complaint? No. Just an observation. Here's a complaint: What is this episode about? I've narrowed it down to two things.
Choice vs. destiny, or magic vs. technology.
Choice vs. Destiny
When a writer is dealing with something like this, they must be careful with how they approach the subject. Let me give you an example. As noted by Obscurus Lupa, the TV show Charmed has no idea what "destiny" is. The characters in that show will see a vision of the future, and then go "We need to make that happen! It's destiny!" No. It's really not. The same thing applies here. Let me sum up the episode for you.
Thor: "I'm destined to die, so I'll just let it happen."
Iron Man: "Nuh-uh."
Do you see the problem here? Imagine if Thor said, "I'm destined to starve to death, therefore I won't eat this burger!" That's not "destiny." That's "eat the burger, moron."
Magic vs. Technology
Well, the nature of magic in any fictional universe is a complicated thing to address. There are those who prefer to say "It's magic. We don't have to explain it!" This is known as the Quesada Defense.
Iron Man: "Magic is just technology I don't understand."
Iron Man: "Now I do!"
Which is a less-than-stellar story, in and of itself. Now, Avengers: EMH would have found a way to make both plots work at once. In fact, if I remember correctly, the Season 1 finale did. But... that's might be a bit of an unfair comparison. Little bit.
All in all, this was a pretty good episode, but I think a little more focus on what this episode is supposed to be about would definitely help. Oh, well. See you next time!