Thursday, November 6, 2014

Recap: Ultimate Spider-Man "Why I Hate Gym"

I know why I always hated gym. It was the one class that I couldn't draw in. Let's see if Spider-Man has a better reason.

Well, the drawing thing and the fact that the locker room smelled like Axe body spray and hormones.
Our episode opens with Spider-Man chasing down this series' running gag villain, Batroc the Leaper, with his Spider-Cycle. As an aside, does anyone think that Batroc the Leaper might be culturally insensitive? It's just that a weird idea occurred to me while I was watching this episode. You know how "frogs" is a derogatory way to refer to French people? Here we have a very French villain whose power is to leap. Like a frog. Am I reading too much into this?

Yeah, if that's what I'm thinking about when this episode starts, that should be red flag for episode quality.
Anyway, the chase is being monitored by Doctor Octavius in his secret lair. The good doctor is meeting with a mercenary named Taskmaster to hire him to capture Spider-Man. Taskmaster is.... wait, what?

They're going with his classic outfit? He just looks ridiculous in that. Don't get me wrong; I love the classic Taskmaster outfit. But in this show's animation style, literally right next to the gritty redesign of Doc Ock, it just looks goofy and out of place. It's kind of telling that they almost immediately redesigned his look for the next episode he appears in.

Anyway, Taskmaster studies the footage, using his photo-reflexive memory to learn every move Spidey knows. And judging by how the fight with Batroc goes, Taskmaster is quickly learning how to get dragged into obstacles on a webline.

But after a bit of pain, Spidey manages to take Batroc down. White Tiger, apparently here now, gives him his reward.

White Tiger: "Nick Fury says get back to S.H.I.E.L.D. HQ for training."

Way to help against Batroc, White Tiger. No wonder Spider-Man tells you no.

Spider-Man: "Besides, Fury would be the first to say going solo on B-listers like Batroc is good training."

This will be our main conflict for the episode: Spider-Man makes his own rules, while White Tiger is a stickler for Fury's rules. As we shall soon see, the conflict between them will prove to be just as full of mutual hatred and loathing as we've come to expect from members of the Sandwich Club.

After Spidey gets a "boot to de face," White Tiger actually joins in the fight against Batroc... after taking a second to berate Spider-Man on the importance of training, and rules, and blah blah blah.

With a little teamwork between the two, they manage to defeat Batroc by flinging him into Jameson's face on the Bugletron.

JJJ: "Is Spider-Man a student at Midtown High?"

Hey, even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

Back with the villains, Taskmaster tries out a flip he learned by watching Spidey.

Taskmaster: "High school, huh? Can't wait; I'm great with kids."

Congratulations, J Jonah Jameson. Your hate-filled ramblings have just put a high school in harm's way. How have you not been sued by the end of this season?

The next day, at Midtown High, Principal Coulson is addressing the cafeteria about the "high alert" that all high school campuses are on. The reason for this is not given, but it's pretty much implied that it has something to do with JJJ's ramblings. Seriously, why is JJJ still allowed to broadcast?

Peter shows up late to sit with the Sandwich Club, and he and Ava have the mutual loathing-filled exchange you'd expect. Remind me again why I should be rooting for any of these characters?

Switching tables, Peter sits next to Harry and Mary Jane, the only people who talk to him like he's a human being. Harry wants to get chicks by spreading the rumor that he's Spider-Man, and Mary Jane is locked in her perpetual "investigator" mode.

Mary Jane: "It probably is you, Harry. Who else could afford all those webs he squirts all over everything?" 
Peter: "Spider-Man doesn't squirt, MJ. He shoots."

Hmm... do I go with the double entendre, or do I make a "How do I shot web" joke?

After Flash comes over to bully Peter, Coulson stops him while making another special announcement. Apparently, Coach Moleskine suffered a "freak accident" the other night. Said accident, as we see in flashback, being shot by a Looney Tunes-esque spring trap over the football field by Taskmaster. As it is, the replacement gym teacher will be Mr. Yeager, a thinly-veiled, costumeless Taskmaster. Also, he's dressed like a dork.

"Yeah, just wearing the headband to keep my hair out of my eyes."
Actually, what's really funny is that he looks like my high school art teacher. Mustache and all. So, yes, I will never be able to take this villain seriously. Because even if he manages to kill Mary Jane, beat up Harry within an inch of his life, and mercilessly gun down Aunt May, I will just remember that underneath that emotionless skull-shaped mask is a mustachioed dork who looks like my art teacher. Threat credibility lost.

Mr. Yeager: "I look forward to the challenge of unlocking your hidden... talents." 
Peter: "Awkward phrasing, or veiled threat? You be the judge."

Maybe he's trying to hide the fact that he's a supervillain by pretending to be a pedophile?

We cut to gym class, where they all play dodgeball. Peter does terribly on purpose to keep his identity secret and all

Ava: "Geez, Parker. A little overkill just to maintain your cover?"

Geez, Ava. A little overly-aggressive just because?

Anyway, "Mr. Yeager" creepily peptalks the students in his creepy Clancy Brown voice before having them run an obstacle course for some state evaluation or something that probably doesn't exist. Because Taskmaster just wants to see them in action. figure out which one's Spider-Man, not because he's a creepy creeping creeper.

Ava: "You could learn something from him." 
Peter: "How to creep people out?"

Flash goes first, and he catches Taskmaster's eye with his performance.    

Not like that.

Ava, Danny, Harry, and Luke ace it, but Peter fails on purpose to protect his secret identity.

Mr. Yeager: "I'll see three of you tomorrow her for the final cut. Rand, Osborn, Thompson."

And I'm sure there's nothing suspicious about him wanting to see three strapping young men in a school all by themselves on a Saturday. Hmmm... maybe we should get S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Hansen to come by and ask him to take a seat.

Ava gets indignant for not being chosen, despite her performance, and chalks it up to sexism. Luke and Danny wisely leave with little notice while Ava demands that she and Peter are going to crash the meeting on Saturday.

That night, Coulson gets knocked out in his office by Taskmaster, who uses his clearance to view all of the security enhancements that S.H.I.E.L.D. made to the school. It's actually a tense moment as Clancy Brown delivers a creepy voice over for the scene. But the moment is ruined because we all know that under that skull mask....

Is just some dude with a 'stache. Heck, Batroc's is bigger.
The next day, Peter gets a call from Ava. She's at the school, of course, but she's worried. It seems that the gym teacher has gone into the school with three strapping young men and nobody's come out in a while. Also, the fence around the school is electrified.

Peter rushes over at the speed of editing, because he emerges from behind his half of the phone call split-screen.

Spidey and White Tiger infiltrate the darkened school, and rescue Stan the janitor from a robot arm pinning him to the wall, only to be unable to prevent him from falling through a trap door.

Stan: "Wow. There's a lot of wax buildup down here."

After more sneaking around, they find Principal Coulson. He's in his underwear hanging over a vat of acid.

Spidey: "Nice tighty-whiteys."

Apart from the acid, this isn't too far off from what I expected Taskmaster to do to those young men.
Coulson quickly explains the situation with Taskmaster taking over the school, and also explains that he's an assassin with a vendetta against S.H.I.E.L.D.

Coulson: "Don't waste time on me, and definitely don't go against Taskamster alone. He's a combat chameleon, do you understand?"

Combat-combat-combat-combat, combat chameeeeeleeeeooooon!  ...I'm sorry for that.

Spidey recognizes Harry's scream in the distance, and he and White Tiger go to find him. They dodge exploding trophy cases, lasers, and meet up with Danny, Harry, and Flash while doing so. Danny gets separated from the rest, and goes mano-a-mano with Taskmaster himself. As you might imagine, Danny loses. Also, he uses his Iron Fist powers without a mask or costume. Taskmaster will never use this information to his advantage.

Ultimate Alliance 2 called. It wants Nick Fury's attack effects back.
Taskmaster goes after Harry and Flash, deciding that Spider-Man must be Flash. Flash, meanwhile, is hiding in Peter's locker, right next to a spare Spider-Man mask. Spider-Man goes off to fight Taskmaster, while White Tiger goes to save the others. They fight, and Taskmaster wins. Easily. Luckily, White Tiger kicks him in the face, knocking the mask off. This reveals that Taskmaster is, in fact, Mr. Yeager! And no, that mustache doesn't seem to be a fake one for his disguise. Taskmaster just likes having a creepy mustache.

The mere sight of the mustache is enough to send Harry running in fear, as White Tiger lets it sink in.

White Tiger: "So that test was only about finding Spider-Man? Now I don't feel so bad about getting cut."

And with that statement, Taskmaster should realize that Ava Ayala is White Tiger. But he doesn't. Because he's a moron, I'd imagine.

They fight, and Spidey wakes back up and joins the fray. After Taskmaster corners Spidey on a ledge, he makes a deal. Either Spider-Man can renounce S.H.I.E.L.D. and join Taskmaster, or Taskmaster will capture him and do the job he was paid to do.

"Nick Fury never told you what happened to your Uncle Ben...."
Taskmaster: "And I'm offering you an opportunity to be part of something amazing, Spider-Man." 
Spider-Man: "Amazing Spider-Man. Sounds pretty catchy." 
Stan: "Amazing Spider-Man.... Hmm, let me write that down. That could be big!"

Well, some people like Sam Raimi's trilogy better, but I digress.

Spidey says no to the double-crossing madman, Taskmaster reveals that he was once a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent before he went rogue. Just like Spider-Man.

He had tech from S.H.I.E.L.D.
He had a team from S.H.I.E.L.D.
He is exactly what Spider-Man could become, and he offers the opportunity to do so. But Spidey picks option number three and webs up Taskmaster's laser gun, using the resulting explosion to escape into the gym. That's when Spidey comes up with an idea.

After stopping by his locker for supplies (without rescuing Flash Thompson), he turns all the lights off. He and White Tiger, wearing Spider-Man night vision masks and with swapped gloves, beat seven shades of crap out of Taskmaster with gym equipment.

Wait, she still has the cat ears? She's wearing a mask over her mask? Who is she, Jason Todd?
Taskamster makes his offer one more time before disappearing, leaving Mr. Yeager's face behind. Either it was a mask, or Taskmaster just skinned his own face to get away from that mustache. Taskmaster reports to Octavius that the school was a dead end. While Octavius destroys his lab in his rage, Taskmaster plots.

Taskmaster: "'Cause now that I know where he hangs out, that bug is mine."

Which is why you and Spidey won't become direct enemies until Season Three.

Back at the school, Ava compliments Peter's methods of hiding his identity by sucking at gym.

Ava: "Going solo paid off. Okay?"

After Peter makes fun of Coulson's briefs one last time, the episode ends.

Now let's review this episode quickly, because I'm tempted to make an underwear joke. I'll keep it brief. ...shoot.

1 comment:

  1. Actually, Batroc's "power" is Savate, real life french martial art that relies on using your feet.

    - Faceless Enigma