Friday, February 20, 2015

Recap: Avengers Assemble "Bring on the Bad Guys"

"Bring on the Bad Guys"? Geez, even the show itself is getting impatient to get to the good stuff. My God, it's becoming self-aware.

As long as it doesn't achieve sentience, we'll be fine.
The episode begins with MODOK finally managing to hack into Tony Stark's software from the armor the Red Skull hijacked. Either from the pilot or from "In Deep." Dude hijacks a lot of armor. Let me just say right now that I am not a computer hacker or a hacking expert of any kind. Probably the most impressive thing I know how to do is use Windows 8. But the way MODOK hacks the Stark software seems a bit too easy. But like I said, I'm not a hacker. All I know about computer hacking is that there's a difference between "hacking" and "cracking," and that if you need a flying plane to hook up to your laptop, it's probably easier to get it to land than it is to drive your car under it and hand a cable to the copilot on the wheel of the plane.

I have a couple issues with the pilot episode of Scorpion. Also with the rest of Scorpion.
Basically, a copy of JARVIS managed to keep MODOK out of the system until he activated offline mode. No, seriously, he simply disconnected from the Internet.

Easier to hack into than Sony.
MODOK: "Engaging offline mode application mark one."

Offline mode. "Mark one," even.

So, MODOK, what were you wasting your time doing if it was this easy to override the lockouts?

"Finally, I have acquired the 2048 tile!"
Red Skull tells his newly-subservient copy of JARVIS (I'll call him JARVIS.2) to not only refer to the skull as its master, but also to replay all of its data regarding the Avengers/Cabal fights. This brings up a holographic display of past fights from past episodes. Basically, Red Skull is trying to form a new strategy by watching reruns. Actually, I think that's exactly what's happening.

You could assume that Iron Man's armor compiled all this footage, but that doesn't explain the angles on some of the shots we get, or when the armor is apparently getting footage of itself. You know when you take a picture of your camera with your camera? No? Exactly. Even if you assume that this footage is from Red Skull's stolen armor and not the armor the Cabal obtained in "In Deep," it still makes no sense because the footage being displayed contains a lot of stuff that Red Skull wasn't even around for.

Anyway, Red Skull's got a new app to help him with this. As JARVIS.2 explains, the newly-unlocked Stark Pre-play Variable System records fight data and uses it to predict the outcomes of future encounters. It's a pretty advanced program.

Stark had to upgrade it after Tom Cruise ruined the old system.
Judging from past skirmishes, the Cabal is pretty much screwed seven ways 'til Sunday. So Red Skull tells it to run its figures under the assumption that the Cabal works with the same teamwork skills as the Avengers.

JARVIS.2: "Doubtful, but interesting, Master."

According to all the predictions, if the Cabal actually works together as a team for once, they'll be unstoppable. Remember in the very first episode when the Red Skull figured out that a team would be a good thing to have? This is step two. And it only took us, what, a little more than halfway through the season?

Later, the other Cabal members eat dinner together. But as we've established in episodes like "In Deep," the Cabal is a barely-functioning mass of resentment and infighting. Just like Congress. (Hey, if I want to take a cheap shot, I'll take a cheap shot.) What starts the whole thing off is Attuma's uncouth eating habits, which the Chardonnay-sipping MODOK simply cannot abide by.

While Dracula is almost put off his Satan-ware IV drip.
Words are exchanged, tempers start flaring and a fight breaks out. Red Skull walks in, with a holographic monocle that contains JARVIS.2 and the pre-play software and uses it as what is essentially a walkthrough to effortlessly quell the fight before simply sitting down to eat his steak in peace. Like a boss. A Hugo Boss-wearing boss.

Dracula: "You've never shown such skill. Explain."

Red Skull sets down his monocle and explains to them that now that he has Stark's prediction software, he can use it to achieve victory. The only hitch is that it'll only work if they can get along for long enough to succeed. Of course, that's asking a lot from this motley crew.

Sometime later, Skull's base emerges from the D.C. shores and the Cabal gets to work. Dracula blankets the area in ghostly fog, and Red Skull projects a hologram demanding that the citizens hand over their leaders.

"Ich bin der groß und mächtig Oz!"
The Cabal members go to each do their part, with Attuma and his warrior attacking the military and MODOK's Super-Adaptoid dealing with the Air Force.

MODOK: "Forty-five seconds slower than you predicted, Red Skull."
Red Skull: "When we rule the world, I will see to it the planes run on time."

I don't know how to feel about that. I mean, I love a good pun, but that's a very Nazi-ish pun. I... I'm so conflicted. It's like if Hitler cooked you a delicious meal. It's like, "Thanks for the food, but you're a terrible human being."

Before MODOK can take care of the ejected pilots, Thor arrives. The rest of the Avengers follow suit. Though the Cabal members fight the bad fight, but Red Skull gets captured despite blowing up his own submarine in desperation. The other Cabal members run off to save their own skins, naturally.

Red Skull: "So much for trust."

Well, so much for hoping for a change in the status quo to coincide with character growth. Looks like we're in Agents of S.M.A.S.H. territory.

Red Skull gets whisked away to the helicarrier, as per standard protocol, and they stick him in the floaty forcefield chamber. But not before Hawkeye snaps a new profile pic.

This photo puts people at risk.
They don't remove his armor, though, because it might be booby trapped. Tony'll have to run some scans, get some Norton 360 up in here, maybe have the Geek Squad take a look at it.

Captain America: "Something's wrong. This was too easy."
Hawkeye: "Don't be such a star-spangled spoilsport. We do actually catch the bad guys. Once in a while."

Yeah, but you guys never win halfway through the episode. Just saying.

"This whole thing just spangles my stars!"
The Avengers split up. Some will check the sub's wreckage, some will look for the other Cabal members, and Captain America will interrogate the Red Skull.

Captain America: "I've seen you sacrifice thousands of lives for your own petty ambitions."

Just to play devil's advocate here, world domination is actually a pretty lofty goal.

Captain America: "Never on have I seen you risk your own for a teammate. Until today."

But as it turns out, Dracula snuck through the air vents in his fog form. He quickly knocks out Cap and rescues Red Skull. As much as Dracula would like to feast on the good Captain, Red Skull stops him so they can use Cap in the next part of the plan. Meanwhile, Tony and Falcon discover the Pre-play software on Skull's submarine. Tony tries to radio Cap about this development, but he only hears static. JARVIS.2 informs the Red Skull about Tony's discovery as Skull and MODOK take over the helicarrier.

Dracula: "You are a competent leader, after all."

Luckily, Attuma's bragging let's Fury escape the bridge into the vents with his coat's built-in smokescreen and he radios for backup. MODOK begins to yell at Attuma for this, and Red Skull can only yell at his Cabal as he watches their odds of winning decrease in front of his eyes. And, of course, the rest of the Avengers are quickly converging on the helicarrier.

Black Widow: "Skull certainly wanted to get on board."

Just like Loki, Joker, Silva, and pretty much every villain ever taken into custody before the climax.

Black Widow: "What's the play?"

Not every day I get to whip this reference out.
Hawkeye: "If I say 'Duh, he wants the Tri-carrier,' you promise not to sting me?"
Black Widow: "No. He's after something bigger."

Two Tri-carriers?

The Avengers fight through the outer defenses, and MODOK suggests the "Divide and Conquer" strategy. Each Cabal member targets a different Avenger and lures them to a different part of the helicarrier. Then it splits up. You see, during Season 2 of Ultimate Spider-Man, the helicarrier was destroyed and rebuilt as the Tri-carrier, which can split into three vehicles. Attuma's grudge match against the Hulks kicks into high gear under the waves, Dracula fights Thor in space...

Which looks freakin' metal, by the way.
...and the others get stuck fighting MODOK and the helicarrier bridge's internal defenses.

Iron Man follows Red Skull through the ship, and gets a bit of a beatdown before Skull reveals his bargaining chip: Captain America. He's bound to a gigantic disc, then ejected from the ship, forcing Iron Man to call in Thor and Hulk to help him catch it.

So this is what it's come to, Skull? Stealing deathtraps from the Penny Plunderer?
Hulk and Thor reluctantly leave their respective fights, and join Iron Man in saving the good Captain. When all is said and done, Cap is safe, and the Cabal fled the various parts of the Tri-carrier. You might be asking why the Cabal ran away when they were winning.

Captain America: "They weren't after the Tri-carrier. Don't you know who they were holding prisoner on that ship?"

Sure I do. According to Ultimate Spider-Man, they've got Sandman, Green Goblin, Mesmero, Venom, Doctor Octopus, and most fearsome of all, the Awesome Android.

So, wait. That raises a point. I always assumed that the helicarrier was just a temporary holding place for villains. But now that I think about it, where's S.H.I.E.L.D.'s actual prison? Or their base? Are you telling me that S.H.I.E.L.D. HQ, S.H.I.E.L.D. labs, and the main supervillain prison are all in the same place? Makes sense to me! After all, that's why we had Alcatraz and the White House both moved to Three-Mile Island, right?

Speaking of buildings overlooking the sea, Red Skull and the Cabal are back at Skull's warehouse hideout with a prison cylinder. He breaks his JARVIS.2 monocle for giving him some sass about his old digs, and the Cabal can only wonder what the next part of the plan is, now that they can actually figure out how to win.

Red Skull: "Let us discuss that with our newest member..."

And thus, the crossover with Phineas and Ferb begins!
Red Skull: "Hyperion."


 Welp, the Avengers are toast.
Hyperion: "The Avengers will pay for imprisoning me."

Red Skull tells Hyperion he'd like to make a deal and offers his hand. And the episode ends.

Now let's review what just may be a contender for being the best episode this season.

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