Monday, February 23, 2015

Recap: Avengers Assemble "Savages"

Did you know that Tony Stark shouldn't rely solely on technology to solve his problems? Because even after, like, three-to-five previous episodes made that point, Tony still hasn't learned his dang lesson. Let's see if he finally learns it this time.

Maybe the sixth time's the charm?
As the episode begins, Tony's presenting some brand new rocket-powered footwear to Captain America. Cap's less than enthusiastic, but he goes along with it. Falcon tinkers with some final adjustments in a way that's vaguely... uncomfortable.

I'd rant about the racist imagery here, but I have enough to rant about this episode.
Cap's a little uncomfortable adding new tech to his arsenal not because he's stuck in the past, but because he doesn't want to become reliant on gadgets to survive. Still, Tony tries to talk him into it.

Tony Stark: "Look, think of it like skiing. On air."
Captain America: "Last time I skied, it was backwards down a mountain firing a machine gun at HYDRA agents."

Because Captain America is at least ten times more awesome than you'll ever be.

Tony activates the boots, and Cap admits that it's not entirely terrible. Of course, that's when the boots go out of control and fling him everywhere. I'm not surprised. One of the first things Tony learned in Iron Man about flying was that you need stabilizers on your hands. Stabilizers that seem to be conspicuously absent from Captain America's gloves. Tony Stark, you magnificent bastard. And yes, of course Tony's recording it.

Cap manages to knock his boots off, and one rocket kicks Tony in the butt like he probably deserves, and the other gets Falcon for the simple fact that he's there in the room. Still, Tony's not too dismayed.

Tony: "Five thousand hits and counting."

He offers some adjustments to the boots, but this just starts up the old tech/skills argument from previous episodes. But this time, the stakes are raised.

The Bet: Tony Stark has to go 24 hours without technology.

The Stakes: If Cap wins, Tony gets a week of basic training. And if Tony wins, Cap gets to be the guinea pig for Tony's new inventions.

Tony goes off to try to figure out what's wrong with some of his tech, and has to do it the old fashioned way. Math. By hand. On lined paper. And a pencil. A wooden pencil. After a while, he begins to realize exactly what he's done. No TV. No video games. No internet. And technically, he should have turned off his heart, too. He grabs a Starkpad, eliciting a glare from Captain America.

Tony: "Uh, I want to check the news. What if Manhattan is under attack?"

Cap tosses him a newspaper. A funny gag, but that newspaper's only going to let him know if New York was attacked yesterday. He's not the guy from Early Edition, you know.  ...Early Edition? Anyone? The guy with tomorrow's newspaper today? No one? ...fine.

"The Daily Bugle? Cap, if I wanted to read editorials criticizing Spider-Man, I'd go read the NewtCave."
Anyway, Tony realizes that he can't even use the elevator. Now, if I may interrupt the action... this is a terrible bet. Tony Stark is not allowed to use "technology." Okay, then let's define that term. According to the dictionary, "technology" is defined as "the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes, especially in industry." So where do you draw the line? Sure, computers and TV are right out, but strictly speaking, even knives are technology, since they're tools. So is he not allowed to make himself a sandwich? Is he not allowed to use a doorknob? Is he not allowed to walk down a ramp, seeing as how the inclined plane is considered to be one of the simple machines? Sure, that last example might be a little ridiculous, but this whole bet is ridiculous. Even if you limit the bet to "modern technology," at what point is "modern" technology defined? To go back to the elevator that Hawkeye refuses to let Tony use, elevators have been around since before Captain America's own time. Are they crossed off the list, despite being invented somewhere around a hundred years ago? At what point do you draw the line? I don't know, and neither does this episode. It's little wonder that Tony gives in after 96 minutes.

Captain America: "Now you see how relying on tech dulls your natural skills?"

Hey, Mr. Super-Soldier Serum. Do you know what you would be left with if all you had was your "natural" skills?


Anyway, now that I've insulted a national treasure, Tony quickly gets Cap to agree that the other Avengers could do with a newfound appreciation for technology.

Captain America: "You know, you're right. We should all give up tech for a few days. It could be a team-building exercise."

No, it's a chance for Tony to make a new bet to override the old one.

Hulk: "First one that uses tech has to do my laundry."

Huh, I always thought the standard procedure was to burn his laundry and have a hazmat team dispose of the ashes.

Thor and Hulk are told to stay behind in case something goes down in New York, and the rest are off in the Avenjet. Of course, Tony makes Thor and Hulk promise not to touch anything while they're gone.

Thor: "Do you think us children, Stark?"

Five seconds later...

Hulk: "What're we gonna touch first?"

Soon, the rest of the Avengers crash land at their destination.

Captain America: "You took us camping in the Savage Land?"

Tony, that's not a tech-free area. It's full of primitive lasers!

To begin the 24 hours of no technology, Tony cloaks the Avenjet, locks it, and sets it to a timer. Whether they like it or not, Tony, Hawkeye, Falcon, and Cap are now stuck in a dinosaur reserve with no technology, no supplies, and no tools. Well, one tool. The one with the glowing chest.

Well, they're stranded in a primitive jungle. Time for Lord of the Flies references!

With most of the team visibly bummed about the whole situation, the Avengers may need to soon ask if they want to be sensible, like Cap is, or if they want to be a pack of painted.... Holy crap. I was going to keep quoting Lord of the Flies, but I just smacked head first into the N-word. Geez, William Golding. You can't just slip racial slurs in there. Who do you think you are, Mark Twain?

While Cap excitedly heads off to make camp, Hulk's having a few problems with the microwave in the kitchen at Avengers Tower. Naturally, Thor fixes the problem by summoning lightning through the window to pop Hulk's corn.

Hulk: "Let's try... a watermelon."

Oh, the Gallagher.

Back in the Savage Land, Captain America is busy making a fire with flint while Tony and Falcon fail to build shelter. Technically, by applying their human ingenuity to their situation, the three of them are guilty of using tools, and therefore also technology. Hawkeye wins.

Tony: "I miss my lab."
Captain America: "Tony, think of this place as a lab."

"You know, that lab I told you you couldn't use? Now be quiet while I use this technology."
Hawkeye offers to get them dinner using the sling he crafted, but then a gigantic, gassy toad comes along and eats his sunglasses. So he just puts on a different pair. You know, I should really start whining about how Hawkeye's prescription lenses should count as technology, but that was pretty funny. So I'll give this incident a pass.

Speaking of outside technology, Falcon is soon discovered snacking on his mom's cookies.

Falcon: "They're homemade. That counts as natural, right?"
Hawkeye: "Yep."
Tony: "Definitely."
Captain America: "I can live with that."

But before I can bore the rest of my readers by harping on how vague this bet is, the plot gets going. Our heroes hear a noise from the jungle, which turns out to be stampeding triceratopses... es. One of them eats the whole box of cookies, which means that screw the bet, this needs to be taken care of. Tony tries and fails to override the jet's lockouts, but it's a no go. To make matters worse, a T-Rex shows up.

Speaking of big green monsters, Hulk and Thor have apparently destroyed all the food in the tower. Except for the mints in Tony's closet, which they start racing toward.

"Why don't we just buy more food?"
"I don't understand thy question."
Thor: "I claim those mints in the name of Asgard!"

Back in the Savage Land, Falcon tries the Jurassic Park tactic of staying still to avoid the T-Rex's attention. But since this T-Rex doesn't have any frog DNA, it doesn't work.

"Clever girl."
Tony tries hitting it with a stick as Cap rides the thing away from them.

Tony: "Okay, now I just feel stupid."

But as ever, Captain America gives a pep talk.

Captain America: "It's not about what you can't do, it's about what you can."

Tony tells the others that those dinosaurs were clearly running away from something, so they go to investigate. After a little walking, they discover Justin Hammer drilling into the CGI cliffs of the Savage Land to find Vibranium, the stuff they made Cap's shield out of. A holographic drone displaying Justin Hammer himself flies over to gloat at the Avengers and brag about his plan to win his way into the Cabal. As he gloats, Hammer notices that Tony is without his iron suit. Sensing an opportunity, he sends velociraptors armed with frickin' laser beams on their heads to attack the Avengers.

Must be Sauron's hand-me-downs. The dinosaur man, not the ring guy.
Naturally, something that awesome can't be on screen for too long, so we soon cut to Hulk spitting out the mints he found in Tony's closet.

Hulk: "These mints taste like cufflinks."

He says that like he's eaten cufflinks before. I believe it.

Thor: "Fresh breath shall be mine, Hulk!"

And now, back to the action. Cap pushes Tony off of a nearby cliff so he can come up with a plan, and the other three get to fight the raptors. When Tony lands, he gets helped up by a man made out of rock. Taking this in stride, Tony introduces himself to the stone man as, elsewhere, Justin Hammer dances to his own ringtone.

Never change, Hammer. Never change.
After answering, he tell the Red Skull that he's got some Avengers trapped by dinosaurs, so they should totally let him into their villain club.

Back with Tony, the rocky guy gives Stark a piggyback ride to his village of fellow Ben Grimm lookalikes. So, you might be asking just who these rock people are? Stone Men from Saturn? Rock giants of Asgard? Ben Grimm's illegitimate children? Well, they're the Rock Tribe. Don't worry, you've never heard of them because they've never existed before this episode.

Brok: "I am Brok. You are welcome here."

Really, writers? You went with the name that was almost as obvious as "Rocky?" Fine; I'll call him Brok, but under protest.

Tony's excited to have a stone army on his side, but as we've learned from The Two Towers, tall guys who look like parts of nature are natural pacifists.

Brok: "We don't fight. We don't run."
Tony: "So you just... sit?"

Well, yeah. They're rocks.

Brok: "Sometimes, we craft the solid stone. And then we sit."

Stark tries to change their minds, but Brok crafts a nugget of wisdom.

Brok: "A thing can only be what it is."

And what's Tony? A builder. And he gets the stone men to agree to help him build.

"They're called 'Jericho missiles.' I nearly made one with a box of scraps once."
Back with Hammer, the holographic Red Skull is suitably impressed with his ability to capture three Avengers offscreen. As his raptors move in for the kill, Tony shows up with his improbably-quickly-built stone armor. I was going to write a whole spiel on how stone would be a terrible material to craft thinly plated Iron Man-style armor out of, but Tony explains that the plates are made out of obsidian, which my research suggests could conceivably have enough tensile strength to be used to fashion armor. Still relatively brittle armor compared to what Tony's used to, but still better then my original assumption.

But obsidian is a shiny, jet black material and Tony's armor is dull brown. So this counts as an artistic failure instead of a scientific failure.

I'll take what I can get.
Tony: "Let's rock!"

That was terrible and you know it. Come on. "Bad to the stone," "Gneiss armor," "how 'bout a feldsparring match," pick one.

Tony: "Hey, before I kick Hammer's butt, does this count as using my 'natural skills'?"

No, it counts as using technology.

Captain America: "Yes."

No consistency, people.

Tony whoops the raptors with his new tools while Captain America explains to the others why he had faith in Tony this whole time.

Captain America: "He's a builder. He doesn't adapt to fit his situation, he adapts his situation to fit him."

Congratulations, Cap, you just defined "technology."

The team lays a smackdown on the raptors with a little help from some rock men who catapult themselves into the drilling machine, destroying it. In a fit of rage, Hammer shoots Tony with his laser bazooka, destroying his obsidian armor. But before he can fire it again at Tony's head, Tony exploits one of the stupidest design flaws I've ever seen. The laser-bullet magazine (seriously, what is this, Beware the Batman?) is right by the end of the barrel. The end of the barrel. Not only is it within arm's reach of Tony, but it defeats the very purpose of having the barrel, which is to give the ammunition a long enough tube to gain momentum and velocity.

Justin Hammer, you could have shot Stark through the heart! And you're to blame.

Tony: "You give tech a bad name."

Hammer is soon defeated, the rock-men's home is saved from drilling, and Cap and Tony make up. The next day, the stone men offer a gift to the Avengers as they happily enter the jet. Said gift is the giant toad from earlier as a "victory feast." And it's still gassy.

Hawkeye: "Like Hulk after shawarma night!"

Our heroes fly back to the wrecked tower, where Hulk and Thor leave the room after smelling the toad's gas. And with not even a token mention over who won the bet that started this whole thing, the episode ends. And now, a Review. But not simply a Review of this episode....

1 comment:

  1. The best I can figure out that anything powered by electricity counts as technology according to this episode. Tony basically has to pretend EMB bomb landed.

    And his heart is just a plot hole.