Monday, February 16, 2015

Recap: Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. "Fear Itself"

"Fear stifles our thinking and actions. It creates indecisiveness that results in stagnation. I have known talented people who procrastinate indefinitely rather than risk failure. Lost opportunities cause erosion of confidence, and the downward spiral begins." -Charles Stanley

Not that I'm implying anything by that quote.

Infer from that quote what you will.
Our episode opens aboard the Hulks' commandeered ship. Tensions are high as the unshakable thought that they may never get home begins to degrade their morale.

She-Hulk: "Cold, dark space. They say you freeze before you suffocate."

Actually, that's a point of contention. Since no one's on board with the idea of throwing an astronaut out the airlock to experiment, theories abound. The general consensus that I could find is that you won't actually freeze because space is a vacuum, which would lack surrounding particles for your heat to dissipate into. (Which is why the heat of the Earth doesn't get sucked out into space.)  As such, you will slowly die as your lungs collapse and your blood slowly tries to push its way out of your body. Like the scene at the beginning of the original Total Recall, but less severe and just as painful. And more agonizingly slow.

Science is horrifying.
But Hulk is trying to keep his mind on the goal of getting home while Red Hulk works out.

Red Hulk: "Ya gotta keep bulked up in low gravity."

True. But since your ship has artificial gravity, you don't need to keep bulked up. I'm pretty sure Leader knows this, too.

Leader: "You need to exercise the muscle above your shoulder, brute."

Meanwhile, Hulk is checking on a bunch of weird radio broadcasts, and discovers that they're old TV signals from Earth. He manages to lock on to a specific one, featuring a clown named "Obnoxio."

"So this guy walks into a bar and takes out a tiny piano, kids."
 This is when A-Bomb declares his undying hatred of clowns.

Thanks to a bit of time spent in Derry, Maine.
A-Bomb: "Is he supposed to entertain kids or traumatize them?"

Let me tell you this, A-Bomb is absolutely right. Clowns are terrifying. Look, as someone with a theatre performance degree, I have immense respect for the craft of clowning. Not only is it physically and mentally challenging, but there's a degree of artistry to the makeup, too. The red grins, the big ol' eyebrows, the white face, these are all tools to create an expressive "face" that can be seen all the way from the cheap seats. It's art.  But clowns are one of the most inherently scary things ever. Don't believe me? Here's a scenario for you.

Imagine you're home alone. Suddenly, a man walks in to the room where you are. He looks at you with no hint of emotion on his face, says nothing, and leaves. Imagine it.

Now imagine the whole scenario again. This time, a clown walks in. He looks at you, says nothing, and leaves.

Yeah. Clowns are just scary.

Soon enough, Hulk manages to defy the laws of physics and somehow pick up a signal that should not have reached them for a long time yet, just so we can have J. Jonah Jameson yelling about the Hulks, making the Hulk so angry that he breaks a camera by yelling at it.

"Rick? Edit this out in post."
As it turns out, the reason that Hulk was able to pick of a recent signal is because there's a nearby wormhole that leads right to Earth. Before he can set a course, though, all the power cuts out and they begin enter a nebulous black mass.

It's like, how much more black could this be? And the answer is none. None more black.
Before they can question what just happened, the lights come back on and A-Bomb quotes Star Wars.

A-Bomb: "I got a bad feeling about this."

As they head further into the area, the Silver Surfer suddenly attacks, ending the teaser. When we returns, Hulk explains that the last time he checked, Silver Surfer was a good guy. Why, he even makes a vague reference to the Defenders, which is always nice.

The helpful caption informs us that this silver surfer is, in fact, named Silver Surfer.
The team puts their spacesuits on, and they all go out on their... rocket boards.

Lemme ask you something. Why does the Leader's ship have rocket boards? Why does the Leader's ship have Hulk-sized spacesuits with their names on them? I guess you could say that this has something to do with that 3D printer Red Hulk was gushing over a few episodes back, but come on. The continuity of what they actually have among their supplies is worse than season 6 of Red Dwarf. You're welcome, three people.

Hulk's spacesuit saying "Banner" opens up a lot of questions.
Surfer yells about how the Void is driving him insane, so Hulk loses control for a second and brutally takes him down. They take the Surfer back to the medbay, and She-Hulk whines about the temperature as they scan the Surfer's vitals. He's in a semi-coma, and the computer doesn't know when he'll awaken. For now, the plan is the same as ever. Fly home.

A-Bomb gets put on monitor duty, and things go the same as ever, until he sees something. He pauses the image, only for Obnoxio the Clown to suddenly decide to play peek-a-boo with him on a paused screen. I'm not sure, but I think A-Bomb might have just evacuated his cloaca.

Paused images moving is never good.
Red Hulk tries to make a sandwich, but finds himself unable to open the pickles or even cut butter with a knife. Skaar starts having problems with an oven that decides it's a Decepticon. Luckily, Rulk manages to pull the plug.

Hulk tries to get some answers as to how to wake up the Silver Surfer out of Leader, but all he can do is stammer while being unable to utilize his usual sesquipedalian loquaciousness. Most horrifying of all, his head slowly shrinks to normal size. Before Hulk can deal with this, She-Hulk calls Hulk down to the engine room as his shadow begins to smile. Never a good sign.

She-Hulk is freezing in the 90-degree engine room, A-Bomb runs in muttering about clowns, the smallest things are starting to tick Hulk off, Skaar runs in and attacks the monitors, and a tired, skinnier Red Hulk slowly stumbles in. Clearly, something's wrong. I mean, the engine room shouldn't be ninety degrees! The creepy laughter emanating from the hallways doesn't help, either. Making matters worse is the gigantic Obnoxio suddenly appearing behind Hulk.

"Wanna balloon, kid? They all float!"
Obnoxio assaults the team with similar gags as an omnipotent Joker. Making things worse, Hulk's happy shadow starts coming to life. Luckily, the Silver Surfer appears with the nugget of wisdom that A-Bomb has to stop the clown himself, because it's born from his fear. As soon as A-Bomb decides to stand up to it, it disappears in a blast of confetti.

The Hulks reconvene and try to figure out what to do about their fears coming to life. Silver Surfer explains that the Hulks are now inside a living void called the Null that feeds on fear. The Surfer himself barely defeated his own fear of being trapped before the Hulks came along. The Null's master plan is to use the wormhole to reach Earth and feed off of the world's fear.

Silver Surfer: "And your world will fall, screaming in terror."

They fly further in to take the fight to the Null, and everyone's fears return. Hulk starts fighting his shadow, but it soon envelops him. A-Bomb sprouts clown gear all over his body, She-Hulk turns to ice, Red Hulk shrivels up, and Skaar turns into Megatron before getting stuck in a wall.

You can't convince me that this isn't the origin of Megatron in Marvel's Transformers comics.
Even the Surfer is restrained by his own fear, until Dark Hulk punches him free. Dark Hulk begins a rampage as something legitimately horrifying happens. Red Hulk, the embodiment of chutzpah and defiance, lies on the ground as a withered husk.

Red Hulk: "Shulkie... what do we do?"

It's actually a surprisingly powerful moment, which is reinforced by the fact that She-Hulk doesn't answer. She's gone.

Hulk's love for his family lets him overpower his fears, and the others follow suit except for Red Hulk and She Hulk. Seeing She-Hulk still, cold, and lifeless allows Red Hulk to overcome his fear, and he gets mad enough to generate the heat needed to melt her out.

Taking a cue from every Final Fantasy game ever made, the Null pulls out all the stops and becomes a gigantic amalgamation of all their fears.

Excuse me, I appear to have wet all the pants within a five-mile radius.
Despite the team's best rocket board maneuvers, each and every one of them ends up entangled by the Null's tentacles. Surfer quickly explains that the wormhole can be closed, but only from the other end. Ah, the plot of every single plot of Star Trek: Voyager. So they work together to free the Surfer, who heads off through the portal, promising to spread the word to Earth about the Hulks' bravery. (Spoiler alert: That never comes up again. The world will still hate the Hulks in later episodes.) The plan succeeds, and the Null is quickly defeated, having lost the fears of Earth to feed on. With no food, the Null dissipates into nothingness. Back on the ship, they all make fun of each other over their fears, the Hulk tells the audience that fear is the mind killer, and the episode ends.

Well, if the only thing we have to fear is "Fear Itself," then let's conquer that fear. With a Review.

No comments:

Post a Comment