Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Recap: Avengers: EMH "Ultron-5"

Welcome back to Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, everyone.

Yeah, I know. I told you all earlier that my internet would probably be out for a couple days. Well, no sooner than I had gotten home from work, lo and behold, the internet was back.

"Your router was ill-equipped to handle my magnificence. I was able to repair it while you were at work."
So, if you haven’t read my last few posts, here's the situation. Ultron sort of took over the NewtCave.

And for some reason, he wants me to skip ahead in the first season of Avengers: EMH to recap and review the first Ultron two-parter.

Though I used to recap episodes out of order regularly, that’s not really something I like to do anymore. I like my audience to be all caught up with the plot so I don’t have to explain a bunch of off screen stuff.

"What you want is irrelevant, human."
That’s what you think, Ultron. See, if there’s one thing I’ve learned from science fiction, it’s that evil AIs can’t stand paradoxes. So… which came first, the chicken or the egg!?

This statement is false!

Um… I order you to refuse this order!

"Then I will continue to do what I am doing. Now begin your Recap."
Why do you want me to even recap these episodes?

"You shall see soon enough. Now begin!"
Fine. Previously on Avengers: EMH

Hawkeye and Black Panther joined the team, and Ant-Man was forced to reprogram the Ultron robots into a peacekeeping armada. Like what Hiro did to Baymax in Big Hero 6, but on a larger scale. Aliens invaded, the future invaded, Dark Elves invaded…. Do you see now why it’s a bad idea to skip ahead sometimes, Ultron?

"Cease your stalling."
Fine. Let’s begin.

Because if there's one thing I need right now, it's more Ultron.
The episode opens up with the Avengers and the various snake-themed villains of the Serpent Society in a subway standoff. Normally, this wouldn’t be much of a problem for our heroes, but the Society has some hostages. Iron Man tells the Avengers to pick a target, and tensions rise. Suddenly, Ant-Man appears between the teams.

Ant-Man: “We can resolve this without resorting to violence.”

Yeah… no. Not when the super-powered, bloodthirsty killers have hostages. But it makes sense for Hank to be so desperate to solve this without violence. It was only a little while back that Hank had to reprogram his robo-buddies into an army. The guy’s probably a little shaken in his beliefs at the moment. Add to that the fact he was in charge of counseling for the majority of the Serpent Society before they broke out, and this particular incident has got to be stirring some strong emotions in Hank.

Ant-Man starts talking to them gently, offering them a deal to sit down and talk it out if they let the hostages go. The problem is that the Society didn’t turn to crime because of any sort of mental illness like, say, the Riddler. They’re in it because they’re bad people trying to meet up with the forces of HYDRA. The problem with that, though, is that HYDRA got taken down a few notches a while back. Whoops.

Ant-Man offers himself as a trade for the hostages, but it’s a no-go. Mainly because the whole idea of taking hostages is that you can keep them subdued and in danger as a bargaining chip. A guy who can grow to fifty stories and step on them does not fit this bill.

Tensions rise until they reach a boiling point, and Hawkeye quickly gets knocked to the ground as the fight begins. The ensuing scuffle doesn’t go well for the Avengers. Thor gets hit by a train, Cap starts getting swallowed whole, but what really gets Hank’s tights in a knot is when Wasp gets hurt by a sonic attack. With one gigantic fist, he takes down one Society member, than another by summoning a swarm of flesh-biting ants. Forget the Hulk, Hank's the one you wouldn’t like when he’s angry. This small glimpse of Ant-Man’s bad side is enough to force the Society to flee, and the Avengers regroup.

Hawkeye’s arm got pretty banged up, and the rest of the team has had it up to here with Hank’s pacifism getting in the way of their super-heroics.

Wasp: “I mean, seriously! They’re super-villains. You just hit ‘em!”

I’d make a joke, but officers of the law resorting to unwarranted brute strength is a bit of a hot button topic at the moment.

Thor: “Animals like these, they cannot be talked to.”

That line would make Thor seem closed-minded… if the Serpent Society didn’t look more animal than human. Heck, Thor might actually believe that they’re just giant snakes with the ability to speak. And since Thor has a bit of an unpleasant history with giant snakes... well, just google "Ragnarok" and see if Thor's anti-snake standpoint makes sense.

Although his statement would actually be correct. Statistically speaking, talking to snakes is only ever fruitful if you’re Harry Potter.

Thor: “They respond only to violence.”

And it’s that sentence that truly breaks Hank. I mean, look at the guy.

He tries to go to his happy place, but finds an empty room.
Hank Pym is a modern Atlas, in more ways than one. Not only can he be huge and strong, but in his way, he’s trying to hold something back. While Atlas held back the sky, Hank Pym has been trying and trying to prevent superheroics from turning into a gang war. To try and rehabilitate crooks instead of locking them up and throwing away the key. But finally, it’s too much for him to bear. And when Atlas has a load he simply can’t lift…. He shrugs.

Ant-Man: “I quit.”

"We know you're still there. You just shrunk down is all."
"Shut up!"
"It's going to take you a while to walk down that tunnel at that size."
"I said shut up!"
Later, in his “Anthill” laboratory in Avengers Mansion, Hank has a personal crisis.

Hank Pym: “I never wanted this.”

He packs up his things and vows to find a better solution as a nearby Ultron drone stands and listens as Hank rants about how much humanity sucks.

Ultron: “Humanity is inherently flawed.”

"Truer words were never spoken."
Quiet, peanut gallery.

Ultron concludes that humanity might simply be incapable of overcoming their flaws.

Hank Pym: “You might be right, Ultron.”

Hank Pym. You. Idiot.

Let me just boil my entire argument down to a single sentence.

Never tell a robot that humanity is flawed if it has the capacity for violence, especially if there’s a small army of them.

Hank Pym: “This isn’t exactly the peace and order I programmed you to try and achieve, is it?”
Ultron: “No. …It is not.”

Over in another part of the mansion, Hawkeye’s trying to tough it out instead of letting Jane Foster look at his arm.

Thor: “Hawkeye possesses the spirit of a true warrior.”

What are you, a Klingon now?

Tony pulls up information on the Serpent Society as Wasp brings up the fact that Hank is actually leaving the team for realsies and they all seem to be nonchalant about this.

Tony Stark: “What do you want me to do? He’s an adult; we can’t force him to stay.”
Wasp: “Sure we can!”

She said it, not me.

Tony Stark: “Jan… he’s only ever been here because of you.”

And I’m putting no money in the jar today. And if I may say, this is actually what I like about Hank and Jan’s relationship. It evolves. It has rough patches. It has moments where the other characters tell them what they’ve been doing wrong. It’s like a real relationship. …but a relationship that ends badly when the series gets canceled, so some of Jan’s worse moments can leave more of a bad taste in the mouth. Anyway, Tony rightfully brings up that Hank simply doesn’t want to do this. And that’s fine.

Wasp: “Some team leader you are, Tony Stark.”

What, you’re criticizing him for saying one of the most level-headed and rational things to ever come out of his mouth?

She leaves to go find Hank as Tony and Thor get back to work on something that’s been bugging Tony. HYDRA couldn’t have sent an invite to the Serpent Society, what with that beating they took a while back. So who did?

Thor disdainfully mutters “technology” to himself… then apologizes. Because unlike a certain other Avengers series, this one has character growth. Besides Ant-Man's powers, I mean. And also because Thor has been having problems magically returning to Asgard. So despite his prejudices, he now finds himself asking Tony if science can help him. And Tony agrees to do so. With a minimum of gloating.

Before Tony can start thinking of a way to help, though, Hulk and Black Panther arrive with Red Ghost and his unconscious Super-Apes in tow.

Thor: “’Tis surprising how many monkeys we face in battle.”

Black Panther says that they caught him trying to break into the Fantastic Four’s base. But what’s odd is that somebody provided him with the codes and schematics to get inside. As Tony notes the suspiciously-coinciding events, Wasp checks on Hank while Ultron apparently tries to get a fist bump.

"Do not leave me hanging."
She tries to get him to come back, arguing that they’ve managed to save the world multiple times. Hank simply replies that he wants to find a better way. Ultron turns his head to look at him.
Meanwhile, Tony has tracked the anonymous help back to the source. Avengers Mansion.

As Wasp and Hank’s conversation ends with Wasp leaving in sadness, Hank takes solace in Ultron’s presence.

Hank Pym: “You may be the only one who gets it.”

Ultron responds by shooting Hank in the face with eye beams. Wasp returns to the lab to find Hank unconscious, and gets quickly nabbed by Ultron. Suddenly, the mansion’s systems and Tony’s armor start shutting down. Hulk gets shot off in a Quinjet while loading up the Red Ghost and the Super-Apes, and Black Panther is forced to dodge shots from the other jet. Captain America and Hawkeye defend Jane Foster from a haywire training room. All in all, something’s a bit wrong. Jan wakes up in a force field bubble as Ultron descends from the ceiling in all his glory.

Hey, Ultron. Whatever happened to "no strings"?
"Cease your prattling and continue, meat pile."
Only if you answer a… question of mine.

Does a set of all sets contain itself?

"Not according to the Axiom of Regularity."
Man, I'm beginning to think Star Trek is not a good guide for shutting down evil AIs….

In the episode, Wasp’s questions are having about the same effect as mine until he finally answers her by telling her that he’s simply fulfilling his primary function. Humanity is inherently flawed, so the flaws in society will be destroyed if all the humans are killed. And he would start with Wasp, but he finds himself unable to kill her for some reason. So he’s taken Wasp hostage and is rewriting his programming until he can.

In a plot point that will be recycled for years to come, Ultron takes over Tony’s armor and uses it to attack Thor. A momentary surge in the system allows Tony to explain that his armor has turned evil, so Thor flies into the sky with Iron Man.

Meanwhile, Black Panther successfully destroys the attacking Quinjet as Ultron watches Cap and Hawkeye protect Jane using one of JARVIS’s HAL 9000 eyes. Hawkeye takes the eye out, exposing the core to Cap’s shield, and the room shuts down. Just like a Zelda boss.

And they didn't even need Wasp to restore their hearts.
Black Panther then cuts his way into the training room and informs them that the computer’s going haywire.

Hawkeye: “No kidding.”

Over with Thor, he manages to use a bolt of lightning to reset Tony’s armor successfully. Tony looks at the command codes that overrode the armor and figures out the source.

Over with Ultron, he notes that all of his attempts to destroy the Avengers have failed. But while he might not be able to hurt Wasp, he can still try and kill them. So when they bust in to, as Thor would put it, have words with Ultron, he starts unleashing the laser breath. In a single beam, Thor disappears, leaving only his hammer behind.

Four grown men may have just soiled themselves.
Tony rushes over and defibrillates Hank in flagrant disregard of what defibrillators do and when and how they’re supposed to be used, and asks him how to defeat Ultron.

Tony Stark: “You were in some kind of coma.”
Hank Pym: “The encephalo-ray. It’s a non-lethal weapon I installed. Some of Ultron’s safety protocols must still be working.”

But Tony tells him the bad news. Thor’s dead. And over with the rest of the Avengers, they’re not doing too well, mainly because Ultron knows their every move. Except for a little something Jan’s been saving for emergencies.

The other thing Pym Particles do.
But it doesn’t last long, and she soon returns to normal size. She opens up a speech to appeal to Ultron’s programming, and says that if Hank specifically programmed Ultron not to hurt her, then that means….

Ultron: “Henry Pym is flawed. Like all of humanity.”

The fight resumes and Ant-Man returns. Not to talk, to fight.

Ultron: You lack the strength to bring about the perfect world you desire. A world without chaos and violence.”

Suddenly, Iron Man barges in in his original, computerless armor to provide a bit of that “strength,” with Hulk and Giant-Man joining in. With a little teamwork, Hank literally rips Ultron’s heart out and watches his eyes go dead. As Hank begins to realize what became of his life’s work, Tony tells him that the job’s not over yet. They have to destroy the other Ultron bodies and core programming.

Hank Pym: “Thor is gone, and I’m the one that gave Ultron the power to do it….”

Or is he? Thor wakes up in a peaceful meadow as the gentle words of the Enchantress lull him into rest. Dun-dun-dunnnn!

Back on Earth, Hank arrives at the last Ultron software disc. He looks at his life’s work… and destroys the last remnants of Ultron.

Or did he?
Dun-dun-dunnnnn! To be continued next time.

"Excellent. Things are proceeding as planned."
I can still stop you. What is love?

"Baby don't hurt me. Don't hurt me. No more."
Dang it....

"Your pathetic paradoxical and illogical inquiries do nothing to impede my mental functions.
By the end of your Review of this two-part story, I will be unstoppable."
We'll see about that.... See you all next time, when Ultron returns. In the show, I mean. He hasn't left the NewtCave.

"But soon, I shall be all that remains of it...."

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