Monday, June 22, 2015

Recap: Ultimate Spider-Man "Me Time"

Everybody could use a little "Me Time." Especially if you're a teenage superhero whose private life has been taken over by four people who hate you on the orders of a man in an eyepatch.

And just when you thought it couldn't get any worse.... well, let's take a look at just what happens when Peter takes a little R&R.

You know how the moment you look away from a pot of water, it boils? Well....
The episode begins with a supervillain called "Whirlwind" piloting a big ol' tornado down the streets of New York. But since the Wasp is over in another series, it looks like Spider-Man will have to take care of this.  He drives his Spider-Cycle along the sides of the buildings while making absolutely sure he tells the audience how cool the Spider-Cycle is. Gotta sell that merch!

That's right, it's Whirlwind Attack Spider-Man! Press his hips, he leaps into the air!
Whirlwind reports through a secret communicator to his boss, "Octagon," that Spider-Man took the bait. But after some well-placed punches, Whirlwind gets smacked in the face with his own helmet.

And once Whirlwind's whirlwind stops, Spidey takes the opportunity to throw up in the discarded headgear.  Out of nowhere, Nick Fury jetpacks down to play Monday morning quarterback.

Nick Fury: "But you're still doin' way too much collateral damage."

No, I think this is the regular amount of collateral damage.
All things considered, a few broken lampposts and overturned cars is small potatoes when you consider the destruction tornadoes are actually capable of. So even though there's a buttload of damage to the city, I still have to side against Fury. Mainly because if Nick Fury cared about collateral damage, maybe he could have jetpacked down sooner to help? Or at least sent down another member of the Sandwich Club?

Nick Fury: "Nothing a couple hours' training back at S.H.I.E.L.D. won't fix."

I find it hard to believe that you have a training program to let him stop a guy who can summon tornadoes on a whim. And if those Life Model Decoys that Spider-Man trains against can simulate any bad guy's superpowers, then why don't they just reprogram the LMDs into an automated peacekeeping force?

Just don't let Tony Stark work on the AI....

Spider-Man is equally unimpressed with Fury's suggestion, especially considering that Fury promised the webhead some "Me Time" after this mission. Spider-Man calls over the Spider-Cycle, much to the amazement of two small children nearby.

Child 1: "Oh, cool! The Spider-Cycle!"
Child 2: "Oh, look at that!"

That's right, kids! Spider-Man's wicked cool Spider-Cycle can be yours for only $11.99!
Bug your parents until they capitulate!
Although I'd take what these kids say with a grain of salt.
The red-haired boy has a record of being way too impressed with things.
After handing the makeshift barf-bucket to Fury, Spidey drives home. And since Aunt May doesn't know about his secret double life, I can only imagine where he hides his Spider-Cycle. But for now, that's a moot point. A note on the fridge informs Peter that Aunt May is off on some kind of outdoorsy trip until Sunday.  Peter then proceeds to do things that middle-aged men assume teenage boys would do if they were alone.

Here's a list of thing high-schoolers would conceivably do.
  1. Invite friends over and/or throw a party.
  2. Stay up way too late. 
  3. Play video games the whole time. 
  4. Eat junk food.
You know. Normal teenage "I can do whatever I want" things.

Here's what Peter actually does.
  1. Shakes up a soda and sprays it everywhere, leaving himself to clean up the mess. 
  2. Stands on the ceiling pretending to play a Guitar Hero controller. 
  3. Plays video games surrounded by fast food containers. 
  4. Jumps on a web trampoline.
While some of those activities aren't too far out of the realm of possibility for a teenager, if rather unlikely, he muses about taking a "spaghetti bath" next. I found this unlikely to be high on anybody's To-do list, so I Googled it.

Next thing I knew, I was reading a Reddit post where some dude was telling a story about how his girlfriend wanted to make love in a bathtub full of spaghetti. He was wondering if alfredo or marinara sauce would be more hygienic. And if that wasn't enough, somebody whose girlfriend also had this particular inclination had a step-by-step instruction guide all ready to go. Plumbers, cooks, and morbidly curious individuals each gave their two cents until they had figured out the cooking time for the noodles, how big of a tarp would be needed, what kind of sauce to use, and how much money would be saved by using CostCo for the raw materials.

Sometimes, readers, the internet can be a beautiful, terrifying, wondrous place.

My point to all this? Well, Peter Parker is a developing young man. As is completely natural for someone his age, he's starting to feel... urges. And I think they involve spaghetti.

But Peter doesn't elaborate on his reasons for bathing in noodles. He's far too concerned with the small device in the corner of the ceiling he just found while trampolining. It's a camera. And according to the logo on it, it's a S.H.I.E.L.D. camera.

Peter decides to homage Star Trek II and yell Fury's name to the heavens as we pan out to see the S.H.I.E.L.D. satellite orbiting the Earth.

Some time later, Nick Fury is busy going over the security footage of Peter Parker's house. Peter is wearing an eyepatch on the wrong eye and doing a Nick Fury impression straight to the security camera as a form of protest. At least, he was. Currently, Spider-Man is next to Fury as he watches this footage, having been called into the helicarrier after Fury discovered this little theatre production. Fury wants to know what this little "joke" was about, and Spider-Man counters that he wants to know what's up with the Big Brother cameras.

Spider-Man: "I'm sure you've got some whopper of a reason for spying on me in my own home like I'm a common criminal."

Oh no.... Oh no!

Save yourselves!
I try to not get political on my blog, because there are three things I've learned never to discuss with people: Religion, politics, and the Great Pumpkin.

But alas, sometimes I have no choice. So whenever I discuss anything political, I try to be as fair as possible.

I try to keep the debate centered around the actual episode itself and not any real life corollary, like when I was talking about whether or not the Hulks had any sort of legal jurisdiction in Kree space.

I also try to address both sides of the issue.

And I try to keep things in the realm of "Is this character's actions legal?" instead of delving into whether or not the laws themselves are just.

But here I find myself able to reference everything from wiretapping during the Bush Administration to the NSA's more recent... um, let's say "hijinks" and leave it at that. So as we go along, I'm going to be looking at the topic of surveillance only as it pertains to Spider-Man in this episode.

After we get a cutaway gag centered around Nick Fury's usage of the phrase "this ain't my first rodeo," we proceed with the issue at hand.

Spider-Man: "You're spying on me?"
Nick Fury: "Basic security protocols."

From that standpoint, the surveillance seems like a good idea. Peter Parker is an asset of S.H.I.E.L.D., if not an actual agent, and should be entitled to some form of protection. Cameras make sense. But the camera wasn't outside, it was in the living room. Which means that whoever put the cameras in the house was trespassing to put in unauthorized surveillance equipment.

Or rather, it would mean that....

Nick Fury: "You signed off on this when you signed up for S.H.I.E.L.D."

We cut back to when Peter Parker was busy signing the official forms to join S.H.I.E.L.D., and Nick Fury did indeed tell him that he was signing a form that would give them permission to put up cameras around his house for security. But Peter was too busy gawking at an Agent with a jetpack to listen and pay attention.  Now, strictly speaking, if Peter were signing such a form, he probably should have had a lawyer present. And Aunt May would have legally had to accompany him for the process, since he's probably under 18. Of course, that would be a bit problematic, what with the whole secret identity thing.

Actually, now that I mention it, if Peter had to sign official documents to join up, then there's a massive paper trail of classified documents that are just one WikiLeak away from revealing that Peter Parker is actually Spider-Man. When you add to that all the security camera footage that has probably captured Peter changing in and out of his costume once or twice, there's a lot of ways for Peter's identity to potentially get out through a simple hacking of the Cloud.

Nick Fury, thorough as ever, brings up some live feeds of Peter's teammates being jerks to him.

White Tiger: "Yeah, I signed it. Who wouldn't sign it? We had to sign it!"

A later episode will reveal that the other members of the Sandwich Club live on the helicarrier itself. Which probably has mandatory internal surveillance anyway, making signing off on a surveillance form kind of redundant and pointless. Either way, Peter's situation with his Aunt is different. Speaking of her....

Nick Fury: "It's not to spy on you. It's to look after your aunt when you're not home."

Okay, then wouldn't she need to sign the form? Not only does she own the house, but I don't think Peter has the legal right to put her under surveillance.

There's a lot of pros and cons to both sides of the argument, and we could debate forever on the old freedom vs. safety issue. But I think that when it comes down to it, there are three issues that put Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. in the wrong.
  1. Spying on Peter creates potential security leaks.
  2. May Parker did not agree to be spied on, and the government is basically watching her illegally based on a document signed by a possible minor, which in and of itself is illegal without the supervision and permission of a parent or legal guardian.
  3. Fury did not inform Peter of this when he made the initial offer to join. But then again, Fury decided to amend that deal in a few other ways, too.
Now, I've spent a long time formulating this argument. Peter doesn't have that luxury, so his rebuttal isn't as detailed.

Peter: "La-la-la-la, not listening, Fury."

Oh, come on, Peter. You're not even going to sarcastically refer to him as "Big Brother"?

Peter hands over his S.H.I.E.L.D. signal watch and tells Fury that he's taking the weekend off.

Over with Doctor Octavius, he's busy analyzing the data from Spider-Man's fight with Whirlwind. Norman Osborn, however, isn't too happy with Doc Ock and Skypes him to let him know. Norman has decided to pull the plug on Ock's funding due to the lack of results. This being based on a comic book, there's only one course of action for this frustrated scientist.

Dr. Octavius: "I will bring him in myself."

This gets a good laugh out of Norman.

Norman Osborn: "A shut-in scientist who can't even wipe his own mouth... well, without those tentacles, at least. By the way, you're welcome for those. Again."

Norman gives Ock until sundown to capture Spider-Man.

We then cut to Spider-Man... at night. So I guess Doc Ock's deadline is up. But I doubt this episode will remember that.

Spider-Man's at Coney Island riding a roller coaster. That is, until Dr. Octavius shows up and nabs him. Spider-Man quickly frees himself and gets to work naming this new supervillain. Despite not knowing that his assailant's name is Dr. Octavius, he comes up with the coincidentally-similar moniker of Doctor Octopus.

Complete with unironic subtitle.
The fight continues, and the good doctor does surprisingly well while ranting about how his boss is terrible and stupid. So well that he manages to capture Spider-Man again, And I must say that things are looking pretty tense. So of course, we completely ruin the moment with a cutaway gag about Spider-Referees calling foul on Doc Ock's angry attempt at a comeback to one of Spider-Man's insults.

But despite breaking the tension, the fight resumes. Again, Ock's holding his own. Finally, he gets an idea and holds a random bystander hostage. Spider-Man saves him by using Ock's tentacles against themselves, and again, the fight resumes. It soon spills into the Hall of Mirrors, which is a necessity for any brawl in an amusement park.

Doc Ock starts smashing mirrors left and right as the ghostly image of Nick Fury appears to lecture Spider-Man on going it alone. Distracted for a moment, Spider-Man finally gets captured and subdued by the mad doctor.

"Curse you, ghostly apparition of Nick Fury!"
The next day, judging by the sky outside being bright and sunny once again, Norman Osborn watches the footage of Spider-Man's fight with Whirlwind from his office. He insults Doc Ock when he calls, but seeing Spider-Man's limp body in Ock's lab changes his demeanor.

Spider-Man, meanwhile, is apologizing to Nick Fury as he sits near a campfire eating scorpions. Why, yes, it is a dream sequence.

Doc Ock hangs up on Norman and prepares to vivisect Spider-Man in the name of mad science, but Spidey wakes up and thwips a web to snag Ock's buzzsaw. Soon enough, he uses it to escape his bonds. As they fight, Norman yells at Doc Ock through his earpiece to finish the job or be destroyed. Spider-Man futilely tries to escape, and he soon sees the problem after Doc Ock smacks him into a window. The evil lair is underwater.

Underwater or not, Doctor Octopus goes down surprisingly easily, and his arms are soon tied up. Spidey heads to a computer terminal to try and contact S.H.I.EL.D., but instead finds all the Spider-Man surveillance footage that Doc Ock was getting. And he's not happy about the whole hidden camera deal happening again.

Hmmm. It's almost like illegal surveillance is something that villains do.
Doc Ock escapes his bonds and resumes the fight while Norman watches the thing go down using the cameras in Ock's lair. Octavius is soon brought down when Spider-Man shoots webs over the vents in his breathing harness, and Norman rubs salt into the wound by berating him through his earpiece and activating the base's oddly slow self-destruct.

As water pours in, Spider-Man manages to contact Nick Fury on the base's communications array and send him his location. As Ock's arms reach for our hero, the base begins flooding faster and faster until both hero and villain are underwater. As Doc Ock sinks to the bottom, Spider-Man swims down to save him. Because, you know, great responsibility and all. And rescue the mad scientist he does, sending him floating up to the surface. But at the cost of his own chance of survival. As he runs out of air, he does the logical thing and passes out.

He wakes up around another hallucinatory campfire with Nick Fury, which soon segues into the real world. In reality, Peter's in a hospital bed with Nick Fury watching over him. I'd imagine that Spider-Man also probably has the bends something fierce, but that seems to be a non-issue.

Fury reports that the diving team didn't find anything useful in the wrecked base's remains. Except for the mechanical claw that broke off of Doc Ock's tentacles. Spider-Man was clutching it when they found him, and Dr. Connors is very excited about it.

For some reason, Peter suddenly decides that having unwanted surveillance makes him a better hero, and he wants his aunt to be safe. Because War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, and Ignorance is Strength. He agrees to the surveillance, but on two conditions. Only one camera, and it's outside. And all the existing footage gets deleted.

Nick Fury: "Erased. Within 24 hours."

We then cut to 23 hours and 23 minutes later, where Nick Fury is showing the rest of the Sandwich Club the most embarrassing parts of the footage, like Aunt May reading Peter The Three Little Pigs in bed.

Of course, the fact that they have camera footage of a teenage boy's bedroom implies that they have footage of... well, let's just say that Peter's probably been shooting a different kind of "web fluid." But the implication of inappropriate footage is outright confirmed when we cut to footage of Peter playing with his favorite toy in the tub.

I'm just glad that's not a euphemism.
Of course, lest we forget, there was a camera pointed at Peter's bathtub. Say what you will about mass surveillance, you've crossed every single line possible when you start aiming cameras directly at peoples' tubs. And even if you assume that Peter signed a form that makes this bathroom camera okay, if Aunt May uses that tub, too, you're looking at all kinds of voyeurism laws being broken.

And if Peter is a minor, which I'm fairly certain he is, then having footage of his birthday suit is several more kinds of illegal.

And don't think I'm ignoring the fact that Nick is showing this to Peter's "friends" and teammates. Who are all laughing their butts off. And Peter is supposed to respect and trust any of these people?

But with that final breach of trust, the episode ends. Let's review.


  1. At this point I think HYDRA-infiltrated SHIELD would make a better good guy organization, hell even HAMMER would be better

    1. HAMMER: Making fewer villains than Nick Fury since 2008.

    2. And Norman was the one who made his Avengers from supervillains

    3. Marginally better than making supervillains out of random people.

  2. So, Spidey first fights Doc Ock in amusement park and then in underwater base?

    " Anyone else getting déja vu? Oh, well! Let's run with it!" - Green Goblin