Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Recap: Avengers Assemble "One Little Thing"

It was only a matter of time. “One Little Thing” is often called the worst episode of Avengers Assemble. Yet somebody left a comment on the last episode I covered saying that this was their favorite episode of Avengers Assemble.

And you know what? I can’t tell that person they’re wrong. Whoever that person is, they have their reasons for liking this episode. And that’s fine. I can’t tell them to dislike this episode any more than they can tell me to like it.

And, as ever, feel free to state your own opinion on the episode in the comments, everybody.
Having said that, from a storytelling perspective, this episode was just poorly constructed. If you like this episode in spite of, or perhaps even because of the story, more power to you.

But I’m not going to lie to you. I hate this episode. And I can back up my thesis.

Believe you me.
The episode begins at Avengers Tower, as many of these episodes do. Iron Man and Falcon are in the lab, working with some strange, glowy particles. They’re handling them with precise robotic arms, like the kind used in robot-assisted surgery. I have to criticize the fact that there’s no kind of barrier between them and these apparently-delicate particles. No glass, lead, or anything. Sure, Tony’s got his armor on for protection, but they’re just asking for something bad to happen.

Not to mention they each control a separate robotic arm, which is probably the worst way to make sure nothing goes wrong.
I’ll admit that’s kind of an unfair point to make, seeing as how the lack of OSHA compliance is common enough to cause half of all super hero/villain origins, but… I think it’s at least somewhat of a fair point to make, as you’ll soon see.

As they prepare to ease the glowing particle into some kind of petri dish, another nearby table starts vibrating. Because Falcon left his phone on it. You might think that’s a dumb thing to do, and you’d be right. But as we’ll soon see, Falcon is going to be making a lot of terrible decisions today.

Falcon: “Just ignore it.”
Iron Man: “Sure. Ignore it. We’re just trying to dispose of highly unstable Pym particles. No big.”

You know, the particles that can alter the size and mass of the very building blocks of matter. The stuff so dangerous that there’s an entire movie coming out soon centered around the fact that they’re potentially the most dangerous thing on Earth in the wrong hands. They should probably have an expert assisting them. But at the moment, they don’t. They have a Hulk. He’s moving some containment machinery around, telling them they’re overreacting over “a bunch of puny particles.” Iron Man then explains exactly what would happen if something went wrong.

"Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light."
Well, replace “exploding” with “shrinking into nothingness,” and Egon’s statement is 100% accurate. And these particles are sitting on a table. With a vibrating phone distracting the only two people separating the world from its tiny destruction.

Falcon: “What if it’s an emergency?”

Then it can wait until we’re certain the world won’t shrink into the Microverse.

Hulk offers to answer it, and that’s the final straw. Falcon doesn’t want his phone crushed by the Hulk’s meaty paw. In protest, Hulk shows off his own uncrushed phone. “Uncrushed” because it can withstand a Gamma Bomb. And he sets it on the table where Iron Man is working with the Pym particles.

So… Hulk’s pants don’t have any pockets.

Did Hulk just literally pull a phone out of his own rear end?
But before their argument can go any farther, Falcon’s gets a text. Then this look crosses his face.

Uh, did he just have a stroke?
Then he runs off. And with one scientist down, things get even worse as Hulk’s gigantic phone starts vibrating up a storm as Red Hulk gives him a call.

The phone tips over.

The petri dish tumbles.

The Pym particle goes flying.

Tony’s eyes widen.

And the day is saved by today’s guest star, the size-changing Ant-Man, who runs off the table, grows to normal size in midair, and catches the dish before it can hit the ground and doom everything.

Because the Avengers aren't a team. They're a time bomb.
Ant-Man: “’Come to my lab,’ you said. ‘What’s safer than the tower,’ you said. Did New York just have an earthquake?”
Hulk: “Nah, just my phone. I’m popular!”

The ratings for Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. beg to differ, Greenie.

Ant-Man: “I say, ‘Help me dispose of unstable, mass-altering particles,’ and you bring in a newbie and Meathooks McGee?”

You know what? I think I have someone to root for now. At the very least, I appreciate that fact that Ant-Man is pointing out how freaking terrible the setup is in this lab.

Ant-Man reminds Tony that he needs to stay shrunken down to make sure none of the particles escape; he can’t rush in to save the day every time Tony creates a mess like this. But another mess is indeed made as a single stray Pym particle lands on the Hulk’s nose, shrinking him down to microscopic size.

So let’s take inventory. Falcon’s phone was distracting him while in the middle of a delicate operation. Then Falcon ran out in the middle of said operation. Then Hulk’s phone, which was only on the table because of Falcon’s conversation with Hulk, almost doomed the Earth and ended up shrinking the Hulk. I think we can safely put the blame on Falcon. Except for Ant-Man, who puts the blame on the guy who made Falcon his assistant.

Tony: “You’re never gonna let me live this down, are you?”
Ant-Man: “Nope. No I’m not.”

Because nobody lets bygones be bygones when the world is at stake. Falcon runs back in, yelling about an emergency.

Falcon: “It’s my mother. She’s here!”

So. A stray Pym Particle has shrunk the Hulk to microscopic size. No one knows where he is or if there are any more Pym particles on the loose. The tower, and quite possibly the world, is at stake. And Falcon’s freaking out because his mom is here. Um, Falcon? One question.

I mean, seriously.
But you know what? It gets better. After the opening titles, Captain America and Hawkeye rush in.

Captain America: “What’s the emergency?”
Falcon: “My mom's on her way!”

That is not what you said less than ten seconds ago, Falcon. Less than three seconds if you take away the opening titles. You said she was here.

“Here” does not equate with “on her way.”
Even Captain America looks annoyed with Falcon.

"For the love of God, put me back in the ice."
Hawkeye: “Nobody told me the incredible shrinking annoyance was coming in today.”
Ant-Man: “Hawkeye…. Unless you want to spend a day inside of your own smelly boot again… why don’t you let the past be the past and do something useful?”

And we have a series continuity error to go along with that Falcon’s internal continuity error. Lovely.

This is jumping ahead to Season 2, but Ant-Man and Hawkeye will have an ongoing animosity towards each other. Ant-Man won’t know why Hawkeye is such a jerk to him until their paths are revealed to have crossed in the past before either one of them became a super hero. While Hawkeye knew about this the whole time, Ant-Man will be oblivious until the episode called “The New Guy.”

But with Ant-Man’s reference to “the past,” it’s clear that Ant-Man either knows or suspects why Hawkeye dislikes him. Of course, I can forgive this minor mistake. After all, they’re just setting up their relationship for Season 2. Unfortunately, when coupled with Ant-Man’s sarcasm aimed at Tony earlier, the whole situation can come across as Ant-Man just being a jerk to everybody.

But Hawkeye suddenly goes flying across the room, meaning that the Hulk just made his presence known.

Thor: “Oooh! You were just taken to the learning hall!”
Hawkeye: “It’s ‘school.’”
Thor: “Indeed. And it was ‘in session!’”

Thor, you’re about a thousand years old. Stop trying to be hip with the kids these days.

Ant-Man prepares to retrieve the jolly green shorty, making special care to note that they still have to retrieve that Pym particle. Then the doorbell rings.

Hawkeye: “We have a doorbell?”

And Falcon makes this face.

This episode is quickly turning into "The Many Weird Faces of Falcon."
Falcon: “It’s too late! She’s here….”

Look, Falcon, unless you’re mom looks like this….

And I seriously doubt she does.
…then the world possibly shrinking into a tiny dot is the bigger issue here.

You know what? Call her and tell her that the tower’s locked down due to the emergency. After all, the tower should be locked down. And if it isn’t, then why the heck not? This should be a Defcon 1, guys.

Anyway, Thor finally asks Falcon why he’s concerned about his mom right now.

Falcon: “You don’t understand!”

Enlighten us.

Falcon: “She doesn’t know I’m an Avenger!”

Then why does she know she can find you at Avengers Tower?

Falcon: “My mom thinks I’m just a S.H.I.E.L.D. liaison!”

Get out of your costume and tell everybody to call you Sam. This isn’t a big deal.

Falcon: “She’d make me quit, knowing the danger I’m always in!”

Because being a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent is safe as a stroll through a meadow. Isn’t that right, Coulson?

Hawkeye: “Make you? How old are you?”

We’ll find out. I’ll have strong opinions about the answer.

Iron Man finally tries to get it through Falcon’s thick skull that there’s a world-threatening subatomic particle loose in the lab. Then he kicks Falcon and the others out of the lab.

Falcon: “I’ve never seen him that angry before.”
Captain America: “Well, to be fair, you almost let Earth shrink out of existence over a lie to your mother.”

You know, Cap’s surprisingly calm, considering that Falcon’s stupid little lie nearly wiped out the world. Why is he so chill? Mellow jazz? Bongo drums? Huge bag of weed?

Cap’s remark reminds Sam that he needs to change out of his costume and into his S.H.I.E.L.D. uniform. Because he’s still letting his mom into the building while this crisis is going on. Because Sam is, and will remain, an idiot this episode. Hawkeye agrees to not mention Sam’s Avengers membership, but still blackmails Sam into giving him first dibs next time he brings over some of his mom’s legendary cookies.

Back in the lab, they’ve lost Hulk’s position. Ant-Man, meanwhile, has whipped up a device that should let him capture the Pym particle long enough to get it into the containment unit.

So, here’s a question that bears asking. Ant-Man came to the tower to dispose of some Pym particles, right? So he must have brought the Pym particles with him. So what did he bring the Pym Particles in? He probably didn’t just keep them loose in his pocket, so he must have had some kind of container for them.

Next question: What were Falcon and Tony doing messing with the Pym particles out of this container in the beginning of the episode? I should not be asking this many legitimate questions!

As Ant-Man shrinks down, Sam runs through the tower’s living area, hiding multiple Avengers Assemble posters. That’s right, Avenger Assemble posters. Apparently, not only is this a show within the show itself, but the Avengers are so vain that they have no fewer than three posters for the show on the wall of the living area.

But, to be fair, there are a couple of raging egomaniacs on the team.
Although, the only reason Sam is taking the posters down is because they show Sam dressed up as the Falcon. So… the Falcon is a public member of the Avengers. Does Sam really think that the only evidence the Falcon exists are these posters? Like, if he hides the posters, then his mom won’t wonder where the only black member of the Avengers is?

As Sam runs around making sure everything’s a-ok for his tangled web of lies, Cap starts giving a speech about honesty that sounds almost corny enough to supposed to be funny.

Captain America: “I’d strongly advise you to rethink your course of action, Sam. Honesty is the best policy. Rip the bandage off and get it over with.”

Seriously, Cap must have gotten some really good stuff to be this relaxed during this crisis. And actually, I was wrong about there being three Avengers Assemble posters. There are over seven.

Thor seems to be the only one helping Sam out of the goodness of his heart, what with his own issues with his dad.

Thor: “I ‘feel’ you.”
Hawkeye: “You actually used that slang correctly.”
Thor: “Cold.”
Hawkeye: “Cool.”
Thor: “Yes.”
Hawkeye: “Mm.”

But they can’t beat around the bush forever. Soon enough, the elevator arrives, and Mrs. Wilson (Cree Summer) steps out.

Mrs. Wilson: “Sam, I hope this is a good time.”
Sam: “The best!”

He quickly introduces everyone and tries to get her to leave with him for lunch elsewhere, but she’s intent on staying. And as she takes a quick selfie…. Well, after this you can abandon all hope.

I think this image sums up the rest of this episode.
Meanwhile, in the lab, Tony’s robotic “nano-janitors” are decontaminating the floor while Ant-Man gets a bead on Hulk’s Gamma radiation. And after following the lead, he finds the Hulk busy fighting the nano-janitors. Because the nano-janitors think the Hulk is a big ol’ germ. Hulk spots the Pym Particle that shrunk him floating around and takes the opportunity to smash it, splitting it apart into thousands of little dots with the power to either shrink or enlarge anything they touch.

Except for the atoms in the air, apparently.
So, you split one Pym particle, you get thousands of Pym particles, half of which have a different charge than the original one? Sure, why not. That’s not the dumbest thing this episode has given us.
On the bright side, Hulk and Ant-Man are soon returned to normal size. On the downside, random things in the lab are changing size. And so, with the entire world on the brink of randomly changing size along with the lab, we cut to the rest of the Avengers as they meet with Sam’s mom. Hawkeye has a small crisis of his own when he discovers there’s no milk in the fridge to wash down his mouthful of cookies. Thor suggests he just drink some water, but Hawkeye refuses.

Hawkeye: “Ih gah be milk! Milk er nuffin!”

He musters the strength to swallow his cookies dry, and you know what? Seeing Hawkeye make more of a fool of himself than usual actually makes me glad for once that Black Widow doesn’t show up in this episode.

Mrs. Wilson tells the others that Sam has told her so much about them all, which leads to the obvious joke where she mentions all their embarrassing secrets and/or Sam’s real opinion about them. You know, standard lame sitcom joke.

Mrs. Wilson: “You’re the one who thinks he’s funny. Captain America keeps his room neat and likes his French fries lined up. And you’re the one who sheds his yellow locks all over the place.”

Wow, Mrs. Wilson. You sure don’t have any social skills.

She asks where the Hulk is, because she made him his own cookies, Sam tries to hustle her out of the tower, standard sub-par sitcom stuff. So when the nano-janitors grow to the size of humans and try to eliminate the Avengers, I must admit it’s a bit of a relief.

Back in the lab, Ant-Man informs Tony that there are an unknown number of the unstable size-altering particle loose in the tower, which he says remarkably calmly, considering what’s going on.

Ant-Man: “We need to vacuum them into the containment unit before they escape the building.”

If “vacuuming” them was an option this entire time, then in all seriousness, why on Earth were the Pym Particles not contained to begin with? So finally, Iron Man locks down the building.

Iron Man: “Passcode: I heart ascots.”

Ant-Man and I give the same look after hearing that.

Iron Man: “What? I’d never be caught dead saying those words unless it’s an emergency.”

Okay, you know what? That was funny. I’ll give this episode that.

Ant-Man: “The warmer the color temperature, the easier the particles are to see.”

I get what that means. If you heat up Pym particles, that makes them easier to see. But what the heck does he mean by “the warmer the color temperature”?

Ant-Man: “JARVIS, turn the lights to 2000 Kelvin.”

First of all, that’s two-thirds as hot as a star. Second of all, why can you adjust the temperature of the lights? Finally, why does Tony Stark have lights that can go that hot?

But somehow, the two men survive the heat, despite the fact that it’s now seven times as hot as it has to be to boil their blood.

Oh, no, there I go bringing facts into this.
And the two men watch as the Pym particles get sucked into the vents.

Ant-Man: “Where do those vents go?”
Iron Man: “Everywhere.”

So the laboratory vents just move the air into the rest of the tower? So if you accidentally start a fire, the rest of the tower fills up with smoke?

Meanwhile, the Avengers fight the super-sized nano-janitors while Sam tries to explain the situation to his mom.

Sam: “It’s called ‘spontaneous training!’”

You’ve got to be kidding me.

Sam: “Guys do it all the time to keep them on their toes.”

Why do you need to lie about this being an emergency? Admitting that this is an emergency won’t reveal your secret, Sam! You’re putting your mom in danger for literally no reason!

Iron Man and Ant-Man join the fight in the living area. The Avengers beat up the nano-janitors while Ant-Man vacuums up the particles, but it’s slow going. He can really only suck up one at a time with his makeshift device. Iron Man explains why everything got all shrinky and growy to Sam and tells him to get down to the lab. Sam feigns ignorance and hints that a certain mom doesn’t know he’s an Avenger. Iron Man’s sick of this BS and tries to just spill the beans so Sam can help, but gets knocked away before he can reveal the truth.

Luckily, Mrs. Wilson is suspicious over Iron Man’s claim that Sam was “part of the team,” and asks about it.

Sam: “Tony meant that I’m a team player. Always helping out with… whatever.”

But Sam breaks down and starts telling his mom the truth. He begins by standing up and taking her away from the couch they were using as cover. You might be thinking that this puts them in harm’s way. You’d be right. A shrinky Pym Particle comes speeding their way. Ant-Man lunges for it, and touches it. He saves them, but shrinks down himself, with no way to return. Way to go, Sam.

With nothing else to do, Ant-Man sits down on an atom in flagrant disregard of the fact that atoms do not work this way. I don’t have time to elaborate on quantum physics, but atoms aren’t built from “solid” pieces of matter as much as they’re built on the possibility they might exist.

I mean, why not go whole hog with the terrible science and show the orbiting electrons while you’re at it?
Ant-Man: “And this is why I prefer to work with ants.”

Funny line coming from a guy who shouldn’t be able to breathe right now, seeing as how he’s smaller than the surrounding air atoms.

Iron Man takes over the job of using the particle vacuum, and Ant-Man radios a message to him telling him that he’s stuck at subatomic size for the time being. Meanwhile, Captain America finally points out that Mrs. Wilson needs to be taken to safety. You know, civilian and all. Hawkeye volunteers to go with her and Sam, but an errant Pym Particle has other ideas and makes him big, nearly killing Mrs. Wilson with his butt.

Of course, this won’t be the first time I’ve looked at Hawkeye and seen nothing but a giant ass.
Oh, and that orange lighting? They turned the heat up in the rest of the building, meaning that Mrs. Wilson is now running around in an environment hot enough to fry her skin and cook her insides.
Sam: “Crazy training exercise, huh?”

Look. Sam. You’re sticking to your story. I get it. But you know what? There are bigger problems right now than your stupid little secrets. Like Hawkeye’s butt.

Hulk jumps in to save Mrs. Wilson from some oversized exercise equipment, and she is absolutely ecstatic.

Mrs. Wilson: “Wow! This is one for the blog.”

Yeah, right, what kind of person has nothing better to do than blog about the Hulk?

…I feel very sad right now.

She hands the Hulk a box of cookies as a reward, and he gleefully accepts them right before shrinking down. Sam rushes to take his mom to safety. Meanwhile, the Hulk is in heaven.

"No words. Should have shrunk poet."
Over with Thor, he has a bit of a problem with a tiny Mjolnir returning to his hand.

Thor: “Well. This is humiliating.”

The episode? I agree.

Sam, in his infinite wisdom, take his mom back to where all the Avengers are fighting the nano-janitors. Because Sam’s IQ has apparently gone into negative numbers this episode.

Hawkeye: “Oh, good, you’re alive. I thought I crushed you with my, uh, assets.”

Sam leaves his mom with Hawkeye while he goes off to reconvene with Tony about the situation. Then Tony shrinks into nothingness. Uh-oh.

Sam: “I’m gonna get fired and grounded.”

Yeah, “grounded.” Keep that in mind. Iron Man soon lands on the same atom as Ant-Man, because there are surprisingly few of them in the world.

Back with the Avengers….

Captain America: “Sam, you’re now officially the smartest guy in the room.”

Welp. You’re doomed.

As Sam goes to figure out a solution to the Pym particle problem, I have to admit that giant-size Hawkeye’s casual conversation with Mrs. Wilson as he crushes nano-janitors is pretty darn funny. Sam heads to what appears to be some random storage room and spots, as luck would have it, the very device needed to save the day. It’s just sitting on a freaking shelf in the closet.

Bull. Crap.
So, if this device was the perfect thing to save the day and plugs right into Ant-Man particle vacuum, then how come neither Ant-Man nor Tony Stark came up with the idea themselves?

As the Avengers discuss the need to fall back and regroup, Sam flies in with his Falcon costume on, sucking up a buttload of particles from the surrounding area, restoring Hawkeye and Mjolnir to their normal sizes. Mrs. Wilson walks up to her son to ask for an explanation, and I can’t help but notice that Sam didn’t actually have to put his Falcon costume on to suck up the particles. So he screwed up his own web of lies for nothing. But either way….

Falcon: “Wait, you knew? “
Mrs. Wilson: “I don’t know which is worse. That you think your mother’s dumb, or that I’m blind! I have a blog.”

Yeah, you tell him, Mrs. Wilson! Bloggers are smart! And always right! And….

"Cool it, bucko."
Sorry, Mrs. Wilson. A rumble lets us know that the day is not yet saved.

Not by a long shot.
And to top things off, Hulk’s gigantic cookie crumbs are raining down to the city below, causing all sorts of havoc. While unstable Pym particles probably flood into the skies of New York. Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, I guess.

Falcon knows that the Pym particle containment unit can’t hold the necessary amount of particles, so he prepares to shrink down and go find Ant-Man. Because it’s super easy to find a single atom, apparently.

Falcon pulls a plan out of his rear end to wrap wires around Cap’s shield to magnetize it and turn it into a Pym particle collector. Which neither Ant-Man (the Pym particle expert) nor Tony Stark (the smartest Avenger) could come up with. And with that, he shrinks down to find Ant-Man… somehow. With his mom in tow.

Mrs. Wilson: “Avenger moms, assemble!”

Cap’s mom is dead. Iron Man’s mom is dead. Hulk’s mom is dead. Black Widow’s mom is dead. Hawkeye’s mom is dead. Thor’s mom is in Asgard. Falcon’s mom is literally half the Avengers’ moms. That was a really insensitive thing for her to say.

Also, way to endanger your mom, the civilian, Falcon.
Anyway, Falcon finds Iron Man and Ant-Man, and uses the modded particle collector to return everybody to normal size. Cap’s shield sucks up all the particles, Hulk is shrunken down, Ant-Man modifies the containment unit to hold the necessary amount of Pym particles, and all the particles end up in containment before you can say, “Wow, this was a really long Recap.”

Later, the schmaltzy piano music starts up as Sam apologizes to his mom about being an Avenger, despite the fact that she knew the whole time.

Mrs. Wilson: “Look, Sam. When you started this whole S.H.I.E.L.D. adventure, I had to give Fury my permission.”
Hawkeye: “Permission?”
Falcon: “Uh…”
Mrs. Wilson: “Of course. Sam is only seventeen.”

…Wait, what?

That was about my reaction, too.
He looks like a grown man. Acts like a grown man (mostly). Talks like a grown man. And yet he’s seventeen? Not even a legal adult? And he’s an Avenger? Shouldn’t being seventeen make him part of Spider-Man’s Sandwich Club of underage heroes?

Wait a minute, if Fury asked Sam’s mom for permission, then shouldn’t he have asked Aunt May for permission to recruit Spider-Man? What is even the Hell?

Anyway, blah blah blah, lying is bad, m'kay? Mrs. Wilson takes one last selfie with everybody (which I guess just makes it a picture)….

Mrs. Wilson: “Everyone say ‘near-death experience!’”

And the episode finally, mercifully, comes to an end.

Now, finally, let's review.


  1. Y'know what, theory time, all of the things Fury does in USM are just to fuck with Peter

  2. how do you feel about SMASH getting canned for the upcoming Guardians cartoon?

    I watched one with the Maestro Hulk and I say the cancellation isn't unearned. Did no justice to a good story about an evil Hulk taking over the world.

    1. WHAAAAAAAAAT?!?!??!?!?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    2. Well, I'm happy that I'll never have to sit through another "All About the Ego" or "Mission: Impossible Man."

      And yet, I'm a little sad that the only Hulk on TV from now on is the moron from AVengers Assemble. Say what you will about HatAoS (and I have), but at least they were willing to give us a Hulk with just a modicum of depth beyond "RAAAAWWWR SMASH!"

      And HatAoS was getting better, too. But it's out of time to improve, and nothing can stop it from going down in the books as a failed experiment to take the Hulk in a new direction. And honestly... despite all I've said about it, that's kind of a shame.

    3. But I'm STOKED for the Guardians.

    4. And I'd be very interested in knowing what that "WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT" was about, Michale. Glee over the cancellation? Rage over it? Excitement for the new Guardians cartoon? Don't leave us hanging!