Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Recap: "Thor: The Dark World" Part 2: Swift as a Shadow

You know, the portals beginning to pop up in London are kind of begging for a crack about the spacetime rift in Cardiff.... but I'm trying as hard as I can to not make Doctor Who jokes.

Wish me luck when I get to Jessica Jones someday.
After Jane floats in the Aether for a little bit, she slowly fades to simply lying on the ground back in the abandoned building. She heads outside to find Darcy as well as the cops, which Darcy apparently called. They argue a bit over this; Jane thinks that calling the cops is just asking to get in trouble for poking around in a building and finding some weird Portal crap. Darcy, on the other hand, didn't know what to do since Jane was gone for five hours.

As they continue to argue, it begins to rain everywhere but around them. As Jane realizes what this must mean, she looks over and sees Thor, standing in the frigid rain like he was on the cover of some romance novel. She walks over and gives him a good slap in the face for everything he's done. Or more accurately, hasn't done. Thor wants to know exactly what happened to her and where she went, but Jane's more interested in knowing the same of Thor. He explains that he kind of had to save the Nine Realms from Marauders after the destruction of the Bifrost.

Jane: "As excuses go, it's not terrible."

Jane brings up the fact that he was apparently able to go fight aliens with his buddies in New York, but couldn't see her. Imagine how mad she’d be if she found out he stopped for shawarma, too. Thor wisely dodges the question and weaves some words about fate bringing them together. And then, they share what I'll think we can all agree is one of the most romantic exchanges in all of fiction. Even moreso than when Anakin talked about sand in Attack of the Clones.

Thor: "Jane, I don't know where you were or what happened, but I do know this."
Jane: "What?"
Thor: "I know..."
Jane: "You do?"
Thor: "Do what?"
Jane: "What?"

Like Shakespeare.

Darcy interrupts their amazing little talk to ask Thor if he's responsible for the sudden downpour. After Thor gets the hint and stops is, Jane would like to get back to her aborted make out session. Unfortunately, Darcy seems convinced that the cops would like to arrest them. So Jane goes off to take care of this while Darcy and Thor manage to have a slightly more eloquent conversation.

Darcy: "Look at you, still all muscly and everything. How's space?"
Thor: "Space is fine."

“The Nine Realms even whisper of peace talks between the eternally-warring Kree and Nova Corps.”
"Hey, sweet."
Jane tries to negotiate with the cops, but they're a little hung up on the whole trespassing deal and would like Jane to come with them downtown, please. One of them grabs her arm, but gets an energy shockwave to the face for his troubles. The outburst knocks Jane to the ground and weakens her. Thor comes to help, but the cops are pretty adamant about arresting her. As the rozzers request some armed backup, Thor has no choice but to have Heimdall transport them both to Asgard.

Over in Svartalfheim, Malekith and his black best friend, Algrim, take a look at what their last battle has wrought.

Malekith: "The Asgardians will suffer as we have suffered."

After that short scene where he reiterates things the audience already knows, we cut to Asgard, where a healer named Eir, played by Alice Krige, is scanning Jane's body with a "soul forge." She tells Jane to lie back and let her run the scans. One thing is clear: Jane can't survive this much energy inside her, no matter what they do.

“Resistance is futile."
Jane: "That's a quantum field generator, isn't it?"
Eir: "It is a Soul Forge."
Jane: "Does a soul forge transfer molecular energy from one place to another?"
Eir: "...Yes."
Jane: "Quantum field generator."

Jane figured that out by seeing a hologram of herself… somehow.

Odin comes in to generally be a grumpy old man and tell Thor not to worry about dying mortals because dying is pretty much their whole thing.

Odin: "She does not belong here in Asgard any more than a goat belongs at a banquet table."

So… she’s food then?

Jane: "Did he just... Who do you think you are?"
Odin: "I am Odin. King of Asgard. Protector of the Nine Realms."

So, what, Thor does all the dirty work of cleaning the realms up while you just sit on your throne with your fancy title of "Protector"? When was the last time you protected anything, old man?

Odin says that Earth has healers that they call "doctors."

...And here I am trying my best to not make anymore Doctor Who jokes.

Whatever is making her sick, Odin says that Earth can deal with it. The guards grab her arm to take her back to Earth, but another energy shockwave knocks them down. But after that outburst, Odin has figured out what's going on and reluctantly agrees to help as he takes them to Yggdrasil, portrayed as a gigantic tree with galaxies on the branches.

Wasn’t Thor’s explanation of Yggdrasil supposed to be a metaphor? Is this a sculpture, or the actual World Tree?
Odin: "There are relics that predate the universe itself. What lies within her appears to be one of them."

He grabs a book with moving pictures… which you’d think would be less useful and convenient than whipping up some kind of computer database. Why is Asgard's technology simultaneously millennia ahead and centuries behind Earth?

It's as good an explanation as any.
With this book, Odin gives a quick history lesson.  Before the universe, there were Dark Elves who reigned supreme over the inky blackness. Malekith used one of these often stone-like relics (SUBTLE FORESHADOWING), the Aether, to try and change all matter into dark matter. Odin explains that the Aether is using Jane as a host and is growing more powerful within her. He also explains that the Dark Elves were supposedly wiped out long ago by his own dad, Bor. But since the Aether was also said to be destroyed long ago, Thor takes the idea that the Dark Elves are extinct with a grain of salt. And to make matters worse, Odin's book isn't offering up any information on how to get the Aether out of Jane.

Over with the Dark Elves, Algrim is reading the holographic display showing that the realms are nearly aligned.

A holographic display which, by definition, uses that much-hated light to display its information.
You know, for people that hate light in all its forms, the Dark Elves sure are dependent on it. I know it seems like I keep harping on this point, but the Dark Elves keep doing things like this. I mean, strictly speaking, if their race predates light itself, why do they even have eyes? Why is Algrim black? Did some of the Dark Elves evolve darker skin pigmentation to better withstand the unholy glow of light?

Anyway, Algrim and Malekith ready the next phase of the plan by preparing Algrim to become the last of the Kursed. It's really not explained why, so let's just assume that they only had one of those rock things left. Malekith jams it into an open wound in Algrim's chest, and Algrim vows to use its power to help the Dark Elf cause.

Can't be any worse than Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn.
Sometime later, the Warriors Three (minus Hogun) return to Asgard with some Marauders in tow. One of which is wearing the helmet presented to Algrim in the last scene. They get taken down into the dungeons, where Loki waits and snarks. And unfortunately for me, Loki’s cell does not seem to be outfitted with a toilet, so I’m still left wondering about Asgard’s bathrooms. Maybe Asgardians don’t poop.

Anyway, his mother, Frigga, is in his cell for a visit, but he's acting more aloof than usual. He claims that he shouldn't even be down there; all he was doing was trying to live up to what he had been told his entire life.

Loki: "That I was born to be a king."

He wanted to be the mane event, like no king was before. Brushing up on looking down, working on his roar. So... no mention of allying himself with a genocidal galactic warlord? 'Kay.

Frigga: "A true king admits his faults. What of the lives you took on Earth?"
Loki: "A mere handful compared to the number that Odin has taken himself."

You realize that Odin isn't really the best role model, right?

When Frigga refers to him as Loki's father, the inner teenager comes out again.

Loki: "He's not my father!"
Frigga: "Then am I not your mother?"
Loki: "You're not."

She chuckles, and with good reason; Loki's obviously a mama's boy, through and through. Thor definitely takes after Odin, as a hot-headed warrior, but Loki definitely has a connection to his mother. In the first Thor film, even when he discovers that he’s a Frost Giant, he never treats Frigga any differently. Heck, even now, apparently regretting his words, he reaches towards her and his hands pass right through her.

Looks like we've found out where his talent at illusion comes from.
Anyway, after she disappears, we cut to Thor and Jane walking through a beautiful garden.

Jane: "When you came for me, you knew I was in trouble."
Thor: "Heimdall had lost sight of you; you were no longer on Earth."

Thor then begins to explain how exactly the Nine Realms are supposed to work. He says that through Yggdrasil, the other realms orbit Midgard, like planets going around the sun. Makes sense; “Midgard” translates to “Middle Earth.” And that doesn’t count as my second-to-last Lord of the Rings reference, before you ask.

So every 5000 years, the Realms align. This is called the "Convergence."

Thor: "During this time, the borders between worlds become blurred."

In no way does this make sense. What is a "world"? A planet? When they align, why do the borders between them start blurring? What "borders" around them? You mean outer space? Space is not a border.

Anyway, Thor guesses that she had a little adventure in one of these areas. And after he's done talking, their lips have an adventure on each other's face.

Jane: "I like the way you explain things."

She’s waiting for him to go over the Big Bang theory next.
Thor vows to figure out a way to save her as Frigga comes along to say hi. The real one, not the illusion that was talking to Loki. Speaking of Loki, he's still in his cell, passing the time by tossing a cup into the air. In one of the other cells, Algrim reaches into his chest wound, pulls out the stone, and crushes it, consuming his body with energy.

Maybe this is just the Dark Elf version of Extremis?
As Loki watches, Algrim transforms and escapes from the energy field around the cell before killing the prison guards. As the alarm sounds, Algrim frees the other prisoners... except for Loki.  But even so, Loki advises Algrim to take the stairs to the left shortly before Thor flies into action. As he heads to the prison break, the Warriors Two are on the scene, attempting to regain order.

Fandral: "It's as if they resent being imprisoned!"
Volstagg: "There's no pleasing some creatures!"

Thor arrives and tries to give the prisoners a fair warning, but ends up joining the free-for-all.

Elsewhere, Odin, having learned from last time, tells a group of warriors to secure the weapons vault. He tells Frigga to take Jane to her chambers as he and the warriors go fight some prisoners. As Frigga and Jane walk away, Frigga steals a warrior's sword (because it's not like he'll need that when he fights the Marauders) and tells Jane that she'll have to do everything she says. No questions asked.

Over with Heimdall, an invisible Dark Elf ship flies right by his outpost. Luckily, his hearing still works. He runs out and jumps onto it from the top of the Bifrost, striking it down with a couple of slashes. But the other ships, though uncloaked, manage to get by him.

The Asgardian defense lasers...

Just roll with it.
...start defending Asgard as the Dark Elf ships make their way towards the Great Hall. So Heimdall uses his sword to activate a forcefield around it. Shortly before Algrim destroys the forcefield generator. With the forcefield down, a Dark Elf ship manages to crash inside the Hall and deploy Dark Elf troopers, who attack with lasers and small devices that fans have named "Black Hole Grenades."

They do exactly what you'd expect.
Geez, the Dark Elves are kicking butt with technology from when Odin's dad was king a few thousand years prior. Why haven’t the Asgardians come up with better weaponry in the meantime?

Yeah, that's what I thought.
As the battle rages on, Malekith emerges to enact the next phase of his plan. But not before destroying Odin's throne in a fit of pettiness. Odin arrives with Sif too late to do anything but kill a single Dark Elf. As he worries about his wife, we cut to her and Jane shortly before Malekith enters the room to take back the Aether. Jane runs off while Frigga whips out her sword and starts fighting Malekith. She holds her own until Algrim arrives to put her in a chokehold while Malekith confronts Jane. But when he reaches out for her, the illusion of Jane disappears.

Malekith: "Where is the Aether?"
Frigga: "I'll never tell you."
Malekith: "I believe you."

And with nothing more to gain from her, Algrim pushes his sword through her. Thor, who has just arrived, doesn't take too kindly to this and zaps the Malekith right in the face with a bolt of lightning. With the son of Odin about to put the hammer down, the Dark Elves all retreat inside their invisible spaceship.

Frigga is mourned over and a Viking funeral is held, with her body cast out in a boat before being set alight by an archer.

And if this movie knew what was good for it, it would not be reminding me of Revenge of the Sith.
The boat floats off a waterfall into space as Frigga's ashes fly into the cosmos. The people of Asgard hold up... floaty... ball... things.

I'm not sure what they are, but I suspect that Jane knows.
She's seen one before.
In prison, a messenger tells Loki the bad news. Loki dismisses him shortly before breaking down in silent rage and telekinetically tossing his furniture into the walls. I guess he has telekinesis now. Unless he's just casting an illusion of himself breaking his furniture telekinetically. Which... is iffy, since there's no one there for him to create the illusion for but the prisoners in the cell across from him.

Or maybe the furniture is attempting to flee his rage.
Back in London, Dr. Selvig is attempting to explain exactly how this "Convergence" works, yet again. You know, they try to explain this idea a whole bunch of times during this movie, and it never really makes sense.  Dr. Selvig explains, with the help of some charts, that the universe works on a 5000 year cycle.

Dr. Selvig: "And once a cycle, all the worlds align."

This is the biggest problem with the Thor films when viewed as a larger part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe: What is a Realm? Is a “Realm” a planet? Planet Jotunheim, Planet Asgard, Planet Earth? No, obviously. There are more than nine planets in the universe. (Unfortunately, Pluto is not one of them anymore.)

How big is a realm? Can you divide the entire infinity of space into nine parts? Probably not, since that would probably make “Midgard” alone much larger than the entire Milky Way. What about places from upcoming movies that don’t quite fit within this “Nine Realms” model? Like Xandar and Knowhere?

Not even any of the Marvel Movies wikis can answer this question; I’ve seen a lot of debate. As such, I have to conclude that each Realm is a single planet, but there’s more to the universe than simply Nine Realms. The Nine Realms are simply the important parts that line up during the Convergence.

Because if the Nine Realms encompassed the whole universe, than Thor was apparently out saving the entire universe planet by planet between The Avengers and now.

Anyway, Selvig goes on to explain that when the Nine Realms converge, they basically become one. Light, matter, energy, it all passes through from realm to realm without much difficulty. He attempts to explain this using shoes as a visual aid. He also claims that his gravimetric spikes can save Earth from the worst of it. Not that the other patients in the mental hospital really care about what Dr. Selvig has to say.

Stan Lee: "Can I have my shoe back?"

Wait, Stan! Can I get a concrete answer how the Nine Realms are supposed to work?

"Beats me. The worldbuilding in Thor was always Jack Kirby's thing."
"Now, if you want answers about alliteration, I can add all my amazing abilities and...."
Nope, good, thanks.

Back in Asgard, the Dark Elf ship is still cloaked and hovering over the city. Algrim has Malekith hooked up to life support, healing him in preparation for the final battle. And after that... um, "scene," we cut to the next day, where Jane is having visions of the Aether destroying Asgard. But enough of her portents of doom, the guards have come to take her away.

Over in the throne room, Fandral is talking to Odin about how massively screwed they all are with the forcefields down. But Thor would rather ask why Jane has been taken prisoner, since he has a plan that involves her: Take Jane to the titular Dark World of Svartalfheim and draw out Malekith for a final battle. Thor plans on waiting until Malekith draws the Aether out of Jane, then he'll kill Malekith. Which he also assumes will destroy the Aether.

Odin points out that this might result in Malekith gaining the Aether, but Thor rebuts that if they do nothing, then the ball is still in Malekith's court.

Thor: "His ship could be over our heads right now; we would never even know it."

A good point, considering that Thor just described exactly where Malekith's ship is.  But Odin is perfectly content to throw wave after wave of warriors at the problem until the rest of the elves are dead.  Back on Earth, Darcy is at the hotel, wondering where Erik and Jane are. They haven't returned her calls. Heck, not even S.H.I.E.L.D. is returning her calls.

"Once she got the number, she bombarded us with requests for Captain America's address. We block her calls."
As Darcy tries calling Erik again, Ian points out the news story on the TV regarding the whole naked-at-Stonehenge thing.

Back in Asgard, Thor is having a drink alone. But he's soon joined by Heimdall, who finally gets to leave his post since Odin demanded the closing of the Bifrost. Thor asks for help in carrying out a little plan of his.

Heimdall: "I cannot overrule my king's wishes. Not even for you."
Thor: "I'm not asking you to."

Thor recognizes that Odin isn't thinking straight after the death of Frigga, and so, is going to go against his orders. As Heimdall offers to help, we cut to Thor's plan in action, interspersed with clips of him, Heimdall, and the Warriors Two while Thor explains the plan like this was a heist movie.

Thor: "What I'm about to ask of you is treason of the highest order. Success will bring us exile and failure shall mean our death."

Is cake a choice?
The plan: Move Jane away from Asgard, preventing the city from being the target of another invasion.  The means: Secret passages between worlds, known only to some.

Thor: "One, actually."

The plan is quickly put into action as Thor visits his brother in prison. Loki's looking good, but Thor knows that Loki shouldn't be doing this well after the death of Frigga. And when the illusion disappears, it turns out he really isn't. His furniture's all smashed and he clearly hasn't showered in a while.

"Algrim betray me, everybody betray me! I'm fed up with this realm!"
Thor offers Loki revenge against their mother's murderer, as long as he can get them out of Asgard undetected.

Thor: "Vengeance. And afterward, this cell."

Loki and Thor are both understandably wary of each other's intentions, and Thor makes his lack of naivety clear.

Thor: "You betray me, and I will kill you."
Loki: "Hmm. When do we start?"

As Thor and Loki leave the prison, Loki's spirits lift as he sees his brother breaking the rules and being sneaky. Like Loki, Thor's being less overt and more... well, low-key.

Loki: "Are you sure you wouldn't rather just punch your way out?"

Loki casts an illusion to make himself look like a soldier, but decides that he'd rather make Thor look like Sif.

Loki: "Mmm, brother, you look ravishing."

This is getting into weird, incesty fanfic territory.

Thor doesn't take a liking to his new look, so Loki tries to put Thor at ease by turning into one of his new friends.

"Captain America": "The costume is a bit much. So tight. But the confidence... I can feel the righteousness surging. Hey, do you want to have a rousing discussion about truth? Honor? Patriotism?"

Okay, that was the best thing ever.
Before Loki can yell out a "God bless America," Thor muffles his face and hides from the nearby guards. When Loki asks for a weapon, Thor slaps some cuffs on him as the next part of the plan gets underway, as explained by a flashback to the planning process.

Fandral: "Well, what then? Your lovely mortal is being guarded by a legion of Einherjar who will see you coming from miles away."
Thor: "I won't be the one who comes for her."

We then cut to Lady Sif, beating up the guard offering food and telling Jane to come with her. They reconvene with Thor and Loki as Jane meets the latter for the first time. She greets him with a slap.

Jane: "That was for New York."
Loki: "I like her."

A flashback to the planning process has Heimdall note that he must report this treason to Odin. And in the present, he does. But he called Odin to the Bifrost to tell him, keeping him away from the action.

Heimdall: "Treason, my lord."
Odin: "Whose?"
Heimdall: "Mine."

Tyr (Clive Russell) then finally shows up to tell Odin about Jane's rescue. And he will do basically nothing else. Yeah, Tyr kind of got the shaft in this movie. They reshot a few of his scenes without him after Clive Russell started giving away spoilers in interviews.

Odin gives the order to stop Thor as Sif stays behind to take care of some Einherjar, but not before giving Loki a warning.

Sif: "Betray him, and I'll kill you."

The others head off while we flashback to Volstagg asking about the next part of the plan. Stepping one foot out of the palace after springing Loki would be suicide. In the present, Thor and the others head toward the crashed Dark Elf ship as an alternative to leaving by foot. Volstagg offers to buy them time, but also has some words for Loki.

Volstagg: "If you even think about betraying him...."
Loki: "You'll kill me? Evidently, there will be a line."

Once inside the ship, Thor presses random buttons in an attempt to figure out how to fly it. One he succeeds in turning it on, he flies it through the city, avoids the lasers, and dodges Asgard's equivalent of an Air Force while Loki criticizes pretty much everything about the plan.

Loki: "Let's steal the biggest, most obvious ship in the universe and escape in that!"

"Hey, it worked for me."
Their aerial antics end up demolishing a waterfront statue of Asgard’s former king, Bor.

Obvious joke, and all that.
Loki: “Well done, you just decapitated your grandfather.”

Fun fact: Loki tricked Thor into killing Bor in the comics.

Loki: "Flying around the city, smashing into everything in sight so everyone can see us. It's brilliant, Thor! It's truly brilliant!"

So Thor pushes him out the hatch. Then he grabs Jane and leaps out himself onto the Asgardian equivalent of a speedboat, piloted by Fandral. As the Asgard Air Force chases after the Dark Elf ship, Loki realizes something.

Loki: "You lied to me. ...I'm impressed."

Loki fulfills his end of the bargain and pilots towards his secret pathway while Fandral goes to fight the Asgardian Coast Guard. He does this by aiming the craft straight into a rather dangerous-looking mountain.

Loki: "If it were easy, everyone would do it."
Thor: "Are you mad?"
Loki: "Possibly."

But the narrow crack in the mountain somehow teleports them Bifrost-style straight to the Dark World. Because Yggdrasil?

Above Asgard, Algrim tells Malekith that it's time to strike. But Malekith senses that the Aether is where it belongs: Svartalfheim.

Coming up in Part 3! Either Thor’s plan hits a major snag, or the next Recap will be surprisingly short.


  1. I feel like the MST3K Mantra is deeply needed at this point.

    Also, on an unrelated note, I love Kurse's design in this movie. Just sayin'.

    - That One Anon

    1. Agreed on both points.

      The MST3K mantra helps with the things like creatures predating light having eyes. And Kurse looks amazing, probably thanks to him being a mostly practical effect.