April 7, 2012

Inhumanoids, episode 3: "The Evil That Lies Within, Part 3"

We last saw our heroes deep in the bowels of the Earth, outside a Granite fortress where the evil Metlar had just been set free by Tendril and D'Compose. Lasers fly and debris is tossed, and Metlar hypnotizes Dr. Bright, Herc, and Sandra Shore, freezing them until he can pick them up and toss them into his magma-boiling gullet. Just before they go down, Liquidator swoops by, macing Metlar with a chemical blast to the face, then Auger tosses a bomb beneath Metlar's foot, knocking the beast to the ground.

Earth Corps regroups and pins down the Inhumanoids while retreating into the Granite fortress. The Granites are missing, but Sandra's sensors reveal they're sheltered in a secret chamber. The Inhumanoids stop to banter about how big of an idiot Tendril is, and then they're attacked by the mysterious figure in the black environmental suit: Blackthorne Shore. He assaults Metlar with magnetic bolts, telling the thrashing and roaring Inhumanoid to bow to his will and help him rule the surface. Earth Corps doubles back and Sandra confronts her brother, but she's attacked by D'Compose while Tendril knocks Blackthorne aside. D'Compose uses his powers to infect Sandra, causing her to twist and grow and take on a monstrous, zombie-like form as she wails "I am one with D'Compose!"

Blackthorne is stunned by his sister's fate and runs for his life from the smashing tendrils of Tendril. He begs Earth Corps for help, promising them vital information about the Inhumanoids in return. They drop an avalanche on Tendril and Blackthorne runs away with a "So long, suckers!" (actual line).

Earth Corps hooks up with the Granites, who are divided between those wanting to fight Metlar and those who want to save their own skins by aligning with the Inhumanoids. Metlar can't be destroyed, only neutralized by magnetic fields, and since Magnokor has been captured, their options are limited. But Herc has a plan!

And they also learn that Sandra can be cured, but only by exposing her to White Burn. Aka sunlight.

Oh, and then there's a scene of Tendril randomly destroying a Confederate Civil War memorial.

Liquidator and Augur drive the Terrascout deep down to Metlar's lair, a cavern filled with flaming geysers and boiling pits of magma. He roars at them, swiping a wall and spilling a wave of magma their way. Liquidator barely has time to surround the Terrascout with a coolant foam, causing the first layers of magma to harden into a protective shell. Unfortunately, they're now stuck inside of a rock and sailing down magma rapids.

Metlar needs to return to the surface for energy, so Dr. Bright heads back to the Big Sur woods to meet with the Redwoods. They ignore him at first, but when he starts cutting down trees to get their attention, they quickly respond. They take up root outside of a factory and, when Tendril emerges, beat him off.

Herc and the Granites take the Trapeur into D'Compse's lair to try and rescue Sandra. They find an ancient city that's been pulled beneath the earth and are quickly overwhelmed by wave after wave of shrieking, zombified remains of primitive warriors.


Inhumanoids is starting to remind me of my Uncle Danny at the family Christmas party. He comes through the door a bit unsteady on his feet. He’s loud, his jokes aren’t funny, and he makes everyone feel really uncomfortable. But after a dozen or so beers, his shaking hands begin to find some purchase. His jokes get funnier, his game more solid. By the end of the night, he’s convinced my old man to loan him a hundred bucks, banged Mrs. Johnson from next door, and made off with all the leftovers. It’s too soon to know if Inhumanoids is going to get lucky with Mrs. Johnson, but its jokes are sure getting funnier and its game more solid. That reminds me, I need to call Uncle Danny and see how he and my ex-girlfriend are getting along.

This episode ups the gruesome, which is saying something for this series, but it simultaneously increases the humor, which is actually starting to become humorous. The group dynamic is also starting to fall into place (albeit like a chaotic game of Tetris), but our core heroes still aren’t strong enough to carry a series on their own mechanically enhanced shoulders. That’s why the introduction of the Granites and the increased role of the Redwoods is so critical to the success of this episode. They not only lighten the dramatic load on our heroes, they actually prove to be far more interesting. I absolutely love the Granites. It would’ve been easy to simply make them all stoic warriors, but Dille gives them unique personalities and creates a cultural dynamic that we can relate to. In short, the Granites are like ancient Rome, with scheming politicians and brave warriors working at cross purposes. Screw the Earth Corps, I want to see a Granites series. And the heretofore stoic Redwoods also prove to be far more interesting than at first blush, showcasing a bit more personality as they finally drop the neutrality thing and cast their lot with our heroes. Hopefully these two groups aren’t shoved aside once their roles in this opening arc are through.

And what of our titular Inhumanoids? Still annoying and gruesome, but the introduction of Blackthorne does begin to make them more interesting. I like that Blackthorne is in a bit over his head with them. You get the feeling they’ll eventually form an uneasy alliance for mutual advantage, which opens up all kinds of fun possibilities. I just wish there were more to the Inhumanoids than their endless screeching. I get that D’Compose and Tendril are mindless henchman, but Metlar has thus far proven to be about as interesting as a bowl of cold oatmeal.

Randomoid observasionoids:
  • Is it just me or does Tendril run exactly like Steven Seagal?
  • This series has fewer females than Augusta National.
  • While I still maintain the opening theme is amongst the worst I’ve ever heard, the generically heroic closing credits theme is growing on me.
  • "Uncle Danny" isn't real a person, but an amalgam of various unsavory relatives and acquaintances. He is, however, still somehow shacking up with my ex.
Momentum. That’s what this series has. It’s slow and it’s deliberate, but each new episode has been better than the one before and, for the first time since we began, I’m looking forward to the next week’s episode.


The first of the three segments that make up this episode is a blunt reminder of the worst this show has to offer. It's ugly, sloppily constructed action as shit blows up left and right, there's a light show of lasers that do absolutely nothing, and the Inhumanoids continue to shriek and shriek and shriek. Seriously, remember those awful 70s installments of Godzilla that nobody can talk about without laughing? That's where the Inhumanoids come from! Tendril and D'Compose have the ability to make minions, but are otherwise devoid of personality, and Metlar joins them in doing nothing but being a raging asshole of a monster with no motive or goal beyond simply being a raging asshole of a monster. And the worst bit? When Metlar steps on the bomb and goes down, he gets stuck on his back and can't get up. Let me repeat... the most powerful and feared menace of this series, the obese troll who flings his own magma vomit and wears a metal maillot (look it up), falls on his back and then proceeds to flail about and yell for help like a senior who forgot where they put their Life Alert pendant. Are you flippin' kidding me!!!

But then the miraculous happens. Then there's a change. In the midst of this action, shit gets real.

Sandra Shore, instead of being captured and dangled as a damsel in distress, is instead infected by D'Compose and we witness this horrifying sequence of her armor rusting away as her body stretches and twists and splits, her face sinking into a skullish monstrosity as gnarled horns rip through her brow. It's a bold, marvelously executed moment, and even the wicked Blackthorne is gaping in horror.

From that point on, the series finally finds its footing. Blackthorne runs from the titanic forces he foolishly thought he could control, the Inhumanoids spread out to keep their screaming roars from deafeningly overlapping on the soundtrack, the Mutors are explored, and things get funny.

Tony is right on the money that some life has finally been breathed into this show in the form of some laughs. There's one bad one, where the great moment of Sandra being mutated butts up against Auger joking that she won't be able to pick guys up as easily with her new looks, but after that it's a free for all of zingers and gags, the best of which are the Granites - stuck between the bloated general who wants to fight and the hippies who want to build, not make war - and the Redwoods failing to respond to Dr. Bright.... until he starts cutting down their forest. As Tony said, the Mutors are suddenly stealing the show with their kooky personalities (they call all humans "flesh-slugs") and unique designs that even put the titular Inhumanoids to shame.

And the action picks up, too. The Redwoods kick Tendril's ass outside the factory, finishing and disappearing before a bewildered guard can figure out what the hell he just saw. Auger and Liquidator plunge into Metlar's underworld, witnessing the sights that inspired hellish legends and lore, and are essentially bitch slapped by magma before being trapped by their own shield. And Herc and the Granites are swarmed by zombies. Not shambling zombies, but fast, fully armed zombies that start cutting the heroic rock people down.

I agree with Tony. Things are getting good and this is the first cliffhanger that's left me eager to see what the next chapter will bring. If they can keep up this momentum, maybe this series won't be a total wash.

Some thoughts:
  • Seriously, what was up with the scene of Tendril attacking the Confederate monument? I mean, sure, Dille got to slip in a little ribbing at Southerners still burned by which side lost, but what did it have to do with anything?
  • Why does Metlar need to return to the surface for energy? Has he never heard of geothermal power, which appears to be in abundant supply where he lives?
  • When Sandra was D'Compose'D and Blackthorne started pleading with Earth Corps for help, am I the only one who wondered if he'd end up joining the team? Because that would make for a good dynamic of a man suddenly realizing the full horror he's unleashed, a horror that's now cost him a sister in a way that will still have her linger to haunt him for his decisions, and now he has to band up with men whose trust he has to gradually earn after the ways in which he's screwed them over. Seriously, wouldn't that have been fun to explore?
  • Where exactly is Liquidator storing the huge amounts of fluid he gushes out with each release?
  • I want the name and number of everyone who signed off on the portrayal of Metlar so I can give them each a firm kick in the shin.
  • I want a loop of Tendril's flail armed skipping run set to happy Pony music. It's glorious.

Tune in next Saturday for the next Inhumanoids adventure in "The Evil That Lies Within, Part 4".

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