April 14, 2012

Inhumanoids, episode 4: "The Evil That Lies Within, Part 4"

Herc and the Granites continue their battle within the city full of skeletal warriors. Though severely outnumbered, the heroes steadily cut through the opposition through teamwork and brute force.

Metlar berates Tendril for being unable to capture any energy from the power plant on the surface, all the while using a magma concoction to give life to the bronze Civil War statues the tentacled beast retrieved. Metlar sends D'Compose to the power plant for another try. D'Compose rips out of the ground just before dawn and Dr. Bright is unable to help as D'Compose uses his poison to take out the Redwoods who stand guard. The Inhumanoid tears into the plant and makes off with its generator.

Auger and Liquidator continue rafting down the magma river in their stone-encased Terrascout. After they pass a dimwitted colossus who stands guard, they reach the Elemental Core at the heart of the Earth, a flaring sun-like object with magma tendrils reaching all around into the surrounding crust, and cut their vehicle free. Chained before the core is the captured Magnokor. Our heroes set out to free him, but Metlar appears and snatches them up.

Just before Metlar can crush them, Blackthorne arrives and uses his environmental suit's magnetic rays to paralyze Metlar. He has to keep a constant hold on the Inhumanoid, but starts experimenting with the rays, learning to operate Metlar like a puppet. Blackthorne threatens to squeeze Auger and Liquidator to death unless they pledge allegiance to him.

Unseen by Blackthorne, the two halves of Magnokor work out a way to alternate their polarities and free themselves from the chains. They do so and fly towards Blackthorne. He turns his magnets on them, but then Metlar is free. Blackthorne has to keep shifting his magnets from Metlar to Magnokor, losing more and more ground each time. Auger and Liquidator eventually get free, escaping up a magma tunnel with Magnokor, and Metlar gets his hands on Blackthorne, demanding the "flesh slug" reveal the whereabouts of the Primal Energy. Blackthorne tries to fight back, but his magnets short out, leaving him at the laughing Metlar's mercy. D'Compose arrives with the generator as Blackthorne pledges his allegiance.

Herc and the Granites work their way up a massive stone staircase when they're suddenly attacked by the D'Composed Sandra. During the battle, she cries out for help, appealing to Herc's humanity, but it's a trick, leaving him captured and trapped in her ribcage/prison. While she's distracted by the Granites, Herc uses his grappling hook to drag D'Sandra towards a pillar. She attacks the pillar, trying to free the hook, but instead triggers a cave in. Sunlight floods the chamber, curing Sandra, and she reverts back to her human form.

On the surface, Dr. Bright is investigating the Civil War memorial, where the statues are once again in place as if they'd never been taken. They suddenly come to life and attack. Bright and the Redwoods fight through them, and the Yanks and Confederates are eventually distracted as they start to fight one another.

Herc and Sandra supervise the rebuilding of the collapsed Earth Corps HQ, assisted by Redwoods and Granites. Auger and Liquidator arrive with Magnokor. The vibrations from their truck cause the building to collapse again.

At a military base in the northern wastes of Russia, words starts to spread about unusual tremors. Tendril suddenly arrives, smashing through subs, battleships, and planes. Metlar storms the base with an army of living stone statues. D'Compose tears into the barracks, turning soldier after soldier into a zombie legion.

Metlar: "Now you will tell me WHERE YOU KEEP YOUR PRIMAL ENERGY!!!"


Let me start with the climax of this episode. Despite some shoddy animation, the Inhumanoids banding together for the assault on the Russian base is the most spectacular sequence we've seen on the show thus far, as they prove themselves an overwhelming and surprisingly strategic force to be reckoned with. Tendril takes out the vehicles, cutting off aerial weapons and means of escape. Metlar closes the perimeter with his statue forces. D'Compose rises within and starts turning the opposition against itself. It's really quite brilliant, showing the horrors these creatures can unleash when they put some effort into it, and I can't wait to see how this thread is going to play out in the final chapter of the pilot mini.

The rest of the episode is this show's typical mixed bag. Metlar, while still nonsensical to look at, is starting to come to life a bit with his menacing personality. The scenes between he and Blackthorne - the human who tried to enslave him with force, who's now at the mercy of the Inhumanoid's clenched fist - are great and put an unexpected turn on their relationship. I - and I believe Tony, as well - had been under the impression that Blackthorne was going to be the mastermind who would find some form of control over the beasts, who are more forces of nature than actual characters, but no. He's a lackey. He's the Starscream, the Destro, the dude who pledges allegiance to someone he'd previously tried conquering simply because he's been outmatched for the moment, and it'll be interesting to see how this dynamic continues to be explored.

As for the other Inhumanoids, man, they've really written off Tendril as a buffoon, haven't they? Other than smashing things, he seems pretty worthless. They haven't even made much use of his one special ability: causing severed parts to grow into smaller copy Tendrils. I could totally see the other two prepping for an assault by turning towards Tendril with evil grins, then proceeding to shred him to create an attack force. "Stop snivelling, you sappy willow! It'll grow back! Har-har!" D'Compose, however, he just cuts right through any opposition, decaying anything that he can't chase away with hurled rubble. My one issue with this is I don't get why humans, when D'Composed, turn into giants. Turning them into zombies he can control, that I get, but how does their body mass alter to the point where they're suddenly 5 stories tall? And does Sandra no longer have organs in the ribcage with which she held Herc? Because how did she do that? And how the hell was her body able to repair itself, so fast and so thoroughly, just because she got to soak in some rays? Yeah, yeah, it's a silly kids' show, but it pushes things a little too far for me, and ties into a lot of the misguided design flaws the creators found themselves stuck with.

And the statues? What is up with the statues? 1) How does a magma concoction give them life instead of, oh, I don't know, melt them? 2) How do you feed a statue a magma concoction? There is no actual opening where their mouth is, no throat to carry it, no stomach to digest it, no circulatory system to spread it throughout the body. 3) Why does a statue of something have the personality of what its sculpted to portray? Why do the Yanks and the Confederates suddenly go after one another? 4) Good lord is that random Colossus an idiot.

I'm sorry, but this isn't silly or fun. It's just stupid. Stupid in the way a handful of skeletons can cut through beings made out of granite before the beings made out of granite can grind them to dust. Stupid in the way a unified being of magnetic polarities is portrayed by one half that's fire and one half that's ice. Fire and ice have nothing to do with magnetics! Stupid in the way that the Earth's Core is portrayed as an internalized Sun with magma tendrils reaching into the crust around it. Stupid in the way that people are standing on the ground looking up at the core when, it being the center of the Earth, it's supposed to be the ultimate down, no? Stupid in the way that Sandra and Herc are suddenly madly in love for no reason. Stupid in the way that Metlar thirsts for processed energy when he's surrounded on all sides by natural energy.

And don't you dare say "It's magic!", because this show presents itself as scifi and has never once made mention of the "m" word.

This show is so stupid! .... But at least it has gotten entertaining. There are some solid laughs in there, like the rebuilding and collapse of Earth Corps HQ, or Auger's random line of "Eh, once you've seen one Elemental Core, you've seen them all", or every time Granok, leader of the Granites, is on screen, struggling to remember to not call his new-found allies "flesh slugs". The action is getting somewhat better choreographed and easier to follow, with that great climax and the wonderful scene of Blackthorne having to shift his magnetics back and forth between two attacking threats, ultimately losing to both. I'm with Tony in starting to dig that generic yet peppy closing theme tune. And I love the kicker that Metlar demands to know where he can find the Primal Energy... so Blackthorne sends him to Russia.

This continues to not be a good show, but at least it's starting to become a fun one.


Someone call FEMA, because we may have a disaster on our hands.

I (favorably) compared last week’s episode of Inhumanoids to my lazy and lecherous “Uncle Danny”. This week, I go down one rung on the food chain as I compare it to prop comedian, steroid workout enthusiast, and Lion-O look-a-like Carrot Top. You see, the Carrot Top approach to comedy is quantity over quality. Only about one in ten of his jokes actually hits the mark, but he never stops pulling shit out of that damn trunk. He’s a comedic gatling gun, firing so many rounds that aim no longer matters. That’s Inhumanoids. It never takes a breath. Never lets up. It just keeps pulling shit out of its trunk. This episode in particular just beats you into submission with an endless stream of noise, bad jokes, and grim aesthetics. It’s exhausting! I feel like I just got done playing ping pong with an octopus. Is a cartoon supposed to test the limits of your endurance? It’s not the Tour de Frickin’ France for God’s sake. Sure, a couple of things worked but, in the end, I was too numb to care.

There’s not enough space on the entire internet to list what doesn’t work with this episode, so I’m going to highlight the key lowlights. First of all, I’m sick to death of the Earth’s core. Sick. To. Death. It feels like we’ve been down there a hundred years. “Look, kids! Another rock formation!” The claustrophobia and bleakness of it is suffocating. Next, I give up on the Earth Corps ever being interesting. They’ve started to gel... like cold oatmeal. This has to be the least remarkable collection of heroes ever assembled. By God, if the damn tree and rock creatures don’t have more charisma. Maybe their plan is to bore the Inhumanoids to death. And this plot has slowly degenerated into utter nonsense. I consulted my story GPS and it read “Hell if I know”. Noel used the word stupid to describe many of the plot elements, but I’m not sure that’s strong enough. Heck, I’m not sure if there’s a word in the English language strong enough. They’re ten feet away from the Earth’s frickin’ core and Metlar has a chub for man-made energy? What... What... WHAT. Gah!

But I suppose, in the interest of balance, I have to say a few nice things about this episode. *crickets chirp* Well, Noel’s right, Blackthorne’s battle with Metlar is well staged, and I liked the role reversal that sees him become a pawn of the Inhumanoids. The Starscream comparison is perfect, and I’m sure a similar sort of treachery will play out as the series proper begins to unfold. And the final assault on the Russian military base is well done, though I counted no fewer than thirty six uses of the word “comrade” in that two minutes.

Boris: Well, comrades, if you’ll excuse me, I need to use the little comrades room.

Ivan: Ahh, you never could hold your vodka, comrade.

Boris:Speaking of holding things, my one-eyed comrade is heavy. You comrades want to give me a hand?

All: Muw-ha-ha-ha-ha!
Just as it seemed like the sun was beginning to poke through the clouds, we get an eclipse. These were twenty two of the most joy leeching minutes of my life. But, at the same time, I can’t turn away. The more this thing careens off the tracks, the more fascinated I become. I’d rather have spectacularly bad than mediocre any day. Just how bad can this get? I can’t wait to find out.

Tune in next Saturday as we wrap up the opening Inhumanoids miniseries with "The Evil That Lies Within, Part 5".

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