The shadowy, evil scientist finishes his latest creation: a lump of semi-sentient mud called Terra. At his instructions, José encodes his own essence into Terra, but when the boy is unimpressed at it being an innocent child, he uploads a few Fixed Ideas into it as well. After everyone falls asleep, Terra bursts out of its casing and is drawn to the curiosities of the city.
At the school, Lucas asks Adrian out to a movie that night, but Adrian bows out when he learns it's a romance. Later in their apartment, Cybersix looks out into the night and wonders what it would actually be like to go out with Lucas. She and Data-7 follow Lucas to the movie theater, watching from the rooftops as she gets distracted by a dress in a shop and imagines herself with Lucas.
She's snapped out of it when Terra appears at the theater, taking bipedal form as a 3-story monster with a childlike grin on its face. It scoops up a mother and her child. Lucas distracts Terra enough for them to get free, but now he's the one snatched up as Cybersix and Data-7 dive in. Both are unable to capture or defeat the constantly shifting blob, and José showing up to cheer it on isn't helping. Terra starts draining away Cybersix's energy (I think?), but emerging from her is also glowing, pink sphere. When this sphere enters Terra, it starts writing in pain, clutching its head and asking "What is love?" It runs off into the night where José and the Fixed Ideas chase it down. On the rooftop, Cybersix tells Lucas to stop being reckless, but he says he's there whenever she needs help.
José berates Terra, who wants to return to Cybersix, but is locked in an electrified cage. José decides to boost the programming, dropping Terra into a pool fused with the essences of ferocious beasts of prey.
Cybersix leaves Data-7 to watch over Lucas, keeping the man from interfering, then tracks a bunch of Fixed Ideas to an old tower on the edge of town. It's a trap, with José sealing her in and the newer, more bestial Terra roiling after her as Cybersix is forced to the top of the tower. Outside, José and the Fixed Ideas set the tower on fire, and the flames rise as Cybersix tries breaking through to the creature. It again tries to drain her energy, but love again emerges. The good side of Terra begins to fight the bestial side, and ultimately wins with the help of Cybersix's compassionate tears.
Cybersix begins succumbing to the heat. Terra realizes his body can smother flames, but doing so also burns the life out of those parts, leaving nothing but gray ash. Despite Cybersix's protests, Terra starts smothering more and more of the flame, ultimately spreading out and enveloping the entire tower.
Data-7 and Lucas arrive, chasing away José as the last of the fire goes out. Cybersix desperately wants Terra to be alive, but all she finds is the gray ash as she says goodbye. As she walks away into the sunrise, Lucas wants to know if he'll ever understand what's going on. "Maybe some day, but not today."
You can definitely tell the people working on this show came out of the animation department of Batman: The Animated Series, because here they've built an entire episode around how much fun they had animating Clayface. As with so many things on this show, Terra is gorgeous to behold as its mud body flows in and out of various shapes and tendrils, using the ability to splat and pour as a part of its basic walking. Adding the face, the basic clown mask with either a smile or a frown, just kind of lumped onto the clay, is a really nice touch and really boosts Terra up as an interesting character to watch.
That said, I'm still mixed on the episode. With Terra, its a very basic character study we've seen before of a monster who isn't really evil learning what love means. That's fine, but in the second half of the episode, where Terra is suddenly pumped full of animal rage, it becomes much less captivating, focusing more on straight action, and Terra's revised design is busied up with details in a way which make it more cluttered than scary. Just having that clown face form spiky teeth would have been enough, you don't need the roiling tentacles and giant snail eyes. It does picked up in the end when Terra sacrifices itself to put out the fire and save Cyber, but there is a good 8-minute stretch where the character's resonance fell completely by the wayside.
And while I am fine with the love aspect, having love literally emerge from Cyber as a glowing ball of pink with an 80s action toon shimmer sound effect - and they do this not once, but TWICE - that just comes off cheesy and ridiculous. In an admittedly ridiculous series, but in a way that didn't sell. I do like it as an extension of Cyber's developing feelings for Lucas, and that she's finding herself distracted from her mission by Lucas, but having an actual, physical manifestation of "Twu Wuv", no, that is too much, especially this early in the series run.
I like how the relationship is being played, with Adrian growing nervous when Lucas invites him to a romance film, then Cyber staring in the mirror or getting lost in daydreams over those feelings. I also like how Lucas is being played, not just as a love interest, but as someone who is very much a hero in his own right as he'll dive into danger without hesitation. I'll be curious to see how these two do as a team as this continues to build. And I like that Data totally ignores Cyber's orders and runs after Lucas instead of keeping him away. Him and the panther are going to be buds. You just know it.
I'm not sure why they're still playing so cryptically with Von Reichter. We've seen him, his castle, portraits of him are everywhere, we've already got a good sense of what he's up to, but they still haven't named him and continue to put all the focus on José and the Fixed Ideas. I like José and the Fixed Ideas, but after three straight episodes of them stomping about, I would very much welcome another villain showing up. Not someone else serving under José, just another villain entirely so we can have a little break from our main baddies. Just a quick one. Please. Pretty pretty please. That said, the sequence of them uploading their minds into Terra is very amusing. That said, very little of how Terra actually turns out seems to have anything to do with what they loaded in, so I don't get the point.
Overall, it's a perfectly okay episode. It's clunky, doesn't always deliver on the point it's making, and the dialogue and music continue to be on the weak side. That said, it does have a nice story at its core, the Cyber/Lucas relationship continues to build well, and it's still well worth a watch for the stunning animation alone. Seriously, Terra's face. Such a wonderful face. Poor buddy.
Somewhere in the back of my mind, there's a voice murmuring a warning about the "monster of the week" formula Cybersix has quickly fallen into, but for now, I shall pay it no heed. Yes, it's a routine that could get old real fast, but much of that could be blunted if they continue to find ways to make the confrontations personal and meaningful, as they do again this week.
I definitely saw the misunderstood monster angle coming from a mile away, but I wasn't prepared for the unique way that they approached it. I like a good monster throw down as much as the next guy, and we get some of that here, but it's a nice twist to see our heroine ultimately defeat the bad guys through acts of compassion and self sacrifice instead of a punch, rocket, or blazing sword. Yeah, it's all a tad corny and a whole bunch of simplistic, but it's also sincere and optimistic. The latter two being traits that are in short supply these days. Look, I would never want to see the Ghostbusters defeat Gozer and the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man any other way then frying them, and I certainly wouldn't want to watch a Friday the 13th where the final girl hugs it out with Jason, but it just feels right for this particular character to defeat her enemies with less conventional methods. The irony here is the aspect that I most enjoy about this episode - and this series thus far - is likely the very thing which helped land it on a blog about short-lived shows. In the eyes of most kids, compassionate tears are going to lose out to blazing swords every time.
I do, however, have a few minor gripes - and I do mean minor. This Von Reichter - whose name we may not have even heard yet, I can't recall - is still just a shadowy figure with a Conair do-it-yourself hair cut dispensing evil from the shadows. It's high past time we learned more about this guy and his organization. I realize it's only the third episode, but come on, throw us a Triscuit here. I'm okay with keeping the background/origin details of Cyber 6 a mystery at this point, but I do think everything would benefit from us having some more info on the baddies. That said, I don't want Von Reichter up front. I'm perfectly happy to see José - who steals every scene he's in - continue to be the Vader to his Emperor. And while I appreciate that Lucas is no mere dude in distress, I don't know that we really need to see a teacher, buff though he may be, fighting all manor of creature beside his would be love interest. Moxie's fine, but when there's butt to be kicked, leave it to the one with the secret identity.
But really, this is a fantastic episode. It doesn't quite reach the same heights as "Data 7 & Julian", but I would argue that Terra's struggles and ultimate sacrifice here carry a stronger emotional punch. This is a very unconventional series, and not something I thought I would enjoy as much as I have thus far. Bring on the next episode.
If you'd like to watch along with us, the entirety of Cybersix is available on DVD, thanks to Discotek Media.