Do you have a moment to talk about our lord and savior, Wraith?
Eleanor is now in the clutches of Wraith’s minions, but they let her wander the mansion, knowing full well she will eventually end up in their lord’s clutches. The remaining heroes arrive to her rescue but are held at bay. Vi, Michael, and Lisa fight with the Flaming Fury and Electric, while I-Guy fights Dead Wing. The bat-like crony reveals that he personally killed I-Guy’s friends, and gets an overcharged energy blast for his troubles. From how it appears, he gets cut in half! X-On spots Eleanor, and gives chase, but is slowed down by Steel Ruler. But what is Eleanor doing? That isn’t even Eleanor that he’s following in circles. No, that’s an illusion created by another of Wraith’s men. Eleanor fell into a trap long ago, lured into what appears to be some sort of underground ritual chamber, and sealed in by a sliding wall. In the chamber, she comes face to face with Wraith. He unleashes a bunch of confusing doublespeak, but he does seem to know an awful lot about Eleanor. He knows that her parents basically abandoned her after her younger brother Ethan was stillborn. Ever since then, she’s been wanting a place to fit in. A place where she’s wanted and needed. She reached out to X-On, but his aloof nature made that impossible. But Wraith, he wants to give her that place. He claims that he hasn’t been abducting the Reflected, but bringing them to the mansion to protect them and give them a purpose. He reaches out to Eleanor, and she takes his hand. Shortly thereafter, X-On breaks away and enters the chamber. All that he sees is Eleanor sitting in the center. But, that isn’t her anymore. Her body morphs and changes into a man the same age as her. He introduces himself as Ethan, claiming that Eleanor is dead. But you might know him better… as Wraith.
Well, I can’t say I was totally surprised. As soon as Wraith started to talk about how “you chose me” I figured he was going to possess her. When he started to talk about her family, it was a foregone conclusion that he was Ethan. But the guy talked in so many circles, even I felt like I was getting confused, which rang bells in my head that everything he said was a lie. Those Reflected she came to save acted like zombies, so he most likely is living off their life forces in some way.
Then we have I-Guy, who apparently has ALL of his dead friends talking to him as AIs in his suit. They each had different functions for him in life, and in death, they continue doing the same thing. That isn’t creepy at all. One of them warns him that his energy levels are getting out of control, which reveals something. This isn’t just an Iron Man suit. He personally generates the energy of some sort, which the suit either keeps in check or draws upon for its weapons. That explains why all his weapons fire was green. That’s the “aura color” for all the Brightstar Reflecteds. The new Cyclops Buster he whipped out was impressive, too.
Okay, let’s get the constant complaints out of the way. The animation blows. This episode had the best animation I’ve seen from the series yet, and only one scene had visuals that were on par with bad anime. It was X-On, rolling down an empty hall. Why was he rolling and tumbling? Still don’t really know, but at least it got a little bit of love from those poor interns in a closet. Most of the shots of Wraith though, he had a strange black box around his eyes, which overlaid his mask. Someone was having issues with Adobe Flash at that point, and I can tell because I’ve been there. Flash doesn’t always render things the way you want it to, and it puts strange shapes where they don’t belong. This shot continues to get shown over and over, so either nobody was proofing their work, or nobody thought it was noticeable enough to care. The morph from Eleanor to Ethan was rather smoothly done, so at least they tried there.
The voice acting was choppy, primarily because the video they tried to sync with was horribly directed. Seriously, what is the ADR gonna do with this mess? Characters talk, stare into space, then talk again. Even Stan Lee, who was one of the creators of this darned thing, had a hard time getting any emotion, villainy, or… anything out of his character. That character is based on him! I hear you say, “Well Stan Lee isn’t a voice actor, and he’s getting up there in age.” Pshaw. Have you seen him in Guardians Vol 2? He may not be the most sensational actor, but he’s been with enough of them to have figured out how to do the basics. I blame this not on his performing abilities, but on the directorial choices to have sequences of staring contests occasionally punctuated by fragments of sentences. As the action of the story picks up, and we get more scenes with faceless characters, the problems with the voice acting fade. Why? Because the ADR director can do whatever he wants if the character has no visible mouth. Fortunately, that is now… five and a half characters? Lisa has one, but her robot doesn’t, so she’s the half. Wow, almost half the characters have no face. Only just now picking up on that little shortcut they pulled, but it does make staring contests and last episode’s Grunt-athalon all the more awkward.
So, the animation is bad, the voice acting is troubled, the visual direction flip-flops between lazy and inane. What is good about the episode? Plot. That has been this show’s saving grace this entire time. You wanna enjoy this show? Pop it on in the background while you’re working on stuff around the house. Binge while you wash the dishes. The story is great, filled with mysteries that still have yet to be revealed. The characters have backstories that intertwine, but only tangentially. There is a good blend between the heroes succeeding and failing, and you aren’t going to like all the heroes. That’s fine because you aren’t supposed to. It’s part of their growth. It leaves me wanting more of whatever is going on, just not in this format. Like… a comic book. This would be great as a graphic novel. I would read the crap out of that. Today, though, I watched it as a terribly made anime.
That only gets five resurrections by possessing your sister out of ten. There are some questions that come out of that, though, that Freud would have a field day with.