Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Legion of Super Heroes: Chained Lightning

This is probably my favorite of the second season episodes. My daughter loves this one. The first time I showed it to her, we went on to watch it four times. The most recent viewing was with my wife, and she liked it too, though Superman-X was hard to explain. (And, for the record, if he's there to replace Mon-El, I don't think "Krytonite-infused Superman clone from a thousand years in future" is any less confusing than Mon-El's backstory.)

We open with Lightning Lad dreaming of the encounter with the Lightning Beasts that gave him his powers. I forget who made the joke that every time we see his origin story, it takes place with more family members present. This time it's Garth, Mekt and their sister Ayla. Mekt is a couple years older than the pair, and he's dodging, trying to get the beasts to refuel the batteries on the ship. Ayla starts panicking, and Garth leads her in a nursery rhyme, "The monkey rode on the rocket ship, the rocket ship, the rocket ship, the monkey rode on the rocket ship and bumped his head on the moon.

Kari Wahlgren voices Ayla, and she has a lovely singing voice.

Garth and Mekt get their superpowers from the beasts, but their sister is apparently disintegrated. That's where the dream ends, and we transition to the briefing room. Brainiac 5 is bitching about Shrinking Violet in a rather hilarious exchange.

Brainiac 5: Okay, we're just waiting  for Shrinking Violet now. She'll be filling in for Superman, who's saving the universe on the other side of the galaxy.  Let's see, replace the powers of the greatest hero ever with the ability to, um, become smaller. Sounds like a fair trade to me!

Shrinking Violet: Um, I'm right here, and for the record, I can do more than shrink.

Brainiac 5: Sure you can.

He's kind of got a point. When it comes to powers, Shrinking Violet makes makes Triplicate Girl look like the Martian Manhunter. Looking now, I see that Kari Wahlgren also did her voice, and I wouldn't have guessed that because she really does sound very different from Ayla (and Saturn Girl for that matter.) I also like that she snorts when she laughs.

We have another flashback, but this time it's Mekt dreaming about Ayla. She tells him that she needs him, and then her face turns into a skull as he wakes up. He enters the bridge of Imperiex's ship humming the monkey rode on the rocket ship song, which I thought was a nice callback.

Later on there's a space battle where the Legionnaires are trying to stop Imperiex and his "destructobots" (*Sigh*) from using this energy cloud to power his Tachyon Cannon. There's a lot to like in this particular scene. Brainy gets in another jab at Vi's expense.

Brainiac 5: (Pinned Down by robots) A little help here?
Vi: Someone ask for a little help?
Brainiac 5: Oh, she gets small and makes puns.

Thanks for the assist, Shrinking Violet. A noble spirit embiggins the smallest Legionnaire.

Mekt and Garth have a great exchange during an outstanding fight scene. When Lightning Lad confronts his older brother, he asks how Mekt can serve Imperiex. Mekt replies, "Easy. Because he's going to win," and then offers Lightning Lad the chance to join up with them, saying, "You know I'd look out for you."

Garth: You'd look out for me, Mekt? Would this be the same way you looked out for Ayla?
Mekt: She was my sister, too, Garth!

They fight, and Lightning Lad is outmatched. An image of Ayla appears in the lightning as they battle, but before they can figure out what this means, Imperiex steps up and blasts off Lightning Lad's arm.

He gets a mechanical replacement, to which he adjusts rather quickly, I felt. A little bit later, and they detect an unusual signal coming from the cloud. Violet screens out the interference and we hear Ayla singing the monkey rode on the rocket ship song. They figure out that she is the cloud and they can extract her, but only with the help of Mekt. So the Legion launches an attack on the cannon to draw Mekt out and he turns on Imperiex's forces when Lightning Lad tells him the score. He says that he messed up pretty big all those years ago, and he's been messing up ever since. Together, they combine their powers and bring her back. She's exactly as she was the day she was transformed, just a little kid. The three siblings embrace. Mekt asks if Garth is going to arrest him, but Garth declines, saying that they had a deal all those years ago, that if Mekt got the pair home safely, they wouldn't get him in trouble. Despite this, Mekt decides to face up to his responsibilities.

We cut to the Ranzz family home with Ayla and Garth entering. There's a present from Mekt on the table, a picture of the three of them as kids. The episode ends with Mekt in a cell on Takron-Galtos, looking at his own copy of the picture, seemingly at peace.

I'm always a sucker for a tale of redemption, and I've been pretty happy with the portrayal of Mekt in the series. He's never exactly a villain, but rather someone always looking for the easy path. He gets in over his head, and his efforts to extricate himself just lead to him getting in deeper. But he loves his sister and when the time comes, he makes the right choice to save her.

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