Saturday, August 26, 2017

REVIEW: 'The Tick' - A Party Forces Arthur to Grapple with His Identity as a Hero in 'Party Crashers'

Amazon's The Tick - Episode 1.04 "Party Crashers"

Tick crashes an Everest family party to convince Arthur's sister Dot of her brother's super-heroic destiny. Another more dangerous party-crasher arrives to threaten Arthur and his family.

The Tick is really starting to get some momentum. I had my reservations after the premiere because it seemed so scattered and rushing through its plot beats without really finding the meaning in the individual actions. But now, it's a fascinating exploration of identity. It's working as a story because it is delving into the personal lives of heroes and villains. They have these big, sweeping personas that they carry on in their public worlds. That's how the masses see them. There are the heroes with super strength who wear patriotic colors and are seen as the icons of what is good and just in the world. And then, there are the villains dressed in dark colors with terrifying plans for the conquest of the planet. Heroes are being memorialized while villains are being forgotten. No one wants to even entertain the notion of The Terror still being alive because it's easier to believe in the story of his death. But everyone needs to constantly be reminded of the five superheroes who died in that tragic incident. These are the personas and stories the public are aware of. They are visible, over-the-top and cause mass destruction and disruption throughout the city. They are commonplace now. It's an accepted part of life but it can still be a nuisance as well. This show delves deeper into the personality of these heroes and villains. It reveals that underneath the surface they are still just humans each searching for the same things out of life and dealing with the same annoying problems.

Tick is in the midst of an existential crisis. He only sees himself as his public persona. He sees no line distinguishing himself from the hero and the man. There is no difference. He has no interest in exploring the man underneath the suit. That's why he is always seen in the suit. His persona as a hero is always on. That's how he's always seen even though some subtlety would be really good from time to time. Arthur is accepting that he's a hero who is on to something major as well. He's coming to accept Tick into his life. But he's still just a guy whose life is being invaded by family expectations and responsibilities. Plus, he's dealing with a friend who is constantly inserting himself and his own priorities into his life. That's relatable. But the other costumed people have similar concerns. Overkill is dealing with an annoying roommate who gets concerned when his friend doesn't call him back. Meanwhile, Miss Lint is going through a complicated divorce where her husband is still present in her life and even helpful in her current endeavors. These little glimpses of these character's humanity is key in observing who they really are. It's always fun to see the show produce the super-heroics. But it's just as fascinating to see the world behind the masks and the powers. Without those, who are these people?

Arthur is given new clues to go on in his pursuit of the truth about The Terror. Overkill showed up to take all of his files and warn the kid that he's gotten in way over his head. That is absolutely a true statement. But Arthur plans to continue digging. He's searching for answers because he's still being tormented by the past. It's still defining his life. His search for peace and finality is now forcing the world around him to question if he is truly okay. The systems of the world want to punish him for his actions only to let him go because it's such a hassle to deal with someone who has previously been labeled as crazy. No one wants to handle that kind of responsibility. The police officers have played it off as too much paperwork to deal with. But family can't do that. They need to be there at all times because they genuine do care. Arthur's family does care about his wellbeing. Arthur wants to keep his issues private. But he never seems to be able to do that. He wants to explore this conspiracy and work things out to the benefit of all of society. He wants to expose the truth. But his inner secrets are being revealed to the rest of the world. He doesn't seem to have privacy anymore. Tick has invaded his apartment. Dot has told the rest of the family about his recent maniac episode. And then, Tick just shows up at his stepfather's birthday party. Arthur is struggling to be seen and accepted in this world because of other people.

And yet, there are also moments where Arthur really wants to be seen but the world that cares so much about him is completely oblivious to what's really going on with him. The show perfectly encompasses the turmoil that comes from being seen when one wants to be invisible and being invisible when one really wants to be seen. Dot has seen Arthur at his worst. She is the family member he has the closest relationship with because they have a bond of shared experiences. They both lost a father and can enjoy making fun of their stepdad and his obsession with feet. But there's no way for Dot to truly understand what Arthur is going through. Tick sees Dot as an obstacle standing in Arthur's way. She's the hindrance keeping him from fully accepting his identity as a hero. That's why Tick shows up at the party. He does so on Arthur's behalf in order for him to be seen as his true, authentic self. It's not something that Arthur asked for or wanted. He loves his dynamic with his sister. He doesn't want to change it even though it's bound to as long as he continues this investigation into The Terror. Arthur wants to be normal for his life even though time for normal has long since passed. Now, it's just okay for a hero and villain to crash this party and the guests be completely fine with that. In fact, Walter enjoys having Tick around. They form an easy bond which annoys both Arthur and Dot.

When Arthur really needs help, Tick isn't able to see what is standing right in front of him. He doesn't have the memory to make the connections to help his partner in his time of need. He doesn't remember Miss Lint at all. She shows up at the party because she is desperate to get the suit to work again. She saw it in action on Arthur. And now, it is refusing to recognize anyone else. She needs him in order to get more answers about why The Terror abandoned her. She was perfectly fine being a part of organized crime in this city. She lost her mentor a long time ago. But she had accepted that he was gone because she believed the story. But now, she's being faced with evidence that he may still be alive and hasn't reached out to her. She wants to know why. She is desperate to be seen. Arthur and Miss Lint have that in common even though they go about obtaining their goals in very different ways. Miss Lint will lash out at the people around her. Arthur is still very awkward and non-committal in his actions. He's still just stumbling around in the suit. That's very amusing to watch. No one has any idea how this suit works because all of the instructions are in a different language. It seems very complicated. And yet, the suit is still there to protect Arthur when the situation calls for it. The episode ends on a very precarious note with both Miss Lint and Ramses hunting Arthur down in the suit. He's become a target. But the suit is the ally he needs right now because it empowers him to be the person he wants to be. 

Some more thoughts:
  • "Party Crashers" was written by Joe Piarulli & Luan Thomas and directed by Sheree Folkson.
  • It's pretty funny to think that this family has a history of befriending the therapists who were hired to help Arthur through his issues. Instead of doing that, they just formed bonds elsewhere. They are grateful that Arthur brought them together. But he's still full of uncertainty in his life and not sure who he really is.
  • Tick is now staying with Arthur. That's bound to get complicated very quickly. In fact, it does. It's only suppose to be a one-night thing. But Tick soon invites Tinfoil Kevin to live in the apartment as well. Kevin knowing what's going on probably means that he'll become more important in the future.
  • Overkill may represent some actual plot movement because he has the technology and secret information to really learn things quickly about what's truly going on. He may be the way for Tick to learn more about his actual identity. Overkill is searching every system for an identity on him so he knows what he's up against in the future. But he hasn't gotten a positive ID yet.
  • Alan Tudyk voices the computer roommate on Overkill's ship who is obsessed with making the perfect EDM song. It may be a bit of type casting as Tudyk has voiced robotic characters before. And yet, it's still a delight to see here because the joke is so strange but still fitting with this world of characters. Plus, the computer is named Dangerboat!
  • The party guests just randomly decide to turn on the TV while Walter is opening his presents. The breaking news is of a very large (and naked) man just walking around the city. That's a very perplexing and unexpected sight. It's fascinating to see how TV actually reports on these types of stories after they've been common for awhile.
  • Dot officially wants out of her work as a doctor for the various gangs of the city. She no longer wants to be stitching up henchmen after they have run-ins with Tick and Overkill. That's simply not normal which is something she desperately wants as well. It just seems more likely that Arthur will continue to pull her into this crazy world.
  • Shouldn't Miss Lint have been more afraid of the vacuum cleaner than she actually was? She must have known it would cause a lot of dirt to suddenly be flung at her. But it's still a worthwhile deception for the shot of her crazed as she emerges from the dust with a mess of dirt on her. She's now filled with even more anger and is more powerful than ever before.

As noted in previous reviews from this show, every episodic review was written without having seen any succeeding episodes. Similarly, it would be much appreciated if in the comments, the conversation would only revolve around the show up to this point in its run.