Sunday, August 27, 2017

REVIEW: 'The Tick' - Arthur and Tick Have a Big Heroic Moment Which Changes Everything for Them in 'Rising'

Amazon's The Tick - Episode 1.06 "Rising"

Tick and Arthur try to use Ramses to prove that the Terror is alive and run into trouble. Miss Lint takes the advice of an old friend.

The hero's journey for Arthur has been very personal and introspective. He has a tragic backstory that would justify a personal quest of vengeance against The Terror. He's the villain who killed his father. The world has accepted that The Terror was later killed by Superion. And now, Superion is just living a life of talk show appearances with the occasional super-heroics. He's no longer a necessary hero in this world because the major threats from super-villains are gone. But super-powered villains still exist in this world and can cause lots of mayhem. There is danger constantly in this world. Arthur has encountered a lot of that throughout this first season. He started as a very reluctant hero. He put on the suit only because he was curious about it. And then, he only claimed to be a hero when it was best for him. It allowed him to avoid punishment from the police and to stand strong against the forces of evil. But Arthur hasn't wanted to follow the traditional path of being a hero. He just wanted to expose that The Terror was still alive. He didn't see it as his personal quest to stop the villain before he enacts his master plan. He doesn't want to be the man responsible for taking him down. He still believes in the government institutions of this world that will act accordingly once they are provided with the proof that Arthur and company have just assembled. This is the life that Arthur wants because it is simple and safe for him. He's been thrown into danger as a hero. He's changed as a result. But his ideals are still intact.

Things are tense at the start of "Rising" between Arthur, Tick and Overkill. That largely comes from the three of them having different personalities and ambitions in the fight against The Terror. Tick can't condone torturing someone to get information out of them - even in the case of the person being a villain. Arthur wants to make the empty promises of not hurting anyone as long as he gets the information that he needs. But Overkill has the realistic reaction of just pumping Ramses full of drugs so he starts telling the truth. It's a humorous moment because Ramses doesn't have the intended reaction to these drugs. He's experiencing side effects because these drugs don't mix well with the ones he's regularly taking. That's a very solid joke that helps break the tension of this sequence. Of course, Ramses still reveals where The Terror has been staying all of these years. To Overkill, it's a destination to attack immediately in order to finish this personal war. But Arthur and Tick don't support that. They don't see themselves as the heroes that will personally take down The Terror. So instead, they just escape with Ramses in the hopes of delivering him to the police so that they can handle all of this. Then, Arthur can go back to his regular and normal life.

Of course, that's unrealistic. This fight is personal for Arthur. The show wouldn't be building up this story if Arthur wasn't going to remain a crucial part of it. He left Dot behind and potentially ruined that relationship because he knew he needed to be a part of this investigation. He got it all started by finding evidence of The Terror's continued existence. He can't just hand it off to someone new now. His desire to do so is what allows Ramses to escape. Just walking him through the city is a stupid move. Arthur is frequently billed as the brains in this partnership with Tick. And yet, this is a foolish mistake because this city is overrun by crime. Someone was bound to see Ramses in the grasp of two costumed heroes. It's not long until Ramses' henchmen stage their attack to get back their leader. It's not a surprising moment. But it does reveal the heroism within the two central characters. Tick is able to take the initial blast. He's indestructible. Not even a rocket launcher can take him down. That's quite a visual. But the villains are able to escape to regroup because they are tricksters who don't play by the same rules. All Ramses has to do is attack civilians in order to distract Tick and Arthur long enough in order to escape. It's a familiar convention of the genre. But it also forces a major realization within the main story.

This is Tick and Arthur's first public act of heroism. Tick has always seen himself as a hero. He's been pitted against villains throughout this season and has more than held his own against them. In fact, he has defeated many of his opponents. But those were all private encounters. Tick and Arthur weren't being heroes in front of crowds. They weren't searching for that acceptance and appreciation. But they can no longer run from that. They were able to walk around this world without getting noticed because there was nothing to notice them from. But now, a bus has been hit and is sitting precariously on the edge of an overpass. If Tick and Arthur don't do something, then many innocent people will die. This moment is played as Arthur finally deciding to be a hero. He has claimed to be such before. But now, he's put on the suit and is using his skills in order to save lives. That's what makes him a hero. He's stepping into danger not knowing if he'll be able to survive. It's dangerous for him to walk into the bus to drag people to safety. It's even more precarious when he returns to save a baby. All hope seems lost when Tick can no longer hold onto the vehicle and it drops to its destruction below. But Arthur has his heroic moment of flying to safety while carrying the baby. Of course, there's then a fantastic punchline of the baby actually being a dog.

All of this makes a major difference in the perception of Tick and Arthur throughout the city. The news is now boastful of the fact that superheroes have returned to the city. There are now heroes roaming the streets thwarting the vicious plans of villains. Everyone is appreciative of that. The citizens of this world are celebrating Arthur and Tick. Sure, everyone is confused by Arthur's superhero name being "Arthur." But that's in line with Arthur's uncertainty as a hero. He has committed to this path. But he hasn't figured out an identity for his public persona. And more importantly, the episode ends with a couple crushing reveals. Arthur is able to make a difference because of the suit. It allows him to be the hero he wants to be. And then, he learns from Overkill that the suit was designed to take on alien combatants. The only alien that anyone knows about is Superian. That's an ominous tease for the future and how this suit could be used against Arthur somehow because of its nefarious creation. But more important than that, Arthur is then kidnapped by The Terror. He's wanted to expose him as a threat this entire season. He has still failed to do that. No one knows that he is still alive except for the main characters. They all have accepted that while the public is still oblivious. And now, Arthur has come face-to-face with The Terror. His suit has been taken from him. He's powerless and facing off with the greatest evil the world has ever known. That's a precarious position for him. It's a terrific cliffhanger ending for the season. Tick relies on Arthur for purpose and direction in the fight against evil. But is he capable enough to find and save his partner?

Some more thoughts:
  • "Rising" was written by Jose Molina and directed by Romeo Tirone.
  • Miss Lint spends the episode just hanging out with The Terror. She is understandably upset with him for being alive all this time and never reaching out to her. He claims it's all apart of his master plan. She had to grieve alongside everyone else. But it's also clear that he's just making it all up as he goes along. He's just telling Miss Lint what she needs to hear in order to control her.
  • Of course, it is amusing to see how unprepared The Terror is for returning to Miss Lint's life. He is surprised that she married and is now getting divorced from Derek. That seemingly goes against his suggestion that he was keeping an eye on her for all of these years. But he's able to turn that around by saying that he would have reached out to her if she had killed Ramses and taken over the organized crime in the city.
  • Miss Lint has hated Ramses all season long. She didn't support his operation. She was often just doing her own thing and keeping information from him. But now, she takes a lot of pleasure out of finally being able to kill him. She has to be given permission in order to do it. That's still a flaw for her. But she still ultimately does it and will become more dangerous now that she's working with The Terror again.
  • Superian is still dealing with the threat from the very large man who is walking straight towards the city. Not a whole lot of progress is being made on this story though. It's largely just giving him something to do to keep him busy. He'll probably become a more important character in the next batch of episodes.
  • Dot wanted out of her job helping stitch up gang members after their various fights throughout the city. But seeing the devastation has made her want to become a part of the team alongside Arthur. So now, he's the oblivious family member who doesn't see how important his sibling is. That's a nice switch-up even though this subplot really isn't going anywhere quickly.
  • Until a week ago, I thought Amazon was releasing the entire first season of The Tick this weekend. And then, I learned that it was being split in half with six episodes airing now and six to be dropped at a later date - probably in early 2018. On one hand, it is disappointing. And yet, these six episodes have been so easily digestible as a binge. It was easy to watch and appreciate the show knowing it was only six episodes right now. So now, I'm eagerly anticipating the release of more later on.

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.