Sunday, October 17, 2010

Episode Eight: Stolen Memories

Luthor lures Brainiac to Earth in an attempt to profit from his advanced technology.  Not surprisingly, Brainiac is very interested in meeting Superman.  Sensing his great power, Brainiac gives Clark a taste of the collective knowledge of Krypton, and offers him the rest if he joins him on his mission of gathering knowledge.  The orb of knowledge causes Clark to have nightmares of Krypton's demise, cluing him in to genocidal nature of the AI.  When the transmission with Luthor is taken over by Brainiac, it appears that Earth will be the next planet to fall to Brainiac's mission.  However, Superman is able to fight off Brainiac enough for Lex to destroy his spaceship and all of those gathered orbs.  Superman manages to save the knowledge of Krypton and stores it in a familiar looking mountainous rock formation in the arctic.

Evan:  Brainiac arrives on Earth, bringing Superman another of his major villains.  I think this episode did quite a bit to differentiate Brainiac from Luthor, which is important as they both represent genius villains.  Brainiac's complete lack of emotion (although the imminent loss of the orbs produced some solid fear - like all comics androids he has all of the emotions, but claims to have none) contrasted to Luthor's prideful humanity.  Luthor's greed and ego were on display fully, driving the plot of the episode.  

Interestingly, Luthor was solidly on the side of Superman in this episode.  Early on in the episode I suspected some sort of trap, or a temporary alliance between the two villains, but instead we were presented with Brainiac completely overwhelming Luthor's plans, reducing him to being small and human.  This was emphasized by Luthor and Superman walking together through LexCorp's control room.  Seeing them interact was interesting, and hopefully with the growing number of characters that hate both of them we'll see it again.

There was one moment I absolutely loved.  After Luthor realizes Brainiac has taken control of his systems, and is moments from accessing all nation's defense grids, he simply sits in his chair and stares straight ahead.  This episode gave us the Luthor of hubris.  Luthor's belief in his own superiority was on display, and his eventual destruction of Brainiac's ship (with the assist of Superman) was the validation of those beliefs.  But still, in that moment of doomsday, Luthor could only blankly, silently watch.  A gripping moment.  Luthor was reduced to a man in a game between gods.

I thought this episode had a simple but effective plot that quickly brought Brainiac to Earth, and assuming they didn't kill off a major villain in a half-hour without build-up, gave him a reason to stay.  I thought the story balanced the tone of the later genocidal aspects of the story with some humour, surprisingly falling mainly to Luthor and his demands for technicians to complete their work in fractions of the time they request.

Lois helped set this episode up and delivered the news to the world about Brainiac while at the same time doing some world class felony trespassing, so I'd say she got in a good workout despite not being a focus in this episode.  Still, it's been a while since we saw a reasonable amount of Lois in an episode.

Kristin: Alright team, I'm feeling a little bit on the ill side today so I'm going to keep this relatively brief. My first question is this: Why does Krypton look like it's straight out of an episode of The Jetsons? Do we automatically assume all space-societies have those previously-remarked-upon spindle buildings and ride around in completely impractical one-man hover cars? Does nobody carpool in space? I'm just not seeing how the Kryptonians got it right by building vertically, but then sprawling their homes fifty feet in the air instead. It's not saving them any space anymore. And it doesn't appear that the ground is being used for anything. So why does everything need to rest on tip-toe?

Secondly, Brainiac reminded me a bit of Hexadecimal from Reboot. I mean, even if we get past the fact that I relate everything to things I watched in the 90s, the removable face mask techno tricks made me think back to a very particular moment in the show when Hexadecimal changed her face or something. So that was something.

I found Superman's emoting after he realized that Brainiac was committing ritual genocide on every society he encountered very endearing. Besides smugness and mean face, I think that's the only real emotion we've seen from him. It was nice to see, but perhaps in a more inspiring episode. This one felt a little bit rushed to introduce as huge a concept as Brainiac. Although I thought the writers handled it as well as they could given the time constraints.

Enough! I'm off to rest my pounding sinuses...

Final Thoughts: Really hated how slowly those robots fought Superman in the first act, but overall it was a nice way to reintroduce Brainiac.

Evan's Episode Rating: 8/10 (Lois Lane Ratio: 0 incompetent / 0 insane) - I loved the dynamic between Superman, Brainiac and Luthor.

Kristin's Episode Rating: 5/10 - Besides the crippling emotional pain of a thousand dead worlds, we've completely regressed on the character aspects in this episode. All plot, no people makes Kristin need more meds.

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