Avengers, “Panther’s Quest.”

26Nov10

This episode is our first real clunker of the series so far. It’s unfortunate to say that about “Panther’s Quest,” since the Black Panther has been in better episodes already, but it can’t be avoided-some basic problems kept this from being all that good.

The basic plot of the episode is very simple-Black Panther shows up at the Avenger’s door, shows off a little, then asks them to come with him to Wakanda and help him retake the throne. it’s been a plot that’s been building for a while; the Black Panther’s father lost the throne in one of the mini-episode prequels, and the new Black Panther has popped up several times. But right from the start, the episode is off balance. It opens with the Avengers reviewing security footage of the Black Panther’s appearance in helping Captain America beat Zemo-after spending a whole episode not mentioning it at all. Then when the Panther appears, he fights them, beats them…and says he needs their help. These scenes could have worked, but they’re both handled clumsily, and that goes on throughout.

The most flagrantly broken rule is “Show, not tell.” Iron Man declares that his plane has a cloaking device so they won’t get shot down-and then they’re shot down because the Black Panther tells him “Our anti-cloaking technology is better than yours.” Thor’s absence is noted, but we don’t find out why he was gone, and it’s not commented on past the fact that he didn’t respond, making it a rather clumsy attempt to remind the viewer he should be there. And the worst offense comes when Iron Man, The Wasp and Ant Man are attacked by the Wakandan army…and then instead of getting a fight scene, we cut back to them and Iron Man says it was harder than it should have been.

The other big sin was the feeling that came in last week’s episode as well-feeling that the whole thing was overstuffed. Last time, there were too many plots rattling around to give them all their full attention. That doesn’t happen again, but while there’s only one overarching plot for the episode, it splits into different directions, and both are ill served. Cap and Black Panther’s attempt to beat the Man Ape that the Black Panther can retake the throne, but it skimps on the fight because it keeps cutting back to the other Avengers; they’re fighting Klaw and Hydra in a vibranium mine, and then just Klaw when he accidentally turns himself into a giant energy monster. If these two scenes had started earlier, they could have developed into better fights, but both get short-changed by happening at the same time.

I’m certain that part of my annoyance with the episode comes from being outside the target audience-clearly the Avengers is shooting for an older demographic than “Super Hero Squad” does, but I’m still well outside of its intended range. But I can’t help but think some of that would annoy the intended audience as well. Klaw as energy monster never does much other than look big, and losing an entire scene between the Avengers against the Wakandan army just seems like a huge oversight, or an accident they had to quickly cover up. While it’s understandable why they wouldn’t want to do this in the middle of the season, making the retaking of Wakanda into a 2-part story probably would have served its purpose much more. And considering the next episode is advertised as being an hour long, I don’t know if they have a good excuse for this one taking only half an hour.

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