This is it, the season finale of “Marvel’s Avengers Assemble,” and Earth’s Mightiest Heroes not only have to throw down with The Cabal for the last time, but must also contend with the cosmic-powered Red Skull to save the universe. But is there a far worse threat waiting in the wings? Meet me after the jump for my review of “The Final Showdown.”
Semantics and Timing
When last we left our heroes, the Red Skull turned Iron Skull had, with the power of the Cosmic Cube -ahem, I mean the Tesseract- become the Cosmic Skull, and things were looking very bad indeed. For comics fans, the Tesseract from the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a known entity, called the Cosmic Cube, it’s been a MacGuffin for the Red Skull for literally decades. Developed by A.I.M., in the comics at least, it was a glowing cube-shaped device that could turn any desire into reality. The Cube has been coveted and used by many super-villains other than the Skull like Doctor Doom, Korvac, and Thanos. For some reason, less cool minds prevailed and it was called the Tesseract in the movies. I like Cosmic Cube better. And for the record, it’s not the first, or probably the last, time the Red Skull has been powered by the Cube.
This episode was preceded by two other Cabal-related episodes, “By the Numbers” and “Exodus,” setting the new episode at 9:00 AM EST. Hmmm… if anyone knows how Disney XD programming works, and how we should know when a show we want to watch actually comes on from week to week, I would love to know. It doesn’t really seem like they care all that much.
With The Cabal’s Exodus base coming down around them, Iron Man proposes a truce, and the Avengers and The Cabal working together to stop the Skull. Personally I still have trouble rationalizing how these villains work together at all, let alone so well. At first they appear to teleport away and leave the Avengers to be buried, but a commercial break reveals something quite different.
MODOK not only teleported everyone away, but he teleported them all to Avengers Tower. How odd and convenient. As the usual much-too-long slugfest ensues, MODOK once again teleports away, this time with the Black Widow in tow. Why the two teams fight at this juncture is beyond me. Yes, The Cabal hate the Avengers, but the Skull just tried to kill them. The Avengers have never lied or tried to kill them, right?
Speaking of senseless cartoon violence, once The Cabal is imprisoned, the Skull attacks several points around the world simultaneously, forcing the Avengers to split up. Stark say they won’t be divided, and yet they are. Each takes one city, with Thor calling Stockholm Agnafit as a nice touch.
Each hero is accompanied by a fleet of quinjets – wait, so the Avengers have an army now? Or are these robot drones similar to what the Skull is doing with his extradimensional robot soldiers? In far too many ways, Stark and the Skull are far too alike. And robots fighting robots? Zzzzz… I’d rather watch more mindless fighting between the two teams.
Where’s the Black Widow Again?
So again, the Black Widow is missing, which at this point is status quo, and this time they even makes jokes about it. When asked where she is, they all reply, “It’s classified.” Is she more SHIELD than Avenger? If so, let’s get another female member and her be SHIELD. We find later that she’s been schmoozing with MODOK and SHIELD working a way around the Skull’s armor, all off-screen.
Meanwhile the Skull is using the Tesseract to do all sorts of mischief to the Avengers. He blinds Hawkeye, clips Falcon’s wings, and misplaces Thor’s hammer. He also shatters Captain America’s shield. Hmmm. How exactly does he do that? And what is the recent obsession with breaking Cap’s shield? The point of an indestructible shield is that it’s, hello, indestructible! The Skull also makes a savage mindless Hulk and sics him on the Avengers.
Deus Ex Machina
I don’t think the writers thought this through. I think they had a point where they wanted the story to go and then fudged their way getting there, adding in pointless fight scenes along the way. I called this sub-section ‘deus ex machina,’ but it’s not true, because even the worst deus ex machina at least makes sense. The Widow, along with MODOK and SHIELD develop an arrow that will disrupt the Skull’s extradimensional gateways. Right. Even better, give the arrow to blind Hawkeye to shoot. Right.
It gets better, as Stark releases the remaining Cabal members to join the fight… which they do (I did however looove when Hyperion threw Attuma at the Skull). In the midst of all this, Captain America manages to snap the Hulk out of his rage by calling him soldier. Wait, what? How Thor got his hammer back is beyond me, but that’s the least of the problems. Then somehow Stark recalls his armor back from the Skull, who then retreats… via an extradimensional gateway, you know, those things that Hawkeye disrupted. Does any of this make sense?
So, the Red Skull gets away, with the Tesseract, to where, we’ll get to in a moment. The Cabal gets away, vowing revenge on the Avengers. Not the Skull, the Avengers. Hawkeye’s vision comes back, like Thor’s hammer, but somehow what should be restored, what never should have been broken in the first place – Cap’s shield – is still shattered. The Avengers are tired, but pleased with the victory. Are we the viewers supposed to be pleased?
The point the writers were trying to get to is where the Red Skull ends up, at Thanos’ feet. It is an ending that is reminiscent of the end of the Avengers movie, mostly because it is Thanos, and the measure of menace is rich. And I don’t know what I dislike more, the fact that the series has been renewed, or that season one ended with a cliffhanger. What I hate, rather than just dislike, is the fact that this ending was spoiled online earlier this week. Wtf, Marvel? It would have been much more effective had we not known what was coming.