I’m feeling better, but I don’t know how long this’ll last, and I’ve got a lot to cover on SGU tonight, so I’ll try to make this quick.
PLAY BY PLAY
Ben, Kevin, and Gwen are at the beach (Gwen animated in a bikini, if you’re in to that sort of thing. It’s black.) A rock monster comes out of the water, and is completely immune to Gwen’s magic, but Kevin and Ben are able to fight it in to submission, then a dimensional portal shows up out of nowhere and swallows the thing up. The kid who sounds like Beastboy shows up again - the same one who found Ben’s severed hand a while back, this is his 2nd appearance - and gives Kevin some guff about being a monster and mean and all because his ID mask is broken. This leads to a lovers spat between Kevin and Gwen, and he storms off.
Charmcaster, Gwen’s nemesis from the original series appears. She’s using the rock monsters as her army. She intended them to simply kill Gwen, but having failed that, she decides to hurt her by taking her boyfriend away. She changes clothes (Tennis outfit. What is it with this show and girls playing tennis?) and ‘meets cute’ with Kevin. He resists all the moves she’s putting on him at first, but presently he succumbs to her charms. Of course this is all a ruse, and once she kisses him, he’s her mind-control zombie. Some genuinely damn funny dialog between master and mind-slave ensues.
Charmcaster: “Your mind is blank.”
Charmcaster: “Take Gwen to the planetarium at night.”
Charmcaster: “And then once she’s there, I’ll destroy her!”
Kevin: “She probably won’t come when I tell her that part.”
Charmcaster [Annoyed]: “You don’t need to tell her that part.”
Kevin: “Give me a break. My mind is blank.”
He shows up at Gwen’s house and invites her out, but she doesn’t want to go, though Ben - completely clueless - attempts to worm his way in to going. (Ben: “I love the planetarium! Planets, laser light shows, and rock music like our grandparents listened to!“) A dustup ensues, and when they finally take Kevin down, and realize Charmcaster is behind it, they decide to walk in to the trap to take her down, since she won’t be expecting them to be aware of her.
This is every bit as bad a plan as it sounds, and the boys end up fighting off the rock monsters while Gwen is incapacitated by Charmcaster, and robbed of all her powers. To make matters worse, Kevin and she have another big spat, and go their separate ways. Kevin summons Charmcaster somehow and hits on her, asks her out, explaining that he’s not really a good guy (True), and that all the stuff she said about Gwen is true. He lets it slip that Gwen has a tiny bit of power left, and Charmcaster decides to get that too. They travel to Mr. Smoothie, where yet another dustup ensues, with the witch using all of Gwen’s powers against her, and Gwen using Charmcaster’s old spell book against the witch. Gwen wins, Kevin fights a truck, and Ben turns in to Upchuck to take down an evil, brought-to-life Mr. Smoothie mascot/logo monster thing. It’s pretty funny.
In the coda, we find that Kevin’s rage at his deformity is completely undercut by the fact that Gwen has been working tirelessly since season 3 began to cure him of his deformity, and he never knew, nor suspected it. He feels terrible, and he realizes that he really SHOULD feel terrible, which is a big development for Kevin.
A good, fun episode. Charmcaster was a fairly ‘meh’ villain, but it was nice to see them acknowledge Gwen’s past as “Luckygirl“, and the new teenaged iteration of Charmcaster was scene stealing in a catty kind of way.
Kevin - always the most interesting character in the BTAF series - gets a lot of development and introspection here. They don’t play on his deformity much, but when they do, it’s nice to see that it’s really bothering him, and he’s having a rough time coping with it. It’s also nice to see a relatively pointless-and-realistic teenaged romantic tiff, as opposed to the more typical ‘I trust you implicitly and I’ll always have your back.’ I particularly liked that BOTH Ben and Kevin were interested in how Charmcaster had…ehm…filled out. Again, that’s how us guys are, even if we’ve got a girlfriend at that age. Curiously, no mention was made of Julie, Ben’s girlfriend, who, despite her recent superheroine status, doesn’t appear to be a regular part of Team Tennyson.
There’s an interesting post-production animation effect they used a few times in this ep - the things that are supposed to be closer to the viewer are deliberately fuzzed up a bit to make them appear out of focus. It didn’t entirely work, but it was kind of neat.
A lot of funny one-liners tonight, more so than usual.
Ben’s fixation on Mr. Smoothie was, once again, hilarious, particularly when he drank his opponent to death.
Kevin's car isn't submersible...yet!
Some exceptionally good voice acting from everyone tonight. The voice cast is always good, but they emoted much more than usual, in a deliberate contrast to the deliberately goofy proceedings. The show is always best when they play it a bit tongue in cheek.
Direction was good, too. There’s only four more episodes to this season, and then the series ends, to be replaced in 2010 by yet another spinoff. I’m very interested to see how they’ll wrap it up, but I’ll be sorry to see it go.