Sunday, August 14, 2011

Thundercats Thunderecaps Episode 3: Ramlak Rising

As previously posted, I was blind-sided by how much I enjoyed the opening two-parter of the 2011 reboot of Thundercats, so much so that I think I might try to stick with the series as share my thoughts with you as each episode breaks. Episode four has aired so now I have to quickly get us up to speed with episode 3: Ramlak Rising.

Say "snarf" again, muthaf*cka, I dare you.
Last time evil lizards and a filthy old mummy went totally ape-shit in Kitty City leaving our arrogant heroes either dead or in disarray. What went down this time, and how did I feel about it? Find out right after the jump!

Ramlak Rising picks up pretty much where the last episode left off. Kitty City (I'm pretty sure that's what it's called) is empty and on fire (I guess all but Lion-O, Tigra and Cheetara are dead) and Lion-O is mega pissed about the death of his hairy father, so he starts bossing everyone around because now he's the new king. There are no lolcats here. Only angstcats! They were instructed by crusty old mystic Jaga last episode to go and hunt for the Book of Omens, but Lion-O, dickish as always, has zero interest in a shitty old book - every fibre of his distractingly furry-shouldered body screams in agony for vengeance. He's going to track down the musty Mum-Ra and tear him a new one with his magic sword.

It's on the beginning of this journey that he's finally hooked up with the mischievous, roaming, presumably orphaned ragamuffins Wily Kat and Wily Kit who emotionally manipulate him into letting them tag along. It's a  solid character-driven start to the episode that shows how these shaken-up cats are beginning to reform in the aftermath of a terrible beating. This is the group that we're going to be focused on and we want to get to know them and begin to get a sense of what this series is going to really be about. Unfortunately, from this point onwards, the episode - for me at least - begins to fall apart.

Their journey leads them to the Sea of Sand which is exactly how you'd imagine. They fall into a dumb trap ("Look! There is a free three-course-meal drifting in the sand! Let's eat this free sand-meat! A trap!? WHAAaaAA???!) and they end up prisoners on a sand-pirate ship crewed by monstrous fish-men.

That's what happens when you eat free meat. Didn't Chewbacca teach you anything?
The fish-doods (shown above in their sexy cut-offs) want to eat the cats, but are foiled when they're all attacked by the Ramlak who is a big tentacled sand thing and it's during this epic battle that the cats prove themselves to be proficient warriors and earn the respect of the whacked out, one-eyed Sea Captain who frees them once the monster escapes. It turns out that the Cap and Lion-O have a lot in common - they're both obsessive dicks whose twisted empty shells crave vengeance! So they set out kill the ever elusive Ramlak even if it means killing everyone on-board the dangerously infeasible ship in the process.

Set sail for vengeance on the good ship Killing Shit!
It all plays out exactly as you would expect with Lion-O learning from the Captain's idiot recklessness that perhaps hanging out with your buds is more important than sticking the Sword of Omens up an evil mummy's arse, and revenge is bad, and don't eat sand-meat. It's disappointingly predictable considering the more complex twists of the first couple of episodes.

Although there are some fun comedic hi-jinks as Wilykat and Wilykit outsmart a lumbering chef who is still determined to cut them into strips. Overall, the show does an excellent job at taking the sidekick characters, who by rights should be super annoying, and turning them into genuinely endearing characters who provide real laughs.

Hahahaha I'm going to cut you, kids!
My biggest disappointment in this episode is the fact that it spends so long with the pirate characters. The doomed Sea Captain, who we couldn't care less about, is given a lot of screen time and it comes at the expense of characters like Tigra and Cheetara. This early in the game I still want to know as much as I can about our main cast, and any of the intrigue or conflict surrounding them that was built up in the first two shows (e.g. Lion-O's rivalry with his brother) is dispensed with here as we focus on a bunch of background fish. I want Panthro, and the Thundertank, and Slythe and Mum-ra! I know that's all still coming, but I feel it was way too early to give us this kind of diversion, especially one that's wrapped up so neatly with a nice little moral. I'm glad Lion-O learned something, but let's not have him learn too much because Lion-O being a dick is what makes the show so watchable!

Other points of interest:
  • Why do Wilykit and Wilykat have big bushy tails while the other cats don't. Will they be cruelly cut off in a primitive initiation ceremony? I hope so!
  • Cheetara is STACKED.
I give Ramlak Rising 2 1/2 portions of sand-meat out of a possible 5.

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