Well, you can either take the Game of Thrones approach and decide "eh, screw it, TV's better than books these days anyway" and spoil everything for the readers, or you can cram in a whole bunch of filler episodes that fit between key story points. How many filler episodes do you need? Well, depending on the series, they can sometimes be up to 40% of the entire 400+ episodes. That's 40% that take the smooth flowing narrative of someone's story and just starts jamming random side stuff into it.
Even aside from filler, you can sometimes wind up with really disjointed breather episodes that just don't fit in. These can sometimes be filler, but it's often just a chance for the characters to "catch their breath." These episodes often suck.
This is a breather episode. But it doesn't suck.
The episode starts with Hikaru, Pepper, and Thor doing a basic recap of what's going on. They discuss the DISKs they've already captured, but that there are still lots of heroes and villains in DISKs just floating around the world, phasing in and out of "reality."
The reason it's only the three of them, though, is because everybody else wanted to go sightseeing in Japan. Everybody but Akira, who's stuck being a holographic Tony Stark's assistant.
Hikaru starts asking about Senator Robert, but apparently background checks haven't found anything. Hikaru starts pondering whether he simply "sold out" to the villains or if there's some kind of mind control involved, when Pepper suggests he take a day off as well.
...something about Pepper's design really bothers me, and I can't figure out what it is.
Maybe it's those dead blue eyes.
Meanwhile, at Loki's ice palace, we see our favorite henchmen sitting around waiting for their boss to show up. There's a bit more character development, as we find out that at least one of them is apparently a musician who had to cancel a concert to show up. Loki explains that the Avengers are hiding out in Japan, so they can focus on gathering up DISKs instead. There's a few questions asked about what Loki's endgame is, but he dismisses them by saying "you'll understand soon."
Back in Japan, Akira tries to find out why he's being put in charge of using complex machines and computers instead of, say, Pepper, and Tony's attempts to toss the conversation aside wind up revealing that he and Pepper had a big fight over how big a control freak he was being. I wish we had seen that fight. However, we do get this moment when Akira gets frustrated and quits.
Tony proposes a trade for Akira's services, and Pepper gets started on a project for Akira (I guess she gets paid, so she's already doing a "trade.")
Meanwhile, the Wasp and Jessica are looking into Japan's fashion scene, leading Jessica to decide she's going to start her own fashion label based on Japanese designs. It also involves the luckiest shop girl in the world, who spots the little holographic Wasp and winds up being offered a job at Jessica's "future company" to shut her up.
Apparently, being able to explain things like "the planet Korbin" and a ship called "Scuttlebutt" apparently makes you really cool in Japan, and Edward finds a crowd surrounding him as he breaks down an obscure Marvel character. Hulk, of course, gets bored and causes some trouble by talking to Edward from a toy shelf, but Edward's wrist band apparently has the ability to transform into a standard watch. People react to the Hulk disappearing, but not to a wonder child with a shape shifting watch. Japan is weird, ya'll.
The absolute best side story, though, is Chris hanging out with Captain America, as Cap apparently orders Chris to "get acclimated to the food culture of Japan," which is actually a really great idea. You can learn a lot about a culture through its food, and considering they both might be total newcomers to the country, Chris questions the wisdom of going to a bakery filled with schoolgirls.
Living the teenage nerd dream there, Chris.
It's all pretty great, though, with Cap ordering Chris "onward without fear!" after a bowl of sweet red bean soup gets delivered.
Hikaru, being the boring older brother, just sits in a park and dwells on whether they'll get into a fight again soon. But as long as his brother isn't harmed, he's willing to fight the good fight...though Thor senses unrest.
So what was Tony having Pepper make for Akira? If you guessed "rocket skates" then you're either cheating, you remembered how skates were involved in two other moments in the series, or ...you remember I said something about "Thor vs. Skates" in my last post.
Akira decides to immediately blow off Tony's request to resume work and takes off outside with the skates.
There's just one problem.
Um, yeah. The brakes don't work.
After a brief blame-swapping session between Tony and Pepper, they conclude that there isn't really much cause to worry, the batteries will eventually run out.
In three hours.
Meanwhile, Hikaru and Thor have a pretty touching exposition moment where they both bond over having younger brothers that get into trouble (just on different scales) when Akira goes blurring past. Pepper reaches Hikaru and explains what's going on, but isn't able to reach any of the other kids (Jessica's still trying on clothes, Edward is becoming a pop trivia superstar, and Chris is on his seventh bowl of soup) to get their help.
Clearly, there's only one thing to do. Summon Thor.
Thus, we have Thor vs. Roller Skates.
I actually laughed pretty hard when Pepper tells Akira that his brother and Thor are on their way to help, and Tony reacts by asking "He's not going to throw his hammer to stop us, is he?" Akira, naturally, freaks out because we all know what happens when Thor throws his hammer at living things.
Sure enough, Thor's initial plan is "fling his hammer at the problem," but Hikaru points out it would make more sense to just get ahead of Akira and catch him.
Which would be a great plan, of course, except for the fact that Tony also had an automatic collision avoidance system installed, so Akira just zips around Thor and keeps going.
So, why doesn't Akira just summon Iron Man? He's still recharging after having summoned Tony that morning for an "experiment." We never learn what that experiment was.
Akira winds up heading up an on-ramp onto a closed road, so Tony points out that it would be okay for Thor to "cut loose a bit" there to stop them, but there's a problem. Apparently fate has a sense of humor, and sent Akira rocketing down a road still under construction.
Why Akira can't just turn is never explained. However, Hikaru and Thor get ahead again, and Thor strikes the ground with his hammer to knock Akira up into the air. Thor simply moves into position to catch Akira...and then his time runs out so he gets zapped back to the DISK.
Hikaru runs into position and barely grabs hold of Akira's hand as he goes over the edge, leading to what's surprisingly a rather tense moment (as well as a moment of disbelief that Hikaru's arm didn't either get dislocated or ripped out of its socket).
|Also, apparently Hikaru's arm is eight feet long.|
However, it does work because the series doesn't want to kill two of its main leads like this (though, I'll admit, I would never have seen that coming) and we then jump to this:
I honestly can't tell you what's the best part of this scene, the Wasp goofing off in Japanese fashions, or Captain America taking her seriously and explaining why it's not an effective outfit to fight crime in.
Cap and Wasp, don't ever change.
Down in Tony's workshop, Pepper's once again helping him as Tony activates the project they were working on before. What is this big, important project, you ask? Why, just one of the most awesome visuals in the series so far.
|Now we know where the "draw arms in perspective" budget went to. Thanks, Tony!|
That's right, Tony invented a means of detecting when DISKs pop in and out of reality and what their location is. Now they're also able to try to get the DISKs ahead of Loki.
Tony promises that "starting tomorrow" they're going to be very busy.
Which is just fine, because next episode we bring in a Hulk/Thor-level threat to the Avengers. I fully expect it to be great.