Eliminated today: Parthenon.
My prediction for the winner: Hyperstrike.
The episode opened with Doctor Dark up to his evil tricks; he’s created a clone of Stan Lee, the "evil Stan Lee", that is under his control. Gasp! Horrors! Cheese! Yay!
I think that if they do this show again next year, Stan is going to have a much harder time coming up with original challenges that will continue to be surprising. Each week, this year’s contestants seem to bring with them a lesson from last year; in the very first challenge, not a single contestant fell for the "Can you tell me your real name?" trap.
And this week, the contestants were obviously ready to face a room full of kids. Stan’s comments like, "Even a fourth grader could crack the code" were obvious clues, and when he announced the location, the contestants all nodded knowingly at each other. I remembered last year’s show, when the heroes had to go up in front of a classroom full of kids, and I was wondering how they’d pull it off this year to make it more interesting.
I was both annoyed and pleased by how they pulled it off. On the one hand, I was annoyed because I thought all of the special effects in the classroom — the various characters shooting off their various energy blasts, the CGI camera poking out of the globe, that sort of thing — were all superfluous and distracted from the fun of watching the kids react to the heroes. On the other hand, I really enjoyed the central challenge: the contestants working with the kids to crack the codes to work out the clues. I knew Hyperstrike was going to be in trouble the instant he said that he was made fun of when he was a kid for his last name (you’d think they’d have all learned by now), but it was Parthenon who really blew this challenge. He didn’t engage the children at all, simply told the kids what the answers to the questions were, and didn’t get their input. Hygena, though, really shined in this one, by getting the kids thoroughly involved, even sacrificing her own chances of finishing up quickly so that she could interact with the children more. I loved that, and I think Stan did too.
I’m not surprised, though, that it was Hyperstrike who the kids really took a shine to. He was energetic and hyper, and, well, kids go for that.
The scene in the park, with the "evil Stan Lee" giving ludicrous orders to the contestants, was kind of silly. I think all the contestants should get points for being willing to make complete fools of themselves in public like that. The Defuser was the only one who seemed to get the clue that Stan had been compromised, but he didn’t act on that information. In a scene that was somewhat reminiscent of last season’s Major Victory, though, he sang a song, pranced around a bit, and even asked a bystander for advice on how to rid himself of a "super wedgie". Finally, the evil Stan Lee sent the contestants to a warehouse, where the last challenge took place in a shipping crate.
In that shipping crate, Hygena found Stan Lee’s pencil, and Doctor Dark revealed the true depth of his evil scheme. The contestants were then locked into the crate, and had to figure out how to work together to get out. The Defuser, over-compensating for his earlier tendency to boss people around, allowed Hyperstrike and Parthenon to take charge and work out a solution, while Hygena stood back and took no action at all. The contestants managed to get out, of course, and their solution was actually quite cool: using objects found in the crate along with parts of their costumes to pull in a crowbar that had been left outside the crate.
The mission report scene… Well, I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who finds the mission reports a bit hokey, but I guess I see why Stan uses them.
Parthenon, Hyperstrike, and Hygena were all called forward to the elimination blocks. Parthenon was criticized for being "pushy" during the crate escape, and for not engaging the children at all. When asked why he should stay in the lair, he replied that he basically wanted to win more than anyone else. Yup, Parthenon was definitely given the evil edit this week; that was a pretty poor reason.
Hyperstrike was criticized for giving out his last name to the children. A real superhero would know that giving out his secret identity could put innocents at risk. When asked why he should stay, he replied that he thought he could be an inspiration to thousands of kids worldwide, and that’s what it’s all about.
Finally, Hygena was criticized, as I mentioned, for being passive during the crate challenge. When asked why she should stay, she replied that she is continuing to grow and learn from her mistakes (and this is certainly true); and besides, she went on, "Who would clean the lair?"
Parthenon was eliminated, as I expected. It’s kind of a shame, because he was starting to grow on me. I thought he showed integrity and respect, qualities which are far too often punished in other reality shows. But if being a superhero is also about doing PR, well, then Parthenon failed in doing PR with the kids. I recall that last year, the first eliminated contestant was the only openly gay character, thus opening Stan to criticisms of homophobia. I wonder if he’ll be able to dodge that bullet this time around as well?
Next week is the two hour season finale, and it’s down to the Final Three: Hyperstrike, Hygena, and the Defuser. I’m pretty sure Hyperstrike is going to be the winner. Hygena’s a fun character, and she’s my favorite, but I don’t know if Stan will think people will respond to a superhero who has "super cleaning" powers. I like the Defuser too, but I don’t really get a strong sense of his personality. So yeah. I’m definitely predicting that Hyperstrike will be the next superhero.