Home > Episode Reviews, Tiger & Bunny > Tiger & Bunny Episode 10 – Stacking the Deck

Tiger & Bunny Episode 10 – Stacking the Deck

The official episode title this time around is “The Calm Before the Storm,” which might qualify as one of the most misleading titles ever. Far from providing another character development episode or slow build-up to a climax, this one hits full speed early on and only ratchets up the tension from there, as the entire city of Stern Bild is held hostage by Ouroboros. If this really is the calm, I can’t imagine the craziness that will get unleashed in the upcoming storm.

This episode is daring in another way as well: This is the first time that the heroes have become true underdogs. Most of the show, the challenges the heroes face are internal, with even the few superpowered villains being having trouble keeping up. Lunatic, while more powerful than any one hero, could be held off by two and probably defeated by three or more. Wild Tiger and Barnaby Brooks Jr. have never faced an enemy they couldn’t at least go toe to toe with before. Now they have.

All the heroes together can handle one army of mechs. Three armies? A bit more complicated

As usual, I’m getting ahead of myself. Now that Barnarby has remembered the face of his parents’ killer, he does a surprisingly easy search through the criminal database to id the perp, currently serving a 250 year sentence for other, equally heinous crimes. (I suppose when you don’t have the death penalty, the justice system assigns absurdly high jail times to compensate.) Of course, nothing can be as simple as that, so fate conveniently intervene.

Fate, in this case, takes the form of a full-scale invasion of Ouroboros mechs, the same models as last time, with puppets serving as pilots. The Next who controls the puppets, and her Ouroboros colleague, cut off the three ways into and out of the city, and threaten to collapse the multi-leveled metropolis on top of itself unless a colleague of theirs is released. Guess which one.

Tiger's day off and visit to his daughter gets cut short by the action; the way his hero work continually interferes with his attempts to be a good father is another coincidental plot device, and an overused one

Ok, maybe “convenient” is too weak of a word to describe the likelihood of Ouroboros staging a rescue attempt within hours of Barnaby making positive ID. The point is that the three pronged assault tested the full limit of the city’s heroes (not just Tiger and Barnaby) and there’s still plenty to come. In one sense, its surprising that its taken this long for something like this to happen: having heroes overcome seemingly impossible odds is a longstanding comic book convention.

What makes this unique is the presence of the media team following—and profiting from—those beleaguered heroes and how they have to respond to a through trouncing. By the end, even “the show must go on or else” Agnes is about ready to kill the feed rather than possibly show the heroes failing; she’s worried about another Lunatic scenario where the crowd abandons the heroes when they seem weak.

Albert Maverick, the man behind Hero TV, is both mercenary and principled at the same time. I have a nagging suspicion he might be the retired Mr. Legend

She’s directly overruled by the president of Hero TV (who, in the continuing line of coincidences, happens to be close enough at hand to stop her); he urges her to trust in the heroes, and give the city’s populace the same chance to do so. And he’s right: watchers across the city cheer the heroes on right until Ouroboros hacks the feed to make their demands.

The difference between this incident and Lunatic, of course, is that Lunatic was offering a different way of dealing with criminals in the city, and never put civilians in danger. Here, the antagonists are the criminals, and are doing everything possible to put civilians in harm’s way. The people might still lose faith in their heroes should failure continue to pile on to failure. But they’ll never cheer for Ouroboros, and that provides much more leeway.

Lunatic is keeping an eye on the events. I doubt he'll take it well if the city capitulates and releases a murderer

Whether I give the show the same amount of leeway will depend considerably on what happens next. Having built up this Ouroboros assault as being as powerful as it is, I’ll feel cheated if the show uses a deus ex machina or some easily cheesy means of resolving the problem. Of course, with the overt show of force that criminal organization has shown here, it’s hard to explain why they were so shadowy and behind the scenes before. They certainly aren’t interested in staying behind the scenes now.

Having the heroes lose out and Ouroboros succeed in freeing their comrade would be more risky, potentially, and still runs the risk of being seen as a cop-out to keep Barnaby from figuring out the motives for his parents’ murder (or from getting vengeance) too soon. In short, regardless of what happens, the show needs to make the conclusion of this crisis—for good or ill—seem natural.

Jake Martinez, the murderer in question, just finished a macabre work of art on his cell wall. He, too, is a Next

On that score this episode is both reassuring (in how it handles its themes and building tension) and not (in the massive pile-up of conveniently timed events and interventions, and the tendency of villains to have learned marksmanship at the Imperial Storm Trooper Academy). But given where the show succeeds and where it fails, I’m willing to bet in its favor. We’ll find out soon if that pays off.

You can watch the episode here.

Like all other villains, Ouroboros members have a ... unique sense of fashion. At least, the female members do

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