Tiger & Bunny Episode 13 – Big Damn Heroes
When we last left our heroes, Barnaby was about to face his parents’ killer, a seemingly untouchable supervillian, with countless lives on the line. Meanwhile, his relations with his partner Tiger were once again strained to the breaking point. Although the two heroes finally seemed to have grown out of the trap that was overused in early episodes, a few idiot moves by Tiger put that development in jeopardy.
For a show devoted to tweaking superhero conventions, this episode plays things surprisingly straight. Once again Barnaby is placed in a situation here he has to trust Tiger, and that trust proves justified. The heroes prevail, civilians are saved, and everyone but the criminals come home happy. The basic outline of events is so predicable that one could trace it from beginning to end from the start. Even so, this episode employs the classic formula effectively enough so that I don’t mind the predictability, or the shmaltz, this time.
Jake is more than capable of defeating Barnaby immediately, but being sick and twisted he insists on playing with him for a while. Using his mind reading ability, he deliberately fools Barnaby into thinking his guard is down once or twice, just for the pleasure of crushing his hopes. Even as he does so, Barnaby stalls for time, trying to give his fellow heroes time to take out the mechs threatening the city.
Thus the first cliche of the episode: the villain’s need to gloat. Given Jake’s personality, however, it makes perfect sense. He’s so used to being untouchable that he can’t help but view everything as a game devoted to his own personal amusement. In a move of remarkable foolishness, he admits that he has another superpower besides his forcefields, just to mess with Barnaby’s mind a bit more.
Apparently the reason no one could figure out Jake could read minds was that no one had ever heard of a Next with two different abilities before—the possibility just didn’t occur to them. With that piece of information, Tiger puts together some of the other details of his fight (the reason his accidental kick connected, the fact that Jake used his real name) to deduce the ability.
Even more clever, he actually lies to Barnaby about it, pretending that he thinks that Jake has “super-hearing” and can thus predict attacks by noticing differences in sound. It’s just the sort of stupidity that Tiger is stereotypically known for, so Jake (and Barnaby, whose mind Jake is reading) doesn’t catch on. When the ultrasonic grenade winds up being a flash bang, he’s caught off guard and Barnaby delivers some super-strong punishment.
Of course, technically speaking, none of this matters, as Blue Rose, Fire Emblem, and Dragon Kid have taken out the mech armies at this point, rendering the hostage threat null. But it’s important for Barnaby to defeat Jake, just as it’s important for him to arrest Jake, rather than kill him. It’s another hero cliche (heroes don’t kill), but it fits within the narrative.
Of course, Jake, in typical villain fashion, winds up getting himself killed in an escape attempt, accidentally shooting down a helicopter on top of himself. (At least, I think he’s dead. I didn’t see a body, so he could be back later.) It’s the normal way of keeping the hero’s hands clean—see Spiderman for another example—but I don’t mind too much. Tiger & Bunny has always been on certain issues of principle, very old school.
So the episode ends with Barnaby and Tiger reconciled, and Barnaby with all the credit and adulation. (Perhaps that’s why Barnaby’s willing to reconcile.) The heroes’ reputations reach an all-time high. Maverick even cedes most of the credit to the mayor, thus ensuring his continued support. It’s a great time to be a hero.
That doesn’t mean this plot is completely resolved. We still don’t know a) why Jake killed Barnaby’s parents, b) what the bomber from episodes 3 and 6 was attempting to accomplish for Ouroboros by his actions, or c) where the organization is getting its mechs. Jake was a clear player in the group, but someone was running it in during his fifteen years in the slammer. I doubt we’ve seen the last of this conspiracy.
With the threat of imminent death gone and Ouroboros soundly defeated for now, Tiger & Bunny is free to take next episode and storyline in whatever direction it wants. (I predict one or two stand alone episodes before introducing the next major plot.) But it’s also done an excellent job in laying the seeds for future conflicts—with Lunatic and with Ouroboros. I just hope it’s gotten the odd couple conflicts between Tiger and Barnaby out of its system.
You can watch the episode here.