• Television 

    Five Thoughts on Big Hero 6: The Series‘ “Countdown to Catastrophe”

    By | October 15th, 2018
    Posted in Television | % Comments

    Summer is over, and so is the first season of Big Hero 6: The Series, which concluded with a spectacular three-part finale that reminded us why our favorite team of STEM students (and robot) truly deserve the name Big Hero 6, as well as revealing every last secret from our big bad Obake.

    1. No “Previously On…”

    It’s really quite astounding how many threads this trio of episodes pulls together, from the random (Wasabi and Honey Lemon venturing into Baron von Steamer’s abandoned lair to retrieve a phonograph) to storylines I should’ve perhaps expected to resurface (after all, Fred’s 1:1 Kentucky Kaiju toy probably wasn’t cheap for the production). I did detect a few concessions to people who may just be tuning in now (eg. Mini-Max introducing himself to Krei), but overall, it was made to pay off so many things set up this season, and all the more satisfying for it.

    There’s also so many cameo appearances from previous guest stars (like Riki Lindhome or Mara Wilson) that it was more surprising who didn’t show up. It was probably too late to add Patton Oswalt to Obake’s gang of misfits, but I was more surprised James Cromwell didn’t come back. I guess they recorded his dialogue for season 1 and 2 at the same time, but still, it would’ve been nice to see him with the rest of the city when they were facing their potential demise at the hands of Obake.

    2. The Redemption of Globby

    The episode begins with Hiro and Baymax fighting Globby in what appears to be the very warehouse he was created in, and it was a strong indicator that the crummy supervillain’s story would come full circle, with his turning to the side of the angels after realizing he didn’t want to help Obake destroy the city.

    That's Globby in the center

    Remember that scene in The Rocketeer? Globby is basically the mobster teaming up with the feds against the Nazis. It was lovely to see him and Honey Lemon build the barrier against Obake’s detonation, as yes, she was the only one who believed there was still a good guy under his slimy exterior: I also loved that he called her “Tall Girl.”

    3. Bob Aken

    So, it turned out Obake was a portmanteau of his real name, Bob Aken (it would’ve been more difficult if his name were spelled Aiken). Like Fred, I wasn’t expecting him to be called Bob of all things, it’s so unintimidating. Anyway, it turns out that building an energy amplifier has been a Holy Grail for many engineers in San Fransokyo, including Obake, whose accident as a young SFIT student was caused by his attempt to build one (the paperweight Granville had in the first episode is revealed to be a remnant of that experiment).

    Despite Granville’s warnings, Hiro decides to build one for his semester’s final project, enabling Obake to steal it and use it to complete his terrible engine. As Obake and everyone else at SFIT discovers, the Great Catastrophe that hit the city in 1906 was caused when Lenore Shimamoto created an amplifier powerful enough to generate an artificial star, which became too unstable. Obake now seeks to recreate that experiment, unconcerned with the collateral damage because – as Baymax discovers – the accident has damaged his temporoparietal junction, rendering him unable to discern right from wrong. (He’s so crazy, he even tells Hiro that the moral of the story of Icarus wasn’t that he flew too close to the Sun, but that his wings weren’t strong enough.)

    A brain-damaged villain trying to recreate a star? Why, yes, it does sound a lot like Spider-Man 2. But unlike that film or the new PlayStation 4 game, the show doesn’t feel the need to invent a personal relationship between the hero and the villain: Obake’s attempt to turn Hiro into his own dark side apprentice is rooted in him seeing the parallels between them, meaning it’s a fault of Hiro’s own hubris, and therefore more chilling as a result. Hiro’s attempts to stop the star going nova at the end is as much about him making up for his own arrogance, as it is demonstrating his own selflessness.

    Continued below

    4. Darker but Still Fun

    Big Hero 6: The Series is a very comedic series, so the notion of a villain plotting to essentially massacre an entire city with the help of the hero’s own mistake is inherently darker than usual. We got some quite emotional moments this week, such as the first scene where Granville tries to talk Hiro out of building an energy amplifier: it sounded like Jenifer Lewis was genuinely frustrated to the point of breaking into tears, remembering what happened to Bob.

    Still, the show does a great job of managing to balance the light humor and high stakes: for example, Aunt Cass’s worry for her nephew feels real, but her stress eating is still quite funny. Similarly, there’s a great comedy horror moment when Baymax, having been reprogrammed by Noodle Burger Boy, takes Hiro to Obake’s lair, and they see Trina‘s disembodied head and headless body – she quips that he must’ve been really dumb to have not worked out that she was a robot.

    Tries to create a star: dies underground.

    Speaking of Baymax being turned to the dark side, Obake’s final scene, where his scheme lies in tatters and he resigns himself to an imminent demise, was incredibly poignant. Although he’s programmed to help, it was rather moving that Baymax decided to stay at Obake’s side until he let him go, as that might be the only empathy Obake has received in years.

    5. Questions That Need Answering

    I’ve praised the episode enough so let’s talk about a few bothersome plot holes. Like, Fred’s not a student at SFIT, so why does he have a project at the Open House Day? I also found it rather unbelievable that Obake’s security card from 20 years ago, which he used to steal Hiro’s energy amplifier, was still valid on the campus after all these years. I’m also still unclear as to what Obake’s scheme to turn the city’s water into the fuel source D20 had to do with any of this, or how exactly Kentucky Kaiju was used to neutralize the star when it went nova. Ultimately though, none of that was important – what was was seeing Big Hero 6 spending what might’ve been their last stand together, ready to die for each other and the whole city. It was all-in-all, an inspiring finale.

    Bonus thoughts:
    – Loved seeing everyone at Snipple Animation Studios being credited on this episode – stellar work all round. There were especially some great silent character beats from Hiro’s Sky-Max, which were on par with Wallace and Gromit.
    – As I suspected, Granville sussed out Big Hero 6’s identities ages ago, but Aunt Cass is still unaware.
    – Turns out Noodle Burger Boy’s weakness is he’s top heavy, who knew?
    – The Big Hero 6 seatbelt Hiro wore piloting Kentucky Kaiju was pretty new – we haven’t seen that kind of blatant branding before on the show.

    It’s been a delightful season, and I’ve greatly enjoyed sharing my thoughts with you all. Season 2 can’t come soon enough for my liking – there’s so much else I’d love to discuss, so do leave a comment below!

    //TAGS | Big Hero 6

    Christopher Chiu-Tabet

    Chris is a writer from London on the autistic spectrum, who enjoys tweeting and blogging on Medium about his favourite films, TV shows, books, music, games as well as history and religion. He is Lebanese/Chinese, although he can't speak Cantonese or Arabic. He also writes for Nerdy POC.


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