Al Simmons was your ordinary government assassin, until one day he was killed in the line of fire. Making a deal a demon lord named Malebolgia, Simmons is promised that he can return to Earth to see his wife Wanda but he must become a Hellspawn and serve in the demon’s army. Now Spawn has a choice: give in to his darker side and commit acts in the name of Hell, or overcome the evil that’s inside of him and become a hero.
Today I’m looking at the fifth episode of Todd McFarlane’s Spawn, “Souls in the Balance.”
1. Wynners and Losers.
This episode primarily focuses on fleshing out Wynn’s storyline, which I really dug. Wynn is one of the most interesting characters in the series and so far our exposure to him has been restrained (He’s at his desk, he gets mad, he tells someone to do something and that’s it). We get to see him assert his authority of Senator McMillan while making it clear that McMillan isn’t the only politician in his pocket; that if push comes to shove he’s a disposable asset. He has Chapel kill Max, the private investigator who has been helping Wanda with her child killer case. It’s weird that Chapel and Spawn haven’t squared off yet (Are they allowed to kill of a non-Spawn character?). The season finale is the next episode, so here’s hoping.
The deeper Wanda digs into the cover up of Billy Kincaid’s crimes, the closer she gets to ruining Senator McMillan’s presidential campaign. To divert her attention, Wynn has her daughter, Cyan, kidnapped. The abduction scene is one of the best scenes from the series. Wanda is inside on the phone while Cyan heads outside unsupervised. We get a shot of a shadowy figure watching Cyan from a car, before cutting back inside to Wanda. The camera remains on her while she takes the phone call, but you can hear the sounds of a car door opening and closing, followed by it driving off. You can feel the dread well up in the pit of your stomach while watching this unfold. You know exactly what’s happening but, man, do you wish it wasn’t true. To make matters worse the episode ends with Billy, under the direction of the Clown, arriving at Wynn’s safe house and taking Cyan.
3. Spawn Finally Does Something.
Looking back over the past episodes, Spawn really hasn’t done anything. Sure, he’s killed a couple of gangsters and a cyborg, and saved the lives of the homeless people living alongside him in the alley but I don’t think that was his intended result. Spawn kills because those people either directly engage him, or pose a potential threat to him. Saving the lives of the other people living in the alley is an accidental result. He’s selfish. At one point he comes face to face with the episode’s new villain, a priest who enjoys tossing explosives at police, and lets him go. When a cop comes into the alley Spawn scares the hell out of him and pins him to a wall for no good reason. Cogliostro calls him out on his contradictory attitude, “You’re saving them one minute and then spitting on them the next. Make up your mind, Spawn.”
4. Clowin’ Around
I won’t lie, up until the last five minutes of the episode I was confused as to why they introduced this psychopath priest storyline. It felt out of place and a distraction from the other linger plotlines introduced over the past episodes. I honestly thought this was a filler episode. It felt like Spawn’s plot was just killing time while setting up everyone else for the final episode of the season. That is until the very end where it’s revealed that the priest is actually the Clown in disguise. It’s a nice twist. Spawn got played and while he thinks what he’s doing is right, it turns out he’s just caught in the machinations of the Clown’s bigger plan – making him embrace his darker side and become a proper Hellspawn. He’s being directed to showdown that involves Cyan and something tells me he’s not going to hold back when he finds the people who took her.Continued below
5. Directed and Written By Anonymous.
Last week I spoke about how the show’s credits didn’t include any credits for the characters co-created by Neil Gaiman. Something I noticed this episode is that while it has a “Written By” credit it’s missing a credit for the director. Looking back through the previous episodes, it turns out this wasn’t a one-off thing. The first and third episodes only have writer credits, while there’s only a director credit for episode four. The second episode is the only one to have both director and writer. McFarlane was someone who talked big about giving creators the recognition and rights they deserve, and while it’s probably not specifically his fault this happened it’s still a bad look. It’s like omitting the writer or artist from an issue of “Spawn.”