Welcome to Multiversity Comics’ “Five Thoughts” on The Tick. Amazon Prime may have dumped the entire series out to us all at once, but this column will be coming out once a week, covering one episode a week, until we reach the end of the season. As is customary here at Multiversity Comics, these “5 Thoughts” will regard generally anything that crosses my mind while watching the episode, along with a dash of criticism here and there as I deem necessary. However, the 5th thought is always a collection of the episode’s most quotable lines: perhaps the strongest aspect of any iteration of “The Tick.” Keep in mind that there will be spoilers, so tread lightly. All that said, please enjoy my thoughts on the ninth episode of season two: “In the Woods”
1. “Chum! Your dream came true.”
And so, right off the bat in episode 9 we finally learn that The Tick and Arthur have been accepted as members of the Flag Five, along with Joan of Arc (more on her later, of course), Sage the Supernumerary (the multi-nippled Doctor Strange guy), and Bronze Star (the pleasant bronze-dipped man who…well…I don’t think we know what exactly he brings to the table). I correctly predicted that their membership might include some compromises that our heroes weren’t ready for, but I didn’t expect that those would include donning even more outlandish costumes designed to make the squad look more uniform (and garishly patriotic). In fact, everything about The Flag Five is a little garish, down to the stars-and-stripes bedecked board room that serves as their mission hub. There’s a sense of immediate regret from a few of the characters, but ultimately a paycheck is a paycheck. I like that The Tick doesn’t beat you over the head with trying that say that A.E.G.I.S. is either good or bad, but does present to the viewer quite plainly the sorts of compromises and bureaucracy that would be involved in an organization like that. Like most social commentary that The Tick provides, it’s shining a light on the soft subject of the mundane aspects of working life, rather than going for hard-edged satire.
2. Joan of Character Arc
As has been the case almost every week, this episode gave us a little more to digest as far as Joan of Arc’s character arc goes. She’s probably going on the most intense journey of any character on the show this season, and this episode reaches something of a breaking point for her position as a villain. She accepts membership in the Flag Five, causing her right hand man Frank to press her on her motivations. He’s seen the cracks already, and he’s questioned her before, but episode 9 finds Frank fully realizing that Joan of Arc’s road is no longer one he can share with her. I say this often about The Tick but for a character we’ve spent relatively little time with, Frank feels like a living breathing person in this moment, and there’s a true air of regret in his words. Joan of Arc is still straddling the line, saying that she’s only in the hero business for the money, but I think Frank realizes that’s not true. Joan of Arc also has another moment of debate with the voice in her head, goading her for choosing the side of good. This week, that voice is resigned to the choice she already knew Joan would make. Joan of Arc was her favorite story as a girl, but she didn’t realize until now that the person she had always wanted to be was a hero. That may seem naive of her, but if you think about the entire arc she’s been on, from Season 1 with the gaslighting that The Terror leveled at her, to now, it really does come across as truthful.
3. Flag Five Formalities
Perhaps the funniest scene of this season takes place in this episode, where Arthur gets Commander Rathbone on the line with his communicator. Rathbone uses a bunch of formal military lingo and technical mumbo jumbo to try to get Arthur to speak in a specific sort of A.E.G.I.S. jargon. Only Arthur hasn’t had time to read all the material yet and is also in a bit of an emergency, so getting the technicalities down doesn’t seem like it’s all that important in the moment. The way Rathbone rattles off all this junk that a casual listener could never comprehend is really funny, but it’s even funnier if you think about how ridiculous it sounds when a civilian tries to use “tactical” lingo. This episode does a great job making Rathbone both a likable, noble character, but also even more of a cartoonish parody of a Nick Fury type. Even the way the actor (Marc Kudisch) carries himself when he walks (read: lumbers) is hilariously on-point.Continued below
4. Overkill Under the Influence
The “twist” of this episode wasn’t hard to see coming, considering that John Hodgman’s Agent Hobbes has always been a bit of a sketchy kiss ass who was a little too enthusiastic about some of the more fascist aspects of A.E.G.I.S. Rathbone feeding a mouse into his black hole heart was a pretty darn good red herring, but Hobbes was the one we were supposed to be skeptical of all along. The mouse thing was still pretty twisted though. I wonder if they’ll ever explain or justify that one?
What was less obvious was just how dark Overkill’s character arc would get by the end of this episode. Early on, Hobbes takes mental control of Overkill, setting his sights on Rathbone. Just before the episode ends, Overkill puts a bullet in Rathbone’s head from long distance. Remembering that Overkill began the season with an oath to stop killing and having regained that ability to kill (but only righteously?) when Dot unwishes The Tick’s wish, it’s pretty tragic that those special abilities are co-opted for use against one of the heroes of this week’s episode. Overkill has carried a lot of burdens in his adult life, and now he carries another one.
5. “Spoon!” Watch
The Tick: “Why do the best things in life pop so easily?”
Sage: “Well, is that a “5” on the Blind Eye of Thirdarra? Aw, that’s just blasphemy.”
The Tick: “I look like a crossing guard for justice!”
Joan of Arc: “I look great.”
Overkill: “Ugh. Are you done villainsplaining?”