And so, dear reader, we’ve reached the final episode of the first wave of Amazon’s The Tick. While it’s technically not the entire “first season” yet, I’m not sure exactly what to call it. It’s the first “wave” of episodes, really. And yet, the episode ends with a decidedly “season finale” style finish. No matter what you want to call it, it’s over for now, and I have to say, it was kind of a mixed bag. I definitely felt more positively than negatively about it, and look forward to getting more episodes, but with such a small batch of episodes it really just took too long to get going. For reasons I’ve already explained and will explain further below, this version of The Tick is perhaps the one that tries to venture furthest away from its original comic book source material. Any time it course corrects or hearkens back to the original spirit of The Tick it just becomes a more entertaining show to engage with. Nevertheless, I’ll miss reviewing it here, and look forward to its eventual return.
1. You Can’t Kill Terror
Yes, that’s the title of a GWAR song. It’s also basically how The Terror explains his survival to Miss Lint. The complicated relationship between Lint & Terror has been one of the real shining bits of this iteration of The Tick. We’ve seen the villain/sidekick-maybe-love interest angle before, but between these two there’s something more difficult to pin down. Lint feels a deep sense of betrayal that The Terror was alive this whole time and didn’t tell her, but it’s a pain that goes beyond just feeling lied to. Yara Martinez imbues Lint with the sadness and the weight of all the time she lost with her former boss. Meanwhile, Jackie Earle Haley plays The Terror with a calculated mix of admiration for and confidence in Miss Lint’s abilities as a villain in her glory days (used to pump up her sense of self), while maintaining a purposeful detachment and a willingness to play hard-to-get. The Terror cares about Miss Lint, but is also disappointed in what she’s become since he left her behind, but maybe he’s also just using that expression of disappointment as a motivational tactic, and maybe that motivational tactic as a means to lure Lint back into his sphere is just a means to an end. The true power of their relationship as televised is that all of those things could be true, and both characters are left doing this kind of dance where their feelings aren’t quite resolved.
2. Arthur’s time to fly
Not as complex or interesting is the relationship between The Tick and Arthur, but that might be changing. Up until now, Arthur’s reluctance to join the overly exuberant Tick on his quest for the elusive “justice” has been an extremely one-note exercise. Above, I talked about all the different notes Lint & The Terror play in navigating the way they feel about one another and continuing their evil enterprises. The Tick and Arthur do not operate with that same kind of subtlety. That was okay for a while, but Arthur’s inability to jump into a heroing life of the same kind that he’s admired for all his life dampened the fun of the series for considerable chunks, even if it efforts were made to sell his choices with realistic convictions.
I said that might be changing, because there’s a scene in this episode that allows Arthur to fully turn a corner by having him heroically rescue an infant from a bus about to be dropped off a bridge. Arthur, with a little help from The Tick, triumphs in this moment, and it’s pretty well-earned. As The Tick and Arthur start to become recognized around town, the mix of incredulity and pride is played well by Griffin Newman. It’s a moment where Arthur visibly shows an ability to accept his “destiny” (as only The Tick would say) while also seemingly utterly beside himself that he’s becoming an actual hero. Again, if The Tick wasn’t always willing to embrace the exuberance and carefree nature of its source material, “Rising” did a great job of convincing us that it’s on its way there.Continued below
3. We’re gonna need a montage
The closing minutes of the episode featured a short montage (set to a gorgeous folk song by The Wild Reed called “Blind and Brave”) that reintroduces The City to superheroes living and working among them, including mentioning The Tick and Arthur by name. Bringing supers out into the open again is a good sign for the next batch of episodes that we’ll eventually be getting. One of the faults of Amazon’s The Tick was a lack of colorful characters when compared to pretty much any other Tick project. Perhaps this is a step on the road to fixing that and populating this world?
We also catch Ramses drowning his sorrows in liquor (as opposed to the corporately-mandated bottle of Vitamin Water he usually sips from), Miss Lint returning to villain work, and Dot returning to patch up gangsters. Aside from Ramses, who gets his ass fried by Miss Lint, these characters look to remain major players in future episodes. Ramses remains in limbo, for at least as long as Fox’s Gotham plans to use Michael Cerveris as Professor Pyg in Gotham.
The episode ends in earnest with a bit of self-serving product placement that’s actually pretty well done. The Terror has kidnapped Arthur and tied him to a chair, uttering “Alexa, play ominous music” before revealing himself to Arthur as shouting “Cliffhanger!” to end the episode. A property as irreverent as The Tick is one of the few places where you can get away with a throwaway Amazon Echo joke and not have it feel entirely shameless. It’s self-referential. It’s goofy. It’s funny. It’s everything The Tick should be, and ends the “season” on a high note.
5. “Spoon!” watch
The Tick: “Overkill wants to make a murder salad out of your hero’s journey.”
Overkill: “Relax. I just gave you a shot of Sodium Amber Thiessen. You’re gonna tell us where The Terror is now.”
The Tick: “Whoa! Secret face!”
Overkill: “Don’t talk about my face.”