Welcome back to Multiversity Comic’s “5 Thoughts” column for Amazon’s The Tick. I’m pleased to report that I’ll be doing one of these each week for the next 6 weeks, to finish out the second half of the first season of the show. Does that make any sense? The good news is that the show hasn’t missed a beat, and while I still have some minor quibbles with it that I’ll talk more about below, it’s still a solid, funny little show with a lot of heart. There will be spoilers for this episode and the episodes that came before, so watch first before reading the column. And if you haven’t seen the first 6 episodes, it would only take you two and a half hours to catch up to this one. Without further ado, let’s begin:
1. When we last left our heroes…
The minds behind Amazon’s The Tick made the shrewd choice of ending its split first season on a major cliffhanger: Arthur captured by The Terror and everyone else looking for him. What this means is that even if you didn’t cover The Tick in great detail and in a weekly fashion for a professional comic book website, it is easy to slide back in and remember where all the chess pieces were. And even if you don’t remember some of the finer details of what went on in the first 6 episodes, this episode manages to reference pretty much anything you would need to know, and does it without sacrificing its own pacing. The episode accomplishes breaking Arthur out of from The Terror’s lair, moving the core group of protagonists (The Tick, Overkill, and Dot) closer together, re-establishing Ms. Lint and The Terror and adding a new wrinkle to their partnership, and giving the viewer everything they need to move forward. It accomplishes all of this in 24 minutes. It’s really well done.
As a side note, I didn’t detect any major or obvious changes to costuming, budget, or story in this episode versus the initial six. You may recall that The Tick got a costume change between the airing of the pilot episode and the 2nd episode of the show, due to negative feedback toward the original costume. I think that’s fine. The Tick is still a very solid show which, in my mind, would only really be majorly improved as an adaptation by getting a little weirder by adding more surreal characters in the future.
2. Witnessing The Terror
One of the only other aspects of the show that fans seem to be a little torn on is “The Terror”, as some seem to feel he’s too goofy. I think if you consider the world of “The Tick” as it has been traditionally presented, he’s a perfect fit. I think Jackie Earle Haley is as menacing as he needs to be, when he needs to be. The rest of the time, he fits in to the absurd cast of characters like a glove. In “Tale from the Crypt”, The Terror spends half of the episode doing some intense jazz drumming while a henchman screams at him like J.K. Simmons in Whiplash. When he decides the henchman isn’t being hard enough on him, he throws him back in a locked cell. It’s a goofy scene, sure, but it doesn’t sacrifice The Terror’s essential ruthless nature for some eccentric laugh. When Arthur confronts The Terror about the murder of his father, The Terror barely recalls it. Once his memory is jogged, he laughs over it and mixes up some key details demonstrating that brutal murder is just another day in the park for him. It’s probably not easy to balance the humor and the menace of The Terror, but I think The Tick does a really great job of it. If nothing else, The Terror is not an unmemorable villain with weak motivation, and superhero adaptations are full of those.
3. Lost Without You
Early on in the episode, The Tick says “When Arthur’s not around, I can be shockingly helpless.” It’s a reference to Tick not realizing that checking Arthur’s apartment should have been the first thing to do after his disappearance, but it also works as a commentary on how the show operates with the two of them apart. For better or worse, Amazon’s The Tick has Arthur and The Tick relying on one another for their individual effectiveness. The Tick inspires Arthur to give less fucks, and Arthur is the one who gives Tick his purpose. The good news is that this show has plenty to fill in around the central duo. The show isn’t boring without them together, but The Tick is less ebullient without him around, by design. Hopefully that’s over now.Continued below
4. Bonds forming and breaking
“Tale from the Crypt” shows a variety of characters making surprising moves toward forming or breaking their relationships with other characters. Some of these, like Dot slowly trying to break through Overkill’s emotional defenses, aren’t very surprising. The major female protagonist trying to get through the walls of the “tough, silent type” is a tale as old as time, but it does provide us with some great Overkill material. (“I don’t follow tracks, tracks follow me.”)
A little more surprising was Ms. Lint helping Arthur out of The Terror’s cell by dropping a key for him. In the first half of the season, there were lengths taken to ensure that we saw Lint as a sympathetic character. That work is paying off now, as she doesn’t seem entirely committed to the super-villain business, or at least not entirely committed to The Terror. This is one to watch, because while we see a better person underneath, The Terror also clearly has some sway over her.
Most surprising was the reveal that Overkill’s sentient “Dangerboat” has some romantic feelings of their own (or “his” own? Dangerboat identifies as male) for none other than…Arthur? I don’t know about you, but I’ll certainly be “shipping” that pairing. (Oh how delightfully devilish, Vince.)
5. “Spoon!” watch
This is the part where I pick my three favorite quotes from each episode. Surprisingly, Overkill has more lines fighting for space in this column than any other character. And even though I call this “Spoon! watch”, The Tick’s most famous memorable non-sequitur has not made an appearance yet.
Overkill: “If your brother is still alive, Tick and I are the only possible shot at rescue…or a glorious revenge-soaked suicide.”
Ms. Lint: “Not that I owe you an explanation, or anything else.”
Arthur: “You owe my mom a vacuum cleaner!” (Griffin Newman’s timing and delivery is the highlight here)
The Tick: “C4? I see more than four…”