Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Identity Crisis

Season: 2
Episode Number: 20
Season Episode Number: 7
Production Number: 207
Airdate: March 1, 2009

Writer: Andrew Robinson
Director: Jennifer Coyle

Voices: Josh Keaton (Spider-Man), Lacey Chabert (Gwen Stacy), James Arnold Taylor (Harry Osborn), Joshua LeBar (Flash Thompson), Kelly Hu (Sha Shan Nguyen), Grey DeLisle (Sally Avril), Steve Blum (Dilbert Trilby, Seymour O'Reilly), Clancy Brown (Captain George Stacy), Jeff Bennett (St. John Devereaux), Kevin Michael Richardson (Principal Davis), Dee Bradley Baker (Curt Conners), Kath Soucie (Martha Conners), Deborah Strang (Aunt May), Brian George (Aaron Warren, Miles Warren), Daran Norris (J. Jonah Jameson), Andrew Kishino (Ned Lee), Phil LaMarr (Joe "Robbie" Robertson), Alan Rachins (Norman Osborn), Xander Berkeley (Quenton Beck), Ben Diskin (Venom).

Plot: Venom has exposed Spider-Man's secret identity causing major commotion everywhere Peter goes! Poor Peter must deal with accusations from the press, the public, even his friends! And Venom's not stopping there! His ultimate goal is to see Spider-Man destroyed!

Review (Warning! Spoilers!): The events of the last few episodes all lead up to this episode, which contains another epic battle. One of the best part of this series is the action. The production crew doesn't go easy on Spider-Man and this battle, which takes up half of the episode, is a perfect example.

The fight between Venom and Spider-Man in the season one finale is arguably the best fight sequence in the whole first season. We're now only halfway through the second season and we've already seen brilliant battles between Spidey and Mysterio, Kraven, Doc Ock and Sandman, but this fight between Spider-Man and Venom takes the cake. I actually cringed a couple of times because it was so brutal.

But action aside, Identity Crisis manages to put a major focus on the Spidey/Venom fight while still giving enough time to the many subplots. Andrew Robinson touches on Pete's love triangle, Flash's storyarc with Sha Shan, the school play, life at the lab and even begins a little something between Mary Jane and Mark Allen, all with timing that doesn't feel rushed or forced. Robinson also continues the clip based storytelling format that has been present in this storyarc by having Ned Lee interviewing Peter's family and friends about whether or not Pete is Spidey.

Even though this series is quite serialized, each episode is written as a stand alone episode. While a lot happened in the past few episodes to bring the plot to this point, there wasn't a need to include a "previously on Spider-Man" montage at the front of the episode to bring viewers up to speed. Everything was explained in a way that was informative to first time viewers but also not insulting to those who already know what is going on. This is a major strength of the show.

However, there are a couple of writing issues that need to be addressed. First, how on Earth does Peter walk away from a battle like that with no broken bones, bruises, or even a limp? I know that Spider-Man heals faster than the average person, but he should still have some signs of battle damage.

Second, how is it that the gene cleanser affects the symbiote? I thought the gene cleanser is supposed to be able to take away powers that are part of their genetic makeup. The symbiote is not part of Eddie's genetic makeup, but rather a suit that enhances his powers. Yes, the symbiote does bond with Eddie, but seeing as it can come and go as it pleases, I'm not sure that the gene cleanser would have had that effect on it.

Minor issues aside, this episode is stellar. I could have sworn that this was the series finale due to the heightened intensity of the story and action. It leaves me wondering how they are going to top this in the remaining six episodes.

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