Words from The Abstract on episode 5 of The Spectacular Spider-Man. As per usual, a new villain shows up for our hero to tackle, but the actual problems are on the field during Midtown High’s football tryouts.
Plot: While Norman Osborn is busy engineering a new villain for the Big Man, Harry Osborn decides to try out for the football team as a way to take control of his life. Peter, being the good friend he is, decides to try out as a way to watch Harry’s back, but when a guy with spider powers decides to play football, the results can only be great…right?
Review: As the second episode in the story arc starts, Flint Marko and his partner are captured by Spider-Man…again. Tombstone bails them out and commissions Marko for Oscorp’s next Super Villain project, creating the Sandman. The funny thing about the episode, is that Harry is doing a bit of creativity himself, starting to become the Harry we know from his college days. Now, the episode before this really regulated the villain as a component of the story, but not something too important. With this episode, Sandman’s involvement is a strong catalyst that moves the story forward. As a villain, Sandman pretty much operates the way he has in the comics, even drawing some comparisons to his portrayal in Spider-Man 3. Flint Marko, at his core, is a petty thief. His main goal is to make the big score and be well off, so as opposed to deciding to get revenge on Spider-Man and work for the Big Man, as Sandman, Marko realizes he has the power to do anything he wants and rob anything he wants. It’s a simple motivation but it works for the character, because we’ve seen him in the series since the first episode. As usual with the series, it works. I can buy Marko just wanting to use his powers to knock over banks because he’s failed at every robbery he’s attempted since Spider-Man has been around. However, when he does get into it with Spider-Man, it’s really just to rid himself of a pest that just won’t stop (terrible pun coming up, avert your eyes) bugging him. He tries to rob a bank, Spidey gets in the way. He tries to steal an armored truck, Spidey gets in the way. He only tackles the webhead because he’s in the way; he doesn’t see him as a threat, and thats what makes him a catalyst for the main story in the episode.
Harry takes an interesting path in this episode, deciding to take his father’s advice from the last episode and do something about his life. Trying out for the football team won’t set the world on fire or make his voice become less squeaky, but if he makes it, he’ll become a part of the in crowd that he wants, even if he’s really just trying to gain his fathers respect and acceptance. Of course, Pete comes along to protect him and by doing so, really shows off during the tryouts. The tension begins to build between Harry and Pete as Harry finds himself trying to come out of his best friend’s shadow once again. It’s interesting that no matter what the two of them do, Peter always seems to be better at it, even when he isn’t trying as hard or doesn’t want it as much, which makes Pete’s decision at the end of the episode that much stronger as it shows how much he truly does care for Harry. Harry flirts with the in crowd and hopes the bond is successful, but only future episodes will tell the answer.
As Pete begins to patch things up with Gwen, she begins to show some interest in him, trying to get the guts to ask him to the midtown high dance. Of course he shoots her down without knowing he’s doing so, but Pete’s life as Spider-Man interferes as she’s beginning to get the courage, illustrating once again that as long as Spider-Man is needed, it’s going to be hard for Peter to maintain a normal life.
There are some fun things in the episode, from Pete hiding all of his dirty clothes in a web on the ceiling, the fight between Spidey and Sandman that echoes Spider-Man 3 right down to locations and shots, to even meeting Mrs. Osborn. She doesn’t speak but she is present as Norman once again puts his son down, claiming his football helmet is just for a halloween costume. This episode, much like the last, was very strong with developments for Harry. That’s not to say Peter plays a backseat, but he and Harry sort of share the spotlight in this episode, which is ironic because Harry’s problem is that he wants to be THE star and not have to share top billing with his best friend who seems to have the perfect life.
Rating: 4.5 Webheads out of 5. Strong episode with strong developments. The fight scenes were great but there didn’t seem to be that many of them, and I never felt that Pete was in jeopardy of being beat by the Sandman. I love the development of Pete and Harry’s relationship and how Gwen is added in the mix as well. Also, Aunt May showing more faith in Peter and acknowledging his responsibility was a nice touch.