NOW IT’S SILVER SABLE’S TURN TO TRY!
Screenplay By: Morgan Grendal, Rick Suville
Directed By: Alan Caldwell
Music By: John Digweed, Nick Muir and William Anderson
Animation By: Mainframe
Guest Starring: Angelle Brooks as Indy, Virgina Madsen as Silver Sable
THE PLOT: While taking pictures at a press conference for the Mayor of New York, Peter happens to intercept an attempted kidnapping by Silver Sable, an assassin for hire. Sable escapes capture and realizes that the plot was foiled by the nearby photog. She kidnaps Harry, MJ and Indy in order to get back Peter’s recorded evidence of her crimes.
LONG STORY SHORT: Spidey saves his friends and the Mayor. It’s revealed that the politician meeting with the mayor was secretly another international terrorist and Sable was trying to keep him from getting to the White House. Sable seemingly dies when falling off of a bridge into the water below. The next morning, MJ comes to Peter and Harry’s apartment in an attempt to clear things up with the former, only to see Indy coming from the bedroom. Embarrassed and saddened, she leaves.
MY THOUGHTS: This is the most mixed I’ve ever felt about an MTV Spider-Man episode. There were good points and bad points, great points and awful points and they don’t exactly cancel each other out. I’m going to try and talk my way through the review to decide if this is ultimately one of the series’ better episodes or not.
Let’s start with the animation, and how I’ve finally come down on it’s role in the series. This episode helped me stamp down exactly how I feel about the cel-shaded style the series employs and whether I think it’s goo or bad. Honestly, it doesn’t work, and it never really has. The characters facial expressions are too limited to go for any nuanced range in the way that 2-D animated could allow. Right at the top, Peter’s “Holy crap!” had precisely the wrong look on his face for such an exclamation (The delivery was bad too. NPH sounded asleep). The body language is off too, as shown in the sparring match between Buzz and Silver Sable. Except for Spider-Man (thankfully, and logically too), every character moves too slowly to the point that they look unnatural. It’s a problem 3-D animation in the late 90s had which has all but gone away in today’s typical Pixar film. When talking, MJ and Harry and Indy and the coffee guy all swing their arms back and forth at a slower rate than expected to the point where it can be distracting. It shows that the series hadn’t yet nailed down the technology to do what it was trying to achieve, and that’s not solely its fault. At the same time, if a 2-D version of the series had been made, I think it automatically would have bee better just by the nature of having smoother movements for the characters.
Having said that, this episodes boasts some of the most wonderful and engaging web-swinging sequences in the entire series, if not the entire history of Spider-Man’s animated career. Two sequences where Peter changes instantaneously have Spidey swinging across the sky in a graceful, eye catching way that makes you wish the show would have more scenes like that than its actual plot. They pad the episode out to be sure, but if his show has done nothing else it’s given Spidey a type of body language that really speaks to the “spidery” nature of his superpowers. This episode is worth catching just for those two scenes.
Back to the negatives, the plot was interesting but entirely mishandled. Silver Sable spends the entire show twirling her mustache and scheming evil plots only to reveal at the end that she’s after a potentially worse person. Spidey even goes along with her explanations. It would be more plausible if he just outright disbelieved her. The fact that Peter and his Scooby Gang also took up the task of figuring out who Silver Sable is was a bit too much for me to believe, and it involved the characters into the plot unnaturally. On the other hand, when Peter went to Empire 1 to talk to Indy, and that was followed by the four main characters at dinner, there were some nice character moments. I wasn’t crazy about Harry thinking about Peter having a potential threesome with MJ and Indy, but it was nice to see Indy and MJ hit it off. MJ is bothered by both how she likes Indy as a person and how well she and Peter go together. This is best established in the scene at the apartment when Indy and Peter talk tech, and MJ is sadly looking at the two of them throughout the whole scene. Indy and Harry also share a nice bit when Peter gives the lame excuse of returning to his lab when he’s really going to change as Spider-Man, and the two just look at him like “Uh huh, really?”. It’s subtle but it’s there, and that type of storyboarding subtlety rarely pops up in Spider-Man cartoons. At least until the Spectacular Spider-Man.
The last thing worth bringing up is that this episode ends with Mary Jane realizing that Indy has spent the night with Peter, strongly implying that the two have had sex. One of the more vocal oppositions to this show occurs with this scene where fans have decried this as out of character on Peter’s part. Two things about this. First, don’t knock it ’til you try it fellas. More seriously, the episode had built on Peter and Indy relationship throughout. Admittedly I was confused because in her debut Indy very directly told Peter she was attracted to him, and has since been less upfront about it and more ambiguous. Peter never really showed attraction to her until Indy’s second episode. The relationship itself, while not objectionable, isn’t really being given a lot of focus or thought in terms of how the two characters feel about each other. It’s hard to follow, although you do get a sense of attraction from both parties, so the consummation doesn’t come out of nowhere. I think a larger part is the fact that there’s a number of fans who cannot handle the idea of Peter being with anybody besides Mary Jane Watson, especially if Mary Jane is in the picture. I’ll also throw up an addendum to that by asking why Peter seems to be in a relationship with Indy, but he repeatedly avoids getting with Mary Jane who has shamelessly thrown herself at the guy and he loves her. It doesn’t make a lot of sense. MTV is trying the love triangle aspect, and it’s avoiding most of the cliches but basic logic isn’t keeping it afloat. I don’t want to see Indy die or anything, but I’m not exactly rooting for MJ either because her character has been pathetic throughout most of the season, if not during all of it. It’s a shame.
At the end of the day I feel that while this story has a lot going for it, there are some big holes with the execution. The writers just don’t seem to have the facilities necessary to pull off what they’re trying to do, and what they’re trying to do doesn’t seem that hard. I don’t know if Morgan Grendal and Rick Suville have experience writing anything else, but it can’t be super hero stories nor basic soap opera drama. Putting those elements together restricts their abilities as writers to the point that they should be forbidden from coming anywhere near both.