November 14, 2019

Danger 5 “Revenge of the Lizard Men” Review | Off the Beaten Path

Alright, so you (you incredibly beautiful soul of a reader) might be asking where Danger 5 might go in Revenge of the Lizard Men, now that our intrepid band of bumbling spies are on the lamb. The answer to that is more running, and the return of (big reveal here) the dino-soldiers from season one. Along with Johnny Hitler, Revenge of the Lizard Men was the other season 2 episode I would rewatch, largely because Lizard Soldiers of the Third Reich was easily my favorite episode of season 1. That said, this is the first episode I’ve seen of Danger 5 on my rewatch that has dropped in my estimation which honestly caught me a bit off guard, and I’ll tell you why.

The episode starts off with Metro City U.S.A. on lock down after the events of Johnny Hitler, with law enforcement (with Hitler and a still alive Mengele providing support) working day and night to find our intrepid band of heroes. Danger 5, along with a very bored Holly, are holed up in one of Pierre’s many night clubs, either trying to make the best of a bad situation (especially Pierre, since it’s his club and his birthday) or driving themselves crazy (Jackson in true of kilter form). Very quickly though the team starts sabotaging themselves. Ilsa (her suspicions growing as to Krushchev’s intentions towards Holly), accidentally drugs herself and Pierre with a drug orange, and she quickly splits off with Jackson to sleep with him (to Jackson’s surprise). Tucker, motivated by something only his crazy mind can process, calls the police, telling them he has Holly as a hostage at the mall, and goes off with Holly to confront Hitler and his unwitting police force. Meanwhile, dissent is forming among Hitler’s underlings. Mengele, while creating pills from some Quato-esque lizard in his abdomen (who goes by Mr. Pedro), debate about whether Hitler is worthy of leading the Fourth Reich, stopping when the Fuhrer appears to put down Mengele for trying to recreate Claire. 

The police, going off of Tucker’s tip, launch a simultaneous raid on the mall (led by Hitler) and Pierre’s nightclub (led by the police chief). During the nightclub raid Pierre, Ilsa, and Jackson are all arrested and taken into custody, while at the mall Tucker goes full on slasher movie villain as he hunts down the team sent after him. At the station, we quickly find out what exactly the pills Mengele created do; they turn the overworked police officers into full on dinosaurs, which quickly go on a rampage in the station. During the confusion brought on by the rampage, Ilsa takes down Mengele, leaving Mr. Pedro to fully emerge and launch his own plan to take down Hitler (he takes some of his goons to the mall, where they kidnap Hitler before Tucker can kill him). The team (sans Pierre) quickly regroup and give chase to Mr. Pedro and his lizard goons. The chase only ends after Holly sustains some truly brutal battle injuries, giving the lizard men their opening to escape with the captive Fuhrer. The episode ends with the team lamenting Holly’s demise, only to be shocked when she miraculously comes back to life fully healed.

So yeah, a lot happens in this episode that I skimmed over for some semblance of brevity. In fact, I’d go as far as to say Revenge of the Lizard Men is probably the densest episode of Danger 5 yet in terms of sheer plot density, both for the episodic plot and the season arc. This is both a positive and a negative. On the positive side, we get a fair amount of character development for the main crew. For instance, we get developments when it comes to the romantic tension between Ilsa and Jackson (this will grow as Ilsa grows more and more suspicious of Krushchev’s motives), Holly’s role in the greater narrative (the end reveal only adds to the mystery of Hitler’s designs for her), and Tucker’s growing post-Claire insanity (Pierre is largely on the periphery, creating laughs but not much else of note). As much as I love Johnny Hitler, there wasn’t much in the way of forward momentum for the character arcs for the main cast (this was fine by me, since the supporting cast of the episode helped make it shine), so this is the first time since Merry Christmas Colonel where we start moving beyond setup into the arcs the characters will inevitably follow. 

We also get some interesting secondary villain development. On the one hand, we have the growing dissent among the remaining Nazi leadership; we don’t know exactly why yet, just that it’s been a long time coming, but I bet it has to do with Holly. This is something we never really saw in season 1, what with the secondary villains only lasting for an episode at most, so this is an interesting development. Also acting across purposes from Hitler and Danger 5 is Krushchev, who is growing impatient with Ilsa, and likely more willing to act rashly against anyone who gets in the way of his own plans for Holly. All this creates an interesting tableau from which any number of 80’s style shenanigans can emerge from, whether humorous or action packed.

On the negative side, Revenge of the Lizard Men is so full of plot developments that it feels half baked compared to other episodes, especially the other season 2 episodes (this is what brought the episode down for me on this rewatch). For a solid example, look at Mengele’s role in the plot. To me at least, other than to have an excuse for bringing some fun ass dinosaurs back into the mix, I’m not sure what role Mengele and his pills were supposed to play in the greater scheme other than to create a way for the team (and the season plot) to move beyond their police pursuers. Usually the scheme of the episode, while often simple and cartoonish in its villainy, will serve some greater and distinct purpose for Hitler’s plans for world domination. The scheme in Revenge of the Lizard Men, however, doesn’t ever get explained nor does it really make sense when you think about it (I mean, why is Hitler trying to convert the police force into dinosaurs? Wouldn’t that blow his cover?), especially when you look at an episode with a much tighter scheme like Johnny Hitler, or all of season 1. 

Mengele himself (probably the best secondary villain of season 1) is merely a throw away character in this episode, existing merely to introduce Mr. Pedro and reintroduce the dinosaurs before being rather unceremoniously killed of (for real this time) by Ilsa. I mean, I could see him being a foil for Tucker in how they grieve for Claire, but even that feels rather flimsy to me. Also there is the distinct possibility that we would have learned more about Hitler’s scheme involving the dinosaurs if it weren’t for his capture. That said, I get the feeling if that was the case the show creators would have given us more info about Hitler’s thought process instead of leaving us in the dark. There’s other stuff that’s left in the dark in terms of motivations, like why Tucker called the police on himself. Was he just trying to get to Hitler? Was he trying to vent his anger on the police as a whole? Is he also just completely insane? Who knows really. It’s frustrating to me the episode is this loose in terms of story; this could all be fixed through some simple dialogue, maybe even a scene or two involving Pierre and/or McKenzie to tie everything together and illuminate what’s unclear.

So what did I think of Revenge of the Lizard Men? To put it shortly, the positives are that besides being packed full of the solid humor and the fun action we’ve come to expect, the season gets a kick start in terms of narrative momentum while introducing us to greater mysteries of the upcoming plot. On the negative side it’s so chock full of plot it loses sight of itself in the moment, ending up a half baked collection of events hastily strung together by contrivance.All this comes together in an experience that while frustrating at times is still a very enjoyable ride. Here’s hoping this is a one off, since our heroes have only 4 episodes to go, with both a lot of questions to solve and numerous enemies to defeat.

Final Rating: B-

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