Ben 10 2016 Reboot Episode Review: The Clocktopus
Well, here we go again. Another episode of the Ben 10 2016 reboot has shown up which means another review that covers said episode. In this episode, the main characters go to a place called Squid City (ok then) because Max wants Ben and Gwen to experience a moment of Max's childhood past before the place gets dismantled to make way for a new mega mall. Let's cover two major aspects of this episode that, at least to me, affected the episode's quality overall greatly.
First is Ben's fear. In the Original Series, Ben was afraid of clowns. In the reboot show, Ben is now afraid of squids. Why? Because a school play, that Ben participated in 4 years before the events of the show, went badly and one of the squid arm props fell on Ben, greatly embarrassing him in front of the entire audience. Ok, wouldn't this be better and more sensible if Ben almost got killed instead or something? I get that Ben was 6-years-old at the time but embarrassment is one thing while fear is another. Here's another problem about Ben's fear of squids in this episode. It lack SUBTLETY. In the OS episode, Last Laugh, Ben's fear of clowns was done in a more subtle way. Ben feels uncomfortable being around clowns. He wants to get away from them. He also tries to not make it obvious to others. In this reboot episode, however, Ben shows little to no subtlety with his fear of squids. He makes it annoyingly obvious. The overly expressive facial expressions that he gives is one thing but the way that he acts is another; especially when Ben gives out this high pitch, squeaky, and I guess even raspy voice almost every time he says the word "squid" that was becoming more like nails on a chalkboard to me. It's such an annoying way of portraying Ben that only further makes him more of an unlikable character. Yeah, fear and panic can make people act irrationally but to me, this is too much for Ben and it needed to be toned down some. In fact, speaking of subtlety, that's a pretty major problem of this reboot show as a whole. There's so little to no subtlety in it. Too much of this show is just too overly exaggerated and energetic and it needs to be toned down. The Powerpuff Girls 2016 reboot suffered greatly because of major factors such as this. It's like what Pan-Pizza from RebelTaxi said when he did his review of said PPG reboot, "It's like the writers didn't know what subtlety was." It's pretty much the same case with the Ben 10 reboot as well.
Well, at least Ben's fear of squids provides some struggle with fighting the villain in this episode, even though it doesn't last long and isn't as significant and impactful to Ben as a character and the show as when Ben overcame his fears in Last Laugh. Plus, the moral of the episode was ok. The moral itself is a good moral to follow in general and it was better implemented than the other morals that the Ben 10 reboot covered that were so badly hand-fisted into the episodes. The action is ok as well.
Now let's get to the other major aspect of this episode that also affected it greatly and that's the villain. In this episode, we get a steampunk themed villain known as Steam Smythe. Ok, steampunk. I like that theme for the villain and the outside design of the steam-powered Clocktopus, that Steam Smythe used in this episode, does look pretty nice. Sounds like some good potential, right? That's until we go inside the Clocktopus and see just what type of character Steam Smythe really is. Ok, first off, with all that fire in the back of the Clocktopus, how is it that Steam Smythe isn't suffering from everything inside the Clocktopus getting so freakin hot from said fire, if not catching on fire himself? Second, this villain is so freakin annoying. He is too overly obsessed with the past. People are likely going to say that that's part of his theme and whatsoever though so let me just say this. Key word: "too". Steam Smythe is so obsessed with the past that he even goes out of his way to say that steam-powered technology is more superior than modern day technology. Yeah because a steam-powered iron or steel octopus is more superior that heavily armored tanks that fire armor-piercing rounds, highly mobile attack helicopters armed with salvo rockets, an AC-130 armed with big ass cannons loaded with big ass rounds of ammunition, fighter jets that can break the sound barrier, etc etc etc. Even those from the era of history that the steampunk theme is represented here as will disagree with Steam Smythe. What type of metal did he even use to build the Clocktopus? Iron? Depending on the type and thickness of steel and the type of ammunition used and the velocity of the round, it's possible that a 5.56x45mm NATO round can shoot through steel and steel is stronger than iron. Police officers can show up armed with AR-15s and can possibly shoot through the iron plating and riddle Steam Smythe with copper-jacketed lead. It's even more annoying that Steam Smythe continues to make remarks that steam-powered technology is more superior than modern technology multiple times in this episode. Did none of the writers look at this and thought that maybe this is too much and they should redo this so that it's done better? There's also another repeating joke with this villain in the episode where he tries to work a lever on the Clocktopus to do a certain function but because, unsurprisingly, steam-powered technology is not so reliable, Steam Smythe struggles a little before he finally gets his machine to work. Repeating the same joke over and over again, especially in one episode, doesn't make it any more funny. It just makes it all the more annoying. They did this with the Weatherheads in Riding the Storm Out and that was a major factor, if not the only factor, that made those villains so annoying and unlikable and now they did it again with Steam Smythe in this episode. Stop it. Just stop. Any good writer would know that you don't do stuff like this in comedy and with characters because they know that it's a surefire way of annoying the viewers and further making the show and the characters all the more annoying and unlikable to watch.
So yeah, there's my review of this episode. Once again, it's another poorly written episode with more elements and moments that further makes the characters all the more annoying and unlikable. This episode, much like the other episodes of the Ben 10 reboot, greatly lacks subtlety. Some aspects of this episode are ok and some are good but it doesn't help bring things around for this episode. Another mediocre episode. How many episodes are we in now? 14 episodes. 14 freakin episodes that are so poorly made and written. Jeeesus christ.
On an additional note, CNConfessions made a tweet that is both funny and makes another good point about this episode.
After some thinking, I realized something that I forgot to mention. On its own and when compared to the Original Series episode, Last Laugh (considering that both episodes use the same story premise in regards to Ben dealing with his own fears), The Clocktopus is still not a good episode. It still suffers from poor writing and I mentioned other aspects of this episode that also holds it back. However, when compared to other episodes of the Ben 10 reboot show, it is a better episode. Despite the problems that I have with Steam Smythe, I still like the theme of his character and he is at least a better villain than the other villains that were showcased in the reboot. He's just an annoying villain much like with the Weatherheads and, at least to me, the writers just exaggerated a little too much to him or something of the likes. Like I said, there was some potential with this villain. Like I also said before, at least Ben's fear of squids does give him some struggle with fighting Steam Smythe and thus helps to make the conflict a little more challenging. So yeah, even though I find that the episode still had some really poor writing and the episode itself is still not good, it is better than the other episodes of the Ben 10 reboot. However, considering the quality of the other episodes of the Ben 10 reboot, that's not saying much. At best this episode is just average.