Episode #20 - World On Fire
Original Airdate - October 16th, 2009
The fourth Makluan Ring has been found, and when Tony, Rhodey and Pepper rush off to collect it, Gene is left behind. And while Gene tries to track down his ‘friends,’ he’s left alone with memories of his mother, the person who introduced him to his destiny… his birthright… the Makluan Rings. Actually claiming that birthright isn’t so easy though, which Tony is finding out first hand. He’s facing the fourth Guardian… the Fireband.

Story Editor Christopher Yost
Written By Thomas Barichella, Ken Pontac
Directed By Stephane Juffe and Phillipe Guyenne
Review by Arsenal

I’m going to make a point—a point that I think is important—but it requires some exposition. Bear with me.

Tony Stark is Iron Man. Gene Khan is the Mandarin. (You already know this, I know. Just a little patience, that’s all I ask.)

As Tony and Gene, the two are friends. As Iron Man and Mandarin, the two are enemies.

Neither Tony nor Gene knows the other’s secret identity.

James Rhodes and Pepper Potts know Tony’s secret identity, but not Gene’s.

Rhodes, or Rhodey as his friends call, does not trust Gene. Pepper and Tony do.

Pepper used to have a crush on Tony. Since Gene recently saved her life, she is now fixated on him. When Pepper’s affections switched, Tony began to show signs of jealousy.

Got that? Got all of that? Good, because it’s important to my point.

In the early minutes of “World on Fire,” Rhodey, Tony, Pepper and Gene are conversing about the Mandarin’s rings. Gene needs to leave and Pepper offers to walk him out. Rhodey and Tony continue to talk about the rings. Then, they are interrupted by Pepper. She returns and says:

“I just told Gene that Tony is Iron Man.”

You see why this would be a huge moment. This would affect each of the four characters and their relationships with each other in a status-quo changing way.

Khan would be forced to reconcile his feelings toward Tony and Iron Man. This would also give him an enormous strategic advantage over Iron Man.

Rhodey would be forced to trust Khan, a man with whom he has apprehensions. Also, he would be upset with Pepper for acting unilaterally.

Pepper would likely be ostracized and shunned by Tony and Rhodey for her decision, which might bring her closer to Gene, their enemy.

Tony would have to deal with Pepper’s inadvertent betrayal of his trust and friendship, to say nothing of what this might do to his burgeoning romantic feelings.

Like I said, big moment. A series changer. Something that would shock the viewer.

Then, (and this is my big point) the writers of Iron Man: Armored Adventures wuss out.

“Not really,” Pepper continues, “but I think we should.”

So, instead of a big moment, we get a tease and ultimately nothing. It would have been better had the creators of the show not even hinted at the change in status quo.

Iron Man: Armored Adventures has taken some big steps forward in the last four episodes, but until it has the guts to push some of these “holy crap” moments it will never be a great series.

The same is true of this episode. “World on Fire” has some good moments, some minor character growth and it pushes forward the slow-burning, season-long plot. But it will not transform a casual viewer into a fan.

The show has been getting closer and closer to something memorable, but it hasn’t made that leap. And it will never make that leap if it fears the big moments.

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