Episode #49 - Iron Monger Lives!
Original Airdate - July 4th, 2012
Tony and his father Howard have come to visit Obadiah Stane in the hospital only to find the former mogul is missing. Tony is desperate to find him, but before he can, strange things start happening. Rhodey and Pepper scramble to find Whitney to see if she can help, but it already be too late.
Directed By Stephane Juffe and Phillipe Guyenne
You can’t discuss “Iron Monger Lives” without mentioning its big plot twist; so, if you haven’t seen the episode and are the sort of person who is bothered by spoilers, stop here.
You still with us? Good.
“Iron Monger Lives” springs from a great concept even if its execution is occasionally shaky.
It reminds us that before Obadiah Stane was a mustache-twirling Lex Luthor retread, he was Howard Stark’s friend. Furthermore, the episode shows how Whitney Stane and Tony Stark’s friendship has followed the path of their fathers’.
“Iron Monger Lives” opens with Obadiah Stane disappearing from the hospital where he has been since Iron Man accidentally put him in a coma.
Then Howard Stark gets poisoned and everybody assumes it’s Obadiah for the obvious reasons – revenge et. al.
But it turns out to be Whitney who’s masterminding the plan to get back at Tony.
The return of Whitney as Madame Masque is a lot more interesting than another episode starring Obadiah Stane as generic Luthor – (actually, with his bad parenting and psychologically fractured child, he’s closer to a generic Norman Osborne) – mostly because Whitney’s a better character.
Her motivation as a villain is more interesting. (Her logic goes beyond “Tony hurt my dad so I’ll hurt him.” She’s also jealous that Tony got his father back but she may have lost hers forever.)
Also, because of their previous friendship, her relationship with Tony is more interesting.
And these components help overcome some wonky plotting. Some plot contrivances in this episode – like anything having to do with the antidote for Howard Stark – are understandable. When you’re trying to pack a lot into 22 minutes, some things are going to get glossed over.
However, one particular contrivance isn’t just a matter of laziness or convenience. It’s a distracting plot hole.
In what is (at very least) an example of bad editing, Rhodey and Pepper are ambushed in one location while Tony is jumped in another almost simultaneously.
The problem? They’re both ambushed by Whitney Stane. So, unless she can be in two places at once, there’s some lazy plotting going on. And it distracts from an otherwise strong story.
But not to end on a sour note, allow me to once more praise the core triad of Rhodey, Pepper and Tony.
The writing staff has such a great grasp on their personalities and interactions that, even in the worst episodes, they usually have a piece of banter that makes me smile.
For example, while fleeing from tiny laser-shooting drones, Pepper says, “Let’s split up.”
Rhodey: “Does that ever work?”
Pepper: “It better.”
These three lines may not read like much; but they reaffirm character traits (Pepper’s devotion to action-movie tics and Rhodey’s pragmatism, respectively,) advance the plot and give a mild chuckle.
It’s not easy to nail that trifecta and it shows how much the show has grown since its first season.
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