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Review By Arsenal, Media by Stu

Episode #7 - Innervisions
Original Airdate April 4th 1998

In order to save a planet from destruction, the Silver Surfer must first destroy the very foundation of its existence

Written By: Larry Brody, Andrea Lawrence
Directed By: Norm Spencer
Music Composed By: Shuki Levy and Kussa Mahchi

Review: Beta Ray Bill guest stars in this episode, but “Innervisions” is all about Thanos.

Thanos is a fascinating character. He’s all id. He wants what he wants and he wants it now; but he was born and bred that way. The creators try to convince us that Thanos was dealt a bad hand in life and that he never had a chance to be anything but a megalomaniac.

Also, “Innervisions” gets credit for finding a clever way of having Silver Surfer and Beta Ray Bill dispatch Thanos. Instead of fisticuffs, they use his own insecurities against him. It’s admittedly cool to watch these guys do something besides shoot multicolored beams at each other.

However, the episode is not a complete success. The audience never empathizes with Thanos. He still comes off as a jerk instead of the tragic character the creators would have you be.

The writers try to make you care about Thanos by having him tell a story about his childhood during the prologue. OK, fair enough. It’s an obvious tactic but not a bad one. Thanos talks about how a childhood vacation was ruined because everything he touched wilted in his hands. But instead of showing us a young disappointed child, we watch an adult Thanos hold a holographic flower while he complains out loud.

The number one rule of storytelling is “show, don’t tell.” If a character is cold, don’t have her say “I’m cold.” Make her shiver or cinch her jacket tighter. The audience will understand.

This rule is all the more important in a visual medium like television. Why have Thanos spout another monologue when you could quietly watch a young child realize he will never be allowed to appreciate life or creation? Wouldn’t that be a more powerful moment?

There is one wonderfully understated moment. Surfer looks puzzled and Bill asks him what his wrong. Surfer replies, “I’m thinking of a loved one. I have not seen her for some time.”

Then instead of going into a soliloquy, there is a poignant moment of silence. For once, the writers understand that you can tell more by saying less. Unfortunately, they fail to show the same restraint with Thanos.

“Innervisions” has some good ideas and a clever ending, but they story is still poorly executed at times so the audience might lose interest.