Spider-Man “The Spot” (part 2 of 2)
Cut to Peter’s college, where Curt Connors (who at this point is back to normal, after turning into the Lizard a couple of times) is telling Peter what was already obvious about the portals. He says that since Tony Stark has denied any connection to them, it’s a “fascinating puzzle.” Yeah, because a known playboy jerk industrialist would never lie about something like this.
Peter runs into Mary Jane and her friend Liz Allen on campus, and there’s the usual dialogue along the lines of M.J. again thinking he’s a jerk for ditching her. And when that’s done, we get a really bizarre interlude with Harry Osborne, who walks up to Peter just to complain about him stealing Mary Jane, which he’s already done a couple of times. So there’s no reason for it here, except to remind us of this subplot for when it becomes important in the next couple of episodes. Because how can you possibly expect kids to remember something for more than a week?
After we check back in with the growing Plot Hole, Spider-Man is swinging around when he hears a bank alarm, and comes across the Spot breaking into a vault. They banter a bit, with Spot being apologetic and embarrassed at his criminal activity, and once again this could have been a fun bit, but the voice just ruins it.
Spot kicks Spider-Man’s ass for a bit by sending him through portals back into LSD-Land. There, he uses more portals to redirect Spider-Man’s webbing back onto himself, causing him to tie himself up. Eventually, Spot kicks him back into the real world, where he falls toward the Statue of Liberty. Wow. Fail.
Back from commercial, Spot completes the humiliation by saving Spider-Man, and portals away again.
Spider-Man jumps on a ferry back to the mainland, and technobabbles to himself, coming up with a way to catch the Spot by finding more portals. Though, it’s pretty hard to pay attention, as during his whole explanation we’re panning around a CG model of the ferry. The show’s animation was generally pretty good, but they also could never get over throwing in the occasional bit of CG animation, which always stood out horribly. And this CG bit is probably the most gratuitous they ever did. There’s no reason this couldn’t have just been a regular hand-drawn shot of a ferry returning to Manhattan.
After another brief look at the Plot Hole, we catch up with Jason and Felicia at a jewelry store. Jason buys Felicia an engagement ring, which she puts on her middle finger, as a rather apt metaphor for this whole subplot. He asks her to marry him, but before she can answer (ooh, how can I stand the suspense?), Spot arrives and starts robbing the place.
Spider-Man sees the portal on a little walkie-talkie-like doohickey he’s whipped up, and drops into the jewelry store through the roof. Spot kicks his ass some more, asking, “What are you, some kind of masochist?” Damn, that’s a pretty racy line for a Saturday morning cartoon. Can’t really argue with it, though.
Spot gets away again, and Spider-Man and Felicia have another stock conversation about how a relationship between them would be too dangerous for her. Yeah, because who cares about Mary Jane’s safety?
Spot returns to the lab and overhears Sylvia spilling her guts to Kingpin. She explains about Spot’s criminal activities, and that he now “owns” her. But she doesn’t specify how or why, which just makes it sound kinky.
Spot confronts Sylvia, reminding her that with his powers, he stands a chance at defeating Kingpin. He then goes back into his Spot look with an expression that’s supposed to look badass, but just isn’t possible when you’re a guy covered in polka dots.
Spot portals into Kingpin’s office, and once the guards come in, he grabs all their guns through more portals. And then he declares himself the new Kingpin. Jumping off the slippery slope very quickly, I see.
But Kingpin lowers a monitor, which shows more of his guards holding Sylvia hostage. How he knew to do this, I’m sure I don’t know. But they needed some way to make Spot his bitch again, so there it is.
Spot draws Spider-Man to him just by portaling to a roof, and after more fighting, Spider-Man finally gets a clue, and uses his spider sense to tell which portal Spot will be behind. He punches him through it, thus giving this episode a place in the show’s history besides just being the worst episode.
You see, the series suffered from heavy censorship, part of which was that Spider-Man wasn’t allowed to actually punch anyone. This is the one time the animators were able to slip a punch in, likely because it wasn’t a direct contact. And the best part is how Spider-Man even comments afterwards, “That hit the spot!”
But upon hearing Spot say, “She’s doomed,” Spider-Man immediately offers to help him. This episode does have a strict time limit, after all.
Spot enters Kingpin’s office carrying a seemingly unconscious Spider-Man, but upon Spider-Man revealing that he’s still okay, Kingpin isn’t too put out, and just goes in to fight him, including throwing his entire desk. So, that was Spider-Man’s whole plan, huh? Fail.
Oh, and this is where Kingpin gets the first of those two good lines I was talking about: After Spider-Man takes a really weak jab at his weight, Kingpin grabs him in a bear hug and says, “Approximately two percent of my body mass is fat. Allow me to show you what 350 pounds of muscle is capable of!”
An earthquake starts, and everybody finally notices the TV showing the Plot Hole, which is now big enough to threaten the entire Earth. Spot says it’s too big to close, but Spider-Man brings up what he learned about the portals from hanging out with Tony Stark, saying that the original equipment he and Sylvia used can boost Spot’s power, if they can get close enough.
In the middle of this, there’s kind of a funny aside as Kingpin is surprised that Spider-Man knows about science-y stuff. He then offers one of his spiffy sci-fi jet things to get them closer to the Plot Hole.
After they take off, Kingpin explains himself to his assistant Landon, in the second of those two good lines: “There is no profit to be made in the destruction of the planet. It is very bad for business.” Roscoe Lee Browne really sells it, too, spitting the words out in a tone that just screams “I can’t believe I actually have to spell this out for you.”
Once they get near the Plot Hole, somehow managing to not get sucked in (physics? What’s that?), Spot shoots out purple electricity, but his boosted power still isn’t enough to do anything. So Spider-Man channels the jet’s power into Spot. No explanation for how he knows how to do this, but it still doesn’t close the hole all the way, so Spot decides to head inside.
He explains that his powers are much stronger in LSD-Land, which would have been nice to have known before now. And this is all played as a tragic heroic sacrifice, complete with Sylvia declaring she won’t be left behind, and jumping in with him before the Plot Hole closes completely.
Yeah, I’m sure you all see the problem with this. Hell, even at age twelve I immediately wondered why Spot couldn’t just open up another portal back to the real world and then close it again, which we’ve seen him do several times. But they wanted a big tragic ending to this thing, so once again, it just happens. See, told you “Plot Hole” was a good name.
Though as stupid as this scene is, it does demonstrate another of the show’s big strengths, which was again shared with Batman’s series: you weren’t guaranteed a happy ending when you watched it. The writers were good at putting in downbeat endings like this just enough to make you genuinely concerned about how things would turn out. Once again, not exactly standard fare for Saturday morning cartoons, and bless them for it.
Peter walks around his college, where it seems Spot and Sylvia’s demonstration of sacrifice in the name of love is getting him to consider giving up being Spider-Man for Mary Jane. Um, did you forget that their sacrifice was also to literally save the whole world? But then Mary Jane comes up and tells him she’s okay with being a doormat that he can abandon at a moment’s notice, so there goes that dilemma.
And with everything else out of the way, we close with a little cliffhanger for next time: Hobgoblin’s on the phone with a mole in Kingpin’s organization, and declares he’s going to get the portal technology for himself. And the audience breathes a sigh of relief, knowing that whatever comes of this has to be a hundred times better than what they just saw.
Despite all my griping about general series issues, I do highly urge you to check out this series if you haven’t seen it. I’ve long believed that good writing can overcome any other flaws in a piece of entertainment, and despite this episode and a few other less than stellar ones, the ‘90s Spider-Man series was usually very good, and definitely ahead of its time.
It’s actually surprising that it managed to last five seasons and 65 episodes; we would have gotten even more if the head of Fox programming hadn’t had a personal beef with the show’s creators, and refused to order any more episodes despite ratings still being pretty good. Only a few scattered episodes have ever been released on DVD, but the entire series is available on YouTube. It definitely deserves to be remembered for more than episodes like “The Spot”.