In “Issue 188”, Professor Granville assigns Hiro to hang out with Karmi, who was the youngest student ever admitted to the university until Hiro was accepted. Meanwhile, High Voltage, a mother and daughter team that look like something straight out of Jem, are running amuck and the heroes seem to be no match for them. Matters are further complicated when Karmi develops an obsession with Hiro’s hero identity, despite refusing to get along with him at school. He worries that Karmi will discover his secret identity. Fred and Go Go turn to a classic comic book, “Captain Fancy 188,” to find a way to defeat High Voltage. However, they end up finding a solution to Hiro’s secret identity crisis but not the problem with the villains. Nonetheless, Go Go decides to do the obvious and remove their power source, rendering the electric ladies harmless. Hiro gives Granville a good report on Karmi, who still shows no interest in being his friend and now accuses him of having a crush on her.
“Big Roommates 2” gives Honey Lemon and Go Go Tomago the spotlight. Honey accidentally destroys her apartment and freezes her roommate with her chemicals. She and Go Go decide to stay together for a while, which doesn’t go well because of different tastes in decor and Honey’s loud snoring. Things come to a head when Honey’s purse goes missing, prompting Go Go to insist that it was stolen, an idea diametrically opposed to Honey’s belief that people are good deep down. Her purse was stolen by an aspiring thief but he doesn’t know how to use it, and as a result gets hit by one of Honey’s chemical balls and turned into a goo monster the team dubs “Globby.” There’s also a subplot involving Alistair Krei, the brilliant scientist from the first film, re-inventing Hiro’s telepathic headband. Globby, naturally, tries to steal Krei’s already stolen invention as well. Can Honey’s positive attitude overcome Globby’s grabby hands?
“Issue 188” is excellent in a number of ways. I’m finding Professor Granville a little annoying, but I think that’s the intention, as Hiro is the character the audience is meant to sympathize with. In the beginning Granville assigns Hiro to hang out with Karmi so he can have a friend despite being out of place as a 14-year-old going to college. Hiro repeatedly points out that he has friends and no trouble getting along with older kids, but as usual Granville won’t hear a word. Throughout the episode it’s observed several times that Karmi is a little odd, abrasive and that she has no friends. She acts super sweet and friendly when Granville introduces her to Hiro, but she goes into witch mode the moment the professor is gone. In the end, Hiro asks if the intention was really to give Karmi a friend, and the enigmatic professor doesn’t respond. I think this is really sweet, especially given how gruff Granville appears to be on the outside. She makes it seem like an exercise to help Hiro so as not to offend Karmi, while really trying to help the brilliant but odd girl socialize. It doesn’t really work, as Karmi refuses to be amiable when alone with Hiro, but it’s an admirable idea and Hiro is very nice nonetheless, even giving a good report on the experience rather than throwing the girl under the bus.
I also really liked High Voltage as the villains in “Issue 188.” I love their designs and the way they use electricity to rob banks and ATMs while using their singing and dancing to distract onlooking civilians. I do wonder why they’re decked out in typical 80’s garb and makeup, though, when the rest of San Fransokyo is futuristic in design and function. Was this a deliberate choice, or were they just trying to create an aesthetic evoking lightning, meaning the fact that they look like Jem and the Holograms is a coincidence? Regardless, it seems that they too are somehow affiliated with the shadowy figure who oversaw Yama’s operations. I wonder if we’ll see these two again, but if not, I’m satisfied nonetheless. We don’t know a ton about them, but I love their designs and the action sequences involving them are fantastic.
I also love the subplot where Fred and Go Go find the eponymous comic and look for ideas on what to do with High Voltage. When they leave the comic shop, Go Go is under the impression that Fred knows just what to do, only for him to reveal that the comic was disappointing and gave him no ideas for how to beat them, but explains the secret identity issue Hiro is having. This is pretty funny, as usual with Fred, and I love that they gave him a nemesis who also collects rare comics. Overall I really enjoyed “Issue 188.”
On the surface, “Big Roommates 2” should be one of my favorite episodes. I’ve always wanted to know more about the members of the team aside from Hiro and Baymax, and this is a good opportunity to see Honey and Go Go as more than stereotypical “girly girl” and “tomboy” character foils. However, I have to say that they didn’t do anything interesting with the premise and characters. These two don’t get any meaningful character development and we don’t really learn anything about either of them, other than that Honey snores. I also think it may have been better to play it straight when Honey tells everyone what happened to her roommate and apartment. This wasn’t a funny scene and, given the content, I’m not sure why they played it for humor.
I also didn’t like Globby much as a villain. He’s silly, and I don’t get what they’re trying to say here. Go Go was right about Honey being too trusting and positive, or else her purse wouldn’t have been stolen. And yet in the end, Go Go calls on Honey to use positive reinforcement to convince the thief to do the right thing. He simply takes her comments as motivation to become a big-time crook instead of a half-baked thief. This is intended to be funny, but it’s very weird; again, I’m not sure this plot point should have been played for comedy. And which is it, ultimately? Is Honey right to have faith in the goodness of people, or is Go Go’s jaded cynicism the better outlook, or is it neither at all? It just feels like they tried to introduce an actual idea here and did nothing with it. And the ending isn’t satisfying at all. The issues that arise between Honey and Go Go are also ridiculous. They can’t get along as roommates because Honey snores? That seems silly. As good friends and teammates, you’d think they could work this out amicably rather than dragging everyone else into it. We don’t get to know either of them any better and they don’t learn anything about each other. They have a childish, surface-level disagreement and it’s defused when Go Go decides to support Honey in her upbeat attitude. It feels like this episode is just filler in between better and more interesting adventures. It’s really a shame, as I was looking forward to these two getting an episode of their own.
“Issue 188” is awesome and I like it best out of the episodes I’ve seen so far. It has great action, character moments and humor, and it introduces an interesting new pair of villains. “Big Roommates 2,” however, did not similarly impress me. They take a pretty good idea for an episode, two characters I like and want to know more about, and do absolutely nothing beyond what one would expect. I’ve come to accept that Disney’s spin-off TV series don’t offer as much for adults as their movies do, but this episode is just juvenile. I’m still enjoying the series overall and look forward to more, but unlike “Issue 188,” this was definitely a disappointing episode.