“What’s past is prologue!”
“Big Problem” opens with Fred reading a comic book to Mini-Max. His mother urges him to get ready for dinner, but before he gets the chance, a monster breaks into his room, trashes the place, damages Mini-Max and leaves. Fred’s mom and butler help him clean, and his friends come to get information about the monster. Baymax says that the monster’s DNA doesn’t match any known species. At school, Granville is not acting herself, gliding around and smiling. She tells everyone that Liv Amara, a famous biotech CEO, is coming to see everyone’s inventions. She’s also a donor to the school, and is on a first name basis with Granville, calling her Grace. Amara overlooks Hiro due to his not being Baymax’s original creator, instead offering to take Karmi with her.
Meanwhile, Krei is attacked by the monster in his office. The heroes question him about it and determine that it’s the same monster. Hiro builds a heat gradient detector to impress Amara, but Karmi just makes fun of him instead. The team head to the home of a Mr. Knox, someone who has been absent every time the monster has attacked. The monster shows up, Hiro engages Baymax’s overdrive mode, and the monster slinks away in fear. He shouts, “All the devils are here,” prompting Honey to search the strange phrases, and she discovers that they’re all quotes from The Tempest. This, in addition to Knox’s absences, makes the team believe he is the monster, a theory confirmed by Baymax’s observation that the monster’s eyes are a match for Knox’s.
Hiro builds the team new armor to give them advantages over the monster, and they all head to the SFIT Gala, the next appointment on Knox’s calendar. The monster arrives and the team evacuates everyone, to the annoyance of Ms. Amara, who was speaking. Honey tries to reason with Knox, offering to help him, but his rampage continues. Ultimately it’s Karmi who is able to subdue him, covering him in her neuroreceptor patches.
Throughout “Big Problem,” the writers focus on Hiro’s insecurities, specifically his jealousy toward Karmi. They even draw a parallel with Krei being jealous of Liv Amara, wondering why the school and everyone else fawn over her instead of him and his company. Hiro ultimately offers him the same advice that Honey gave him: everyone has talents, and they’re not always the same, and he shouldn’t be jealous that what makes Karmi special is different than what makes him special. At first, I found this irritating, mainly because Hiro acts so unlikable about the whole thing, trying to one-up Karmi and get Amara’s blessing/attention. However, at times I have to remind myself that Hiro is still just a 14-year-old kid. It’s probably understandable for a child to behave this way, especially when provoked by a bully like Karmi. As an aside, it’s interesting that they gave Hiro a mean, judgemental female rival rather than the usual school bully. I do also like it when they point out similar struggles faced by different characters, such as Krei similarly resenting Amara.
The other team members don’t get a whole lot to do this week, aside from Honey’s aforementioned advice. I did like Fred’s scenes in “Big Problem,” especially his interactions with Mini-Max. Wasabi just does his usual “afraid of everything” schtick, Baymax makes a couple of useful observations, and Gogo talks about how great Amara is. This is probably another attempt to reiterate that she only admires successful women. I don’t know why they’ve given her this character trait; it doesn’t really make any sense, it makes her come off as a misandrist, and it isn’t funny at all. So whether this is meant to be serious character development, screwball comedy, or both, it fails miserably and it’s annoying. Honey is the team’s caring, sweet optimist but I don’t know why that means that Gogo, as the team’s other female member, has to be an abrasive, annoying sexist.
Liv Amara, during her minimal screen time in “Big Problem,” doesn’t make much of an impression, but she did annoy me a little. It’s frustrating to see Karmi get her way again, and the way Amara simply overlooks everyone else who wants to present to her is rude. She’s voiced by Mara Wilson, who does a decent job; you may know Wilson as the little girl in Matilda, Mrs. Doubtfire, and the Miracle on 34th Street remake, among other things. This show gets the best guest stars, even when they play very minor characters.
The monster is actually pretty lame, and I’m not sure why everyone makes a big deal out of who he is when it’s not anyone with whom the audience is familiar. While Gogo and Amara annoyed me, this was possibly the most disappointing aspect of “Big Problem.” Big Hero 6: The Series has done an excellent job, for the most part, of coming up with new villains and obstacles without relying too much on the first movie. However, Knox/the monster is a lackluster antagonist, and all we learn about him is that he likes Shakespeare. Did Obake send him? Is he becoming a monster against his will? Maybe they’ll explain more about this character in the future, but usually the antagonists get more focus than this; we learn a little more, and they’re usually more fun. The action sequences involving this villain also weren’t up to the show’s usual standards, but after last week, I’m willing to be a little more forgiving in that respect.
Overall, “Big Problem” is no “Mini-Max,” but it’s a decided improvement over the lousy “Big Hero 7.” Half of the team, the episode’s villain and Amara are all pointless, but Hiro’s development in the episode does work, and I liked Honey and Fred’s respective scenes. Fred and Honey were two of my favorite things about the first movie, so it’s fitting that they tend to get a few good bits in every episode of the TV series. I think it’s about time for another Honey-centric episode, and hopefully one that doesn’t pit her against Gogo again. I also hope they bring Callaghan back before the season ends, and maybe there can even be some closure between him and Hiro. No matter what happens, I’ll be watching, and I look forward to it.