Monday's new Middleman may have been the best so far, despite a shocking paucity of Lacey. (With like 1000 Doctor Who references!) Which makes it all the sadder that sources are reporting the show is destined for an "indefinite hiatus." Phooey. Here's our belated review of episode 11. Spoilers! OMG spoilers!I actually just got done reading the Middleman Omnibus, so it was interesting to see a different version of archvillain Manservant Neville. I might do a whole blog post about the differences between the comic and the TV show, because I'm obsessive-compulsive, but suffice to say in the comic, M.N. is a glorified henchman, as his name implies. He gets killed by Wendy, who hurls him into the gullet of a giant man-shark. He does indeed look very suspiciously like perennially shifty actor Mark Sheppard, who plays him on TV. (Shifty? Or slippery? Maybe slippery is better.) In the TV version, he's suddenly a huge Steve Jobs-esque CEO, and secret organization F.A.T.B.O.Y. is suddenly Fatboy Industries, which is sort of like Apple. (And I'm guessing Fatboy's version of the iPod, the uMaster, is going to have some kind of mind-control application. Or something evil.) So after weeks of rooting for Tyler to develop some kind of flaw, I was thrilled to see him hoodwinked by the obviously blatantly evil Manservant Neville. Although my hero Lacey was taken in as well, and even Wendy didn't seem to notice anything amiss. I'm really hoping there's time in next week's season finale for Tyler to become totally corrupt and evil. Or at least somewhat corrupt. He doesn't have to die or anything. Necessarily. Okay, actually I kind of like Tyler despite his weird flawlessness. And it was fun watching him navigate through all of those weird corporate tests with aplomb, especially the silent montage with the bomb picture. And the fake board of directors was a hoot.
Speaking of which, I have a thought: I know Manservant Neville sends Wendy to an evil alternate universe a la the Star Trek episode "Mirror Mirror," but does that mean we get an evil Wendy in "our" universe as well? I didn't see a trailer for the next ep, so I don't know if that was covered or not. For a change, the episode's main plot was totally awesome, with plenty of Interrodroid/Ida action. We learned how you can tell the difference between Regular Ida and Evil Ida. (You can't.) And we got to meet a bunch of cute-ass Clotharian nano-bots, who should totally become Wendy's pets and follow her around trying to demolish stuff. I would so totally watch that.
Was it just me, or was Matt Keeslar suddenly putting a lot more grumpy into his usually jovial performance this time around? It was sort of jarring, as if the Middleman was just in a really bad mood throughout the story. I don't think it was in the script either... he was the same weirdly chipper guy as always, but Keeslar put a definite undercurrent of anger into him this time around. It made me realize how much the cameraderie between the MM and Wendy usually drives the show's engine of awesomeness. But then at the end of the episode, they had that incredibly moving scene together, where Wendy gives her boss her farewell speech and admits that he's like a father to her. I seriously got all choked up.
I loved the glimpse inside Ida's brain... who could have predicted that her inner Ida was a much sassier, more glamorous version? With actual decor and nice hair? She obviously needs to actualize a bit more. I'm not sure if I want to keep learning more and more about the inner workings of O2STK, the secret organization that employs the Middlemen. On the one hand, it would be cool, in a hypothetical season three or four, to visit O2STK headquarters at last and discover its inner workings. On the other, I have a feeling the more we learn about it, the less cool it'll seem. But maybe I'm wrong? And oh yeah, the Doctor Who references! Series creator Javier Grillo-Marxuach has already enumerated them (in the link above), so I don't have to. But I was especially glad to see poor pusillanious Peri getting a peace treaty named after her, after the way she got treated on the show (strangling, head-shaving, braindeath and arranged marriage, among other things.) Also awesome was the shout-out to Terry Bisson, whose "Made Of Meat" story is well worth reading, and doubly worth hearing him read aloud. But the single most important thing we learned this week: boxers. Camouflage, in fact.