Ben 10 has turned into a popular franchise for the Cartoon Network. Following 4 seasons of Ben 10, we come to this, the third and last season of Ben 10: Alien Force. We liked it as much as season 1. Per episode it was more entertaining and less depressing than than season 2. However it lacked in the “ending” department. Perhaps the producers did not worry about a comprehensive series finale with Ben 10: Ultimate Alien already in the works.
Although not really necessary considering the overall plot has not changed since last season, we will do our patented one sentence synopsis anyway:
We continue to adventure with part alien magical whiz kid Gwen, part alien metamorphic wise guy Kevin, and part irresponsible unlikable hero Ben as they continue to counter alien menaces, re-fight old enemies and right past wrongs – often at night.
Ben Tennison is unlikable you say? Yeah. They do it on purpose, supposedly fueling a triumphant changeover to responsibility in the end. But that change came late, and when it did it was weak at best. So we had to experience 18.75 episodes of lazy, indifferent, overconfident and unworthy Ben for a minimal (non) payoff. Fortunately, the show is fun despite this and the supporting cast is thankfully strong.
Some of the plots were a little too contrived. “Cute alien students travel to a small town regularly for spring break where they eat popcorn and then poop gold.” Oh, feed them meat and they turn into monsters. Yeah. Whatever. At least it was an episode that featured other people. The feeling communicated by Alien Force has been that of an empty world in perpetual night. It is as if no other people exist. It makes the show feel a little small.
Often the strength of the show is its varied enemies and plots. The format is not overly formulaic. However the drawback to this also occurred. One episode hit us over the head with a particularly in-your-face anti-war message, and some left you with no denouement or a downer. Additionally, there really was no season arc. They could have used one.
A series strength was some of your favorite guest stars return for appearances. Captain Tetrax, Azmuth, Vilgax and everyone’s favorite time spanning professor, Paradox. Max Tennison and the newbie plumber’s kids also make return appearances. However, the Forever Knights were underutilized again. Pity. Fun group.
A particularly good episode featured a terrible alternate future created when one of our heroes tried to alter the past. It is a tired and overused science fiction plot… that never gets old! Really. Man of Action, the enigmatic creator behind Ben 10 must be a classic sci fi fan, because he peppers the series with bits of homage. For example the verbal destruct code to the Omnitrix is also the one used in the original Star Trek in the late 1960’s.
We would have preferred if the series went somewhere this season. The only person who experienced significant change was Kevin. His mutation caused in the first episode is fixed at the end. He avenges at long last the murder of his father by letting the killer apparently die. That was mature, and is indicative that the show was not one for kids like the original Ben 10. In the end Kevin got additional focus and has an emotional breakthrough.
The series ends with Ben getting the ultramatrix from his evil twin*; a weak (and convenient) set up for the next series. This one closed on a note not equal to the dramatic season two ending. Still it is an interestingly designed series and well worth watching.
Check out our Ben 10 franchise takes: