Ben 10: Ultimate Alien [2011-2012] Season 2. Conclusion

A Stretched Season that may Stretch Patience

And so, the world’s longest season (over a calendar year), and the “ultimate” series itself comes to a final, and in our opinion, overdue end. Not that there were not interesting and fun things this season, just that they came with too high a price tag.

Poor Gwen. All that power and smarts, and yet she remains an unhappy girl. Here she is impatient (top), crazy, and angry (what else is new).

Examples of this duality?

  • Background on Grandpa Max. Good.
  • But it was schmaltzy.

Will love conquer all for this star-crossed (uh, literally) pair?

  • Background on Azmuth. Good.
  • But it was extra schmaltzy.

“Let me tell you something Fortress Guy! Rath doesn’t like schmultz!”

  • Old (once fun) villains return. Good.
  • But tired somehow.

Oh that zany Dr. Animo. You just don’t know what kooky hijinx he’ll come up with next.

  • New transforms for Ben. Good.
  • But completely out of nowhere.

Does this whole alien race dress like Flash wannabe Quicksilver?

“I prefer to kick it old school.”

  • A resolution for the Forever Knights. Good.
  • But it was sad and lame.

“Hear me knights! For centuries we’ve waited for this moment to fight a costly and pointless battle. But it will look cool, and we get to blow a whole episode’s VFX budget.”

Season Two’s conclusion in a sentence: Ben, a character whose likeability only surpasses Julie’s, continues his careless bumble toward adulthood which regularly endangers those around him including only slightly less angry Gwen, likeable but slowly henpecked Kevin, and often the planet Earth, while also somehow corralling a parade of occasionally comical/stupid/obsessed villains, drinking a lot of sugary beverages, navigating through some real politically correct plots, and doing it all in a continually dark, underpopulated and vaguely depressing world.

Witness the sad, tragic fall of Twilight wannabe star Jennifer Nocturne. It’s definitely not for young kids.

That is not to say we dislike the show, on the whole we do not. But this incarnation (ultimate) was stretched too long without payoff. Build up has to reasonably yield resolution for enjoyment. We were past ready for the next reboot, Ben 10: Omniverse.

Do Ben and Gwen even go to school any more?

Even the mighty (hardly seen and only once used) Alien-X would have been hard pressed to pull this climax out of the pit of pointlessness.

We appreciated the veiled Christian imagery of (once) noble knights defeating a demonic dragon. In this case, an evil other-dimensional being with the name of an ancient pagan god, Diagon. Once defeated by First Knight George, he now seemed more formidable.

So Diagon is a giant unexplained, extra-dimensional, sky squid? What’s his motivation? Is he looking for a really large body of water?

George once seemed unbeatable. Cutting through dimensions, making vortices. (Like a level 20 Paladin with a +5 magic sword.) What happened?

Maybe it was Daigon’s never-ending supply of dimension-skimming, ninja-like esoterica. They got old, because we the viewers never got full satisfaction defeating them (they beat the good guys down again and again with apparently endless supply).

Whoa! Transforming from horridly unpalatable Julie to Elena* is quite the improvement. (*Okay, Elena is slightly unhinged, but is Julie really less so?)

Julie is consistent. Consistently the worst, most un-fun girlfriend EVAR.

The Ben 10: UA finale asked us to believe our lackadaisical hero Ben, whose undisciplined mind lives on sumo-slammers and slushies, somehow pulls from within the ability to defeat the power of the enemy and change the whole world with the legendary Sword of Azmuth?

Whereas old George, living for 2000 years, the brave, disciplined, once single-handed vanquisher of Diagon, missed the mark? George’s pointless demise (completely un-mourned by Ben) was beneath a character long in the making, and a group (the Forever Knights) dating back  to the start of the whole franchise in 2005.

Now where have we seen this before…

Ben and his venerable arch enemy Vilgax play out a scene lifted almost word for word from one of our favorite Masters of the Universe episodes. The temptation of Heman in “The Search.” (Since Ben 10 producers sought “inspiration,” we are gratified they picked something memorable.

You may spot Heman sporting this very expression.

See segment below from 2:00-3:15.)

Lucky Girl was back, albeit very briefly.

The extended season must have taken a toll on the writers. Some ridiculous, unfun, politically correct plots made the episode roster, often taking the form of Gwen lecturing us about evolutionary nonsense or about how people litter with plastic bottles, etc. Ugh. Save it for Captain Planet. Don’t tell us the villain this episode is a sentient pile of garbage?

I thought we told you not to tell us! UGH…

“Look, I made this from the toaster downstairs and your laptop. Pretty nifty, huh?”

Limits can paradoxically increase drama. Young Ben only had 10 aliens, and struggled with the omnitrix choosing wrongly or “timing out.” In Ultimate it seemed as though Ben had few limits. Why not always go most powerful alien or “ultimate?”

There’s no limit to the creatures you can become!

Gwen was, at times, downright fearsome. (Some might say it wasn’t her annodite powers…)

The ultramatrix was ill-defined. What were its (and Gwen’s for that matter) limits? It made for writing challenges, and susceptibility to plot holes. Imagine the challenge in writing villains for Superman (and not relying on Kryptonite every time).

Will Superman fly around the planet and reverse time?

Charmcaster was back–and could not be left a sympathetic character! She kills EVERYONE in a dark ritual this season. Oh, and she makes some ‘questionable’ relationship decisions. (However, not so bad when compared to a relationship with Julie…)

Ben 10: UA was sometimes fun, but the spark was missing. They can do better. Let’s hope they get it straightened out for Omniverse.

“I parked out front. You don’t think anyone will mind, do you?”

The new, improved Omniverse Omnitrix. (However, it still doesn’t tell time.)

Check out our Ben 10 franchise takes:

Alien Force Season 1

Alien Force Season 2

Alien Force Season 3

Ultimate Alien Season 1

Ultimate Alien Season 2 (part 1)

Ultimate Alien Season 2 (Conclusion)

Ben 10: Destroy All Aliens

_____________________

Tell the FORTRESS what you think!

(Or we will go humungasaur on your face!)

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31 thoughts on “Ben 10: Ultimate Alien [2011-2012] Season 2. Conclusion

  1. Well, the season was enjoyable but I wasn’t waiting around for the FK plot, I enjoyed the standalones. I don’t find the setting depressing, it’s fairly similar to Scooby Doo, Cheers or The X Files, there just set pieces(maybe an effect of overvauling the setting), the characters, acting, compostion and movement of the story is the star. Overall the stories are a mixed bag because each story has a different theme. Ben was okay this season but really lacking traits other then helping people (Catch A Falling Star) or dumb he’s fairly similar to Booster Gold or Human Torch, Kevin the voice of reason?? and Gwen the kick butt female lead which I quite enjoyed. I don’t think Julie was that bad because I find her behavior reasonable, they should’ve used her in the school setting more it would’ve mde more sense…. not looking forward to omniverse, hate the designs and then the designer himself….

    • Congratulations on one of the most unusual comments yet on FortressTakes. Somehow you managed to reference AND LINK Scooby Doo, Cheers, and X-Files in the same sentence! Well done.

      We think the original Ben 10 was a more stand alone episode format. The producers were the ones who pushed the Daigon arc on us in Ultimate. This season felt like a show in search of… meaning? They had some interesting and even adult episodes. “Catch a Falling Star” was not for kids, but interesting to us adult (Kryptonians).

      Good point about Ben. He WAS less annoying this season, but he was also less anything this season. A boring secondary character in his own show. An improvement over obnoxiously overconfident or falsely smart Ben, though. Booster Gold? Ha. That kind of fits. Funny.


      Two “gems” together in one picture.

      We do not share in your… generous assessment of Julie. Ugh. When has that relationship ever been fun? It was weird to see she and Ben arm in arm at the end, because they never seem to get along.

      We have not looked at any Omniverse designs yet. We will let that surprise us–for better or for worse. Come back with more comments like this one.

    • I don’t find Gwen a “kick butt female lead”. She’s obviously supposed to be since they make her uber powerful, but without a likeable, interesting personality, that’s nothing. In the original series and Alien Force, Gwen possesed this. In Ultimate Alien, she’s just an angry, overly serious shrew.

    • yea ben10 omniverse sucks in it designs cause am lead 2 beliv dat ben(in ben10 omniverse) z suppose 2 b older nd matured dan d previous series bt luk ben luks less matured in voice,traits nd physic. Infact d designa did nonsence

      • It is hard to swallow the new art approach if you have been a fan of the franchise. Newcomers may feel differently.

        Instead of trying to relaunch the show fresh, or continue on, they kind of did both. In the process they reoriented the show to a younger audience. The result turned us off before the first episode was over.

        ...

  2. well, it felt like they had a lot of unused ideas and decided to cram them all in this season, hence why there’s some backwards characterizations. I enjoyed the Forever Knights arc (Creature From Beyond, The Purge, A Knight To Remember) but it seemed to diverge near the end to the Daigon plot. From my view the ending seemed to try to kill off the villain characters as they knew this would be the end of this incarnation of the show(clearing the chess board as it seems), it had a similar vibe to Mark Millar’s Ultimate Vs New Ultimates or the end of Peter David’s Hulk run, they knew it was going too end and instead of wrapping all the plot threads they just stopped on a bittersweet note. Yeah, Ben was pretty one note but there were several episodes such as The Purge, Solitary Alignment and the aforementioned Catch A Falling Star try to bring him to his AF characterization. I always associated Julie as the average teen as Ben was the average teen, at least during the Highbreed season. The later episodes seem to test the romance and think of the big picture of the relationship, episodes adding overtime but I imagine it’s also too show Julie’s faults, if she’s irritating then she’s as irritating as flawed as the average teenage can be, admittedly I thought Eye Of The Beholder was funny, giving Ben the idiot ball works when looked at the right way. I usually never comment, hope I didn’t come off too defending of the show, I’m aware of it’s faults.

    • We do not think you are unduly defending the show, and enjoy your thoughtful comments and references. We like Ben 10 in general, but have to call out elements like we see them. We have committed ourselves to making takes on this franchise, and it does seem to propagate incarnation after incarnation.

      They did spend a lot of time and money on the Forever Knights this season, and we were glad for it. Too bad their story did not end as well as it started. We did like First Knight George’s inserted backstory and the Sleeping Beauty styled flashback.

      Sleeping Beauty styled Old George origin

      Interesting point about Julie. She was (slightly) more fun when she jumped in and helped against the highbreed. Since then, not so much. Why is it that so many of the women in this franchise have… issues?

      Eye of the Beholder seemed tense to me. Like none of the characters liked each other much. They definitely seemed to be in clean up mode as you described at the end of the season. Killing off characters because it was poignant and perhaps easier. Some of them deserved it, but not old George.

      See you next season or whenever you feel the urge to comment on something.

  3. I’m dissapointed that you didn’t go more in-depth on the two Charmcaster episodes. I thought that those were just DREADFUL. After the progress Charmcaster made last season, it’s all undone in favor of a stupid motivation that comes out of freaking nowhere (reviving her father is her whole LIFE’S work!? Since WHEN!?), and she becomes yet another depressing, emotionally-scarred female character on the show, with issues that never get resolved.

    Poor Charmy deserved better. Though I still say she’s more sympathetic than most characters on the show (She temporarily kills Ben, Gwen, and Kevin…..why do I not feel like mourning them?)

    • 599 words Nicholas! It is part of the fabulous charm (no pun intended) of Fortress Takes. However, we do get to wax longer in the comments section. We agree Charmcaster got the short end of the character development stick (and a motivation that seemingly came out of nowhere). They led us on, then let us down. They could have turned her life around. She was bad enough episodes, and easy to sympathize with… until she killed everybody. But yes, aside from Kevin, the show had a way of draining one’s caring about any of the characters.

      Sympathetic Charmcaster?

      • Aside from Kevin? I don’t know. I didn’t find Kevin to be a very easy to care for character either throughout this whole season. He just kept doing stupid things and cracking bad jokes, not to mention being so shallow that he keeps Gwen around for her looks even when she’s slowly henpecking him to death. Makes me wish he HAD died at the end of the show’s first season, it would have spared him alot of grief.

      • I still sympathized with her even after she killed everybody; you’re forgetting she did it to bring her dad back and not be alone anymore. The heroes had all but abandoned her (they’re seriously getting back to her just NOW?), her uncle wasn’t coming to get her, and the people of her world had started a civil war for power after she dethroned Adwaitya. Even if it’s wrong, she can hardly be blamed for thinking killing alot of people who don’t care about her is worth it if it brings back someone who does. And I cared more for her than for Kevin, who is just an irritating jerkwad (He called Charmcaster a “nutcase” in “Couples Retreat” due to her emotional issues. What a fucking hypocrite!)

  4. Thanks Fortress!! it’s very nerve racking getting into positives of the show and not sounding too defensive, (at least in my experience online) I will say that all the negatives you’ve pointed out in all your previous reviews really piece together the mystery. The reasons that the characters always seem angry could be because we never really see there daily lives and in turn there always in action, on a mission and clearly unhappy in many instances because there’s only bad news to react too. I think I’ve said enough about the series for now, but I do want to mention what a good job you did with these reviews. Keep up the great work!!

    • Regardless of the reasons, I think it’s a stupid decision. If the characters are next to never having fun, and the mood is always grimdark, then it’s no fun for the audience to watch. The original “Ben 10” and “Alien Force” never had this problem, so I have no idea where the heck “Ultimate Alien” went wrong…..but boy, did it go wrong.

  5. Charmcaster was still sympathetic. She just wanted her daddy back. That’s WAY more sympathetic a reason for doing bad things than the reasons the so-called “heroes” of this show have.

      • Why? Because the writers of this show are morons, that’s why! Still, William has a point: mass murder to ressurect a loved one IS more sympathetic than Ben’s heroics for the benefit of his own fat ego.

      • At least the people she killed got revived. Y’know, unlike all the people Kevin has killed and have stayed dead, yet he continues to get off scot-free for it. -_-

  6. Well, if the series setting was a post apocalyptic world, I think people would feel a bit differently about the stories used. But I’m probably one of the viewers who doesn’t mind the mean spirited jokes of the series I’ve seen TAXI and Cheers, so I’m probably used too the so called pessimistic tone and flawed characters, dead end nowheres ville jobs, if you ever seen those shows, you’d get the picture versus say the more idealistic, static 70s sitcoms like The Mary Tyler Moore show.

    • But “Ben 10” isn’t supposed to be like TAXI or Cheers, or an idealist, static sitcom. It’s supposed to be a superhero show; a FUN superhero show, not a dark and gritty one like “Ultimate Alien” has turned it into. Seriously, it’s a boy with a watch that turns him into aliens, there IS a limit as to how seriously you can take that, but “Ultimate Alien” didn’t seem to care and continually made the show an angst-fest filled with mean-spirited jerks and idiots.

  7. I didn’t see much angst in Ultimate Alien, that’s the funny part AF/UA is a teen superhero show that for the most part avoided the typical teen superhero settings like high school for a somewhat Scooby Doo esque take, there are several parallels, we never saw scooby gang go too high school but they traveled around a lot, they went to deserted towns where there were a limited amount of characters, with the series being in a dark, purple/blue color scheme.

  8. sorry for the double post but aren’t teenagers usually sometimes angst filled, mean spirited and yes idiots ??

    • That doesn’t excuse the audience having to put up with it every damn episode in what should be a fun superhero show.

  9. Hey now, Charmcaster was still a sympathetic character. Her mass murder amounted to:

    1. Her father’s killer.
    2. A bunch of creatures we barely see or care about, alot of them said to have betrayed her for control of the realm in the past.
    3. Ben, Gwen, and Kevin, three of the least likable heroes in an animated show.

    Her dad was just being a bleeding heart about it afterwards. We could have lived without all those people.

    • We find your dark humor, …er, humorous. It is true that the show’s cast has been systematically decimated (almost on purpose) in the likability category. However, we do not wish them dead. Then who will star in Ben 10: Ultimate Middle Age?

      Perhaps it was the sudden turn back to total heartless evil that caught us by surprise. Charmcaster had been going the other way.

      Ride off into the negative zone sunset (if they have one) Charmcaster pony.
      Charmcaster MLP

      • I wouldn’t describe wanting to ressurect someone you love as “total heartless evil”, even if it was gone about the wrong way and got people killed. Besides, she cried about it when her dad told her how wrong she was, and she genuinely loved and cared for Darkstar in the next episode. There’s such thing as morally gray, you know, and Charmcaster fits in that category rather than a “negative zone”. And honestly, it makes me like her a helluva lot more than Ben, Gwen, Kevin, Julie, and all the other so-called good guys.

  10. UA suffered from sitcom syndrome, where sitcoms half way though usually exaggerate the personalities of the characters archetypes too keep the dynamic of the show, if you’ve ever seen Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, Friends, Cheers, The Scrappy Era of Scooby Doo.

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