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

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Tell the FORTRESS what you think!

(Or we will go humungasaur on your face!)

Ben 10: Ultimate Alien [2011] Season 2. Part 1

B10:UA Season One was 20 episodes. A little unusual, but syndicated animated shows apparently march to a different drum. Season two: 32 episodes? And they took a hiatus of months after the first 12. The Fortress has decided not to wait. We are weighing in on the first half. Who knows when the season will end?

Does this look like a girl who would wait for season to end?

Is Elena an old flame? A mature scientist crushing on a teenager? An evil robot? All of the above?

Is there an arc this season? Not really. It is a parade of single episode enemies both old and new. Fortunately the Ben 10 universe is interesting, vast and diverse. With 9 combined seasons of Ben 10 franchise, there are plenty of embittered, goofy and strange opponents to revisit our “hero”. We almost want to call him an anti-hero since he is so lackluster, self centered and uncaring.

We hope Ben keeps in mind that Eunice is a robot.

Is Ben getting more likable this season? They may be trying a little. It would not take much considering last season’s rock bottom status. However we also think people are just getting used to his leaden personality. He was more likable as a bratty grammar school kid.

Young Grandpa Max kisses- …an energy creature?

Years later, his grandson smooches with a robot?

After Kevin’s monster period last season, he has returned to be the most likeable member of the three stars. Who does not like the “rogue with a heart of gold”? It is a tried and true formula you may have seen before.

Yes, Kevin is Han Solo. Ben is Luke, however only in his heroic action role, not in likeable personality. And Gwen is indeed the wise-cracking, hard-nosed, no-nonsense, down-to-business, cool-headed Princess Leia type (all those dashes!).  Although she has a little attitude, the team is getting along better. They have moved through their Star Wars: A New Hope banter, through their Empire Strikes Back bickering, and finally into their Return of the Jedi acceptance and teamwork.

Azmuth is back, and crotchety as ever. He points a lot.

Tabloid TV character Will Harangue is back, and also crotchety as ever. Just stay out of politics Ben 10 creators.

Professor Paradox is back. He is not crotchety, however he never seems to pop in with good news.

Last season Gwen was unhappy all the time and did not like it. This season Gwen is unhappy all the time and is resigned to it. Speaking of females in the show, what happened to Ben’s supposed girlfriend Julie? You will be hard pressed to find a bigger bit- uh, …un-pleasable girl with constantly nagging bad attitude. We know Ben is not great catch, but still. All the Julie episodes this season have higher levels of uncomfortableness.

Oh look, Gwen is mad again. That’s different… *not*

Ben and Julie’s unfun relationship serves as an example to relationship counselors of how not to relate. No mass! No mass!

Here are other questions you may ask:

  1. Is there any daylight this season? Very little.
  2. Is the world still a strangely uninhabited place? More or less.
  3. What about the only female this season without an attitude? She’s a robot.

Sunny is Gwen’s cousin with a rebellious streak and a desire to break things. Uh, bad combination even before the energy powers are added…

One thing the Fortress was especially pleased with was the rebirth of the Forever Knights, our favorite villains. We thought they were launched well with their mysterious King way back in the original series. Since then their status has fallen to “losers”, and finally “a joke”. But the return of their founder, Old George, with some high-tech gizmos no less will hopefully reinvigorate them for the rest of this season and beyond. We’ll see.

Could mysterious Old George really be the ancient, original Forever Knight? And where did he get those long overdue armor upgrades? (And why doesn’t he trim that beard?)

The writing continues to be quality, although quirky and perhaps not everyone’s cup of tea. Sometimes episodes are slow-moving and resolve less than satisfying ways. At least there is less unfun anticipation of the three leads arguing. They do it less now.

Terraspin has to be the lamest alien transformation.

The Ben 10,000 continuity has been completely rewritten with some alternate dimension excuse.

Oh look, they resurrected the old “evil military officer” stereotype. Doesn’t he know aliens are not bad (even the bad ones), they are just misunderstood?

Is this (half) season worth watching? We think so (despite annoying Julie). Especially if you want to see appearances by Azmuth, Professor Paradox, Grandpa Max, and …Vilgax? Well sort of.

Didn’t I see you in one of those Pirates of the Caribbean movies?

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

 

Ben 10: Alien Force [2008] Season 1. 13 Episodes

ben10se01_supp1r

Ben 10: Alien Force (B10AF) is the sequel to the popular Ben 10 series that ran for 4 seasons.  Where Ben 10 was a fresh new idea and generally a series with a bright disposition,   B10AF moves the series 5 years into a darker and more mature future.  This is not a bad thing.  The series was ready for an upgrade and the viewers and fans were also maturing.

When Gwen is not acing exams or getting another black belt, she likes to wield incredibly versatile energy powers (and take long walks on the beach).

When Gwen is not acing exams or getting another black belt, she likes to wield incredibly versatile energy powers ( – and long walks on the beach).

Turning into a bunch of aliens is no help on the dating front.

Turning into a bunch of aliens is no help on the dating front.

The series is run by the enigmatically titled “Man of Action”, a group of 4 individuals who IMO are not only rather creative, but successful television producers.  The latter being a difficult art in its own right.  They did not hold too tightly to their own creation’s continuity when remaking the franchise into B10AF. During the original series we got glimpses of the future which seen through the light of B10AF may or may not be able to come true now.

With the show now revolving around three unusually powered teenagers, the producers felt that original series mainstay and anchor, the grandfather Max, needed to be out of the way.  I like the Max character.  While I agree he does not fit the B10AF dynamic, the show is poorer for his absence.  His final exit midway through the series thankfully leaves room for a possible return.

The ancient order of Forever Knights (that's a pun, get it?) are back.  More one dimensional now, I miss their former huge armored mystery leader.

The ancient order of Forever Knights (that’s a pun, get it?) are back. More one dimensional now, I miss their former huge armored mystery leader.

Even with 1/4 alien blood, split ends can still be a problem.

Even with 1/4 alien blood, split ends can still be a problem.

Ben uses an alien device on his wrist to transform into 10 powerful alien forms.  For the sake of freshness, and with little explanation the device changes its look and now provides 10 completely different alien form options.  The good news is ones you did not care for are no longer an issue.  Of course, the ones you liked are not back either.  (I miss the tough-guy Diamondhead.)  That said, some of the new forms are interesting and the last one introduced in episode 13, Alien X, is:

  1. Downright strange
  2. Impossible to use
  3. And incredibly overpowered – all at the same time.

Ben is joined by his cousin Gwen, who is the whole package.  Smart, a very good martial artist, and adept at powers we now find to be derived from her part alien heritage rather than magic.  In a great casting decision Ben’s rival from the original series, Kevin Levin (“Kevin Eleven“), is the third member of the powered trio.  He brings the attitude, street smarts, and a bit of a romantic interest for Gwen  (lucky guy).

An original series glimpse of the future showed adult Gwen to have grown into quite a hottie.  Well B10AF shows her well on her way.

An original series glimpse of the future showed adult Gwen to have grown into quite a hottie. Well B10AF shows her well on her way.

Unlike the original, people seem to die or befall nearly as bad fates in B10AF.  It is not a show for young children.  That said its subject matter and plots are more dramatically diverse for older children, teens, and even adults (like we in the Fortress).

You never know where an episode of B10AF will take you.  In the season finale you will find the trio barreling down the corridors of a spaceship –  in Kevin’s classic car.  The Earth is one button press from destruction, and we all have to deal with the uber-powerful but frustratingly hamstrung Alien X for the first time.

The inscrutable Alien X.  Don't care for "inscrutable"?  How about arcane, baffling, or unfathomable?

The inscrutable Alien X. Don’t care for “inscrutable”? How about arcane, baffling, or unfathomable?  (Yes, he is made of “space”.)

ben10se01_supp3If you liked the original Ben 10, you will likely enjoy B10AF after some adjustment.  If you are unfamiliar with the original or it was too “kiddy” for you, B10AF is worth checking out.  If you are looking for an unusual domestic show with a science fiction theme give it a try.

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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