Monday, May 2, 2016

Legion of Super Heroes S01 E07: Brain Drain

"Brain Drain" was written by Rob Hummel and directed by Tim Maltby, original airdate: February 3, 2007.

Mission Monitor Board: Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, Brainiac 5, Timber Wolf, and young Superman.

Opponents: mutated Zoonian miners, guide-bot, Brainiac 5's body, Zoonian mine-bots

We talked a little last time about my trust issues with Brainiac 5. Much of it comes from the comics, but the problem here is that the showrunners of the "Legion of Super Heroes" animated series have nixed the source material and created a whole new Brainiac 5, as well as a new Colu. It's Alignment time, strap yourselves in...

As we open this episode with an establishing shot of Legion Headquarters, a nice amalgam of their bases from the comics, it seems that Brainiac 5 is acting oddly, and his teammates are worried about him. My first thought as he is hiding away in his lab, perhaps building something, is that this is where the threat of Computo comes in, but instead it's something very different. Brainy is building a containment chamber for himself.

As Brainy explains The Alignment, I really couldn't help but think of the original "Star Trek" series and the classic episode "Amok Time," where Spock underwent the pon farr. On Colu, every three solar cycles they all upload their intelligences into a hive-mind. Normally it's painless, but because Brainy has separated himself from The Collective, he may become unpredictable, incoherent, aggressive, and irrational, thus the containment chamber to hold him during the process.

You know, if I was an intergalactic hacker, it seems like this would be Christmas... but perhaps that's a story for another time. Brainy makes the Legionnaires promise not to let him out for ten hours no matter what. He gets a little wacky, yes, and highlights include him moonwalking and asking where his Koko is. Koko, for the old schoolers out there, was a little white space monkey the original Brainiac kept as a pet back in the Silver Age, and later cared for by Brainiac 5.

When The Alignment is over, Brainy is still acting wacky, though, and he overloads the containment chamber. He's gone wide-eyed nonsense-spewing bye-bye, and according to Computo (who if I'm being honest, I trust even less than Brainy) only exposure to Zuunium radiation will fix him. For that, the Legion has to take him to Zoon.

Timber Wolf explains that Zoon is the most inhospitable planet in the galaxy, and he should know, he grew up there. Perhaps this will clear up some of Timber Wolf's origin confusion. I had always thought Zoon his home planet, yet here in the animated series, the Legion found him on Raal. Anyway, a plan is hatched to have Timber Wolf and young Superman take Brainiac 5 to Zoon, and to use a jump gate so it's quick.

Jump Gates to Zoon aren't the friendliest of places, nor the most customer service oriented. Timber Wolf in a space suit makes it through fine. Superman is powerless on the other side as Zoon has a red sun, apparently the hero's first encounter with such a situation. And just Brainy's head makes it through, but really, that's all they need. What's interesting is that he keeps jabbering, but if you listen, he's making sense. It's just that Supes and Wolf aren't listening.

When it's time to brawl with mutated Zoonian miners, Timber Wolf does most of the heavy lifting. Interestingly Superman makes a comment about having never turned his Flight Ring on. I found this odd. I thought through the use of the Flight Ring was how this version of Superboy/man learned to fly?

While Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad try to retrieve Brainiac 5's body from Diaphus-3, Supes and Wolf are besieged by spider-like mine-bots. Superman rifts on Ripley from Aliens and uses a forklift exoskeleton as armor and strength to fight them and get Brainy to the Zuunium. Timber Wolf tears through the majority of the bots like a champ.

Much like the end of "Amok Time," with Spock choosing friendship over nature, the bromance between Superman and Brainy continues to grow stronger, but the episode ends almost innocently, almost ominously, with young Superman asking Brainy, "I wonder what else you haven't told me?"

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