Mark Watches ‘The Middleman’: Episode 11

In the eleventh episode of The Middleman, Wendy and the Middleman are trapped inside HQ with an alien virus while Tyler is courted by a wealthy CEO. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch The Middleman.

This show is too much, I swear.

  • I will never be bored by how many times this show puts action in the background while one character has a lengthy monologue. It’s my favorite running joke, followed by Ida’s constant pot references.
  • I’m also completely surprised by where Tyler’s story went. Let’s talk about his plot first, shall we? The show deliberately sets the story up so that we’re kind of suspicious. Manservant Neville is a ridiculously wealthy CEO who runs a company that produces a music listening cube that looks exactly like every suspicious piece of technology in every sci-fi/comic tale about how technology can rule our lives. As soon as Lacey and Noser pulled out their uMaster cubes, all I could think was that this was a horrible set-up.
  • This is then followed by a loving parody of every trope ever that you find in stories like this. The wealthy CEO tracks Tyler down to his girlfriend’s apartment, appears to know everything about everyone, offers Tyler training, and then Tyler struggles with whether to take the job of a lifetime or stay a musician.
  • Except… that’s not quite right, is it? Lacey accompanies Tyler to Fatboy Industries, urging Tyler to think of this whole thing as an adventure, but Tyler always had his mind made up, didn’t he? I don’t think at any point during his training (OR THAT BEAUTIFUL TRAINING MONTAGE BLESS THIS SHOW) that he was seriously interested in accepting a job from Manservant Neville. He was curious because he wanted to see what the endgame was, but I don’t think he ever wanted to compromise. He loved writing music, he was thrilled to have found so much inspiration in Wendy, and it didn’t matter that he was broke.
  • Well, there was also the issue with the fact that NO ONE HAD TOLD HIM WHAT HIS JOB WAS.
  • I’m not even sure I understand it yet. He’s Neville’s assistant, yes?
  • Regardless, with the promise to actually change the world without betraying his own conscience, Tyler accepts the job that Manservant Neville offers.
  • (Yet.)
  • I kept expecting an exception to all of this, some caveat, or even some connection to the main case. BRAVO. YOU SURPRISED ME. That’s not to say there won’t be further development, but I liked that we didn’t get any of it in this episode.
  • So, let’s talk about Wendy and The Middleman and THE COMPLETELY UNFAIR SCENE AT THE END OF THIS.
  • Amidst a billion Die Hard references, the Middleteam fights against a Clotharian virus meant to rid Earth of all technology through nanobots. I still can’t get over the irony of me finally catching an episode worth of references to something, but this time, it’s of a film franchise I HAVE NEVER SEEN. I know, I know, I’m a bad American, but I just never got around to seeing the Die Hard movies! PLEASE DON’T JUDGE ME.
  • This episode also features another lovely example of the Middleman flashing a badge and intimidating people out of the way. God, what an incredible power. Can we just acknowledge that this is the Middleman’s superpower? Also: biceps. Great Scott, biceps.
  • That Clotharian writing looked a lot like the Star Wars font!
  • I mentioned in the video that one of my favorite tropes in science fiction is closed-room scenarios, particularly when a virus is on the loose! Oh god, I love it so much. I’VE SEEN SO MANY TERRIBLE HORROR FILMS THAT OPERATE ON THIS PREMISE. Actually, one of my favorite ones (unironically so) was that Spanish film [REC] that came out years ago. So much better than the American remake, despite that I do adore Jennifer Carpenter forever. CLOSED-ROOM VIRUS MOVIES. Oh gods, y’all, the last ten minutes of that movie scared the shit out me so badly.
  • “The Clotharian Contamination Protocol” certainly pokes fun at this whole narrative device, complete with awkward scrubbing sessions and that brilliant gag involving the Nakatomi Emergency Protocol. But it’s the most genuine aspect of this episode that ended up being my favorite part.
  • And really, that’s part of the universe of storytelling on The Middleman. There’s nothing wrong with making fun of genre conventions, but the writers never forget the friendly optimism built into the framework of the show. Here, The Middleman explains what Code 47 is to Wendy: in the event that a Middleman anticipates death, they record messages on their Middlewatch to those they care about. It’s initially a wonderful little gag as we see some of the messages the Middleman recorded for earlier cases.
  • And then it’s not a joke anymore.
  • As the case gets more and more difficult to solve, the Middleman urges Wendy to record her Code 47 messages. She refuses because she’s openly affectionate and honest with her friends. Which is true! And I love that this is so obvious to us. So that’s why I was hit so hard by where this episode went. Who is the one person in Wendy’s life who she might not be openly affectionate towards?
  • Oh, gods, IT’S THE MIDDLEMAN.
  • More on that in a second. The Perpugilliam Treaty? Another incredible joke that relies on poking fun at comic book villains. PLEASE, EXPLAIN YOUR ENTIRE PLAN TO ME NOW.
  • SHRINK RAYS. Of course.
  • I absolutely love the design of the set of Ida’s head, and even more so for the design of Ida’s brain. Oh my god, seeing the “real” Ida was such a huge treat, y’all. I liked that it was clearly the same person, just a little… nicer?
  • I know I’ll probably never get to see more of OS2TK, but holy shit, I WANT TO SEE SO MUCH MORE.
  • In hindsight, I should have realized that The Middleman wouldn’t be cynical enough to kill off Wendy, but goddamn. I was completely taken in by her goodbye to The Middleman. I mean, there were only a couple minutes left in the episode, and she was telling The Middleman that she views him as the closest thing to a father  and STOP CRYING???? NO TEARS OH MY GOD. I was so worried that they were actually going kill her off, but you know what? This is a show about hope, about a universe where good can defeat evil and everybody lives. It’s not a gritty slice of realism, and that’s why I like it. So of course Wendy would find a way to survive being enlarged!
  • Did anyone else get the feeling that Ida used to be compromised and turned into the antagonist? Or maybe she doesn’t care about anything ever. It’s probably both.

The video for “The Clotharian Contamination Protocol” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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