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Tuesday, 2 of March of 2021

Sym-Bionic Titan – “Disenfranchised”

“I didn’t know we had that.”

Lance jams with Disenfranchised.

Good times. For a change.

Your regularly scheduled reviewer for Sym-Bionic Titan will be played by Nick today. I’ve never seen the show before but I’m kind of glad this is the one that I’ve come in on. You’ll have to excuse me if I’m ignorant to history but hopefully I make up for it in charm and wit. And handsomeness. Which you can’t see. Just go with me on the last one.

Why I’m glad “Disenfranchised” is my first episode is because it feels like (and please, correct me if I’m wrong) it has all the elements of the show without much in the way of story progression. It’s a filler episode. And hilarious even though there’s NO WAY some of the jokes are meant for children (some of its demographic wasn’t even born during Budweiser’s What’s Up days).

In this very special episode, however, Lance discovers New Wave, or the modern incarnation of it, Shoegaze Emo, and gets a very valuable lesson in indie cred. Also, there’s an alien they slice like a sausage.

It’s amazing Lance hasn’t picked up a guitar before since it’s so befitting to his “rock star” look, style, and demeanor. Had I not just watched the kid struggle to learn the chords, I would’ve thought that he already had a band he was fronting on the side when he isn’t Go-Go-Power-Rangering. But the Emo Smiths (they call themselves Disenfranchised, just like the episode title!) really inspire the brooding bodyguard. Had the episode not ended the way it does, I could see guy-liner and snake-bite lip rings in his future.

While Lance jams with Morrissey, Private Steve (aka Archie on Steroids) investigates the high school on Steel’s behalf, like a bad episode 21 Jump Street where everyone knows he’s a narc. As he investigates all heavy-handed like, he comes across Newton and draws the same conclusion I do: the blank-faced, ill-shaped nerd is probably the robot. Though he’s also probably the blank-faced, ill-shaped nerdy avatar for the writers on the show, too. “If only I were a galactic robot that saved the world and got the hot girl, too!” Ilana and our refrigerator-shaped hero spend the episode trying to give Archie the slip, which is made easier by Octus’s ability to pull more tricks out of nowhere than Baggin’ Saggin’ Barry. Are the holograms and random galactic weapons normal?

Obviously, Steel and Meathead Archie are ineffectual at keeping track of their suspects while Lance plays with the Smiths at some place out in the woods. The creature of the week is relatively tame and doesn’t trouble Octus or Ilana very much, the explosions apparently only serving to make the show more awesome (as opposed to making us worry about what’s happening with the actual fight). Funny how the kids are quick to assume that the band they saw play a lunch room just days before can afford giant fireworks and a light show. The dragon’s Light of Judgement attack does next to nothing, never even really threatening our heroes, which leads me to believe what we should be focusing on is the tragedy of Lance’s incandescent but unfortunately short music career.

Sadly, like any sad Behind the Music episode, there are casualties on the way to greatness. Disenfranchised isn’t ready for what Lance brings to the table: throngs of admirers with his reluctant-messiah effect on humans. Obviously, Lance doesn’t understand the idea of Indie Cred (he’s from space afterall) and struggles to comprehend why performers wouldn’t want an audience. At the center of Disenfranchised releasing their starmaker is the debate of what it means to “sell-out” vs keeping artistic integrity. Lance’s astute argument: “Who cares who likes the music?” But that’s a focus for many punk/ska/rock outfits, that popularity and “mainstream” equals the death of art. Maybe Emo Morrissey really was just jealous of the attention Lance gets but it sounded more like a statement by the writers to the ridiculousness of the stigma that comes with “selling out.” In any case, Lance’s time as an actual rock star is short lived and Emo Smiths will continue without him in obscurity.

All in all, a pretty good episode. Funny, action-y, emotional tunes of love and loss. It had it all. Well, almost all. I really wanted to see Lance suited up, hanging from the sky with his guitar dangling in the air. That would’ve been sweet.

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