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The Mummy: The Reckoning (2003)
Unlike Alex, this finale is far from supreme
I find most of the Underworld stuff pretty uninspired and rather silly, particularly the boat that sets you on fire if you don't believe in yourself, and I could definitely have done without seeing the Dark Medjai again! The sequence where Alex absolutely beats the living daylights out of Imhotep and the Jinn is extremely satisfying in many ways and it's certainly what we've been waiting for, but the lead-up to it is not exactly what we've been promised after Alex's two-season journey with the Manacle and his Medjai training, which I do find rather disappointing after all that emotional investment.
The road to the Underworld is paved with MacGuffins
This episode is excessively MacGuffin-fuelled, which is certainly saying something at this stage. It's great to see the Scarab again, but of course he uses the MacGuffin to end all MacGuffins to put Alex at a disadvantage. The ensuing sequence of events could have worked pretty well as the concluding part of Alex's personal journey, with everything finally coming together for him both mentally and practically in the end, but only if he had then been able to use his Medjai and Manacle skills in conjunction for his final victory in the second part of this story, and sadly this isn't quite how things look set to pan out. On the plus side, some of the character interplay in this episode is rather nice, and Alex's final encounter with the Scarab (at least for now!) is pretty stimulating.
The Mummy: Trio (2003)
My favourite episode of the entire series
I really can't praise this episode enough. Despite the fact that it omits most of the main cast, it has earned its place as my favourite episode of all for several reasons. It manages to marry up the two parts of the show's title - "The Mummy" and "Secrets of the Medjai" - far more successfully than any other episode; it's great to see Imhotep pitted directly against Alex and his fellow young Medjai in a new and original adventure. The teamwork and interplay between Alex, Yanit and Fadil is absolutely wonderful, and goes to show how important these three as a trio could and should have been to the whole show, had it continued. Fadil in particular benefits from some lovely character context and development in this episode, and the opening scene between him and his little brother is particularly enlightening and well done. I absolutely love how supportive Alex is of Fadil both emotionally and physically; Alex really proves himself as a great Medjai and a great leader of Medjai in the making. His overall journey through the series is not forgotten either, as we find him at the absolute apex of his Manacle and Medjai skills, which is excellent. I really feel that this episode contains all the potential for the show's future as well as fitting nicely into the existing sequence of events. It's simply excellent.
The Mummy: Old Friends (2003)
Rather poor overall, but slightly redeemed in the end
The issue of Alex's overconfidence and recklessness builds to a crescendo here, but it's horribly overdone and makes him come across as unnecessarily unpleasant. Anck Su Namun really can't carry an entire episode as the main villain, and of course she's after a MacGuffin. On the other hand, I find it highly stimulating to see Alex very close to the peak of his Manacle and Medjai skills, and he does have a pretty decent extended fight with Anck, so that's squeezed an extra star out of me for this one.
The Mummy: Spring of Evil (2003)
A lot of potential rather badly misdirected
This episode could be brilliant, but I feel it falls short in many ways. It's great to see Alex tantalisingly close to gaining mastery both of the Manacle and of his Medjai skills, but of course the flip-side of that is the problem of his growing overconfidence and recklessness. I don't think this is a bad idea in itself and (as I've said before) I get what they're going for, but it's very badly overdone in my opinion. Also, there is a great deal of potential in Imhotep valuing Alex as a prospective ally. I'd love to have seen Imhotep trying to tempt Alex over to the Dark Side by appealing to the part of Alex that's extremely disaffected with Ardeth and his training, and Alex's recklessness and overconfidence getting him into some trouble because of this state of affairs, but instead we get a very lazy MacGuffin to do all the work - the Well Spring of Darkness. Given all this, and the fact that finding the Well requires Imhotep to seek the help of the Dark Medjai, who I've already had more than enough of, this episode leaves me a little cold overall.
The Mummy: Time Before Time (2003)
Much better than most season two episodes
I like this episode quite a lot. Alex proves once again that he can carry an episode absolutely brilliantly, and he is ably backed up by Jonathan, who makes a very good out-of-time sidekick. Like all the best stories involving time travel, this one leaves us with a rather nice predestination paradox to think about, here involving Alex and his back-in-time buddy Amar.
The Mummy: The Enemy of My Enemy (2003)
A real trough for the whole series
This is definitely my least favourite episode of the entire series, and it only just avoids being completely awful in my opinion. Alex has started to become an overconfident jerk - I get what they're trying to do with his personal journey, but I think he is too often presented as excessively thoughtless and unpleasant.
(The worst of this is yet to come, of course.) The Agalophones are obviously supposed to be funny but they really aren't; I don't like anything about them on any level. Evy and Imhotep's uneasy truce is a wasted opportunity to do something interesting and meaningful, and it doesn't come anywhere close to achieving the thematic ideas that it's obviously trying to evoke. The only thing I can say in this episode's favour is that Alex demonstrates great skill with some extremely cool moves when fighting the Agalophones and the three-headed dragon, showing the more positive side of his personal and physical journey, but that's small comfort overall.
The Mummy: The Cold (2003)
A poorly realised episode that misses a great chance for redemption
I find this episode rather poor. It's entirely fuelled by MacGuffins, which is only to be expected by this point, but in my opinion the potentially interesting locations and guest creatures don't come across nearly so well as they should. The change in dynamic between Imhotep and Wealser (and its possible ongoing consequences) offers a heck of a lot but delivers very little. However, I could have forgiven all this and decided to fairly like the episode overall if it wasn't for the criminally wasted opportunity to have Alex come through as a true and pure-hearted hero by releasing the ice trolls from their servitude at the end. He managed to get his hands on the locket, so why didn't he do it? Simply because some writers can't recognise a golden opportunity to flesh out and develop a great hero when they see one!
The Mummy: A Fair to Remember (2003)
A step back into all too familiar territory
After two episodes of some intriguing "secrets of the Medjai" and no sign of Imhotep, we here experience a jarring return to the status quo of the first season, except without the Scrolls of Thebes to chase. Consequently, we end up with the O'Connells racing Imhotep and Weasler to find a random MacGuffin artefact for no real reason, which gives episodes like this one a distinctly redundant feel in my opinion. On the plus side, I like the Tiger-Man as a guest villain/creature, Alex kicks Imhotep off a moving roller coaster at one point, which is very cool, and I really like the way Alex stands up for Uncle Jonathan when Rick and Evy decide he has outlived his usefulness.
The Mummy: Like Father, Like Son (2003)
More top-drawer "secrets of the Medjai"
Like the previous episode, this one does an excellent job of squeezing a heck of a lot into twenty minutes. Jack (like Yanit before him) is a character who offers plenty of intriguing times to come (although they don't come in the end, as there are no more seasons of the show) as his interactions with both Alex and Rick are extremely well handled and ripe with potential. The Scarab is by far my favourite villain of the entire series - his witty, acerbic style is wonderful and I find his ongoing beef with Alex highly stimulating.
The Mummy: The Dark Medjai (2003)
"Secrets of the Medjai" truly earns its place as a subtitle
This episode does incredibly well to squeeze an awful lot of plot, characterisation, history and significant revelations into a bare twenty minutes. Yanit and Fadil have always been at the very top of my "friends for Alex" list, and they are both used to excellent effect here. Particularly compelling is the start of Alex's relationship with Yanit, who very quickly proves to be an important friend and ally in many ways; Alex and Yanit working together so excellently to save the day must surely be seen as a very significant sequence of events in the context of the series as a whole, at least potentially. Inevitably, there are some contrivances and conveniences in the writing, mainly the Flames of Eternal Darkness and the bridge that tries to kill you if you have male genitalia, but the inclusion of these is completely justifiable and works as well as it needs to.
The MacGuffin chase begins in earnest
This episode sets a rather unfortunate precedent for the rest of the series - everyone is chasing a random MacGuffin artefact (the Scythe of Anubis, in this particular case) for no real reason. The only thing I really like about this one is the voice work on Alex and Rick as they struggle in various ways to get Evy back to her old self.
Back to the wheelhouse to make a slightly unwise turn
Clearly they've been back to the movies for some more inspiration. While this is an understandable decision, I feel there was just the right amount of movie inspiration in there already, and that the show suffers somewhat as a result. Specifically, the inclusion of Anck Su Namun (with a suitably adjusted origin story, of course) and the whole issue of Evy's past life (which is begun here and then fully explored in the second episode of the two-episode season opener) don't really benefit the show in my opinion, and should have remained confined to the movies. Alex's Medjai training has already messed with his head and certainly done more harm than good to his personal development, although it seems to have had a hand in speeding up his physical development to quite a degree! As in the first season, we see Alex at his very best when he's relying on his own skills and instincts, yet still Ardeth Bay claims credit for Alex's triumphs, which his dodgy Medjai training programme obviously has nothing to do with really!
The Mummy: The Maze (2002)
Pretty much back to where it should be, after a huge wobble
This second half of the two-episode season finale is a huge improvement on the first half. The inclusion of the Minotaur is well judged and plays out very effectively. The decisions Alex makes in relation both to the Manacle and the Scrolls of Thebes show excellent wisdom and courage, as the Minotaur very aptly expresses it at one point. Alex really starts to come through as THE hero of the show here, which I think is great, but of course he still relies on that compelling family teamwork to help him reach his potential. I find it particularly satisfying when Alex gives Imhotep a darn good kicking for the first time, and thankfully it certainly won't be the last.
The Mummy: The Puzzle (2002)
A real low point for the first season
This is by far my least favourite episode of the first season. Simon Montgomery is my second least favourite of Alex's contemporary companions (he's just above Ishi on my list, of course) and represents the worst use of Thomas Dekker I have ever seen and/or heard. The Puzzle of Horus is the most annoying and arbitrary MacGuffin yet (although there's worse to come in the next season!) and serves to render the entire quest so far utterly redundant, as it quickly reveals the location of the Scrolls of Thebes so that they can be around to play a decisive role in the upcoming season finale.
The Mummy: Howl (2002)
A very good episode with more niggles than immediately evident
This episode contains a pointless, MacGuffin-fuelled opening sequence, some very dodgy Irish accents, and an annoyingly anomalous use of the Manacle - that is, it's annoying in the next season as the Manacle seemingly no longer has this power when Evy really needs it. It also makes the most arbitrary use so far of Imhotep and Weasler - if they're going to be THAT superfluous and detached from the plot, I'd rather not see them featured at all, as with the China episode. However, this episode is saved to no small extent by some interesting werewolf stuff, some compelling family dynamics, and a lot of particularly excellent voice work on both Alex and Rick.
The best episode yet
Absolutely brilliant stuff from start to finish. Again, the characterisation on Alex is quite wonderful in both the script and the voice work, and his interactions with Jin Wu are excellent. A particular highlight is Alex's interest in the old sensei character's teachings, and his subsequent use of what he's learned to get a decent amount of control over the Manacle at last. In my opinion, Alex would have done very well to investigate the possibility of coming back to the Forbidden City for a longer period in the near future to continue his studies, rather than relying on Ardeth Bay and his highly questionable Medjai training scheme.
The Mummy: Fear Itself (2001)
A familiar set-up very well handled
This is a pleasingly original take on a very familiar cartoon staple. The characters' fears vary in how well conceived and appropriately used they are, but Rick's, Alex's and Imhotep's are all excellent on both counts.
The Mummy: The Cloud People (2001)
Another typically high-quality first season episode
A good amount of interesting South American history and geography are very nicely woven into this episode, which more than makes up artistically for what it lacks in accuracy. Again we see a pleasing mix of Alex's characteristics, and I like his simple but effective interactions with the younger generation of Cloud People.
The Mummy: The Black Forest (2001)
Another top-drawer adventure in another interesting location
This is another brilliant episode with some interesting and well used locations. The inclusion of Albert Einstein could easily have come across as just plain silly, but it's carefully judged and works really well. Alex demonstrates such excellent mental and physical strength and skill as he battles his way to the rescue that he proves beyond all doubt that any problems he's destined to encounter with his Medjai training really have nothing to do with his own innate qualities or abilities. We then get an appropriate and compelling look into the less ebullient side of Alex's character at the very end of the episode, and the conversation with Einstein that helps Alex get his head together comes across really well. On a related note, I find the voice work on Alex (which is always excellent) particularly well done in this one.
The Mummy: Orb of Aten (2001)
An excellent showcase for this series at its best
This episode is brilliant, despite the fact that the titular Orb of Aten is another one of those pointless MacGuffin artefacts that really adds nothing to the show in itself. The New York stuff with Alex, Rick and Evy is all excellent, particularly their character interplay and family teamwork. Alex demonstrates (not for the first or last time, of course) that his greatest attributes are his own innate skills, both physical and mental, particularly during the museum sequence. I also like the intriguing allusions to Rick's past, including plenty of inspiration from the movie canon. Imhotep and Weasler are more entertaining than usual here - it's nice to see some care and attention paid to them and their dynamic for a change.
The Mummy: Eruption (2001)
A reasonably worthwhile pit-stop
I really hate Ishi - she is unnecessarily unpleasant at all times and definitely languishes at the very bottom of my "well used contemporary companions for Alex" list. On the other hand, Alex himself shows a compelling mix of characteristics here (not all of them entirely positive, of course, but all of them appropriate and believable) and again comes through as the most skilful and courageous of boy heroes, which I really like to see. The gynarchy is understated and interesting, and while the episode does practically nothing to progress the overriding plot of the series, it's a decent stand-alone adventure with some nice moments.
The Mummy: The Deep Blue Sea (2001)
An undersea adventure with unfounded paranoia
Rick's sudden and extreme paranoia that he is about to be replaced in the affections of both Alex and Evy by a random submariner with an exotic accent is rather strange, but the undersea adventure is very good and Alex performs some very nice heroics in his SCUBA gear.
The Mummy: Against the Elements (2001)
Most valuable as a showcase for the two sides of Alex
A slightly tangential and somewhat forgettable episode, which nevertheless achieves a very effective balance between showing Alex as a typical kid and showing Alex as a great hero, thus underlining and cementing his status as a great kid hero. The Staff of Set is the first of many rather annoying MacGuffin artefacts that I feel the show could really do without, but at least this one is not overused.
A typically high-quality first season episode
This episode showcases Alex's characteristics and skills to excellent effect, and also manages to make some rather nice use of Jonathan. It contains a pleasing amount of exciting family teamwork, and draws on some interesting Egyptology.