This is a Spoiler Free review. Hints about the new season are dropped but nothing specific is given. Come back later for Spoiler Filled interviews with Valorie Curry and Marc Kudisch!
Amazon’s The Tick isn’t your average superhero comic book show. Sure it sports the tights-wearing larger than life heroes battling the forces of evil, and sure, the first season was one long archetypal hero’s journey for Arthur (Griffin Newman) alongside the big blue enigma known as The Tick (Peter Serafinowicz). But at its core, The Tick is about love and acceptance of one’s self, whatever form that takes. Good or evil, the inhabitants of The City struggle to balance their normal lives with the fantastic, discover who they really are, or simply pay the bills. The tone of the show walks a tricky tightrope, ranging from the absolutely wacky to the heartbreakingly real consequences of lives lived in this universe. But it does it with a winning combination of writing and acting that make this show a treat for long time fans of the genre.
The second season of The Tick picks up right where the first leaves off, hours even; Arthur is coming to grips with defeating The Terror (Jackie Earle Haley), The Tick is still just as clueless about his shrouded past, Ms. Lint (Yara Martinez) is MIA, Superian’s (Brendan Hines) public image has taken a hit, and Overkill (Scott Speiser) still can’t kill due to his “warrior’s code” promise he made to the Big Blue Wonder. The world is about to get much, much bigger around The Tick and Arthur as their heroic deeds from the first season create massive ripples in The City. The dashing duo have made their mark as legit superheroes for the first time and with that comes a whole lot of unexpected responsibilities and attention from long absent eyes. On the villains side, The Terror’s capture creates a power vacuum in the city’s underworld and no one is left to fill the void.
The first few episodes of The Tick are paced very well; the viewer is dropped back into these character’s lives literally the moment we last left them and it shows no signs of slowing down. The scope of the world of superheroes expands past the reaches of The City with the addition of A.E.G.I.S., the show’s stand in for Marvel comics’ S.H.I.E.L.D. organization. Hinted at in the first season, A.E.G.I.S. makes its return to The City to monitor and recruit the new wave of superheroes, but as with all super secret government funded spy organizations, not all may be as it seems.
Along the way Arthur proves himself to be quite the fanboy of A.E.G.I.S. but his blind faith in this hallowed institution might prove to be misplaced. Fans of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. or the later seasons of The Venture Brothers are in for a treat. This season shares a lot of DNA with these two shows, and expresses some of the same concepts in a way that only The Tick can.
The Tick continues to be an actor’s showcase of solid character actors with Marc Kudisch joining the cast as Ty Rathbone, the no nonsense, All-American Commander of A.E.G.I.S. and John Hodgman as the Bunson Honeydew-equse Doctor Agent Hobbes. Both are perfectly cast in their roles as safeguards of humanity, two sides of A.E.G.I.S. ever vigilant presence. Steven Ogg is a standout as Flexon skewing as far away as possible from his Grand Theft Auto 5 character and Cle Bennett as Sage the Supernumerary gives Doctor Strange a run for his money in matters of the mystic arts.
The series as a whole keeps its character introspection as priority one, the flashy heroic beat-em-ups second, and that trend continues into season two. The show remains grounded in its own brand of reality, with its high flying superheroes, but The Tick really shines when it focuses on the problems the characters have outside their costumes. Arthur is more sure of himself this season, but has to now rise to the challenge of measuring up to more well established heroes. The Tick continues to be past-less and while this isn’t a focus of this season, his black and white sense of justice is called into question at crucial moments. The Tick may believe himself to be the ultimate protagonist to end all other protagonists, but for those around him, the Big Blue might be not be the right hero for the job all the time.
While the first season focused on Arthur’s journey to answer the call of “Lady Destiny” to the world of super-heroism, the second season takes the time to focus on other character’s struggles. Arthur is determined to join the ranks of his suited heroes after coming out the other side of his own battles, but Dot (Valorie Curry) is just beginning her’s. This season’s focus on Dot is refreshing and much needed in this world of a mostly super suited boy’s club. Treated as Arthur’s support and occasional backup for Overkill in the first season, Dot is given breathing room to own a meaty plotline all her own and the chance to fully form as a formidable main character this time around. Valarie Curry is given wide range to flex her acting chops in a variety of exciting ways, leaving the viewer deeply invested in her plot every step of the way.
Ms. Lint also gets a storyline that takes some very unexpected turns along the way and allows Martinez to play with the darker shades of grey of her character, while delving into her innermost conflict. Arthur’s mother gets an unexpected amount of screen time and greatly needed nuance. Two new female characters also prove to be interesting for their background status and could easily become emerging fan favorites. While the women of the show share very little screen with each other, each are given much more to work with and excel every step of the way.
While The Tick’s second season is mostly an enjoyable ride, there are a few nicks on the suit of its armor… skin… carapace? The overarching plot point that brings the characters together against their foes doesn’t come into focus until very late in the game, though the croissant crumbs dropped along the way do add up in a satisfying way. While the pacing of the first couple of episodes are handled very well, near the middle there are few stretches that could have been better utilized, and some characters weren’t as fully realized as they were in previous seasons. The lead up and rush to the ending goes by very fast and could have been allowed to breathe more. As it is, it’s not as impactful as it might have been had there been more time to devote to the fallout of all of the pieces falling into place.
Amazon’s The Tick continues to be an anomaly in the crowded realm of comic book based TV shows and that’s a good thing. At its core, the show champions doing the right thing in the face of villainy, no matter the form. A sentiment that seems desperately needed in this day and age. A strong focus on smaller, intimate moments coupled with the goofy superhero antics are balanced well, and stay true to Ben Edlund’s vision. The characters, as well as the show itself, may stumble along the way, but ultimately the end product is a big bowl of deeply relatable comic book comfort food.
Verdict: 4.5 out of 5
All ten episodes of Season Two of The Tick premiere on Amazon Prime on April 5th.