March M.A.N.T.I.S. is taking you one by one through every episode of the ’94-’95 superhero FOX series M.A.N.T.I.S. throughout the month of March (natch). Using the POW (Plot, Opinion, What’s Next?) format, I am watching each installment and sharing with all of my feelings and observations regarding each episode.
So strap on your exoskeleton, settle into your hovercraft, and load up on paralysis darts. But most importantly? Enjoy.
Today’s Episode: Episode 7: The Black Dragon
P: A mafia accountant (George DiCenzo), his wife (Deanne Henry), and daughter (Gabrielle Miller) are “enjoying” an awkward dinner that becomes that much more awkward when Yakuza types bust up the place, freak out his wife, and steal his daughter.
Pulling a Phantom Menace, the episode reveals the whole thing is some conflict over, in essence, land deed rights. Both violent gangs feel they have the collection rights to a new stadium, neither want to share. The Mafia is so dedicated to this apparent windfall that they’d rather let their accountant’s daughter die and declare all out gang war then negotiate the situation.
This approach does not sit well with Hawkins & Co. so the Mantis pays a visit to the accountant’s garden, to plant a bug, but also, presumably, to check on the accountant’s winter perennials.
After planting the bug, the Mantis also takes a moment to look in the window because he either wants to be a Peeping Tom or he wanted to be like the silent slasher in a teen horror film.
Using the various recordings, Hawkins & Co. recruits the accountant to their side. He provides information to the them that lets the team interrupt and kidnap a mob translator and substitute Stonebrake in his place. Stonebrake, instead of translating, invites them to fight the Mantis, who they think is resurrected warrior, The Black Dragon, sent by fate to punish them for leaving Japanese soil.
The Japanese take the bait, the Mantis bests their warrior and frees their daughter, and the accountant turns state’s evidence against the mob meaning the situation has wiped out the two major organized crime groups in Port Columbia city borders.
O: I don’t have much of a reaction to this episode. Despite the stated stakes—Stonebrake is very worried that Hawkins is going to end up dead—the episode never involved me emotionally. Instead, mostly, I found myself wondering and worrying about the rather blatant and flippant racism directed towards the Japanese in this episode. I want to believe that it is just reflective of the characters, not a result of the writers’ opinions, but…it’s kind of uniform. Bike messenger in particular seems rather comfortable with it.
The other aspect I found interesting is the continued evolution of Hawkins’ “I need to do this and nothing’s going to stop me.” Although as I write it and think about those moments in the episode, they were a bit the same note that has already been hit, as recently as last episode.
W: The Mantis gets squeezed from both sides as his Lex Luthor returns and the FBI come to town, convinced there is a Mantis/Hawkins link in “To Prey in Darkness.”