Episode Reviews - Forces of Nature

Episode #04 - Forces of Nature
Original Airdate - August 16th 2003

Dark clouds blow in, bringing Thunder and Lightning, two stormy brothers looking for a good time. Unfortunately their idea of fun is wrecking everything in sight. Meanwhile after one of Beast Boy's practical jokes misfires, Beast Boy learns his lesson.

Review by Steel
Media by Bird Boy
Titans Writers
Written by David Slack
Directed by Ciro Nieli
Producer Glen Murakami
Producers Linda M. Steiner, Bruce Timm
Asst. Producer Kimberly A. Smith
Music by Lolita Ritmanis
Casting and Voice Direction Andrea Romano
Animation Services by Dong Woo Animation C.O., LTD.

Titans Voices
Greg Cipes as Beast Boy
Scott Menville as Robin
Khary Payton as Cyborg
Tara Strong as Raven
Hynden Walch as Starfire
Scott Bullock as Thunder
Quinton Flynn as Lightning

Screen Grabs


Sound Clips
"You Are a Klor-Back Varbler Nelk" (MP3, 156kb)

Vibrant characters, a strong message, hilarious dialogue, nonstop action, and a compelling villain all coalesce to form the strongest and most entertaining episode of the series since its debut. "Forces of Nature" is chock full of all of the good stuff that makes Teen Titans such an engaging show: The jokes, gags, and humor not only incessantly barrage the viewer with endless comedy that appeals to multiple senses but bridge the gaps between fight scenes and plot developments in what would be an otherwise very straightforward story. Unfortunately, the episode is weighed down at points by useless exposition and very awkward dialogue, but in light of the episode's strengths they blend in a little bit more organically than they might otherwise.

Above all, this episode was hilarious, especially at the beginning! It was great to see the Titans just messing around and interacting as kids, and the visual effects that complemented Beast Boy's explanation to Raven (the thought bubble, diagrams, music, and subtitles) built up the tension in such a way that Cyborg's unexpected appearance was funnier than what it should have been.. With such a diverse range of character attributes, both kids and adults will be hard-pressed to find at least one Titan that doesn't remind them of themselves. The fight was played out very cutely ("Cyborg... can't fly."), with Beast Boy as the cute little kitten leaving the people viewing the episode with me and I in uncontrolled fits of laughter.

Speaking of the conflict between Starfire and Beast Boy, this time their difficulties were grounded in realism much more so than the previous fight between Cyborg and Robin, because Beast Boy was forced to confront the consequences of his behavior and learned that he couldn't fix it just be being cute or funny. While I feel that the message should have just been left alone at this point, the theme was carried to its logical extension as it applied to Thunder and Lighting as well. Unfortunately, the comparison was hammered into the story too bluntly as Beast Boy spent useless lines bantering on about how he was just like the duo of pranksters and talking about how their actions were wrong. This aspect of the story destroys the subtlety of the original delivery of the message and assumes that the kids watching the show are too dumb to draw conclusions for themselves so it ends up sounding very preachy. Combined with some of Robin's corny one-liners, this almost significantly impacted the episode. Thankfully, the action stayed strong and the message itself was universal and an important thing to keep in mind: There's a fine line between innocent fun and hurtful behavior, and just because you *can* do something doesn't mean that you should.

The second half of the episode took a more serious tone, but Slade's appearance as the old man kept me from even noticing the transition right away. Despite the fact that Slade's voice and behavior as the old man was a dead giveaway as to who he was, he was still weaved into the story brilliantly. Even though he was personally involved in the story for the first time, he still felt somewhat removed from the situation because he was as manipulative and mysterious as always as he was just background to the monumental action most of the time. The way he toyed with Robin in more of an effort to gauge him than to actually fight him was cool, and hopefully it'll keep the tension up between these two until the finale. I was a little put-off by Slade being involved in this sort of mysticism which I figured would be a bit uncharacteristic of him, but it was well worth it for his final disappearing sequence when his mask disintegrated. I can't believe that Slade just wants to destroy the Teen Titans because it seems like he probably could have done it by this point, so it will be interesting to see how everything pans out and to find out what he wants with our beloved Titans.

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