IOTA Reviews: Multiplication
So, as flawed as the last episode was, it showed this season could have potential. Ladybug and Cat Noir had great teamwork, there were hints on more insight into Gabriel's backstory, and the conflict actually seems to be going somewhere this season. Do you think this episode will try to maintain this more serious tone? Eh... not really...
Let's get into the second (chronologically the second) episode of Miraculous Ladybug's fifth season: Multiplication
We start off right where the previous episode ended, with Ladybug telling Cat Noir about how Felix betrayed her, but Cat Noir, continuing to use that thing in his head most people call the brain, realizes this means that Felix and Monarch are connected somehow. However, just as they prepare to confront Felix, Master Su-Han appears to once again yell about how much Ladybug sucks at her job, because the writers don't know what else to do with the character. Su-Han raises a decent point about how dangerous Monarch is now, but after Ladybug and Cat Noir point out that they already got back the Rabbit Miraculous and plan to do the same with the other fourteen, he just breaks down crying and apologizes while the writers show us how little they know about a monk's lifestyle.
Yes. This is actually the show's explanation for why Su-Han barely appeared last season. Way to make my opinion of a character I already didn't like sink to an even lower than before.
At least in “Ephemeral”, Su-Han still had some semblance of dignity to him when he admitted he was wrong, but here, the writers just chose to make him into a complete joke. I mean, don't get me wrong, he is a constant reminder of how stupid the Order of the Guardians was, but the previous season at least tried to establish him as a more stern mentor for Ladybug. For Su-Han in this episode, they're saying that a disciplined monk, you know, the people who don't obsess over material possessions or act on their own selfish impulses, got distracted by modern technology and neglected to actually help Ladybug and Cat Noir in their battle against Shadowmoth unless he had to yell at them. The writers seriously managed to make Season 4 Cat Noir look more responsible by comparison, as he at least bothered to show up to more Akuma fights than Su-Han did.
And just like in “Ephemeral”, this is an extremely condensed version of what “Furious Fu” did. Su-Han once again comes to bitch and moan about how Ladybug isn't breathing right, he's called out for being an asshole, and immediately apologizes while any reasonable points he made are now irrelevant. What is even the point of his character when all he does is yell at Ladybug and learn the same lesson over and over again? Wouldn't it have made more sense for Su-Han to join Ladybug and Cat Noir on their chase after Monarch last episode instead of this scene? Even the writers don't see the point in the character, as Su-Han leaves to get reinforcements from the Order of the Guardians. Given how they couldn't even stop an out of control Sentimonster (Feast), we're obviously in good hands here.
Ladybug and Cat Noir transform into their space forms, Cosmobug and Astro Cat respectively, and fly over to London to confront Felix. When they get to his house, only his mother, Amelie, is there, and claims that he mysteriously went missing. So without a lead, they're back to square one for now. The two heroes fly back to Paris, and we get a really good pair of scenes featuring Marinette and Adrien.
With Marinette, she's alone in her room, she's imagining the Kwamis playing around and laughing, but knows they aren't really there as she goes to put away the box where she hides the Miracle Ball. Marinette tries to put on a brave face for Tikki, but almost immediately calls Alya to see if she can sleep over for the night. There's some great shading here, Marinette has some great facial expressions, and other than Marinette calling Alya, there's no dialogue, letting the scene speak for itself.
As for Adrien, he's shown to regret the fact that he let Felix manipulate him so easily and points out that he should have listened to Marinette. He takes her words into consideration and goes to tell Gabriel that he doesn't want to be a model anymore, finally speaking up for himself, and as a result, Gabriel is perfectly fine with it. It's another good scene that adds more depth to Adrien's character.
Alya tries to reassure Marinette that it wasn't her fault Felix tricked her, but their conversation quickly devolves into Alya saying how close Marinette is with Adrien, because the writers want to once again remind the audience that the two are totally made for each other.
Oh wow, they hung out a handful of times! This clearly means they would make a great couple.
Is this really the priority at the moment, writers? Marinette was talking about how dangerous Monarch is now that he has fourteen more Miraculous in his possession all because she screwed up, and now you're having Alya talk about how Marinette's feelings for Adrien are a good thing now? You did such a good job illustrating the stress Marinette is going through in her last scene, and now you're back to making jokes about her crush on Adrien at her expense? What's even worse is than when Marinette makes the reasonable decision to stop trying to be with Adrien, Alya has this to say.
Yeah, I specifically remember you trying to get Marinette to go after her again, like when you and Nino teamed up to force them to get together in the New York Special, and when you told her to go after Adrien after Kagami dumped him in “Mr. Pigeon 72”. She was clearly trying to move on in those instances, yet you still insisted that Adrienette could still be canon. It's honestly even worse here because Marinette specifically said her crush on Adrien was the reason Felix was able to trick her (putting aside the fact that she was marked by Risk, but this is what the narrative is saying right now), yet Alya is trying to convince her not to give up on Adrien... when it hasn't even been a day since the betrayal. This is anything but the priority at the moment, yet Alya continues to badger Marinette instead of understanding she's trying to sacrifice her personal feelings for the greater good.
And when Adrien conveniently calls Marinette while she and Alya are talking, Alya answers Marinette's phone for her and keeps teasing her for her crush on Adrien, because I guess since Alya lost the Fox Miraculous, she's just trying to see what will cause Marinette to snap and cut off all ties with her. When Adrien tells Marinette and Alya he's not going to be a model anymore, he tells Marinette how much she's supposedly helped him.
Putting aside how little time Marinette and Adrien have actually spent in the past four seasons, for the most part, Adrien has mostly been giving Marinette advice (Kung Food, Makediktator, Chameleon). Sure, Marinette has done stuff for Adrien before (The Collector, Gorizilla, Simpleman), but she's almost never given him advice on how to handle certain problems outside of the Season 4 finale, and even then, she only did so because everyone else was too stupid to see how miserable he looked. The writers keep trying to make up for how little Marinette and Adrien have interacted by making these broad strokes in saying that they're closer than it seems, but fail to properly build up these moments, and as a result, moments where Adrien thanking Marinette for everything she's done look incredibly forced.
And the worst part? After four seasons, this is what causes Adrien to develop feelings for Marinette.
Don't get me wrong, I'm happy that Adrien is finally considering Marinette in a romantic light for reasons that don't relate to her being Ladybug, but there's not really a lot of weight to this. We don't see Adrien really think about how Marinette has been around him, or how this affects his feelings for Ladybug. The most we see is him think about how he should have taken her advice, and somehow, that translates to Adrien being in love with Marinette now, to the point where he tries to kiss her in a later scene. This honestly could have worked, but the writers really botched the execution here. This isn't even infuriating at this point. I'm just rolling my eyes at the obvious attempt to shake up the Love Square dynamic after doing nothing to change it for four seasons.
Right when Adrien goes to bed, we see Nathalie is still there and smiles at Adrien, because I guess she wanted to give Gabriel her two weeks notice instead of quitting on the spot. The next day, we see the writers just don't care about the identity rule anymore as Alim, Alix's father tells the class that his daughter is a superhero. Because it's not like he could have said she was visiting family in another country.
The class then talks about Monarch's growing threat, and Chloe raises a decent point that because Ladybug and Cat Noir won't give him their Miraculous, they're all in danger. Remember, only Ladybug, Cat Noir, the Kwamis, and Monarch himself know about what the Ladybug and Cat Miraculous can really do, so as far as the rest of Paris knows, the two heroes could stop him from endangering innocent lives. It's an interesting idea to see more people question the battle Ladybug and Cat Noir are waging against Monarch, but because Chloe is saying this, we're automatically supposed to disagree with her, as she makes the same old “Queen Bee is better!” joke that the writers keep reusing while forgetting to mention she's an ally of Monarch. And for some reason, Lila is the one to refute Chloe's claims that Ladybug made a mistake, not someone like Alya or Adrien. Again, this debate could have worked, yet because it's Lila defending Ladybug, we don't know how genuine she's being here.
We then get a montage showing two weeks passing in Paris, and it's a pretty decent sequence. Yeah, Adrien trying to kiss Marinette multiple times instead of confessing his feelings for her is uncomfortable to watch (especially since “Felix” claimed the real Adrien would never force a kiss on anyone), but we also get to see Ladybug and Cat Noir looking out for Akumas, and the civilians start preparing for whatever Monarch does next. Mylene teaches yoga to help people stay calm and avoid being akumatized, while Alya's older sister Nora teaches Alya and Nino how to box and defend themselves. It's one of the few times in the show that we see the people try to get ready for Monarch's onslaught. Of course, later into the montage, we see less people get invested in the preparations, which I guess is meant to justify why people will still get akumatized this season. Either that, or it's showing the civilians have gotten bored waiting Adrien also models for something, even though Gabriel said it was cool for him to stop modeling, as does Lila. It's a decent sequence of events, topped by showing Ladybug and Cat Noir playing cards to pass the time one day.
Two weeks later, after Marinette once again tries to avoid Adrien bluntly trying to kiss her (which comes across like a joke from the 1950's, not the 2020's), we finally see the first Akuma for the season, Ikari Gozen, the akumatized form of Kagami's mother, Tomoe, supposedly wanting to make a more “modern” city.
Ikari Gozen's design is... eh... I mean, the color scheme looks decent, but it honestly looks like a knockoff of Riposte. I also don't get why Tomoe is fused with her limo to look like a centaur, or why despite being blind, she can just see now. I just think if she stayed blind and had other dangerous powers to compensate for it, it would have made her stood out from other Akumas. However, unlike past seasons that lazily reused past Akumas, I actually like the idea of them reusing her here. Remember, in her episode, Ladybug and Cat Noir needed the help of Ryuko to defeat her, and now, they don't have that option. It does a great job establishing how tough the battle will be.
While she initially doubts herself again, Marinette transforms into Ladybug after a quick pep talk from Alya and Tikki, while Adrien transforms into Cat Noir. The two group up and obviously struggle against the giant robot samurai centaur. Cat Noir tries to Cataclysm Ikari Gozen's sword (where the Akuma was last time), but just as Ladybug manages to immobilize her, Ikari Gozen uses Multiplication, the power of the Mouse Miraculous, creating an army of slightly smaller, yet still giant, clones of herself. So not only is the already uphill battle going to be even harder, it means that this season, the Akumas will have powers of the Miraculous in Monarch's possession. I'll get to my feelings on this towards the end of the review.
After avoiding the Ikari Gozen Corps' wrath, Ladybug summons her Lucky Charm, a fishing pole, and manages to come up with a quick plan. She lures the clones to the local school where she tricks one of the Ikari Gozen clones into thrusting her sword into a room where it gets caught thanks to a trap set by Cat Noir, using the fishing pole's string and his own staff, making it easy for him to Cataclysm the sword.
After de-evilizing the Akuma, Ladybug asks Tomoe if she has the Mouse Miraculous, but she doesn't have it. Ladybug that Monarch somehow transferred the power of the Mouse Miraculous into the Akuma, uses Miraculous Ladybug to fix the damage and even though they're completely pointless now, she also gives Tomoe a Magical Charm. Once Ladybug and Cat Noir leave, Tomoe gives Gabriel a call.
Yeah, I really don't get what the writers were going for here. This is clearly supposed to be a shocking reveal, and it had a little foreshadowing during the montage earlier, but we just don't know enough about Tomoe as a character to get invested in her suddenly being a villain now. At least Chloe and Lila were already put in antagonistic roles before they got involved with Gabriel's schemes, but the only “evil” thing Tomoe has done was act like a strict mother towards Kagami, who doesn't even appear in this episode. From her dialogue as Ikari Gozen, it's hinted she wants to create a technological utopia, but I guess that's going to be yet another mystery set up this season.
We then get to see a presentation by Gabriel, dressed in what can only be described as Colonel Sanders' prom suit.
He's promoting a new product called Alliance, a high-tech ring with an Akuma alert app and an Alexa-esque AI installed, with Adrien and Lila serving as the avatars for the latter program. Since Tomoe used the ring to contact Gabriel in the previous scene, as well as the fact that the opening featured Monarch wearing several multicolored rings in place of the other Miraculous he was seen wearing in “Evolution”, it’s implied this is how Monarch will give his Akumas the various powers the Miraculous have.
I'm... pretty mixed on the overall idea of this. I like the idea of combining supernatural elements with technology, but this is once again something that feels redundant once you remember everything the Butterfly Miraculous can do. In Season 1, there were three separate Akumas that already had the same powers as some of the Miraculous (Copycat, Antibug, Volpina), and Season 2 had an Akuma with the power to multiply itself already (Sapotis), so this new gimmick honestly feels redundant. Maybe later episodes will show Akumas utilizing multiple Miraculous powers, but I don't get why Monarch couldn't give his Akumas powers like this before he got fourteen other Miraculous.
It turns out that this promotional campaign was the final job Adrien had to do, as Gabriel was okay with him not wanting to be a model anymore. However, like the scene with Lila earlier, it's hard to really tell if Gabriel is being genuine or not. When it seems like the episode is about to end, we get a post-credits scene where we learn that Felix's plan to escape Ladybug and Cat Noir was to just hide out in his house while his mother says he isn't there. It's not clear how much Amelie knows of Felix's intentions right now, as she tells him she thinks the heroes believe he's a villain (because what's a few years in prison for harboring a fugitive, am I right?), but Felix waits until she's out of the room to take out the Peacock Miraculous. After putting on the Peacock Miraculous, Duusu, the Kwami connected to said Miraculous, meets Felix and asks if he's his new carrier, to which Felix ominously replies that “He's much more than that”, giving one last evil face to remind the audience that he's evil before we cut to black.
So yeah, Astruc’s seriously going forward and making Felix a villain just because he hates the PV that much. This should be a fun season for PV fans to suffer through sit through.
Honestly, this episode was just... okay. It did a decent job at setting up some of the character arcs and plotlines, showed more fallout to the events of the Season 4 finale, as well as showing the civilians' perspective on the current conflict. Even the Akuma fight, as short as it was, was a pretty enjoyable sequence. The scenes where Marinette and Adrien realized their own faults in the cause of their current situation was very well-written, and just like last episode, it's nice to see Ladybug and Cat Noir not constantly bickering and actually acting like superheroes after last season.
Of course, there were still a lot of dumb moments, specifically in the first act. Su-Han's one scene felt less like a humorous way to explain his absence during the fourth season, and more like the writers admitting they had no idea what to do with the character other than yelling at Marinette before writing him off yet again. As for Alix's situation, it really feels like the writers care less and less about the secret identity rule every season, and didn't even try to think of a clever way to explain where Alix was to the other students without jeopardizing the timeline. But the worst part has to be the way Adrienette is portrayed here. While I wouldn't say Adrien was outright insufferable in this episode, the way he acted on his newly developed feelings for Marinette was pretty uncomfortable. Seriously, he just expected Marinette, whether she also had feelings for him or not, to be perfectly okay with him trying to force a kiss on her, and kept doing it for about two weeks. Even “Cat Blanc” had Adrien talk to Marinette about his feelings for her instead of trying to smooch her on the spot. This part of the montage felt less like a scene from a romantic movie, and more like when Metallo tried to force Lois Lane to kiss him in that one episode of Superman: The Animated Series. But where that episode established Metallo was a degenerate hedonist who was obviously portrayed as being in the wrong, Adrien doing what's almost the same thing is something we're supposed to find funny. How in God's name did any broadcaster think this would be okay to show audiences, much less children?
Overall, despite a handful of bumps, this was a pretty serviceable episode that managed to set up a lot of stuff for the season, and compared to episodes where Seasons 3 and 4 set up their plotlines, it's more impressive than you might think.
THE BIGGEST IDIOT OF THE EPISODE IS... ALYA
She clearly failed to understand the stress Marinette was under after losing all of the other Miraculous a few hours ago, and instead chose to spend more time teasing her best friend for her crush on Adrien instead of understanding her decision to try and move on in order to focus on the bigger picture and stop Monarch. Not only did she also give up on her boxing lessons during the montage when she doesn’t have the Fox Miraculous anymore, but she also tried to help Adrien force a kiss on Marinette by restraining her one time, which is also played for laughs because the writers don't understand what the word “boundaries” means. The little pep talk she gave Marinette wasn't nearly enough to salvage her actions this episode.