Mr. Mayor: Vlad Masters X NSG Reader
Decided to make it gender neutral despite the request because I love Vlad and I know other boys and enbys do too. Also made the reader Jack Fenton’s sibling because I think there’s a slap in the face situation part 2 later on.
Visiting your brother’s family was always great. Jack rambled on about something ghost related while Jazz caught you up on her academic successes and Maddie told you about the big new events you’d missed since visiting last. Your favorite part of the visit was taking Danny to hang out. Your nephew was your favorite, not that you’d ever say it out loud.
So taking Danny to the Nasty Burger to meet with his friends was right in your wheelhouse. Sam and Tucker seemed like really nice kids. You admired Sam’s taste in the weird things and Tucker’s understandable love for technology. In talking to the kids you remembered what Maddie had told you.
“So, the new mayor, not your favorite person?” You looked around at the high schooler's faces.
“He tried to make us wear school uniforms, started a curfew at four o’clock, and we almost lost the Nasty Burger.” Danny explained.
“Does he have some sort of vendetta against you or something?” You asked as you went to take a bite of a fry.
The teens looked at you skeptically. As if you knew something you weren’t supposed to.
“What?” You looked around. “Am I missing something?”
“He’s just a bad guy, that’s all.” Sam clarified.
“He’s the guy that’s been chasing after Danny’s mom since they were in college, other than that he never seemed that bad.” You set down the fry you were never going to get the chance to eat. “He and Jack always spent summers between semester doing stupid ghost expermments in th attic.”
“So you knew him before…” Danny stopped himself from finishing.
“Before college?” Tucker filled questioningly.
“Yeah, yeah, you knew him from when my dad went to college?”
“Not really.” You answered. “Just caught glimpses of him. I was in high school so I didn’t really pay attention to what Jack did.” You shrugged. “He seemed nice, but he stopped coming over so often for some reason.”
Once again the teens looked at each other as if they knew something special.
“All right, who wants to tell me?” You broke their little staring contest.
“Tell you what?” Tucker spoke in more of a series of squeaks rather than words.
“Yeah, there’s nothing to tell.” Sam covered.
You turned to Danny. “Nephew.”
He gulped and let out a nervous laugh. “It’s like Sam said, he’s just a really bad guy now.”
The look of a disappointed (Aunt/Uncle/Auncle-This is the most common gender neutral term I’ve found) was something that could move mountains. Danny shifted in his seat clearly trying to come up with a convincing lie.
“Daniel, tell me.” You narrowed your brows and the kid looked white as a ghost.
Hold on, no. His hand was gone. The one that was resting on the table. Gone.
“Is this a ghost thing?” You asked.
Danny looked down at his hand and tried to play it off as if it was just a weird angle. It didn’t work. With all the nervous muttering and poorly formed excuses it was obvious they were lying.
“You’re half ghost?” It was hard to believe, but it was the only thing that the kids didn’t sound like they were lying about.
“Yes, just keep your voice down.” Danny warned. “Vlad is half ghost too, that’s how he became mayor and got all of his money.”
“So he’s bad because he played to his strengths?” You muttered to yourself.
You gathered up the trash around the table.
“Why don’t you introduce me to him, Danny. I’m sure he’s not that bad of a guy.”
“I don’t think that’s a good idea.” Sam chimed in.
“I may be related to Jack Fenton, but that doesn’t mean I’m an idiot.” You looked at Danny who seemed to forget that he could do ghostly things and was trying to hide in his shirt. “Come on, Danny.”
Reluctantly Danny left his friends to introduce you to his arch nemesis. A fourteen year old with an arch nemesis and it had to be your nephew. Town hall was busy, but that’s what town halls are like. Danny helped you walk through a few walls until you were outside of Vlad’s office. The fact that your nephew could just walk through walls was going to take some getting used to. Danny opened the door to see a rather handsome man sitting at a large desk with a fluffy white cat in his lap. He looked up at the sound of the door clicking open.
“Why Daniel, to what do I owe the pleasure?” His voice had a calming effect.
“My (Aunt/Uncle/Auncle) wanted to meet you.” Danny seemed tense in the way he spoke. “I’ll be at home.’ He muttered to you before leaving the room.
You closed the door as he left.
“Good to meet you Mr. Masters, I’m (Y/n), Jack’s (Brother/Sister/Sibling).”
“Oh, yes, I remember seeing you around.” Vlad recalled. “Please sit.”
You did so, taking the seat across from him.
“I wanted to meet you because I’d always been a fan of your work.”
“Oh, thank you, it's always nice to meet a fan.”
“And because I never got the chance to really meet you when you and Jack were friends.”
“I must say, I do regret not meeting you sooner.” Vlad leaned forward and rested his chin in his hands. The cat scurried away to a small tower by the window.
“Why did you and Jack stop talking?” You asked.
“Oh, college passed and we went separate ways.” He waved off the issues.
“Well, I used to have a bit of jealousy toward he and Maddie, but I feel it passing more and more with each word.”
“Each day.” Vlad corrected himself.
“Right…” Your eyes wandered to the framed Packers jersey on his wall. “You’re a Packers fan?”
“Why yes.” Vlad smiled fondly at the jersey. “I’ve tried to buy the team itself, but no luck.”
“I’ve always been a bit of a fan, and I love the jersey.” You complemented.
“Say, would you like to accompany me to a game this season?”
You blushed red. A very attractive man just asked you to go to your favorite team's game.
“I, uh, I’d love to.”
“I have my own box, bottle service and all of the perks.” He bragged. “Afterall someone with your looks deserves nothing less.”
You let out a nervous half laugh. “Thank you, Mr. Masters.”
“Oh, please, Vlad.” He insisted.
The name rolled off your tongue in such a pleasant way. Jack might kill you for this, but come on.
“If you’d like we go for dinner tonight as well.” Vlad offered.
“Sure.” You answered right away.
After having to interrogate Danny and his friends you realized you never really got to eat.
“Shall we then?” Vlad waited by you with his arm out to take.
You walked with him to a limo reserved just for the mayor. He sat next to you and gave great conversation. You discussed the Packers, politics of Amity Park, and personal preferences. Dinner was much of the same, but with more food. Vlad wasn’t like Danny had said. He was a gentleman. He may have acquired his money by not-so-legal means, but he was a nice guy.
The ride home was more conversation. Vlad bought the ticket to the game he’d promised and inquired about why you were in Amity Park.
“It was just time to visit, catch up with Jazz and Danny.” You explained. “I try to tune out Jack, he calls every week or so anyway.”
“And how long will you be staying in our fair city?”
“Around a week.”
“And I couldn’t persuade you to stay any longer?” Vlad offered.
“I, uh, I don’t know.” You thought. “Maybe.”
“There is a position open at city hall if it interests you.” He met your eyes. “I’d be happy to pull some string to keep you around.”
“I wouldn’t mind that.” You nodded along.
You hadn’t noticed how close the two of you were. Until Vlad’s hand was already cupping your cheek. He gave you a moment to react before he leaned in and pressed your lips together. It was a sweet kiss, timid. As if he hadn’t done it in a long time.
You scooted closer to him on the seat and wrapped your arms around him, one of your hands finding his pony tail to play with. Vlad rested his other hand on your side and pulled you a bit closer. You pressed further and intensified the kiss. Vlad obliged and kept the pace, kissing you with as much passion.
The car came to a stop and made you both separate. Time was cut short.
“I suppose I’ll see you soon?”
“I’d love to.”
Vlad opened the door for you to step out and gave you one last smile before the car drove away. You were definitely going to see him again.
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Danny Phantom: Bitter Reunions Review
Hello all you happy people! The 2000′s were a golden age for superhero cartoons. While the 90′s were no slouch in this department, having probably the best period in Batman the Animated Series, shows like Batman TAS, and other notables such as Freakazoid, Superman TAS, Spider-Man, X-Men, Incredible Hulk.. basically anything Marvel put out. Except the first seasons of Fantastic Four and Iron man though the former DID give us this.
For those of you who now know this exists: Your welcome.
What i’m getting at is the 90′s were the lead in for an even better era of superhero cartoons, a nice mix of superb adapations and brilliant original concepts. In this fine decade we had such classics as, in chronological order as this is gonna be a long list, grab a snack: Batman Beyond, Static Shock, Harvey Birdman Attorney At Law, Kim Possible, Code Name Kids Next Door (Kinda) Code Lyoko, My Life as A Teenage Robot, TMNT 2003, Teen Titans, Xiaolin Showdown (Again Kinda), The Venture Bros, Ben 10 and Ben 10: Alien Force, Transformers Animated (You get it at this point), American Dragon; Jake Long, The Life and Times of Juniper Lee, Frisky Dingo, Yin Yang Yo!, El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera, Batman The Brave and the Bold, The Secret Saturdays, The Spectacular Spider-Man and Wolverine and the X-Men. Seriously just listing all of that both makes me nostaligic.. and sad that both Marvel and DC haven’t made a really good show for kids in some time, but that’s a story for another day. Point is it was a glorious time to be alive, and to be a kid, tween and teen growing up in that period.
My faviorite though at the time, now it’s just behind Venture Bros, was Danny Phantom. Danny Phantom deftly blended comedy, action and relatable character stuff as our ghostly hero juggled high school and ghost busting in that classic teen superhero manor pioneered by your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. The ghost angle gave the series a LOT to work with: The fenton thermos is an objectively cool trap for the ghosts, and having to throw them back in the portal gave the show an easy way to bring villians back time and time again without just having to accept the prison was made of paper mache. It had deft fight scenes, wonderful humor and for the most part a likeable cast of characters.. I say most part the popular crowd are also made of paper mache, but at least have enough personality to be funny. It had awesome character designs too from the guy who made Kim Possible, and like that show the villians just ooze with personality and style, givng Danny a wonderful diverse rogues gallery to battle against. We had a teen rockstar with a combo fire and mind control gimmick, kraven the hunter if craven was a tiny blob in a skeleton themed mech suit, a kid with pirate and cowboy gimmicks whose invisble to adults and people who think their adults, a longshore man, a lunch lady who can posses meat, a gilbert godfried esque tech posser, a sexy genie who turns the wishes against their masters, a teenage dragon.. I could go on and on and on. Even the one off villians are highly memorable for the most part. The show was charming, engaging and had story arcs at at time that wasn’t the norm like it thankfully is now.
So why, given this clearly had an impact on me, did I take over a year into my reviewing to get to it? Wellll... you can chalk that up to this asshole.
Yup as has become the norm for many like myself lately, someone who created something very important to their life, in my case people like JK Rowling, Joss Whedon and Brad Jones, turned out to be a braying asshat who cares only about themselef and is actively harmful to others in one way shape or form. He’s apparently stiffed people on comissions they paid him for, which as someone who does commissions for reviews for a living both directly for 5 bucks an episode and via patreon offends me on a personal level, said you can’t crticize someone in animation unless you work in animation which again offends me as a critic, has taken a right wing stance on lbgtq+ issues, and of course there was the whole Oaxis fiasco.
In short, and I know most of this thanks to PieGuyRulez videos on the topic, Butch tried to launch a “family friendly” streaming service, believing netflix wasn’t for the whole family because it had other things besides family shows on it. Even though all the major streaming services have some form of kids content and well built parental controls, making his entire pitch pointless. People still backed it because he does have fans and name recgonition.. things he proceeded to loose over the campaign as became clear he had ZERO idea how to budget for a streaming service, aquire content, or build the damn thing and not only begged for more money.. but behind backers backs had been going to religious confrences and claming the service would “spread his message of faith”.. as well as claming suicide “didn’t happen when I was a kid” and we worked it out.
So yeah Butch Hartman has become the second most punchable face in all of animation, and thus it just made it hard to think about Danny Phantom. It’s just a hard thing to grapple with and i’ve had to do it all too often as MORE AND MORE creators who I highly respected and who changed my life turn out to be awful , awful people, to the point it taints the joy they brought me to the point.. I just can’t enjoy the work anymore. It’s hard to decide if one person’s involvment spoils the entire work, especially if i’t sthe creator. For a relevant example I loved Joss Whedon’s shows, some of the comics based on them (Angel and Faith used to be one of my faviorite comics ever and my faviorite buffyverse thing), I was a huge fan. But now even if I KNOW the shows had tons of talented writers and actors who weren’t a philandering abusive dick, and the comics had little or nothing to do with him.. I can’t go back to that unvierse. While he didn’t make EVERYTHING about it he was still the one who built most of it in his head and created the style. It’s hard to go back without thinking of the things he’s done.
So I wondered with Danny Phantom if unlike buffy I could put the creator aside, put aside his bad work and focus on the other people involved. Turns out.. I could. Part of it is finding out Butch wasn’t the main creative force for season 2. While i’m sure a TON of you know this, it was Steve Mamrmel, who worked with Butchy on Fairly Odd Parents, and was essentially the showrunner. He deveoped the show, it’s ongoing plots and a lot of it’s tone. Butch was still a producer and Marmel still ran things through him, but it was Marmel that did most of the legwork. Not only that but most of my faviorite episodes of the show had either the stories, scripts or in the case of my absolute faviorite Reign Storm, BOTH done by him. Seriously including today’s reviewed episode, and yes a review’s coming i’m almost there, and reign storm he also worked on What You Want, Prisoners of Love, My Brother’s Keeper, Shades of Gray, Fanning the Flames, 13, Public Enemies, The Ultimate Enemy, Secret Weapons, Mystery Meat, One of a Kind, Memory Blank, Flirting With Disaster, Mirco Managment and Kindred Spirits.
And I even left out a few, thos eare just the ones that stood out to me as some of the series best or most notable. Butch may of created Danny, but Mamel made it and him what it is, as did tons of other talented people i’d be snubbing if I let this egomanaic taint it for me. As much as he wants to belivie it this show is not Butch’s and butch’s alone. it’s the talented other people who made his idea better’s, the voice actors who brought his creations to life... and ours. The fans who loved this show, supported it, write fanfictoin for it and have kept it alive enough that a reboot or revivial is VERY viable. I just hope if it happens unlike Fairly Odd Parents, they keep him out of it. This show is ours, and i’m going to celebrate it in spite of who made it.
And WOW I did not expect to spend a good chunk of this review on that dumpster fire in a purposefully tight t-shirt. But now with that out of the way I don’t have to mention him ever again unless i’ts to take a pot shot at him or his “ghosts aren’t actually ghost” weirdness. It’s like Tad Stones whole thing about Darkwing Duck not being in the same unvierse as Ducktales: no one buys it, no one wants it, and we’ll all happily ignore it. It’s just unlike Tad, I have no respect for butch and no time left for him so let’s get onto the episode itself shall we?
I was originally going to cover Reign Storm, my faviorite episode of the show, what I consider to be it’s Magnum Opus, one of the best superhero stories period, and everything that makes the show great packed into one 45 minute special. But while it’s the series best.. it’s also weird place to start: part of what makes Reign Storm SO good is that it takes a lot of running plot lines in the series and brings them all crashing together: Vlad’s machinations, Maddie knowing he’s trying to steal her from Jack and being disgusted with him as a result, Val hunting Danny and their growing attraction, Danny being public enemy #1 but also loved by the teens of amity whove seen his true nature, Sam and Danny’s feelings for one another, the fight knight, every single ghost danny had met up to that point.... it just feels so much like a cumilation of everthing that had happened up to that point that it feels weird to not cover ANY of the stuff before it. I won’t cover EVERY season 1 and early season 2 episode before I get to it mind, but not covering say the vlad episodes, the valrie episodes, Public enimies and so on just feels like diservice.
So I figured a better starting point was here, another faviorite of mine but one that rather than a cumlation of the story arcs that had been buildling whlie setting up their next chapters, is where that story begins. While the episodes before this one, minus the poindexter episode, they had about the same formula and no real lasting consequences. There were consequences in the episode and his superhero job was a constant drain on his “already mediocre grades” a direct quote from the Paramount+ summary for two of a kind that tells me whoever wrote these got the show. But none of them really left a lasting impact on our boy other than having to usually encounter the asshole of the week again.
Bitter Reunions is the first time that’s not the case. After this the stakes are forever raised, Danny’s forever in someone’s crosshairs and he forever has a tangible goal to reach in mastering his powers. It takes things from good to great and the episodes after it just keep building on this episode and the one sbefore it to create a true masterpiece. So join me under the cut as I FINALLY examine said masterpiece and the glory that is Martin Mull.
We open with Danny scooting home, happy to almost make curfew for a change and talking about how he’s three minutes ahead, there’s no ghosts to delay him and he’ll actually get in good with his parents for once.... right before three shriner vultures start randomly dipping into buildings and what have you and causing a scene.
So naturally he has to go stop it.. but is surprised that the old gentleman are looking for Jack, having a piece of a college photo of him on them for reference. While these guys aren’t exactly a THREAT, Danny understandably assumes given Jack’s... whole .. everything that he’d still be no match for them. We know that’s wrong, and not just beause he fights them well in a later episode, but it’s not a bad assumption for both the audience and our hero at this point as he hasn’t yet had a chance to prove he’s not entirely as incompetent as he looks. Just MOSTLY incompetent as he looks.
But given this is a fight between a fledgling superhero who while new to this does this kind of shit every night now, and at this point in the series has fought a ghost made entirely of meat, a dragon, mech suit kraven the hunter, gilbert godfrey but he can make robots, a NEEEEERRRRRDDDDDD, a sexy djinn with a tragic backstory, and his own best friend turned into a ghost monster by said sexy djinn. So yeah it only takes about two mintues for him to mop up three clowns with bird arteries. I mean if they had a fiendish orginzation for world larceny maybe but as it stands they were no challenge.
Danny however is still late, probably only a few minutes but parents dont’ care about semantics. And the next Scene makes it excusable: It’s clear Maddie is frustrated with how things are going with Danny.... but also deeply concerned. He’s late, his grades are slipping even further than usual and he’s neglecting his chores.. okay the last one’s more Jack since he has to do them when Danny dosen’t and as we see in a later episode, one of those chores could cause the entire ghost boom and take out a block, so he can’t just.. not do them. Their not mad he’s what two minutes late.. their worried about the patterns he’s setting and dont’ know WHY any of this is happening, and Danny’s understandabily affraid to tell them, both because they might stop him from doing what needs to be done in risking his life to fight ghosts.. and because he might end up homeless if they decide his being half ghost means they have to put him down.
Jazz... suggest some psychobabble thing about Danny having no link to their past so he’s acting out and blahblahblah I hate my parents for being not normal parents blahblahblah I think i’m a psycholgist even though I haven’t gotten a degree yet blahblahblah. Look early Jazz is insufferable: She’s judgy of both Danny and her brother and looking through the episodes pre-brother’s keeper the only genuinely kind act I can think of is agreeing to go to Dash’s party... so she can make Danny and Co getting an invite part a requirement to her going. Otherwise she’s just kind of a judgy nag and your average annoyed at their parents teen sterotype. Thankfully her learning Danny’s ID changes the game signfigantly, giving Danny an ally he’s unaware of, giving her presepctive on her brother, and letting her in on the fact that ghosts are VERY real, her parents, while still a bit nuts, are in fact fighting something very real and very dangerous, and her brother is now in the thick of that very real and dangerous fight and if found out could end up on a dissection table. So it is worth the payoff, it just dosen’t make her any less annoying in this one for the first 5 or so minutes.
This thankfully backfires on her, as Jack.. actually takes her words to heart and he and maddie’s 20th college reunion in wisconson just so happens to be this weekend. So he decides to make it a road trip:T ake the whole family up to wisconson in the family RV. Jazz is pissed.. at Danny for this. And mortified and annoyed. I mean yeah sleeping in an rv probably isn’t plesant, especially one that’s heavily armed and Danny trying to turn on the AC instead turns out a volley of weapons... but this is what she claims to WANT. Seriously her dad took her advice for once about Danny, is treating her like an equal and is trying to be a better parent to both of them. The fentons are good parents... they have issues including about 80 dozen death threats to what they dont’ realize is their son as the series goes on, but they genuinely want to be there for their kids.Maddie is genuinely concerned about Danny and Jack loves his kids and simply is a bit of dolt but unlike say Peter Griffin you get he actually loves them and wants to protect them. Their actually doing something RIGHT for once in the way she wants it. and she still bitches and whines about it because she has to be uncomfortable a bit.
That night Jazz and Danny find out the place their headed too, where the reunion is taking place, is The Masters Mansion, as in Vlad Masters, one of the richest and most successful men in the world.
We also get their backstory with him: The three were best friends in college, close as anyone could be, and even back then, with a full mullet but no less bulk, Jack was three things things: obsessed with researching ghosts, skilled at making ghost tech.. and horribly reckless as he is moronic. So when the three were working on a prototype to the ghost portal, Jack activated it suddenly despite both Vlad and Maddie’s reservations about his calculations... andn as a result Vlad got a face full of ecto energy which lead to a face full of ecto acne. Vlad naturally never forgave him for it and hasn’t contacted him in 20 years.. until the invite. Jack hopes this is the start of the two reconciling.
So eventually it’s...
As our heroes arrive at Masters Manor. It’s then we finally properly meet Vlad Masters. Vlad is my faviorite villian in all of animation.. yes even ahead of this less compitent shark based version of him.
I’ll get into why as we go but one reason I can get to right now is Martin Mull. Mull is an utterly talented comedic actor. I grew up with him through this show of course.. but also through Roseanne where he played easily the best addition to the cast in Leon, Rosanne’s boss, later buisness partner, proud gay man and perfect foil to Roseanne. Mull is hugely talented, criminally underated and until the 2010′s really wasn’t given a chance to show it. Nowadays he is getting rolls like the Cool Kids or Brooklyn Nine Nine where he gets to show range.
But at the time Danny wasn’t just another paycheck.. but a chance to really show what he could do and really makes me wish he’d do more voice acting. Vlad is just one of those rolls that while another actor COULD’VE done well enough, Mull MADE it his. No one can match Mull’s delivery: the smooth way Vlad delivers himself, the way he effortlessly cruises through most situations.. and the way he utterly looses it when Danny defies him or manages to turn things around on him. WHile the writing and character design for Vlady are pitch perfect, it’s mull who brings it all together.
So we finally meet Vlad who warmly greets Maddy and the kids... but shuts Jack out seemingly accidently. Two things soon become clear abotu Vlad. The first is that he’s a packers fan. His castle is decked out in gold and green, he has tons of memorbila in glass cases, a football signed by one of their greats.. probably I don’t know sportsball well. The only reason he hasn’t bought the team itself is because, in a way only mull could deliver “The packers are owned by the city of greenbay and they won’t sell to me!”. It’s just a tone that screams
He also by saying “There’s some things money can’t buy” and giving Maddie the eyes and leaning creepily, makes it as abudantly clear as possible he’s into her without just blasting “I Wanna Do Your Wife” over the loudspeaker.
Maddie politely steps away to let Jack in and the kids reactoins are just.. pefect. Danny is understandably baffled and a little horrified, and Jazz is fine as long as long as Maddie Says no and the toilet works.
Jack naturally makes an ass of himself by snatching Vlad’s signed ball, taclking him and trying to reminsce about the good old days which causes Vlad to snap at him.. and while it is full villanous rant about the years Jack cost him.....
Seriously Jack.. DID cost him years of his life, we don’t know how many but he clearly spent a while in the hopsital and nearly blow him up, likely either putting him behind in his coursework or forcing him to do all of it from a hosptial bed, either option meaning he missed out on a good chunk of his 20′s because of Jack and Jack alone> This dosen’t excuse Vlad’s behavior in the present outside of this outburst.. but i’ll get into that more in a bit. Vlad calms down quick and apologizes, not wanting to give the game away and offers the Fentons to stay at his castle for the night, which Maddie and Jack are reluctant about: Maddie because she can tell her old friend is still into her and it’s awkward. Keep in mind we’ve still got a few episode sbefore the one where he just out and out shows how much of a creep he is to her and how obessed he is. Right now though h’es still making her very uncomfortable and it’s still very much covered in “oh god no”. Jack... thinks they have a pretty cool RV. Look it takes Vlad TELLING HIM TO HIS FACE he hates him and wanting to steal his wife as part of saving earth for Jack to get the picture, picking up on Nuance isn’t his strong suit. But Vlad knows his audience and points out a ghost is haunting the castle, the Wisconson Dairy King. So naturally Jack’s all for it.
That night our hero enjoys a good nights sleep.. until his ghost sense activates, and he finds the vultures tailing a groggy jack who just wants to find the bathroom. Danny simply grabs his dad, takes him directly to the bathroom himself and then goes back to fight them in a nice quick gag.
But suddenly his opponents flee. and in a nice twist on what you’d expect in a story like this, especially from a cocky young hero, Danny DOSEN’T assume it was him, and is now rightfully on guard that something WORSE just scared them off.. and we soon find out why. We’ve met Vlad Masters... but then there’s the other guy. Vlad Plasmius has arrived.
His design is fucking awesome by the way. Cool hair resembling a less phallic version of Dracula’s weird hair from the 90′s movie, a cape, and a white and red astethic to brilliantly contrast Danny’s white and black. It’s also a far showier costume, clearly far more intentoanally built by vlad himself as he likely figured out how to modify his look in ghost mode ages ago, wheras Danny has the practical but still badass looking jumpsuit he went into the tunnel with. The blue face and piercing red eyes just bring it all together. It’s one of the shows best deisgns. The allusions to vampires aren’t an accident as Vlad was supposed to be one but the network nixed it.. and it’s one of those occaions where that worked out for the best as having Vlad be a half ghost himsel finstead makes him the perfect arch enemy for our hero: his dark mirror and his far more experinced one too.
What follows is one of the show’s best scenes: Vlad effortlessly toys with Danny, mocking him for being “the ghost that does goooood”, for his best attack being a ghost blast (”So year one) and simply reflecting, dodging or countering EVERY attack danny has. Even his usual opening punch is simply caught. It’s an amazing fight that shows just how outmatched our hero is.. and why Vlad’s the perfect counterpoint: their power sets are , on a basic level at least as Danny woudl later gain two unique tricks of his own, the same: Barriers, blasts, phasing, super strength and speed, flight, all that good stuff. The issue is purely in experince: Dannys had maybe two months to get used to his powers and at this point in the series will still phase involuntarily. Vlad had has 20 YEARS. He’s not only used to them.. but he’s learned tricks Danny hasn’t. While Danny needs to create a shield around himself and rarely thinks to use that, Vlad can just pop up a smaller, faster one effortlessly. And i’ts not just upgrades on things Danny can do... in his coup de grace, and one hell of a great movie story and battle wise, Vlad shows of his signture move: cloning. He makes four equally strong copies of himself and beats danny into unconciousness. And the sight of our young hero, beaten, his costume in tatters and having NO chance of survivial is striking. The clones are a brilliant addition as it not only shows just how fucked danny is.. but gives him something to strive towards, and learning this teqchnique would be an arc in itself for a while. He knows he SHOULD be able to do it but has to learn to master it without any help. But for now our hero is beat.. and transforms back. And so does Vlad, not only revealing to the audience he’s a half ghost, and that there’s mroe than ONE half ghost to begin with.. but that he has plans for our hero now he knows the truth.
The upside of this is having a villian gain a creepy obession with making you their son means they leave you breathing and Danny wakes up, terrified but alive.. if confused that Vlad’s now acting kindly to him, calling him son and little badger and generally weirding him out. Still Danny’s on guard for Plasmius, and with that we cut to later that night as it’s time for a MANSION PARTY! Cue the music!
Jazz is opting out, preferring to sit in Vlad’s screening room and watch a film on the packers rather than watch a bunch of “old fogies pogo to 80′s music”. I mean I get not wanting to watch your parents embarass themselves, or pogo but don’t you dare bismich 80′s music. 80′s music gave us this.
And you know about 80 dozen masterpieces. I just went with something so obscure and cheesy to prove a point: If this was the FORGOTTEN stuff of the 80s, that’s how high the bar was... I mean some crap slipped through, it alwasy does but still. There’s a LOT to hate about the 80s but the music is not even remotely part of that. Not wanting to see her parents borderline sex each other to “Simply the BEst” though is probably a good call. I mean I want to see that but I think it’d be funny and i’m also a fucking weirdo.
Danny goes and wears a dad suit.
And meets Harriet Chin, an ace reporter for the kenosha harold who dosen’t like Jack Very much. Given he naturally has a large and stupid laugh about the “Harry Chin’ pun in her name yeah, good point. But Vlad has Danny head to his creepy basement to get a gift for jack.
It’s there we get the second best scene of the episode, as Danny finds the rest of hte picture from before.. and realizes Vlad is the one behind the vultures but becore he can warn him the very first ghosts he ever fought, the ectopusses return. Granted this didn’t effect me as much as a kid as I didn’t see that episode first, I saw Two of a Kind instead, but it’s still a nice callback.. and we get another with Skulker whose not only gotten some upgrades but easily traps Danny in a cube. He dosen’t get to knife him to death though as Vlad enters, having hired him to simply capture Danny not kill him, and Skulker has to go do a report on a gorilla “Again.. which dosen’t make a lot of sense given this is brand new armor and he never has the whole pda weakness again, but it’s funny enough that I do not care.
So now Vlad has Danny alone and reveals himself as a half ghost, expressing suprise jack created ANOTHER hybrid... with Danny being shocked, probably because he assumed Plasmius was Vlad’s minon or something and understandably assumed he was one of a kind. Vlad also explains why he wants to kill jack: As was telegraphed int he earlier scene, he still resents jack for the incident.. but he resents him MORE for being the one Maddie ended up with, feeling he deserved her more and only got her because he was out of the running. Hosting the reunion was unsuprisingly a trap to get Jack there so he coudl take him out and get maddie with the kids simply part of the package he accepted but didn’t care about. Until he found out about Danny’s powers. In an instant Danny went from just some kid he’d have to win over to bone his mom... to his true son and heir. Someone he could train and mold in his image. All Danny has to do is renounce Jack. Naturally Danny responds with the classic line of “Your one crazed up fruit loop” but with the cube nulifing his power he can only watch as Vlad heads off to take out his dad.
And this whole speech outlines who Vlad is.. he’s an obessive, manipulative, vengeful sociopath whose drowning in his own ego. He’s a man who lost the girl of his dreams and his youth.. but instead of basking in what he’s gained since, the power of a god, a large fortune, a fucking castle-mansion. He has everything a man could dream of and could’ve done all the good in the world.. but he instead just let himself obess over what he didn’t have. Maddie in his warp mind should’ve been his: He’s better looking, smarter, now richer too. He just can’t STAND Jack having what he belivies to be his. But Maddie is not an object. She’s a person and she choose Jack. Even without the acne, she would’ve chosen Jack. She loves Jack. He may be destructive and stupid.. but he’s also sweet, loves her more than anything, and genuinely apricates her. Vlad just wants Maddie because he belivies he’s entitled to her. Jack HAS Maddie because he loves her and respects what she wants. If Vlad truly loved Maddie, truly cared about her as more than merely the one thing he can’t buy with his money or take iwth his power, then he would let her go.
His obessive and vengeful nature though is also what makes him the perfect arch enemy: Danny with fight Vlad with everything he has, but Vlad will NEVER stop till he gets what he wants: Either Danny and Maddie by his side.. or in the grave for defying him. He has endless resources, connections in the ghost world, most of whom hate Danny, and most dangerously he has experince; He can do everything Danny can do, counter it and then pull out things Danny CAN’T do. Before Danny just had to get better as a hero because it made his job easier> Now if he wants to ever wants to be free and safe, and wants his father to stay alive, he has to get better, to work at it and to prepare for Vlad. And to me that’s what a true arch enemy is: someone who raises the stakes for the hero on a personal and professional level. Someone who makes their entire world that more dangerous by being in it.
Vlad’s strategy is to simply oveshadow jack and make him look bad, at least to start.. but then we get a suprise badass moment as Jack FIGHTS OFF THE POSSESION. To sink in just why this is so notable.. as far as I can remember across all three seasons.. no one else ever pulled this off. Granted the only people to really USE overshadowing were Danny, Walker and Vlad himself, but none of them had any issue using the ability and their hosts were never even the least bit aware. Jack? Jack, while clearly struggling to keep this up, BREAKS IT, telling Maddie to run and using every last ounce of will he has to shake vlad off. It dosen’t last.. but the fact he was able to break it for even just a minute shows off that , behind the veneer of Jackass, Jack Fenton is a true badass.
So while Maddie goes to get the rv, Danny gets some help from the Dairy King! The Dairy King also serves a nice purpose as Danny, after being freed, understandably wonders what cheese based assault he’s in store for.. only to find the Dairy King is a really nice guy. He wont’ go help him fight, but while he makes a crack about kings sending people to fight for them, it’s clear he just wouldn’t stand much of a chance.. and givne his disappearnce after this epiosde might be aware Vlad will do terrible things to him for a much as he done and was wisely finding somewhere else to politely haunt. But it’s a nice way to get Danny out of this: it dosen’t come out of nowhere, but it is something you probably forgot about and thus comes as a nice twist.
Danny TACKLES Vlad out of his dad and a fight insues. Danny is still horribly outmatched, something Vlad rubs in... but we also see Danny’s true power. Much like his inspiration Spidey, Danny is no slouch int he powers department.. but pure power gets you only so far and like Danny he’s often up against opponents even stronger than he is. So like Peter.. Danny uses his head often, using his powers in clever ways or his opponents on weaknsese against him, or what gadgets his parents have in again, clever ways. In this case he hyjacks the fenton rv and releases all it’s weapons on it and ends up overshadowing jack to get him to saftey.
But with Vlad being far stronger, even that’s not enough and it’s clear Danny can’t win this.. by fighting. But again that cunning, that drive is his true strength.. and how he gets out of this in one piece: He threatens to walk out of his dad and expose them both. While Vlad points out the obvious, this would out his id Danny is confident his parents would accept him.. while Vlad just possesed jack and attacked their dance. And the thing is.. Danny’s probably bluffing. He takes the entire series to come out to them, and while they accept it it’s very clear, especially once he becomes public enemy #1 that he’s fully afraid they’ll kill him for what he is at worst or throw him out for the same at best. So he DOSEN’T know they’ll accept them.. but he’s willing to take that risk, possibly loose his family and his home.. if it means someone far worse goes down with him. And that’s a true hero ladies gentleman and that beautiful technicolor rainbow inbetween.
Vlad congradulates Danny for using his weakness against himm, fakes defeat to jack and Harriet plans to report the whole thing.. but gets fired for it. Jazz has no sympathy “This isn’t the national enquierer”. No but there was a large scale attack by a mysterious entity, she jus tshoudl’ve gotten proof first. Jack bemoans the fact Vlad didn’t say goodbye but Danny expresses pride in him. We leave on a curfew gag and we’re out.
Bitter Reunions is where the series really hits it’s stride. While I feel it’s first truly great episode is what you want shortly before it, Bitter Reunions is where the story arc comes into play, giving Danny something bigger to fight and something to strive for with his powers. The fights themselves are some of the series best, Mull is awesome as i’ve gone into and the plot has a nice pace to it. The jokes are also pretty good for the most part, a few duds here or there but tons of really good ones. Danny also gets one hell of a badass boast on vald “Your money can’t buy you my mom, it can’t buy you the packers and it WON’T BUY ME!”. David Kaufman REALLY gets to shine here, and his final confrontation with Vlad is really good stuff. All in all a stunning episode that raises the bar.. and that bar would only get higher and higher. Keep an eye peeled for more. For now follow me here for more reviews, comission a review if you fancy and i’ll see you at the next rainbow.
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