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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Viewers can feel Arthur’s fear and pain on The Tick

Illustration for article titled Viewers can feel Arthur’s fear and pain on The Tick
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When last year’s pilot episode of The Tick left off, Arthur (who had just met the quirky titular hero) was facing down the Pyramid Gang after being caught spying near their facilities. A year later, the second episode picks up right where the first left off, with Arthur being be able to fight off Miss Lint and her henchmen thanks to the suit that The Tick liberated from them. His escape is a small victory, though, as he lands on top of an SUV fearing for his life, with his apartment now scattered with dead bodies from the fight. Naturally, he decides to run as far from the situation as possible, which The Tick mistakes for him retreating to formulate a plan.

In the first two episodes, this show has done a fantastic job of getting the audience to empathize with Arthur. In the pilot, we felt his pain as we learned of his father’s death, as well as the trouble he has maintaining his composure. In “Where’s My Mind,” the viewer is put directly in Arthur shoes, and we feel the same sense of fear and apprehension that he does. The Tick’s intentions are noble, but he’s too eccentric to seem entirely trustworthy. If that weren’t enough, Arthur’s history of hallucinations means that he can’t quite trust that he’s even real. Indeed, anyone unfamiliar with the history of the character could have cause to wonder if a Tyler Durden scenario is at work. Only when Arthur’s sister Dorothy (who is wary of his hallucinations) confirms that she can also see “the blue guy” does the show firmly establish that they are two different people.

They also happen to be polar opposites. While The Tick faces everything head-on, and often seems over-eager, Arthur is incredibly timid. He initially tries to give the suit back to the Pyramid Gang even after learning of their evil ways simply because he doesn’t want any trouble. The one time he acts impulsively is when he takes a poncho from a nearby shop, and even that’s only because he wants to avoid being seen in the suit. Arthur’s timidity is perfectly understandable of course; he’s been greatly damaged by witnessing the death of his father as well as The Flag Five at the hands of The Terror, and his mental issues render him unable to trust himself. Now, however, he’s in a situation where he’ll have no choice but to confront his fears, and learn to trust his instincts. It’ll be interesting to see how he’ll make that journey, and how circumstance will force courage out of him.

Meanwhile, we also learn a bit more about Miss Glint. In a meeting with her boss, Ramses, an arrogant fellow with a fondness for a Vitamin Water, we see that her efforts are unappreciated, and things are often blamed on her even when they aren’t her fault. In a flashback scene, we learn that The Terror was a much friendlier boss, who appreciated her work, and encouraged her not to listen to the jerks who gave her the nickname “Miss Glint,” which she now wears as a badge of honor. With the tension between Glint and Ramses firmly established, one can’t help but wonder how it will effect their plans later on.

The Tick comes along at time when shows and movies about superheroes have reached a state of hyper-ubiquity, and it has no bones poking at itself for that, as well a mocking the conventions of the genre. There are plenty of meta moments here, most notably when The Tick literally describes everything that’s taken place so far as Arthur’s “origin story.” Later, he refers to Arthur reaching “stage three” on the path to heroism: being given the mantle of a hero and rejecting it. This show knows exactly how many Marvel and DC movies we’ve seen over the past decade, and gleefully mocks itself for following some of the same beats as many of them. Luckily, this show is easily clever enough that you never really care that it occasionally dips into a cliche without subverting it.

In the final scene, Arthur once again tries to give the suit back to the gang, but his plans are ruined by a unnamed hero (or villain?) who flees the scene before the police show up. Arthur expects he’ll be arrested, but when the cops arrive, they believe he’s a superhero responsible for eliminating the villains. Of course, it’s possible they take him into custody anyway, since the episodes fades to credits before that’s made entirely clear. At any rate, Arthur has been marked, and his desire to go back to life before he met The Tick is meaningless; this is his life now.


“Where’s My Mind” was a funny, engaging episode which forced the viewer to experience the exact same twists and turns that Arthur does. When the episode ends, he’s still justifiably scared, and likely still unsure if he can trust The Tick, but he has no choice but to keep going forward. After everything that’s happened to him, it’s hard not to feel bad for Arthur and the situation he’s been thrown into, and at the same time, it’s utterly captivating to wonder what challenges he’ll be confronted with next.

Stray observations

  • The Tick has plenty of great lines here, but my personal favorite is “what the world needs now is us. Sweet us.”
  • “We don’t kill people because they call us names. We kill people because it’s fun!”
  • 311’s “Come Original” plays briefly during one scene, and I’ll probably have it in my head the rest of the day.
  • Product placement or not, the image of Ramses drinking Vitamin Water is pretty damn hilarious.