Season 1, Episode 5
Date of airing: February 25, 1995 (FOX Kids)
This was a pretty straight-forward episode and I liked it for that. A new villain, a personal connection to Spider-Man that comes with a back story, an ongoing thing with Mary Jane Watson, and a lot of scenes with Peter which did not make me thing that SPIDER-MAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES is all about Spider-Man only. If there is a lot of Peter Parker in the show, then I will definitely be happy, and this episode had as much Peter Parker as it had Spider-Man, which is the perfect mixture.
I liked Mysterio as a villain, because he could have been the smart antagonist to a smart protagonist. Tricking the world into believing that Spider-Man can be a bad guy as well was actually a great idea, and if the writers would have thought about the possibility to have Mysterio be part of a multi-episode arc, “bad Spider-Man” could have been a thing for an episode or two, having Peter try his best to prove his alter ego’s innocence while also thinking about hanging it up as Spider-Man, because life with the mask is complicated and hard. But Mysterio needed to show from the get-go that everything seemed to be a ploy, although it seems a bit weird that Mysterio was running the show with his visual hologram effects as good as he did. He must have been in the museum, when he had Spider-Man rob the place, which means he must have been captured by the cameras — except of course he was leaving the cubes behind, which means that the cubes were pretty much automated on all fronts, which I cannot believe either, especially since he would have ran the entire show by himself, and after SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME, I do not believe for a second that Mysterio can run the entire show by himself.
Still, I liked these 20 minutes, because they brought Spider-Man and Peter closer to the reasons for his actions. The origin story for Spider-Man must have been known to a 1990s television audience who were also comic readers, otherwise the writers would not have brought Uncle Ben’s death it in the fifth episode of the show and established Spider-Man’s origin story this way. And every once in a while, the guy wants to have a life, and for the first time in his superhero career, he asked himself what good the costume brought him. That was actually quite an interesting character arc, and although I never believed that Peter was about to trash the costume “Spider-Man No More”-like, it was great to see that the writers were penning the script with that story in mind, maybe even having developed the story to go down the “Spider-Man No More” route. And who knows, maybe a future episode of the show actually will see the famous comic arc adapted.
Meanwhile, I was hoping for Terri Lee to be a recurring character, because she seemed interesting in this episode. Poised to catch Spider-Man in the act, but believing nonetheless that the wall crawler was too much of a good guy to be a bad guy in this episode. I would have loved to see Terri and Spider-Man team up to catch Mysterio, but I guess Spider-Man needed to do his thing on his own, without help from the outside, which is a shame. Spider-Man may work alone for obvious reasons, but every once in a while he is allowed to accept a sidekick to help him out, because not unlike Mysterio, he can’t do the world-saving all by himself. That is what the Avengers are there for.
And finally, there was MJ, who behaved very strangely at the end of the episode. It almost sounded like she based her decisions on wanting to hang with Peter or not off of how the press handled Spider-Man’s criminal activities. You know, a woman can be mad about he date she missed with the guy she has a crush on, even without the media having to tell her that you can change. MJ being mad at Peter could have been a nice arc for an episode here and there, but apparently she was too much of a cult character in the comics world to not be Peter’s love interest from the first second until they marry and have a Spider-Boy or a Spiderling. Or a Spider-Girl who will lead her own spin-off show.